What can apparel decorators do with unused or old inventory?

First, consider adopting an attitude that all your excess inventory is worthless. This way, if you generate any revenue or dispose of the goods constructively, you will see the working away of excess inventory as a positive thing. Call it the glass-half-full approach.

Start by physically separating the excess inventory from your working stock of supplies. Then, ask your team this question: “If you only had this to work with, what would you do to make the most from it?” You may discover that you have enough materials to complete a small job for a customer that is not picky about the type, size, shape, or color of the materials. If you get them to pay for it, that’s a bonus.

Perhaps these are the excess materials that you use as the supplies when you invite a local elementary school or youth group into your shop for an educational field trip. You may be entitled to a tax deduction for the value of the supplies as a marketing or promotional expense.

Whatever you do, after you’ve segregated the excess inventory from your working supply, handle each item only once. Use it, donate it, convert it into something useful (e.g., samples of your work for your showroom or for sales reps to use on prospect calls), or get rid of it. Under no circumstances should you revert and put any excess inventory back on your shelves.

Finally, get started on developing a system that prevents the accumulation of excess inventory in the future. Take a good long look at how you order raw materials. Perhaps your estimating and ordering acumen can use some fine-tuning or a reality check.

Don’t buy supplies, regardless of their attractive price tag, without good reason or a known purpose.

   —Your Personal Business Trainer


Allee Bruce

Allee Bruce is the managing editor for GRAPHICS PRO magazine, aiding with the publication's digital and print efforts.

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