3 Reasons Walter White (and Every Small Business Owner) Should Implement Inventory Tracking

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WARNING: this post contains Breaking Bad spoilers (and useful advice for your small business).

Winning an amazing 5 Emmy’s last night, there’s no doubt Season 5 of Breaking Bad was well received.

But now we wonder how Heisenberg would have been able to effectively manage his inventory if the methylamine-powered empire were to continue past Season 5, he needs a way to track his inventory.

Saul Goodman: How is your inventory?
Jesse Pinkman: 38 and some…
Saul Goodman: 38 what? Ounces? Grams?
Jesse Pinkman: Pounds.
Walter White: You said “make hay while the sun shines”.
Saul Goodman: Guys, why the long faces? You’re sitting in a gold mine.
Saul Goodman: A gold mine we cannot sell.

*IMDB

Consider the following reasons why Walter White—or any small business owner in the “empire business—should implement sound inventory management practices.

(1) Preventing Inventory Shrinkage

iStock_000004457347If you have less stock on-hand than you should, you might be suffering from shrinkage.  Shrinkage is a result of theft, damage, or miscounting.  In Breaking Bad, Walt confronts Jesse Pinkman when he realizes Jesse has been skimming product during the packaging process.  Although disgruntled workers, like Jesse, or dishonest customers can cause shrink, they aren’t the only causes. Imaginary shrink—when an item is misplaced—can also result in significant inventory shrinkage.

If your method to detect shrink is to count inventory by hand, you are using a method that is neither cost effective nor time efficient.  In contrast, an automated inventory management system allows every movement of inventory to be tracked quickly and efficiently using barcode scanners or mobile computers.  Although Walter never had the opportunity to experience the growth from small, to mid, to an empire sized business, he would have understood the need for an accurate and seamless inventory tracking process.

Walter White would have established safeguards to protect his very expensive, very illegal inventory—limited or restricted access, surveillance cameras, and constant, vigilant oversight.

(2) Identifying Fast and Slow Moving Inventory

Good inventory management means knowing exactly how much inventory your organization has on-hand at all times, not only to prevent shrink, but to improve sell-through. Analyzing sales patterns to determine what items sell well and move quickly, will keep inventory at appropriate levels.

Although Walter took pride in his product’s high quality, his supply often could not meet his customer’s demands.  In addition to fast-moving products, small businesses should evaluate which items are moving slowly. Holding on to inventory that isn’t selling decreases profit, ties up cash, and requires additional storage. Too much inventory can point to larger problems within the business. In the case of Breaking Bad, too much inventory was a direct result of problems with distribution.

(3) Keeping Track of Disposable Inventory

iStock_000017376317Heisenberg’s product required one very specific ingredient: methylamine. Tracking his on-hand quantity became moot because he could not guarantee a continued supply of methylamine from his distributor.  Thankfully, legitimate small businesses will not encounter Walter’s unique problem.  Instead, accurately tracking disposable inventory ensures production isn’t disrupted or completely stopped by lack of materials.

Although your small business will not encounter the specific challenges faced by Walter White in Breaking Bad, inventory management comparisons can be drawn from the business “empire” presented in this Emmy-winning show. If you haven’t been keeping track of your product, it’s time to start now.

Learn more about Wasp’s Inventory Software and Inventory Management Systems.

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Paul Trujillo

Paul Trujillo

Paul Trujillo is a Product Marketing Manager at Informatics specializing in Inventory Warehouse Management and Supply Chain product lines. His nearly 15 years of experience has put him at the forefront of industry technology and developing trends.
  • Mary Ellen

    Excellent post, Jason. Very creative approach to this important topic.

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