Refrigerators and warehouses have more in common than you may think.

Whenever it’s time to clean out the refrigerator at our house, I get the job. The last time that I did it, the parallel between our refrigerator and the warehouses that I had been in recently was just too close to ignore.

I almost always find something that I’ve been looking for, or have just bought another one, hiding behind something that we never move. How often are the products that you backorder actually in the warehouse, somewhere, but obscured by slow moving, or dead stock?

There are often little bits and pieces of things like a quarter of a lemon or a morsel of cheese. We were confident there would be a pressing need for them when we put them away. When a product has run through its life cycle and you have a few pieces left, do you hang on to them forever, remembering how sought after they once were, rather than writing them off to make room for fresh merchandise?

I’m forever reaching deep on a shelf for something common when I realize that G.E. planned the refrigerator door as a convenient place for the most frequently used items. This is a slotting problem! Do you save a little space in the golden zone so that there is always a place there for the new fast movers?

As I wash a half-quart of old yogurt down the drain, I wonder if we could have bought only the pint required for the recipe. We probably saved a lot by buying the quart. Exuberant buying because the price is low, or because the terms are good, often costs us more in inventory carrying cost, obsolescence and productivity than the procurement savings.

There are always some leftovers from a meal that was truly delicious last week. We were hoping to re-create the experience, but had moved on to a new cuisine. How creatively and aggressively do we try to move excess inventory out of the warehouse? Its value drops every day, so the faster that we recognize it as excess, the better the chance of getting some real value out of it. It will never be ordered through regular sales channels, so we must be proactive with return to vendor programs, secondary marketing channels, employee sales or perhaps charitable contributions.

We have a second refrigerator in the pantry. It’s sort of like the other end of the warehouse, or off-site leased space. But, there are frequently used items there, like wine, beer and soft drinks. We don’t seem to need to clean out this fridge as often as the one in the kitchen. The products appear to have a faster turn rate. I think that the reason that it works so well is that these items are not often included in a recipe with ingredients from the other refrigerator. It’s sort of a warehouse within a warehouse, with its own products and its own customers.

If only we could clean out and manage our warehouses as ruthlessly as our refrigerators, I believe that removal of all the clutter would make life a lot easier, and more productive, too.

As of September 8, 2020, Crimson & Co (formerly The Progress Group/TPG) has rebranded as Argon & Co following the successful merger with Argon Consulting in April 2018. 

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