So, it is a basic fact that at PJP Buttonwood, we are constantly out of something. And in our first few months of operation, it was sort of quirky and charming in a Lucy-and-Ethel sort of way. Except 14 months in, running out of stuff isn't so cute...it actually makes us really grouchy. And whether it is baby boxes, eggs, or a simple can of pumpkin, running out and making trips to Hy-Vee or Sam's just slows us down. I believe business-types might call it "inefficiency." To that end, I spent most of this afternoon researching inventory management systems. And honestly, it would have been about the same as watching paint dry or having my gel manicure scrapped off with a butter knife, because it turns out that inventory management systems aren't that interesting. At all.
I looked at A LOT of management systems. Some were expensive, some were free, some had really dumb names (there is a system called "Cake Boss" that says it is not affiliated with TLC or the show "Cake Boss"...sounds to me like that company should be named a plaintiff or a defendant in a copyright lawsuit as soon as possible.)
But honestly, in the end, I couldn't understand how anything I looked at would help us in our day-to-day operations.
For example, lets talk about eggs. Depending on various factors, I order two or three cases a week from our food broker (and a case contains 15 dozen eggs). Unless I barcode the cases, or the individual eggs, the inventory system won't know how many I've used and can't help me with the ordering. (And I think we can all agree that scanning an egg before we crack it open so the inventory system can count it would never work for us because we lack that sort of patience or conventionality.)
It would probably be easier just to go to the refrigerator, pull the door open, look at the eggs on the shelf and make an ordering decision than to log into a system that tells me I ordered two cases of eggs last week. Except that is how we do things now...and we always forget something. Guess who will be buying a few gallons of whole milk in the morning when I get coffee? Ahem.
So, somewhere between hanging a grocery list on the refrigerator and barcoding every egg, apple, peach, and gooseberry that come through our doors, there has to be a solution. But I don't know what it is. Do you?