One of those frequent and frustrating problems with growth can be space. Who has heard, “I’ve run out of space! What should we do?”. Unfortunately it is not uncommon.
The problem with this situation is that there are numerous causes and solutions – including this is exactly the problem I wanted to create. Recently I’ve been working with a few highly seasonal clients. Space can be a dilemma in planning for how to navigate these seasonal patterns. Additionally running out of space is always a concern for growing clients. So, what should we do?
Make it a part of your planning process. For example, planning for space is one of the outputs of a SIOP (sales, inventory and operations planning) process. When you implement this best practice process, it is absorbed into the monthly process flow and trade-offs are continually evaluated. To learn more about how to implement SIOP, read our book, SIOP (Sales Inventory Operations Planning): Creating Predictable Revenue and EBITDA Growth.
A few items to think about when space arises as a topic include:
- Warehouse space optimization with existing equipment – have you considered how to optimize the space you already have? I’ve yet to run across a company without an opportunity to maximize already-existing space utilizing already-existing equipment. Think about flow, layout, storage strategies, etc.
- Warehouse space utilization with value-add purchases – have you brought in an expert to review your warehouse layout to look for opportunities for additional racking and creative approaches to maximizing space? Can you add an aisle? How about store above the dock doors?
- Flow – at its simplest, think about whether you are storing high-volume items closest to the dock doors and lower volume items in the hard-to-reach, inconvenient places. There are many flow considerations beyond these but it’s a great place to start….
- Onmi-channel strategy – if you support more than one channel (such as retail/ e-commerce and distribution), it is likely you need multiple storage and handling strategies.
- Leveraging systems – have you optimized the use of your current system? Are you scanning? Utilizing WMS functionality? There are many potential solutions without investing significant resources. Often times, WMS light capabilities can be a dramatic boost to productivity.
It isn’t a bad idea to start with common sense. My best clients might not be warehousing gurus yet they think about this from a common sense perspective, ask questions and gain inputs from the entire team. Beyond common sense, a few simple yet effective warehouse strategies might be in order. Certainly, none of us wants warehouse space to be the limiting factor for growth!