Plumbing, Business Tips, Technician Tips, Pro Features

Plumbing Inventory App: Save Time and Integrate Inventory Management Into Your Overall Workflow

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Clock IconAugust 26th, 2022
Glasses Icon10 Min Read
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When deciding on a plumbing inventory app, plumbing contractors often need to choose between point solutions, which are solely designed to handle plumbing inventory, and more holistic field service management software (FSMs) such as our product, ServiceTitan

When making this decision, there are distinct disadvantages to inventory-only apps that contractors should be aware of. 

Namely, they often don’t seamlessly integrate with the other platforms that plumbers use to run their business. For example, core tools such as their pricebook, QuickBooks, scheduling and dispatch software, timesheets, invoicing and payment processing, or work order and job management software. 

As a result, service businesses that opt for point solutions can often find themselves running into problems and inefficiencies. For example:

  • They frequently find themselves spending an inordinate amount of time entering, double-checking, and updating information in various plumbing apps — engaging in repetitive processes across different platforms to ensure that data is uniform throughout.

  • This data entry-intensive model creates countless opportunities over the course of the work day for errors in manual entry and analysis — typos, forgetfulness, math mistakes.

  • At the same time, plumbing contractors who spring for a standalone inventory app are probably also going to need to invest in software solutions to handle many of their other needs; these products are unlikely to work together very effectively, and each of them comes with a meaningful subscription cost.

  • This then requires back office staff, field service techs, and business owners to learn the ins and outs of numerous different products and services, devoting hours to training that could be spent on drumming up business, scheduling work, and completing jobs. 

  • Lasly, using multiple service apps simultaneously also tends to create workflow inefficiencies, in that it demands that employees and contractors bounce back and forth between different open apps and windows — a potentially chaotic setup that can easily lead to costly mistakes.  

To solve these issues, ServiceTitan has built inventory management natively into our plumbing software, seamlessly connecting this essential function with the other areas of plumbing business management. As a result, we’ve helped plumbers streamline overall business processes to maximize efficiency and improve the all-important bottom line. 

In this article, we’re going to walk you through how our inventory features work, and how they connect to the other key areas of the plumbing business workflow.

If you’d like to find out more about how ServiceTitan’s all-in-one contractor software can help you grow your plumbing business, book a free, personalized demo.

How ServiceTitan’s Plumbing Inventory App Works

ServiceTitan’s plumbing inventory features have been built and designed to track inventory movement down to a granular level. That goes for requisitions, replenishments, item quantity by storage location, purchase orders, adjustments, transfers, and more. 

What this means in practical terms is that any pricebook item that a plumbing contractor enables as an inventory item is automatically — and instantaneously — tracked within our software. 

Item Overview and Inventory Valuation: Item Name, Code, Description, Total Quantity

As shown in the screenshot above, the Item Overview section of ServiceTitan’s Inventory tab gives users a picture of their equipment and materials that is clear, broad, and also highly detailed.

For each inventory item, this view displays an item name, code, description, along with quantities available, on hold, on order, and on hand, plus the average cost per unit and total value of the stock. 

Item Overview also provides some bigger-picture numbers, such as total inventory valuation and total number of items. 

At any time, plumbing service contractors can zoom in on any item to view a wealth of data: how many times it’s been used, what quantity is on hand and where, every job in which an inventory item has been deployed, and much more.  

Template Details: Name, Type, Category, Code, Description, etc.

Once a contractor has activated the inventory items they want, the next step is to create inventory templates to assign materials and equipment to the locations and job sites where they’re needed and in the quantities they’re needed.

As shown above, plumbing contractors can set a minimum and maximum quantity for each inventory item as a function of storage location — office, warehouse, truck, etc. Each storage location gets its own template, so big shops with numerous trucks, offices, and warehouses can avoid confusion about exactly which location gets designated with which set of specs.  

Replenishment: Source, Item, Location, Quantity, Cost, etc.

As field technicians add items to invoices via our mobile app (available on Android and iOS mobile devices), ServiceTitan’s inventory replenishment roster automatically updates to reflect the number of items needed in a given location. 

When it comes to replenishing supplies, ServiceTitan users have two options. They can set up their Replenishment source as a vendor (as shown in the screenshot above) or as their own warehouse. 

Note: ServiceTitan will only allow users to initiate replenishments from their warehouse if it has a sufficient quantity of the item on hand.

Purchase Order: Order Details, Location, Dates, Item List

When users initiate replenishment from a vendor, ServiceTitan automatically prompts them to begin the purchase order process. 

Here, too, they have two options: Contractors can elect to simply create a purchase order, or create and send a purchase order. (When more than one inventory item needs replenishing, multiple purchase orders can be created simultaneously with the click of a button.)  

ServiceTitan allows users to choose to send purchase orders as CSV files, PDFs, or spreadsheets and PDFs. They’re also able to select a “Mark as Sent” option, which many contractors use when they’ve called the order in to the vendor or entered it on the vendor’s website. 

Businesses that opt into our Procure-to-Pay upgrade can have ServiceTitan automatically send their purchase orders directly to their vendors, eliminating the need to place a separate P.O. 

Procure-to-Pay also automates real-time cost and availability updates to give service companies access to up-to-the moment vendor prices and item availability.

By enabling contractors to stay on top of replenishments, ServiceTitan can help them improve customer management and customer satisfaction by accurately managing expectations and ensuring that the supplies that they need to do their job are on hand in the right quantities.       

Purchase Orders and Information: Pending, Sent, Partially Received, etc.

All purchase orders — pending, sent, partially received, received, and canceled — can be reviewed at any time in a table like the one in the screenshot above. Among other things, contractors and office staff can use this page to monitor purchase order statuses. 

In the Sent tab, for example, the Aging column indicates how many days ago each purchase order was transmitted; if a given order has been sitting around for a while without any evident progress, ServiceTitan users can contact the vendor or warehouse, or otherwise investigate to see what might be causing the holdup.    

Edit Purchase Order Details: Project, Job, Vendor, Location, etc.

While purchase orders are pending, they remain fully editable to ServiceTitan users. 

For example, plumbing contractors can move up or delay the Required By date, change the designated vendor, or even choose to send equipment and/or materials to a different, more urgent job.

Receive a Shipment: Vendor Invoice Details, Job Number, Date Received

In the Receive Shipment section of our inventory app, users can attach receipts and tickets to their purchase order documentation, which becomes automatically available to the accounting team. 

Every detail and document related to each and every purchase order and plumbing (or HVAC, electrical, etc.) project is stored within ServiceTitan. So the office staff handling the books doesn't have to hunt down stray papers: receipts, purchase orders, change orders, etc. 

You can read more about our QuickBooks integration here.

Copy PO Items to the Invoice

ServiceTitan also gives users the ability to add purchase order items directly to an invoice, ensuring that all of the equipment and materials ordered for a specific job are billed to the right customer. This can be particularly useful when the scope of a plumbing project becomes larger while work is in progress, requiring greater quantities of inventory items than estimated — or items that weren’t included in the original proposal.

It also eliminates steps from the invoicing and billing process, helping plumbing contractors save time and increase their efficiency. 

Create Bill and Update Pricebook: Description and Details

Contractors can create bills manually, or have ServiceTitan auto-generate them. At this stage, many of our subscribers like to use the Update Pricebook switch — shown in the lower-right corner of the screenshot above — to carry over any inventory item price change notifications they encountered in a given job to their pricebook. That way, their pricebook accurately reflects pricing fluctuations they may have encountered in the course of a job. 

Unreconciled Bills: All details and information in one place

Bills created in ServiceTitan mirror the invoices that contractors receive from vendors. To pay them, plumbers — or, more likely, office staff — can navigate to the Accounts Payable section of our plumbing inventory app. 

They can pay the vendor directly from here — ServiceTitan ensures that checks in the correct amounts are delivered to the right vendors.    

Returns: Credit Received (Return Type, Date, Job #, Amount)

And contractors can manage returns — which, of course, decrease inventory — from a screen like the one shown here. 

Executing a return automatically creates an entry in a separate Credits screen, which contractors and their employees can use to easily track what they’re owed.

Adjustments: Adjustment Number, Type, Location, Reference Number

Naturally, no matter how advanced a plumbing inventory tracking system, misalignments between physical inventory (the actual stuff in warehouses and trucks) and digital inventory (the record stored on a software platform) will occur. In the life of a busy plumbing company, it’s simply inevitable. 

But with ServiceTitan, these occasional mismatches are easy to correct via the Adjustments view. Here, users can make tweaks to inventory item location, item type, quantity, serial number, and more. 

Adjustments can be made on a piecemeal basis. But this can be a tedious and time-consuming process. So alternatively, ServiceTitan enables contractors to download a spreadsheet template, populate it with all of the adjustments they need to make, and re-upload it to our platform, automatically transferring every change to their inventory count.

This is a huge efficiency booster — potentially saving plumbing shops hours they would otherwise have to spend on one-by-one manual adjustments.

Select Count Type: Cycle Count, Item Count, Full Inventory Count

 

A relatively new feature that perfectly complements our Adjustments capabilities is our Inventory Counts functionality. 

As shown above, this gives contractors the ability to quickly run a variety of targeted inventory verification counts:

  • Cycle Count: Recommended for trucks with inventory templates, as outlined earlier in this article.

  • Item Count: Best for verifying quantities of a single item across multiple storage locations. 

  • Full Inventory Count: Preferred for periodic warehouse counts.

In combination, Adjustments and Inventory Counts give ServiceTitan users the ability to make sure that their inventory tracking is accurate — and that they’re maintaining the stock levels they need to maximize their profitability and do their best work — without wasting huge amounts of time, energy, and overhead costs double-checking and verifying numbers via inefficient manual processes. 

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ServiceTitan: A Holistic Business Software Solution for Plumbers

As we noted at the beginning of this post, the biggest decision facing plumbing contractors who are trying to choose the plumbing inventory app that’s right for their company is whether to go with a point solution — a product that handles inventory alone — or one that integrates plumbing inventory management into the overall workflow of their business operations. 

Point solutions come with myriad drawbacks: inefficiencies, opportunities for errors and miscommunications, and complications associated with third-party software add-ons, to name just a handful. And while standalone inventory apps can appear to be relatively inexpensive on the surface, they generally require service contractors to invest in various other products to handle other home service business basics, significantly driving up their overhead costs. 

That’s why, at ServiceTitan, we’ve ensured our plumbing inventory app meshes perfectly with each interconnected part or a plumbing business. In this post, we’ve highlighted just a few of the most relevant areas where this is true, whether you run a small business or a large one:

  • Pricebook

  • Invoicing

  • Accounting

By seamlessly integrating inventory management with these and other essential business processes, advanced plumbing service software such as ServiceTitan can help plumbing companies streamline their workflow, increase efficiencies, and dramatically reduce errors and wastage to drive revenue growth and increase profitability. 

If you’d like to find out more about how ServiceTitan’s all-in-one contractor software can help you, your office staff, and your mobile workforce grow your plumbing business, book a free, personalized demo.

ServiceTitan Plumbing Software

ServiceTitan is a comprehensive plumbing business software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and achieve growth. Our award-winning, cloud-based platform is trusted by more than 100,000+ contractors across the country.

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