In the dynamic world of horticulture, meticulous planning and inventory control are vital. As our listeners know, The Grower and The Economist podcast is unapologetically focused on small- to medium- sized operations and it is clear that Small Business Initiative Software is as well. This week, we are joined by Aaron Allison, co-founder of SBI, to hear first hand how inventory management is saving time and money for growers.
Aaron's education in Mechanical Engineering at New Jersey Insititue of Technology turned into brokering nursery stock in Washington D.C. He started to connect with mentors and grew partnerships across the country. After running a nursery business for a few years, he went back to his computer system background to partner with Tim Morita and launch custom software for growers in April 2001. Together, they set out to give growers back time with a pragmatic product that solves inventory visibility from "seed to sale". Peter credits the invaluability of a software embedded with understanding the growers way of life. Aaron's goal was to ask,
"What's the lowest cost method to grade and capture inventory status that converts to sales?"
To name a few of the software features, it allows mobile inventory processing, planting and harvest date tracking, advanced customer booking, item association across various buyers , hiding unused features, and freight cost allocation. It is clear that Aaron understands that production planning is just a plan, not what actually happens. The software has a hyperfocus on what is still sellable and what is about to be sellable. Inventory visibility at this level allows for greater savings, less time taking or updating orders, knowing your short stock sooner, and overall ease and understanding. The software also allows growers to log more information, such as crop loss reasons, in a shorter time period. For example, if an item was discarded for weather reasons, you may still want to purchase the following year. If demand was low, you may want to reduce the quantity. If other reasons, you may want to drive the cost up to cover the discarded goods.
"Often times, when we try new things, we dont try it long enough to see the benefit." - Aaron, SBI
Paper to mobile has a learning curve. It may be awkward, unnatural; but as you practice, it leads to minimizing steps and greater efficiency for the whole team. He jokes that he tells his children that his job is to minimize clicks on the computer! Peter approves and notes that those who have used index cards for inventory will have a greater appreciation for the software improvement.
Peter asks Aaron for his opinion on accounting freight cost for one tray of cuttings. In the past, Peter has allocated the freight cost as overhead because it would eat into the crop profitability and he wants to justify the purchase next year. Aaron responds that SBI is brutally honest and would allocate the freight to the single crop, but the application leaves room for overriding a purchasing decision.
Aaron is adamant on offering the right amount of complexity to fit the grower needs and even gives credit to customers who request features! SBI is open to more ideas and continuosulsy innvoating to stay up to date with industry trends. Learn more and reach out on their on their website: https://www.sbigrower.com/.
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