Contributed by Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman
No matter what kind of business you have, odds are you have stuff to store. Whether it’s office supplies, boxes and bags, food, or tools, it needs to be organized, accessible and safe.
Unfortunately, most storerooms are more chaotic that organized. But there are simple business storeroom solutions that can turn that around. Here are ten basics to get you started on the road to business storage sanity.
10. Clean it out
Unless you’re starting with a brand new storage space, you’ll want to begin by cleaning out everything already on site. Not only will you finally see everything you have (Wow! Who knew we had 92 copies of that book!), you’ll be able to give the space a thorough cleaning and make any needed repairs to shelves, bins or cabinets.
9. Organize by department
If your business has several distinct departments, one of the simplest business storeroom solutions is to organize supplies by department as well. You can use cabinets or just assign sections of the room to each department.
This arrangement makes it easier for each team to find what they need, and will also end budget squabbles over which group used all the pens or hogged all the coffee filters!
8. Organize by use
For a smaller business, or one where everyone needs the same kinds of supplies, arranging your storeroom by function is an efficient way to organize. Not only is this method easy to do, it also makes it easy to see when particular items (like pens or file folders) are running low.
7. Organize by date
For restaurants or other businesses where expiration dates are critical, arranging a storage area by date is probably the best choice. This can also be useful for businesses dealing in color lots, where matching works best for items from the same dye lot. The key is to set up a simple way for people to add new stock to the back of the row, so the product closest to expiration is used first. (Shelves that can be stocked from the back are a great solution.)
With this system, you’ll also want to create a schedule to review dates on unused products, so nothing stays on the shelf past its prime. Use a label maker or simple tags to identify in-dates for unlabeled materials like produce or fresh-baked goods.
6. Invest in the right storage
Stock organization works best if you have the right kind of storage, from shelving to packaging. Simply tossing boxes into a room won’t work when you need to find something later on (although from some of the stockrooms I’ve seen, it does seem to be a popular method!)
Buy or build shelving and other storage to fit what you actually store, rather than trying to cram your supplies into a “standard” set of shelves or drawers. Install brackets to keep piles of file folder standing instead of sliding off shelves. Have closed cabinets, bins with lids or resealable bags on hand to store open packages of napkins or plastic flatware from the restaurant supply store without exposing them to dust or soiling. Keeping your supplies clean and usable will save you time and money, so it’s worth setting things up correctly from the start.
5. Use vertical space
Your storage room is more than just the floor space, so why not use every inch wisely?
Install pegboards on the walls to hang tools, bags, work clothing, cleaning items or cords. Mount modular storage cabinets and shelves up above doorways and windows. If space permits, build a loft to store seasonal items out of the way, freeing up more space for daily needs. Look up, and think creatively — you may discover you have more space than you thought.
4. Think about safety
No discussion of storeroom design would be complete without a mention of workplace safety. Rickety shelves, piles stacked to high, inadequate ventilation and other common shortcuts can turn a store room into an accident waiting to happen.
Make sure heavy items are never stored overhead where they could fall on employees. Check weight limits on shelving before adding more items. And make sure chemicals are stored in well-sealed and clearly labeled bottles, jars or boxes, far from sources of heat.
3. Involve the staff
Almost any project at work is more effective when everyone involved is a part of the process, so do make sure your employees have a chance to offer suggestions and weigh-in on changes. Listen to their ideas and incorporate them wherever possible into the choices you make, and you might just find your storeroom more organized than ever.
2. Schedule a regular “spring cleaning”
Make a commitment to maintain the space’s organization with an annual sorting and cleaning (or more often, if needed.) Even with the best of intentions, things can get messy or out-of-place.
1. Label, label, label!
Having everything neatly in boxes, bags and bins won’t work well if people have to open each one to see what’s inside. Label shelves, containers and even sections of the storeroom to make sure employees can find what they need and get back to work.
Different businesses have different items and supplies to store. But a clean, well-organized and safe storeroom is perfect for all of them. Make yours a business asset and your company will benefit.