How do I maintain an accurate inventory control system in a wholesale nursery?

In order to maintain control of plant materials, equipment, tools, and supplies, an inventory control system is needed. Business management experts often classify inventory systems according to the usage of the item in inventory. Following this line of thought, a nursery or greenhouse inventory can be categorized into three groups including plant material inventory, equipment inventory, and supplies.
The actual system of plant inventory control will tend to vary with the size and type of each individual operation and the level of sophistication desired by the manager. For relatively small “Mom and Pop” operations, the plant material inventory system may be quite simple (perhaps spreadsheet-based), needing infrequent updating. But for larger, more commercial nurseries and greenhouses, a rather complex system that must be updated daily may be required.
Maintaining an accurate sales inventory may be the most important attribute of an inventory control system. However, this data must also be accumulated in a timely manner to be most effective. This means updating sales data on a daily or at least weekly basis. The sales inventory can also be posted with current price information as an aid in quoting prices to customers. Each manager must adjust the plant inventory system to the situation and develop it to provide the control and information necessary to make sound managerial decisions.
Computer software can be used to provide an immediate update of sales inventory and can be programmed to provide an analysis of sales by variety, customer, geographic region, or salesperson. In addition, the software may be used to update sales records and prepare price schedules and, with the input of inventory data, can be programmed to estimate potential sales inventory. Several commercial vendors currently provide inventory control software for the nursery and greenhouse industry, and a listing of selected vendors can be found at the University of Tennessee Extension Horticultural Business Information Network.