Spring Cleaning

Posted by Steve DeGenaro on Wed, May 08, 2024 @ 02:49 PM

Blog_24-05-08For those of us that live in parts of the country with cold, rainy, snowy, and overcast winter seasons, spring is a great time and maybe the most beautiful part of the year. It is a time of rebirth as the grass becomes green again and leaves on trees reappear and flowers and budding plants begin to bloom. I don’t know why spring became associated with “spring cleaning”, but every year as the weather improves, many of us do a deep and thorough annual cleaning along with a reorganization and thinning out of our “stuff”.

It happens at home and it probably should happen at work as well. Winter takes a toll on carpets, floors, and the outside of a building. Cold weather is a good excuse not to carry trash to the dumpster. Equipment and supplies that are obsolete and out of date accumulate into piles. Paperwork continues to flood in despite our best efforts to switch to electronic record keeping. So, take this opportunity to thin out, clean up, and freshen our operations at every level.

CLEAN OUT THE WAREHOUSE: A great place to start is your warehouse and equipment storage areas. To do a deep clean, take the area section by section. Move equipment and shelves and clean a section, replacing the equipment and shelves as you go. Check inventory levels. If a box or piece of equipment is dusty, consider how long it’s been there. Maybe it’s time to get rid of it. Check expiration dates on all supplies. Make sure the equipment is all tagged and bagged appropriately per your organization’s policy and procedure.

CLEAN THE RETAIL SHOWROOM: The same goes for the retail showroom. Customers see this part of your business every day. Are the shelves and wall display dusty? If so, clean them like you’re trying to impress someone—because you are! Now is also a good time to clean away grime and dirt on windows. Carpets in high traffic retail areas probably need professionally cleaned more than once a year, but now is the best time to refresh the area. Don’t forget fitting rooms, restrooms, and even offices where patients or sales reps meet with your staff. A cluttered, dirty office leaves a terrible impression on guests.

THIN OUT PAPER RECORDS: For all our talk about “going electronic” with our record-keeping, our industry certainly generates a lot of paper. Follow your policy on record retention and bilge off the paper that’s past the “retain till” date. Also, thin out the file cabinets and utilize banker boxes to file away information and records that need to be retained but are unlikely to be needed. Label the boxes by dates for efficient retrieval in the event you do need to access them.

DELIVERY VEHICLES NEED SOME LOVE TOO: Your delivery vehicles are rolling billboards, advertising your products and services along with company name, location, and even phone numbers. A dirty van, truck, or courier vehicle can make a bad impression. Spring is a good time to wash, wax, and detail our vehicles. If a vehicle needs body work or some repair, take the time and get it done so your vehicles sparkle on the road.

DONATE / SCRAP METAL / SELL IT WHOLESALE: A company I’ve done some consulting for in the past asked me many years ago what to do with 300 liquid oxygen units. You read that correctly: 300 units. At the time, liquid oxygen had fallen from favor amongst most dealers. Some nursing homes still use them and hospice providers often “milk can” them (rather than filling from vessels which are expensive and cumbersome to maintain) for high liter flow patients. But, the days of companies having hundreds of liquid oxygen customers are mostly behind us. I suggested scrapping them to recoup some of the metal value. The owner hated that idea and couldn’t stand the thought of scrapping equipment that had cost him tens of thousands of dollars to buy new. I’d visit him on an annual basis and watched him try selling them wholesale through a broker, then trying to donate them to a nonprofit that took equipment to third world countries. Finally, after at least five or six years, he realized they were taking up valuable space in his warehouse and scrapped them. “I wish I did that years ago” he admitted during my visit. His warehouse looked huge after clearing out the old equipment. During your spring cleaning, use a discriminating eye to see old, obsolete equipment for what it is. Try to sell it wholesale if there’s a market for it, but if you can’t move it out to a new owner in a couple months, you probably never will. Time to either donate it, scrap it, or throw it away.

ELIMINATE PRODUCT LINES: While you clean and sort, don’t forget to streamline as well. Those TENS unit supplies that have been collecting dust for six or seven years and those catheters that you got in for a specific patient who passed away take up valuable real estate. Even if it’s not obsolete, if you aren’t likely to sell or rent it, it probably can go. Spring cleaning is a good time to consider eliminating whole product lines or categories that aren’t making you money anymore. My wife’s rule of thumb is if some article of clothing hasn’t been worn in the last two years, it’s time to get rid of it. The same applies to your DME store shelves and the products on them.

Cleaning up, reorganizing, and freshening up can breathe new life into an old DME. Take the opportunity to clean and organize this spring and make it an annual ritual.


Topics: Materials Management, Showroom, Retail, Delivery, Warehouse, Equipment