“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” That’s the philosophy of Mike Wappler, president of Lucky Electric Supply. The Memphis, Tennessee-based distributor is just starting to use Fishbowl Inventory to manage its warehouse, and the employees have discovered that Wappler’s saying is an apt metaphor for learning how to use a new warehouse management system.
Lucky Electric Supply has been in business since 1966. They sell new and used industrial electrical supplies – fuses, breakers, motor control centers, switch gears, wires, and even a few one-of-a-kind items. In May, they were named one of the top 5 small businesses with 20 or fewer employees by the Memphis Business Journal. So they’re definitely doing a lot of things right.
To keep growing, Lucky Electric Supply realized they need to have stronger warehouse management. They wanted to improve their customer service by always having the right products in stock when customers call, and the best way to do that is with software. Luckily, they learned that warehouse management software can actually be affordable when they found Fishbowl Mobile Warehouse.
Fishbowl Mobile Warehouse does a lot of things for a business, like calculate reorder points, track shipments, generate inventory reports and much more. It takes some effort to learn how to use all these features. If you were in charge of putting one in place, how would you explain to your employees all the intricacies of a warehouse management system without making them feel overwhelmed? Marla O’Brien, the accounting manager at Lucky Electric Supply, came up with an ingenious solution to this challenge.
Marla’s plan is to write down questions and answers about specific software features. Then she seals them in plastic bags full of Goldfish crackers and puts the bags in a fishbowl (nice touch). As employees walk by, they can grab a healthy snack and learn more about the software.
How did Marla come up with such a simple solution to a complex problem? She explains, “I have been blessed with a bit of a creative streak and the idea just materialized one day while I was thinking about ways to teach the employees and make it fun. It is really hard to get training that sticks when you have to teach a lot in a short time. I thought if they could pick up little snippets of how the program will work, then maybe they can retain it better.”
Food for Thought
These fish notes aren’t meant to take the place of full software training. But when Lucky Electric Supply employees receive in-depth training on how to use the warehouse management software, they’ll already have a firm grasp of it instead of starting from scratch. And they’ll hopefully be hungry for even more food for thought.
The next time you face a daunting task, whether it’s learning how to use new software or running a successful business, take Wappler’s advice and cut problems down to size by doing one small thing at a time. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish with a little creativity and effort.