Summary: In step 4 we make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

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Text: Lamentations 3:40 Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord

At a very young age I was first exposed to the drudgery of taking an annual inventory. First at the family grocery business and later in pharmacies. At these times I did not consider it a fun job. I would ask “why are we doing this” and the answer, as I recall, was because we have to - the Internal Revenue Service requires us to do an inventory once a year. Maybe they actually did not know or didn’t think an 11 year old would grasp complicated business strategy. As a young pharmacist I still didn’t understand what we were doing other than it was an I.R.S. requirement or some “bean counter” needed a number. I was more than willing to relinquish territory and let the bean counter get his own numbers but they never seemed to appreciate my offer. Taking inventory did not fit nicely into my concept of the things I wanted to do as a pharmacist. It was boring, it always involved overtime without pay, it was poorly organized and I was expected to accomplish my normal tasks in addition to doing the boring and tedious job of counting the inventory. The real joy killer was that nobody seemed to do anything of significance with the data obtained.

You can imagine my reaction when I learned as an new owner of a Medicine Shoppe franchise that I was expected to perform a complete inventory every three months. However, I noticed quickly that the franchise owners who worked the programs were successful and made money. Those who fought the programs, or only went through the motions, usually failed or at least failed to thrive. I elected to be a team player. Suddenly I had a vested interest in this process --- my attitude changed. I did the four inventories a year and my organizational skills allowed me to make innovations that resulted in the task being expedited. I started to understand why we were doing this. We had a limited amount of money to invest in inventory. More critical than money was space. In an 800 square foot pharmacy we could not allocate space for items that did not sell. There was no place available for nostalgia or “we always had this before“. The money and space could better be used. We could not afford to waste valuable space for items that produced no profit or prevented us from stocking items that could generate profit by a better utilization of resources. I transformed my thinking completely on this task. At first I only saw this as drudgery to accommodate a regulatory or accounting requirement. I saw no useful application. I came to see this function as a vital tool in my success in business. Once I saw the usefulness, I honed in on the process constantly making it more efficient and accurate. With the appearance of computers, I was able to keep perpetual inventories and totals that were only available four times a year with the expenditure of thirty plus man hours could be obtained in minutes every hour if necessary using virtually no man hours. A task that began as drudgery became a task that I had great enthusiasm for once I saw the benefits.

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