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Stew Cues: Keeping inventory time-consuming, but crucial

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Stew Cues: by Alene Keenan

In a business, an inventory is a list of current assets that are essential for day-to-day business. Inventories are always important on a yacht, but even more so as one season ends and another begins. Crew will run out of goods and materials needed to perform their jobs if supplies are not monitored. 

A departmental inventory is an itemized list of necessities for that sector. It’s important to know the quantity of goods on hand, as well as the quantity needed to provide the proper level of service. Without groceries, the chef cannot plan meals. Without appliances and pots and pans, the chef cannot prepare food. Without enough place mats, napkins, plates, glasses and silverware, stews cannot serve meals. 

Keeping a continuous interior breakage and damage list makes it easy to plan replacements of dishes, glasses, linens, appliances and furniture that need to be replaced before a new season begins. The inventory is updated accordingly as items are added or discarded. 

To create an inventory, take photos or videos of each room and work area. Open all closets, drawers and cabinets, and list all furniture, accessories, and various items. Expensive or unique pieces should be accurately documented and dated to show their condition. Many yachts have very expensive artwork, sculptures and paintings that a conservator from the insurance agency should appraise. Store one copy digitally and one hard copy in a binder or notebook for easy access.

For the interior and galley, include dishes, glassware, silverware, service items, appliances, tools and equipment. Store manuals and information for each appliance in a file for future reference. Keep a detailed list of linens, uniforms, clothing, watches and jewelry kept on board. Include the original cost and date of purchase, if known, along with records of repairs or alterations that could increase or decrease the value of goods. The current value of an item is an estimate of what it would be worth to others.

Be as descriptive and accurate as possible. For furnishings, include wood and fabric types. For soft goods and clothing,  include materials and fabrics, designer or brand name, and size or dimensions. It is especially important to have accurate information on bed linens and towels so replacements can be easily sourced and customized. For appliances, watches, electronics and collectibles, record the manufacturer, model and serial number.

An Excel spreadsheet is commonly used, but other types of documents work as well. Compiling photos and videos, editing them, and creating files is time-consuming. 

There is an iPhone app called RUYA PDF Report that collects your photos and descriptions and creates a PDF that is easily shared via email or text. It includes the date, title and subtitle, and space for a description and main image. Other photos are taken next, a description is included, and the report quickly and easily sums up the collection in PDF form. Once completed, it must be texted or emailed to save it.  

Keep in mind that inventory is current assets on the yacht’s balance sheet. Too much of anything can be detrimental. If products expire or get damaged, it is money wasted. Learning to control inventory increases efficiency, and that is always the goal to keep in mind. 

Alene Keenan is former lead instructor of interior courses at Maritime Professional Training in Fort Lauderdale. She shares more than 20 years experience as a stew in her book, “The Yacht Guru’s Bible: The Service Manual for Every Yacht,” available at yachtstewsolutions.com. Comments are welcome below.

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