Using Fishbowl Inventory in a service industry

I love the fact that here at Fishbowl we have multiple employees who run their own businesses on the side. Fishbowl is, after all, still a small business (94 employees), and even though we’ve been in business for over 10 years, we have an ongoing entrepreneurial mindset so we tend to attract entrepreneurs. Today’s post is about a couple of those entrepreneurs, Kendrick Hair and Terry Sharp, who went in together to start up a massage business, and yes, they use Fishbowl Inventory to run it.

A massage business? Using Fishbowl!? Yep. But before I get into that, let me give you some basic statistics about their business:

Solase Massage and Oxygen Bar: Kendrick Hair and Terry Sharp
Purchase price of business: $0 (They built it from scratch)
Additional cash required: $137k, which included:
• Rent on the retail space during the renovation
• The actual renovation cost. Massage tables, individual rooms, oxygen bar, etc.
• Managers for two months prior to opening. The managers had to be trained not only on the business but on how to use Fishbowl in a service-type business.
• Advertising in a local mailer and in a parade.
Rent: $2,500/month
Employees: 22 (straight commission for the masseuses)

So, how do you use Fishbowl, which is geared towards manufacturing and wholesale distribution, in a purely service-centered business like a massage parlor? Well, when it gets down to it, a service-type business isn’t all that different from a business that sells physical items. To Fishbowl, a massage has a name, a value, and it can be sold. Yes, it isn’t inventoried like a physical item, but then Fishbowl handles non-inventory items just fine. The only real difference is that when a massage is sold, there is no physical inventory to be reduced. But that’s for the simplest sale of a single massage. What about more complex issues like gift certificates (many massages are sold as gifts), or membership programs and customer groups, like the local running community that gets ongoing discounts?

Gift Certificates
Solase makes most of their sales during the Christmas holidays by selling gift certificates for a year’s worth of massages at a steeply discounted price. So, what’s the best way to track gift certificates in Fishbowl Inventory and be certain that no one is duplicating the certificates they have received? Solase avoids the issue by creating uniquely serialized “Massages” in Fishbowl and storing them in virtual inventory (again, even though these are not physical items, it doesn’t matter to Fishbowl). Each month in the packet of 12 virtual certificates has its own unique serial number, which is tracked by Fishbowl. The customer is then given a packet of 12 certificates (kind of like a packet of tickets) with the same serial numbers. Then, when the customer comes in with their serialized ticket for their massage, the corresponding serial number in Fishbowl is pulled from the virtual inventory and used up (“Quickshipped” in Fishbowl terminology). That way, duplicate tickets, if any, can easily be identified.

Membership Programs
Fishbowl allows for any customer to be tracked in the program and assigned to any specific membership or customer group that applies. For example, Solase has built up a strong reputation with the local running community and therefore offers them ongoing standard discounts. Once that customer has been entered into the Fishbowl database and assigned to a specific discount group, all discounts are automatically applied from that point forward, regardless of whether or not the customer mentions they are part of the group. All discounts, along with the appropriate name for the discount (like maybe, Runners Discount: 20%) are automatically printed on the receipt so the group member always knows if they paid full price or not. Simple and straightforward.

Solase has been in business for about two years now and is doing well (In fact, they’re doing so well that the local panhandler on the other side of the parking lot comes in for a regular massage, but that’s a different story). Next year they plan to start expanding into other stores or possibly franchising the concept. Good luck, my friends!

Next Time: Ever think about opening a shoe store? Well, Fishbowl’s Malcolm Felt and John Erickson not only have thought about it; they’ve done it with Sole Envy at the Provo Towne Center Mall.

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About Grant Kimball

Grant Kimball is currently serving as vice president, partner relations and is one of the founders of Fishbowl. Grant joined the original Fishbowl team in 2001 and has filled many roles in, or related to, sales. Previous to his current role, he was vice president of sales and marketing. Grant brings 24 years of sales experience to Fishbowl, primarily in technology-related fields. In 2003, Grant helped steer Fishbowl towards integration with QuickBooks, the popular accounting package from Intuit Corporation. Since 2003, Fishbowl has focused on this relationship and is currently the #1-requested add-on software solution for QuickBooks users out of approximately 300 software packages. Besides the relationship with Intuit, Grant is also responsible for developing Fishbowl’s growing resellers program, which he is currently managing, and now accounts for over 20% of Fishbowl’s total sales. Grant earned a Master’s in Computer Integrated Manufacturing from Brigham Young University and a Bachelor’s in Operations Management from Cal Poly, Pomona.
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