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"I just wanted to say Thank You for all your help over the years. I truly loved Latitude and could not have imagined running that business without it - You have an amazing product and are great people to work with!"

Russ  Raburn, Operations Manager
Tile City
Chico, CA

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A Clean Warehouse Saves You Money

Who knew that something as simple as keeping a neighborhood clean could lead to a reduction in violent crime?

The Broken Windows Theory is discussed at length in Malcolm Gladwell's bestselling book, "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference." Based on an article originally published in The Atlantic Monthly back in 1982, the Broken Windows Theory examines how something as simple as removing graffiti and fixing smashed windows in urban public housing projects can dramatically reduce the crime rate in the area. Not just small petty crimes, but larger, more violent ones as well.

Neglecting a piece of property by allowing broken windows to go unfixed, and garbage to pile up, allows others to view the area as rife for mischief, because an area that no one is tending to is an area that is safe from oversight. Vandals who come across an apartment complex in which the grounds are untended, the garbage is piling up, and the windows are broken will see the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the neglect. A property that shows no distinct ownership or management is a great place to sell drugs, for instance. Gang tags will abound.

However, if smaller issues are fixed, even the bigger problems are affected. New York City found this out when they began arresting people for fare-skipping on the subways and cleaning up areas of urban blight. Although it seems unlikely, even crimes as serious as the murder rate in a large city can be affected by tiny changes. If potential criminals see that smaller crimes are seriously prosecuted, they think twice before committing larger crimes.

How does this apply to your warehouse? Well, hopefully the murder rate in your warehouse is already extremely low, but negligence on behalf of the management can easily lead to carelessness on behalf of the staff.

If your warehouse is unkempt, if your inventory is unlabeled, if you don't have strict rules in place to monitor and maintain your barcode scanners, you're setting up the perfect environment for loss of revenue due to mismanagement and theft. It's not that employees will see an unswept floor and immediately start raiding your bins for high-priced goods; it's that if they feel that you don't care about your warehouse (and by extension, your inventory), they don't need to care, either.

Why should they? If you don't take pride in ownership, if you don't fix your broken windows, why should your employees care what happens to each shipment of iPods or lugnuts or replacement bulbs?

Pride of ownership doesn't mean that you spend every waking moment polishing your floors and winking at your own reflection in the buffed and glossy windowpanes. It means instilling a sense of discipline through the smallest of gestures: sweeping floors and clearing surfaces of debris. Labeling bins with all of the correct data and constantly updating your workflow to accommodate changing sales figures or inventory velocities. Making sure that all bar codes are learned in your WMS.

It may mean implementing a cycle counting regimen, which both ensures a constant actualization of your inventory, but also can save you from having to perform an actual two- or three-day physical inventory at the end of the year.

Providing a clean work environment does more than convey a sense of pride of ownership and of workmanship, it helps to provide a sense of respect for coworkers and employees. If you expect and provide a workplace that is clean and safe, good employees will sense that the situation is beneficial to them. Their safety and comfort, to say nothing of their job performance, is affected by warehouse conditions.

Taking the Broken Windows theory under consideration, and making small changes to your work environment through cleanliness and organization, may provide larger and lasting changes to your warehouse's overall productivity.