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Summer Days and Back to School

September 30th, 2019

This summer, I was able to make a few weekend/long weekend jaunts including a trip to the wedding of my good friend Valerie’s daughter’s in Dana Point, a trip for the weekend in Sequoia with my two best friends (pictured with the big tree, not surprisingly), a trip to San Diego and Disneyland with my brothers and nephew (last two rows), and I just got back from helping my mom with several projects as well as helping my nephew move in for his freshman year at NAU. Whew! I need a vacation from my vacations!

As we think about how quickly the summer flew by and that we are quite literally ‘back to school’, it makes me wonder about the speed of life. Just as with Amazon (and now with Fed Ex, Home Depot, and B2B customers following suit), we want rapid response and quick results. Are we also taking the time to think? As a colleague says in her book, perhaps we need to “slow down to speed up“….

One Tip to Implement This Week:
Have you thought about “slowing down to speed up”? With that said, I also know some colleagues who appear to have “slowed down”, and that doesn’t cut it either. We are in interesting times. We must be quicker, more nimble and on top of our game with every interaction. What are you doing to rejuvenate, stimulate new ideas (as we don’t appear to be on top of our game if we are stretched too thin), meet new people and get one step quicker every day while not losing quality?  Perhaps you need a mentor, coach, strategy group or trusted colleague to collaborate?

Similarly to “slowing down to speed up”, how do we become more resilient while facing more disruption? Gain some ideas in videos, blogs and more…

 



The Power of WHY And Your Business

September 26th, 2019

I was always the inquisitive, and sometimes annoying, child in elementary school asking the teacher WHY as it pertained to certain math problems as I wanted to understand how and WHY that answer was correct or WHY my answer wasn’t. In most cases it was easy to understand and absorb but on at least 2 occasions my annoying questions of WHY uncovered mistakes in the grading book, much to the chagrin and embarrassment of my teacher. As I grew I applied the WHY to learning and competing in sports…WHY does that method produce better results than that method. So through my 40+ years of executive sales leadership and business ownership I’ve never lost site of how WHY can be used to succeed. So…let’s talk about how WHY may be the most powerful word you can apply to your business.

  • “WHY do customers buy and not buy our products or services?”
  • “WHY do we exist as a company?”
  • “WHY does our sales team continually miss their sales goals?”
  • “WHY did our competitor take away business from our top customer?”
  • “WHY do our employees like to work here?”

These and hundreds more can be the key to your success if you take the time to understand the power of the word WHY and how you can use it to identify business problems and uncover the solutions to those same problems.

Let’s take a quick look at the first question above: “WHY do customers buy our products or services?” Pretty simple and straight-forward, right? Well…in many cases it’s not that straight-forward and requires you to take a deep dive into every aspect of your business and not be afraid of what you might find. From your Business Value Proposition to understanding how each department impacts the Customer Experience, to how you manage warranty claims, to shipping orders on time, to how you handle delinquent accounts without losing the customer, to how your products or services can make or save money, to something as simple as the tone of your voice when you answer the phone and on and on and on. The Power Of WHY is the single most powerful word you can use in assessing you business.

Let’s look at how the Power Of WHY can be used to identify issues in your business.

COMPANY A – Manufactures plumbing products, have 5 key competitors and have declining sales the past 2 years. WHY are their sales stagnant? The CEO sits down his management team and works through a brainstorming and information gathering event they have called Operation WHY. Here are some of the questions and team answers:

 WHY do customers buy our products?

  • We have a vast line of products so customers can obtain most everything they need from a single source.
  • We’ve been in business 42 years and are known as an industry leader.
  • We ship 97% of all orders the same day.
  • Our products have low warranty claims.

 

WHY are our sales stagnant and not growing?

  • We haven’t stayed ahead of the competition who has developed some new products that our customers want and need.
  • Our company has lost it customer-first commitment.
  • We had turnover in Customer Service and have issues with attitudes and lack of relationship building.
  • Competitor A is targeting our key accounts and offering lower pricing on several of our key products.
  • Competitor B offers an extra 15 day terms to all their larger customers.
  • New account and pipeline development has declined.

Do you see some key trouble signs here? Absolutely…Competition is luring customers or part of their business away because they are In It To Win It. Company A has stopped being the industry leader in many critical aspects of their business and lost out to more aggressive and forward-thinking competitors.

Hopefully this exercise was a wake-up call for the management of Company A and they re-commit themselves to being the best in every aspect of their business as just having a great product is only a part of WHY customers buy from you. Like Lean Manufacturing Best Practices, you must constantly evolve and improve as a business and the Power Of WHY is a great place to start.

Another aspect of business is understanding who contributes to a positive customer experience. This is part of your “WHY do they buy from us analysis?”. Since People Do Business With People, the first exposure to your company may be the salesperson BUT…they aren’t the only ones who contribute to the overall Customer Experience. Anyone that interfaces with your customers such as the Receptionist, Customer Service, Delivery Person, Accounting, Technical Support, Operations and more are representatives of your company and your reputation is in their hands. You will succeed by making sure that everyone who interfaces with customers have the same commitment to treating customers as they would want to be treated themselves. If your first cultural business change is the Customer Experience then you are off to a great start.

WHY CHANGE? – WHY NOT?

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Which State Has the Most Manufacturing? The Answer Might Surprise You…

September 25th, 2019

According to an Industry Week article on the US 500: Top Manufacturing States, which state is #1 in terms of having the most manufacturing headquarters? California! Certainly, CA is not a manufacturing-friendly state in most places (although there is an initiative to create an advanced manufacturing consortium of excellence in the Inland Empire which is gaining support across the board). Manufacturers account for 10.93% of total output in the state and employ 7.2% of the workforce. Neither of these figures is #1 but the total output of $300 billion with an average of 1.3 million manufacturing employees does! #2 is Texas, followed by Illinois, Ohio and New York.

One of the reasons manufacturing is bucking the trends so far is that there are a vast number of consumers and companies in California, and in today’s Amazonian environment, rapid, customized deliveries are the norm. Thus, proximity matters. California is larger than all but 6 countries! The powerhouse of manufacturing is Southern CA. Additionally, California and specifically the Inland Empire is #1 in logistics in the U.S. According to research by a University of Redlands professor, logistics is at the center of what’s called an onion structure. It is the lifeline of the economy. Manufacturing co-locates or locates next to the logistics lifeline. Supporting services form the next layer of the onion, followed by all others such as retail, construction, leisure and hospitality.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
For one, all this talk about “manufacturing being dead and gone to Asia” is obviously an exaggeration. In fact, we are starting to see executives look at reshoring as rapid delivery is of paramount importance. After all, everyone is scrambling to provide one-day delivery to keep up with Amazon, and B2B customers are expecting B2C service as well!

Further, we are seeing a SHARP increase in concern over high inventory levels to support these service levels. Some clients are concerned about the cost impact of tariffs and inventory levels and others are just becoming more focused on managing cash so they can better utilize existing resources to launch new products and services, invest in the business and more.

Since manufacturing is directly correlated to logistics, trusted advisors and other industries, it is worth paying attention. Start thinking about potential impacts such as the following:

  • Will your supply base change or move with the changing times?
  • Will capacity be available? Suppliers, transportation partners, manufacturing operations, equipment, skilled resources etc.
  • Are you agile so that you can meet changing conditions rapidly and without a significant hit to your customer experience or bottom line?
  • Do you have a skills gap? Please take our brief survey.

If there ever was a topic related to the resilient supply chain, this would be it! We have recently upgraded and added content to our resilient supply chain series.



The Talent / Skills Gap & My Request to You

September 22nd, 2019

Several years ago, we performed research on the Skills Gap in conjunction with APICS Inland Empire. We found that 87% of manufacturers, distributors and significant service operations were experiencing a skills gap at that time. Fast-forward six years, and the business environment seems quite similar yet vastly different when it comes to key talent.

Finding, attracting and retaining talent remains a top priority for executives. However, there is a lot of noise about people or robots and how automation and artificial intelligence will change the landscape forever. Executives also continue to expect more as customers expect more. Technology continues to advance and adoption rates are starting to increase especially as employers seek ways to provide an exceptional customer experience while still making money. And, as we found six years ago, communication skills seem to be ever important.

My Request for You:
We’ve updated and modernized the Skills Gap survey to ask a few questions specifically related to technology. We are confident it will provide a value-add to our clients, colleagues, partners and newsletter subscribers to get ahead of what’s important as it relates to the talent and skills gap. Thus, please take 5 minutes or less to fill out our Skills Gap survey.

 

 



Manufacturing Expert, Lisa Anderson, Sees Impacts of Artificial Intelligence on Manufacturing Profit, Inventory Levels and Cash

September 20th, 2019

Manufacturing Expert, Lisa Anderson, Sees Impacts of
Artificial Intelligence on Manufacturing Profit, Inventory Levels and Cash

CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA – September 19, 2019 –  Manufacturing and Supply Chain Expert,  Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD, president of LMA Consulting Group Inc., predicts that artificial intelligence (AI) and human learning will impact most aspects of manufacturing resulting in improved profits, inventory levels and cash.

“Our manufacturing clients have really embraced the power of AI since the first of the year.  From improved forecast accuracy impacting inventory levels to more openly working with changing customer needs and the overall customer experience, manufacturers are seeing the effects of using this data,” Ms. Anderson commented. LMA Consulting Group works with manufacturers and distributors on strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation to maximize the customer experience and enable profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth.

“Despite the fact that manufacturing, especially in Inland Southern California continues to be strong, manufacturers need to be smart. By integrating AI with tried and true techniques such as SIOP (Sales, Inventory and Operations Planning) and taking advantage of predictive analytics and other human learning technologies in conjunction with ERP systems, manufacturers can become better at forecasting and exceeding customer expectations.  In fact, for every one percent improvement in forecast accuracy, there can be a seven percent improvement in inventory levels and therefore cashflow,” she said.

In an effort to support clients, Ms. Anderson is active with the Board of Directors of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, where she represents the Logistics Council whose initiative is developing a consortium for logistics, supply chain and advanced manufacturing success. “AI and other forms of technology are transforming manufacturing as we know it. From reevaluating sourcing and enabling robots to predictive maintenance and shortened design times, AI offers up vast potential. Successful manufacturers are strengthening their hold. Supply chain and other manufacturing professionals are sharpening their skills to take advantage of these resources. It takes work, smart management and a strong team to be successful. A perfect storm for manufacturing success. The evidence is in the growth we see in Inland Southern California (also known as the Inland Empire),” she concluded.

About LMA Consulting Group – Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD

Lisa Anderson is the founder and president of LMA Consulting Group, Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in manufacturing strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation.  She focuses on maximizing the customer experience and enabling profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth. Ms. Anderson is a recognized Supply Chain thought leader by SelectHub, named a Top 40 B2B Tech Influencer by arketi group, 50 ERP Influencer by Washington-Frank, a top 46 most influential in Supply Chain by SAP and named a top woman influencer by Solutions Review. She recently published, I’ve Been Thinking, 101 strategies for creating bold customer promises and profits. A regular content contributor on topics including a superior customer experience with SIOP, advancing innovation and making the supply chain resilient, Ms. Anderson is regularly interviewed and quoted by publications such as Industry Week, tED magazine and the Wall Street Journal.  For information, to sign up for her Profit Through PeopleTM Newsletter or for a copy of her book, visit LMA-ConsultingGroup.com.
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Media Contact
Kathleen McEntee | Kathleen McEntee & Associates, Ltd. | p. (760) 262 – 4080 | KMcEntee@KMcEnteeAssoc.com