Tag Archive: customer experience

UGG Founder, the Amazon Effect in Healthcare & Why Demand is Key

February 8th, 2019

In listening to the UGG founder, Brian Smith talk through his trials and tribulations in developing the amazing UGG brand, a few themes emerged.

  1. Resilience in finding pivot points when obstacles emerged played a vital role in creating the UGG brand.  
  2. The benefit is what matters; not the product.
  3. Creating demand goes back to being a leader in the category when the market shifts.

What a great story!

Next, related to the demand theme, I spoke to the Professional Women in Healthcare (PWH) Orange County group about the Amazon Effect. As a former Executive of a healthcare manufacturer, it was fun to have an interactive discussion with these leaders. Interestingly, healthcare manufacturers and distributors are experiencing the same issues as aerospace, building products and food & beverage. How to keep up with demand (or preferably get ahead of it) while increasing profit and accelerating cash flow (not having a bunch of inventory tied up for no benefit) is the topic on everyone’s mind. Aligning demand and supply and related parties is the trick!

Demand emerges as a common theme. Therefore, I’d like to invite you to an executive lunch centered on the topic, “Increase Demand“. I am speaking on a panel of experts on driving demand in your business. Use early bird promo V25 for a 25% discount. Hope you’ll join us there.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Every client has a focus on demand. Typically, they are thinking about how to grow the business in a scalable, profitable way, which leads to a mountain of questions about forecasting and how to get in front of demand.

Interestingly, it ALL goes back to one place, the customer. Do you have a passion for your customers and creating a superior customer experience? If so, demand will grow. If not, it won’t. In watching countless organizations over the last 14 years in consulting, I’ve yet to see one that succeeded long-term without this essential ingredient. Have you?

If you have a passion for the customer as the CEO or General Manager, that is a great place to start. However, it is not enough. Your sales team is relevant but the most successful clients view the entire organization as the sales team with a passion for the customer. Ask a trusted colleague to visit your facility. They will be able to ‘feel’ whether there is a passion for the customer or not. Ask them.

If the most successful executives have a focus on demand, it is worth noting. Are you providing lip service to the customer or are you creating this view within your organization? There is also a tremendous amount of focus going into understanding demand with forecasting tools, analytics, artificial intelligence, and more. Do you have a clear path forward as it relates to demand? Of course, this topic also relates strongly to creating a resilient supply chain. Only the most successful companies predict and proactively engage customers to get ahead of demand.

To learn more about these strategies, check out our new series:



Manufacturing Adds the Most Jobs in the New Year

February 1st, 2019

According to Industry Week, manufacturing employment increased almost 300,000 over the last year!  This is after increasing around 200,000 the year prior – more than a 40% increase. This is much more significant than the numbers alone convey because, according to the National Association of Manufacturers, for every $1 spent in manufacturing, $1.89 is added to the economy.  Manufacturing is hot and relevant.

Not only is manufacturing relevant to the economy, it is relevant to the customer experience.  Have you thought about how much more flexible you can be with your customers’ desires if you can manufacture on the fly? There won’t be a better time to ride this wave to success. Are you debating or jumping on?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Whether you are in manufacturing or related to manufacturing or impacted by manufacturing, you should pay attention. As manufacturing surges and takes on a new relevance in the economy and to your ability to provide a superior customer experience, you might have opportunities to grow and scale your business to new heights. Have you thought about how you’ll take advantage of these opportunities?  Will you be a follower or an innovator?

At a minimum, being informed about manufacturing and supply chain industries, latest trends and opportunities seems like a good idea.  Join an organization such as the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM/APICS) and participate with classes, tours and webinars, read articles on the topic (there are hundreds, if not thousands, in the archives), listen to experts, pick up the Wall Street Journal or attend an industry event. Why not kick off the New Year informed?  Being informed is part of what’s needed in creating a resilient supply chain. For additional strategies to create a resilient supply chain, check out our new series:



What’s Ahead for Business?

January 26th, 2019

Thinking about our clients, colleagues and trade association/ trusted partner contacts from across multiple industries and company sizes, four overarching themes emerge in response to the question, “What’s ahead for business?”.

 

 

  1. The Customer Experience: It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about manufacturing, logistics, healthcare or services, the customer experience is of paramount importance. This is quite different from customer service! The customer experience relates to how the customer feels after interactions with you and your firm. Whether you achieved perfect OTIF (on-time-in-full) or not, if the customer doesn’t want to do business with you, you haven’t achieved a superior customer experience. What will you do to up the ante?
  2. The Holistic View: Although this is a common thread in our client conversations, it isn’t commonplace. Having a Holistic View has become a “must” as the global marketplace is more interconnected than ever before; systems and technology are more connected with everyday interactions; and, the customer and profit go hand-in-hand. Clients who address a singular topic such as running a kaizen instead of looking at the holistic view of what will dramatically improve their business performance will be left in the dust. Are you looking at what your executives or board are asking about or are you taking a step back to look at your business from the holistic view?
  3. Volatility is the New Norm: The stock markets and business performance are becoming less and less related to one another.  Yet, both are volatile. There is uncertainty in global trade, government shutdowns, the impact of artificial intelligence and robots, natural disasters like the California fires, what the disruptors such as Netflix and Uber will do next and much more. Are you thinking about how to create a resilient end-to-end supply chain?
  4. The Coming Power of Manufacturing and Supply Chain:No matter your industry, you better pay attention! For example, according to a Healthcare Finance article, by 2020, supply chain expenses will eclipse labor as the new number one cost in healthcare. Also, according to a Chairman at the City of Hope, the cure for several types of cancer is within reach but will be cost prohibitive unless manufacturers figure out how to produce in volume and less expensively. Certainly, Amazon is turning the world upside down, creating an entirely new relevance to the art of maximizing service, inventory and margins simultaneously. Re-shoring is on the rise, additive manufacturing is uniquely positioned to transform industries (customized, immediate products on demand) and bringing the customer closer to the source is a recipe for success. Do you still see manufacturing as outsourced to China or as a force?

Our most successful clients will be thinking about these trends to integrate into their strategy, their customer conversations and their employee and partner plans. Are you positioned to take advantage of the opportunities and avoid the risks? If you would like an expert to assess your situation, contact us.

Did you like this article?  Continue reading on this topic:

Do You Have an Eye to the Future?

Disruption, Innovation, Global Trends & the APICS-IE Symposium 

 



Supply Resiliency: Video Interview on Disruption in Logistics

December 4th, 2018

Next in our supply chain resiliency value series, we are excited to share an interview with BJ Patterson, President of Pacific Mountain Logistics.  Thanks to B.J. for sharing his expertise on the Manufacturing Summit’s panel “Amazon Effect: Pass or Play – the New Sales & Distribution Game and How it Affects Manufacturing”.   

B.J. is responding to a question related to supply chain resiliency on disruptions in logistics.  In essence, the key question is: How to maintain margins throughout the supply chain when:

1) We ship a single item vs. a pallet of items in terms of warehousing/material handling inefficiencies

2) Customers’ orders require many more truck trips than ever before

3) Truck space is at a premium and we are shipping a lot of air since Amazon-like shipments often have 1 item in a large box on a truck.  

Certainly, there are no easy answers.  However, we must be thinking about how we’ll create supply chain resiliency so we can thrive with these changing market conditions.

 


With an increasing frequency, supply chain partners are pulling together to find solutions to these types of challenges.  Moreover, the strategic use of data is at a premium. If you can better coordinate all of these ever-changing market conditions to gain visibility and efficiencies within your extended supply chain, you just might take the lead in your industry.  

Our most successful clients don’t wait for these disruptors to crush them.  Instead, they are always looking for potential disruptors and searching for solutions.  They take proactive approaches to take the lead position instead of disappointing customers in an era where the customer experience is of paramount importance.  

What are you doing to navigate these logistics disruptors? We are always interested in feedback and ideas to share.

 



The Resilient Supply Chain: Does Supplier Negotiation Work?

October 29th, 2018

In today’s Amazonian environment, it is quite clear that the customer’s experience is #1.  It doesn’t matter what issues you have.  If you cannot make sure that your product or service is delivered on-time with a value-add at a reasonable price, you will lose the business.  

The Squeeze
In talking with a group of aerospace CEOs who are being squeezed between the Tier 1/2 suppliers (those who supply Boeing and Airbus with plane ready parts) and their suppliers who are metals suppliers (mills/metals service centers) and outside processors, it is a tough position to hold!  However, just as Mirna Elnar, CEO of Acrua Spas said in our supply chain resiliency video series, there is always a solution when you think innovation.

The Win-Win
In this example, many of the suggested solutions from executives and procurement resources alike were to find opportunities to redesign/improve the product and process to achieve a “win” for the Tier 1/2 suppliers (improved manufacturability with better efficiencies and/or less scrap, less materials while maintaining specs/ performance, having the “right” inventory in the “right” place at the “right” time etc.) while also achieving a “win” for the CEO (better margins/ better cash flow) and ideally a “win” for their suppliers (more predictable demand, etc.).  A win-win-win is achievable if you look hard enough.

A Dose of Reality
This relates to a situation I found myself in while VP of Operations & Supply Chain for a mid-market manufacturer.  We found private-equity backers and were able to make cash flow by the “skin of our teeth”. We even were able to convince suppliers to take a haircut.  So far, so good. Then, oil and gas prices rose which impacted 70% of our material cost which impacted 70% of overall cost. NOT good. Also, we found that our product lines were all mixed up (which ones cost less to produce vs. the sales price for various customer segments) because we had recently merged three companies into one.  Also NOT good.

Our customers were a bit angry about service issues that arose when we cut over to a new system and merged the three businesses into one.  Also NOT good. And the largest segment of the business hadn’t updated products in years because they planned to sell and were desperate need of an upgrade to grow sales.  A fact but also NOT good. Lastly, our product is light but fluffy (which makes it larger in size) which carries a high transportation cost. NOT good either. But we had good suppliers and an innovative and committed team.  GOOD! So, how did we turn this into a “win-win-win”?

We decided to kick off a redesign project to find a way to straighten out the product tiers, improve performance of the product, reduce the cost of the product and reduce the freight cost associated with the product to boot.  A bit of a tall order? Yes, but a challenge as well!

We were successful in achieving ALL of these objectives by turning supplier negotiation on its head.  Instead of demanding price concessions, we partnered, provided upfront information on our objectives (including cost reduction objectives), collaborated on the design of new/improved materials, redesigned products and packaging, collaborated with customers to make sure we aligned with their needs and priorities, collaborated with equipment suppliers to put it all together and turned supplier negotiation into customer collaboration. 

The Result? We achieved a win for our customers, our business (and therefore our private-equity backers) as well as our suppliers.  There are too many people to thank but a quick shout out to Bill Weber, Keith White and Rick Finlayson seems appropriate.

Are you stuck in thinking about cost concessions or are you looking for the “win-win-win”?