I was talking with a Los Angeles Times reporter about the coronavirus a few days ago, and it spurred several thoughts about down-the-line impacts beyond the obvious. According to the Epoch Times, the coronavirus impacts will hit within the next few months. This makes perfect sense since lead times are typically between 2-3 months for our clients. So, expect current shutdowns to have impact in a few months. While you should obviously spring to action if impacted, you should be thinking about future-proofing your supply chain regardless!
Tag Archive: products
If you are reading our newsletter, I have no doubt you are interested in increasing demand. Whether an owner, executive or key player, increasing demand for your products and services has to be top of mind. Let’s put it this way. No matter the position of my client (typically a CEO, Owner, CFO, General Manager or Board member), he/she is interested in increasing demand. Consequently, the projects we work on are typically related to increasing demand, either directly or indirectly.
I was on a panel about increasing demand at the Anti-seminar Executive Luncheon. We had interesting discussions about demand from several diverse points-of-view. Thanks to Chase Photography, you can see them as a livestream on Facebook – video 1 and video 2 (about 60 minutes total). In thinking about how to increase demand, a few highlights include:
- Observe how your customer uses products and services –An often-overlooked gem is to follow Apple’s lead and observe how your customers are using your products and services and look for ways to enhance their experience. Have you taken a step back lately to look for areas where you can further help your customer? Do you make working with your company onerous? That’s an obvious one yet commonplace. Imagine if you looked further!
- Do you provide a superior customer experience? If you ‘shopped’ your business, would you want to buy from it? Do your customers receive their products and services as ordered and in good quality/ condition? On-time? Quicker than the competition? Do you allow for easy returns? Hopefully you answered yes to each of these. We’ve found that this solely achieves a base level of customer service. Thus, the question becomes, “What are you doing to go over and beyond to make your customer compelled to return to you?”
- Are you referable? First, people buy from people; not companies. Are you people referable? The #1 strategy to increase demand is referrals. No matter whether we are talking about a manufacturer, distributor, transportation partner or service organization, referrals can generate more business than any other method. Just as much as we enjoy buying the latest technology based on the referrals from our friends, the people working at companies also refer. When is the last time you attended an industry event or conferred with local CEOs? You better believe business gets done based on word of mouth.
- What can you take over for your customer? We have found that whether the industry is aerospace and defense, food and beverage, building products or healthcare products, there are opportunities to take over tasks for your customer. One common and prevalent one is to figure out what your customer needs at each of their branches/facilities and keep them replenished so that they have the ‘right’ inventory at the ‘right’ place at the ‘right’ time. We see this as gaining relevance. Distributed inventory is becoming an essential element of the end-to-end supply chain plan as customers expect Amazon-like service and will find someone else if you cannot meet their needs.
When at PaperPak, we won supplier of the year for two years in a row with our #1 healthcare products customer because we implemented vendor managed inventory and were able to maximize their service levels while minimizing their inventory levels (cash tied up throughout their system). It didn’t hurt that we also grew the business by partnering further with them while reducing our costs and inventory levels as well. Have you thought about taking a request from a customer and turning it into increased demand for you?
Our most successful clients are thinking about these types of strategies to increase and manage demand. Why not spend a few minutes to listen to the expert panel and walk away with a few insights? If you’d like an expert to assess your situation to partner with you to achieve these types of results, contact us.
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Our most successful clients always ask “What’s next?” as they want to stay ahead of the curve. It is quite clear that staying on top of current trends and what is expected down-the-road is essential to successfully navigating your business to scalable, profitable growth.
For example, if you think your industry might develop a new way of servicing customers, you need to attack it quickly as you afford to be left in the dust. Clearly, providing an exceptional customer experience is important but so is developing this new service method in a scalable, profitable way. It will be much harder if behind the eight ball. Are you thinking about what is next?
With our definition of the supply chain from creation to customer, there are countless topics to be thinking about when it comes to What’s Next:
- New Products and Services: What new products and services will your customers want? We have found that most customers (just like most of our clients) might not know yet. You better be thinking about it and prompting ideas!
- Suppliers: What new materials, components and supplies will you need to improve performance at a lower cost? (These win-win successes require innovation and collaboration.)
- Transportation: What’s next in transportation? Think of the relevance – from suppliers to manufacturers, from manufacturers to manufacturers, from manufacturers to distributors, from distributors to end customers, from one facility to another facility, and so on.
- Technology: What’s next in technology as it connects each of these people along with equipment, and much more (think IoT) with data and information flows. We find that this often-times can be the bottleneck to achieving scalability.
- Manufacturing: What’s next in manufacturing? Even if you aren’t thinking about using 3D printing, you should be considering the impacts if your competition, your suppliers, your customers and more start using this additive manufacturing capability. It is likely to impact every step of the supply chain. What else is likely to happen in your industry?
- Distribution: What’s next in distribution? In your industry, what is essential? To think about distribution, you must think about your customers’ needs. You also should be thinking about the rest of your supply chain. For example, if 3D printing takes off, it changes the distribution model. If e-commerce continues to be important, your entire setup would change if you are more traditional currently. Do customers want you to take over worrying about what to stock and where to stock it? Perhaps you should suggest taking on VMI/ replenishment.
- Customers: What’s next with your customers? How about your customers’ customers? Are you even talking with your customers’ customers? Do you understand the industry trends throughout your chain? If you aren’t getting out of your office with an internal focus, you won’t. Who have you called lately? Who have you visited? Do you ask questions? Attend conferences?
- People: What’s next with your colleagues and partners? Nothing else will be achievable if you don’t have the best people on the team. It wasn’t that long ago we thought virtual meetings were a big deal. Now they occur daily. (Remember, illennials often-times like coming into the office for the community – and prefer the Google-like environment.)
Thinking about what’s next can distinguish you from your competition. Eventually, a decision will arise that requires this knowledge. If thinking of the future is part of your daily culture, you’ll pass by the rest!
As we head into a New Year, it makes sense to take stock and think about your supply chain shortlist. To get you started, we’ve developed a list of questions to ponder:
- Do you consider your supply chain from the holistic point-of-view? From cradle to grave or product inception to customer reception? If not, you are selling your business short!
- If you were to draw your supply chain for a new hire, would you start with your customer, your supplier or somewhere in the middle? Why? Do you inherently see that as your priority?
- Have you thought about the power of high-tech AND high-touch in your supply chain? Unless you are considering progressive technologies to deliver superior products and services at higher levels of profit, you’re sure to be left in the dust! On the other hand, if you aren’t collaborating with your supply chain partners, you won’t even be in the game to start.
- Have you considered the power of alignment (of demand and supply AND all your departments) while simultaneously considering the power of deliberate debate and misalignment? Find a way to constructively achieve both to maximize business value.
- Have you considered why Southern California is the new center of manufacturing excellence for supply chains across the globe? Stay tuned for my new book, The Coming Power of Manufacturing to hear more about it.