Are Your Suppliers Relevant?
Innately, it seems, that the fundamentals of business have not changed that much for millennia. However, I would say that as humans, our efficiencies have greatly increased. What used to take a team of secretaries with typewriters, now takes a laptop and spell check. Del Sol is heavily involved in equipment sales and plant building. In order to compete in this market, we have to stay relevant. So exactly what does this mean?
Del Sol works very hard to know well the products and services we offer. There was a time in industry when foundries and other factories had a team of engineers and staff to decide what is needed, design a solution, and put it in place. Our current times of higher efficiency and "lean" have stripped away much of this capability. The work still has to get done. The design suggestions still have to be made. But by who?
Who develops the parameters of need and determines how to fulfill them? We find that it is commonly suppliers that now fill the role of design engineer / planner. Is this the best position to be in? Not always. Frankly, it puts vendors in the hot seat of decisions, success, and sometimes, failure to meet "expectations". But, this is the modern world of equipment and plant sales.
We do our very best to suggest and supply to our customer's needs but we unfortunately find that the entire list of needs or expectations is not supplied at the time of quotation or order. Then, we all scramble like mad to try to meet expectations. It has taught us to slow down, to do our best to try and figure out what the customer really wants, and to quote a piece of equipment that will accomplish the stated and unstated goals and at the same time compete with someone to win the job.
We also find that in meeting our customer's needs, the price gets driven up in order to provide a 100% coverage solution. In this, it is easy to get undercut by other vendors who's equipment will not be 100% satisfactory.
- First, if you have an upcoming project, try your best to define, in writing, what you need to accomplish to give your vendors an equal opportunity to meet your needs.
- Second, measure the relevance of your suppliers. Do you buy from them because they are helping you get better? Are your current suppliers actively helping you improve your business?
- Third, measure the relevance of your business. Are you relevant? What do you bring to your customer's table. Are you providing solutions that make others better?