The People on the BusWritten By: Ron Slee
Article Date: 11-01-2007
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
Talk to the people who got your business to where it is today.
Who's driving excellence in your product support departments? Probably it's the core of good employees who got us this far in the business - but how do we keep them motivated and involved? A few months ago I talked about the shortage of employees, "Attracting and Retaining Talented Employees (August 2007)." This is a critical subject and one that must be considered seriously. But another equally important and often-overlooked group of people are also in the workplace - the people who got us to where we are today.
You are probably one of them. You have been around, you are the point of reference for many people in your department, you answer a lot of questions, and perhaps you are in the twilight of your career. Does that sound familiar?
How do we keep this group of talented employees who have been at the job for 20 or more years charged up? How do you stay charged up on the job? Normally it would be appropriate to talk about this group of employees as folks who can lead the charge of change. They know how everything works and what the shortfalls are within each task and system. Yet somehow they resist change; no, not all of them - just most of them. I would like to get them involved in helping us get the operational effectiveness and customer satisfaction that we need in order to be the best supplier in the equipment industry.
Wouldn't you? And in the process of engaging them, they will become reinvigorated about their work.
In the Balanced Scorecard presentation at AED's Executive Forum, you heard from David Norton about the need to obtain a list from your customers of what they wanted from a supplier in the equipment business. It is easy; just ask them. Most of you in parts and service talk to customers all day long, so asking another question or two aren't large impositions. I think if you get the input from your customers then all of a sudden you will be interested in changing things to make them happy. See, you won't do it for your boss, but you will do it for your customer. Isn't that true?
Well, I want to take advantage of that fact. I want you to ask the customer. And then I want you to figure out with the rest of the people in the parts department or the service department or your product support salesmen what you have to excel at to make the customer happy. That is quite simple. Focus on excellence as a subject by itself. If you bring in an outsider to make suggestions, the barriers to implementation start going up. But when you have your customer tell you what they need and want, and what they like from your competition, all of a sudden everyone's juices start pumping a little more quickly. So what about it?
Let's look at the parts department. The No. 1 requirement from your customers is parts availability. What do you need to excel at to satisfy this need? That is simple too, isn't it? How about giving them availability? So what do we need to do to give the customers all of the parts that they want?
This is a short list from which you could start. I am sure you can add many more items to this list. Just ask the people who helped get you where you are today. They will tell you. After all they are the ones doing the work, talking to customers, expediting back orders, and dealing with suppliers - they know the job better than we do. Isn't that the truth?
- Place stock orders promptly the day you are scheduled
- Pay attention to lost sales
- Watch out for abnormal demand
- Check every bin that goes to zero on-hand the day it happens
- Have a low-stock warning for when the on-hand gets to less than half the order point
- Review the fastest moving parts for their on-hand status daily
- Put stock orders away the same day they arrive
- Expedite parts that are short shipped on a stock order
- Report the service level you get from your suppliers on initial delivery
- Report on how long it takes for stock orders to be supplied 100 percent
- Make sure every part is available on the day it is ordered
- Ship every order received today promptly and no later than the same day it is ordered
- Turn around every back order received and get it to the customer the same day you received it
I think we should pay them more attention and respect. I think we should take advantage of all that experience and hard work, not to abuse them but to show them the respect most of them deserve. You see, I believe we need them and that they need us. Together we are quite a team.
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