Every customer’s journey is unique; and each organization builds a culture and strategy to support its journey. It was a privilege for my colleague Bill Denbigh and I to moderate a customer panel during the Tecsys User Conference this past September in Phoenix, Ariz. We heard stories around innovation and transformation, employee engagement, the challenges faced in today’s supply chain and how to address those challenges.
Although these customers are all within the realm of supply chain, their culture, industry and approach are diverse. Despite that fact, each of them strives towards the same goal: to be profitable, gain a competitive edge, improve their customer’s experience, and grow.
The title of the panel was Discussion with Game-changing Distribution Supply Chain Leaders and we invited the following Tecsys customers to participate:
- Anthony Lutz, Operations, IT and Marketing Manager at Bolts Plus, a fastener and industrial supplies supplier.
- Bal Snow, IT Manager at LifeScience Logistics, a client-focused healthcare 3PL.
- John LeClair, President of Essendant Canada, an industrial distributor that sells safety, industrial, janitorial and welding products that recently added an automotive tool business called G2S Equipment to their portfolio.
- Ron McIntyre, Chief Technology Office at Delmar International, a company that provides transportation of freight and cargo and logistics and supply chain related technology services.
We all woke up early that morning to do our sound checks and prepare for our discussion in front of more than 200 audience members. Bill and I hadn’t coached them on what to say and wanted to create a free-flowing conversation—unscripted and genuine. When the hour-long keynote session was over, I was extremely pleased with how it went, but more so I realized that each of these industry leading organizations experienced growth at a significant pace over the last ten years. Every single one of them had leveraged the power of technology to gain better insights on their business so they could focus on what’s important and be more profitable.
I’m sure each attendee left that session with their own takeaways; here are the ones I enjoyed the most.
- Learn to adapt to changes in supply chain. Keep an open mind.
- Some changes are small and some are large. Small changes can have a massive impact and large ones can have a small impact. Assess the impact of each before deciding and implementing.
- Communicate the value of a new strategy or change in dollars to management. You’ll get their attention and buy in.
- Never stop innovating. Never get comfortable. Create a culture of innovation.
- Build a great company. Retain talent by improving employee satisfaction. Create better employee programs and reward your top performers.
- Take care of your people. Invest in systems and processes to make their jobs easier.
- Explore new trends that can potentially elevate your business. Ensure they’re aligned with your corporate goals and provide value to your customers.
- And most importantly, leverage business information technology to scale and grow.
One of my previous managers had once given me some great advice. He said we’re all talented in our own ways and we are all wired differently. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing: to be valued and be successful. The lesson in working together to achieve success is accepting that each person has their own unique processes and thinks differently. Understand how to approach different people, be flexible, and support them in a way that is conducive to them.
If we were to apply that advice to how we run our supply chain businesses, I think the key is to learn how your customer is wired. What’s important to them may not be what’s important to you. Learn how to be a partner in their success rather than just a supplier. Understand them. And offer them a solution for their unique challenge – not one that applies to the mass.