Suppliers are our partners. Choosing them carefully is critical, it can make or break or business. In order to build a fruitful relationship with our key partners, we have to take the time to learn and understand their processes and timelines, as well as our responsibilities as distributors. With so many moving parts, following best practices will ensure that order processing goes smoothly, and most importantly, happy clients.
We invited Harvey Mackler, president of top rated supplier Gempire, to share his recommendations, from the supplier’s standpoint, to ensure successful order fulfillment.
Both of us, distributor and supplier, manage expectations.
When you send us your hard earned order, it is akin to sending your child off to school. You hope that it comes back on time in the conditions that you were promised and expected.
We the supplier have an obligation to perform. That includes timely communications. We understand your concerns. Many of us feel your pain when things don’t go as planned. Hopefully, we do everything right to make it work.
Please don’t paint all suppliers with the same broad brush.
Do you want to confirm an order? Please do so. But give us a chance to review it and enter it into our system. If you are working with a specific inside person, that confirmation can be relatively painless. However, allow one or two days for it to be entered into the internal system.
Please be patient for our responses. Becoming irate or rude during a phone call exacerbates everyone’s pain. Email is much better.
How can you help? Start with a complete and accurate PO. Do not use a default in hand date that might be considered a rush or unattainable by the supplier. If there is a firm date, please state it in the body of the PO. (In my industry experience, very few PO in hand dates are real. We look cynically at those dates as a result.) Otherwise, it requires another contact from us to you to clarify, that can further delay getting it started.
Email is Better
Once you have received confirmation and an anticipated ship date, frequent phone calls are not only unnecessary, they cause more angst and possible delays. If you want to reconfirm or send a reminder, an email is more effective.
Too many things can happen during a phone call, and the most important thing that does not happen is a paper trail. Too often phone calls fall under the “he said, she said” category. And it may interrupt the workflow. If you insist on a call, have patience. And definitely, follow up with a confirming email or fax.
Avoid other social media forms of communication for order related information. They may not be monitored as effectively by the supplier. A greater chance of a missed instruction may ensue.
If there is a multiple week production schedule, it is not necessary to call every Friday or Monday. Send an email if you have a lack of trust in your supplier.
The job is shipping today. Please don’t call for a tracking number at 4:00 PM. First of all, it might not even be in the system. And if you track it, there is a very good chance that the carrier does not have it yet. Send that email and expect a confirmation along with tracking in the following AM.
Most importantly, work with experienced and highly rated suppliers.
Guest Post by Harvey Mackler, MAS
President of GEMPIRE
Gempire is a well-established industry top rated supplier, that has earned multiple recognition awards by PPAI and ASI.
A graduate from Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvey Mackler enjoyed a 20-plus year career in commercial banking, exercising his “golden parachute” in 1996. He was executive vice president and COO of a commercial finance subsidiary in Manhattan and chairman of the Small Business Banking Unit of the American Banker’s Association. He has served on the board of the acclaimed George Street Playhouse in New Jersey and chair of the Easter Seal Society of New Jersey for two years, as well as a captain on his local emergency rescue squad. He acquired GWI Corp in February, 1997 and transformed it to focus on the supplier/distributor/end-user model, growing the company’s sales by 500 percent. He is past chair of the SAAGNY Foundation, current Co-Chair of the PPAF EXPO and past Chair of the Supplier Committee of PPAI.