Three Tips for Combatting Supply Chain Challenges

This month we’ve teamed up with Tom Rioux to guest write a blog on issues all of our members are facing: Supply Chain.

The two biggest challenges we hear from EFBC members continue to be finding awesome team members and finding much-needed supplies and materials. And we’re not alone. A poll released in January of 2022 by Goldman Sachs found that 69 percent of small-business owners said issues with the supply chain have hurt their bottom lines. While we have amazing Strategic Partners who can help with recruiting strategies – we’re looking at you Psyched! – we had to look a bit farther to get insights on logistics. Guest contributor Tom Rioux of Rioux Safety & Logistics agreed to share his thoughts to help us all navigate these on-going supply chain hassles.

Be fastidious about your stocking levels

It is a common best practice to know exactly what supplies, materials and finished goods you have on hand. But most all of us can admit to moments when our efforts have become a bit, shall we say, lax? After the last two years, we all know the importance of keeping daily inventory totals. And then looking for any risks that may be on the horizon. Ask yourself, are we covered for the next couple of months? Can we handle surges in demand, holidays and who-knows-what should it happen? Is stockpiling an option if cash flow can absorb it? Which is the bigger risk – being caught with too much or being caught without enough? If we do add inventory, do we even have the space for it? While these used to be somewhat philosophical questions, today they are the types of conversations you should be discussing with your team most every day.

Let the courting begin

All those voicemails and emails from alternative vendors you’ve been deleting for years? It’s time to give them some of your attention. Even if your supply chain has mostly recovered to pre-pandemic shape, world events prove time and time again the need to always have another option. Single sourcing proved dangerous during the pandemic, dual sourcing faired better, having multiple other options proved best. It can take time to connect and vet suppliers so start courting those relationships long before you need them.

Get it together

In that same Goldman Sachs poll, 66% of those companies negatively impacted by supply chain issues agreed that suppliers were favoring larger businesses over smaller ones. One way to jump your place in line is to join a buying group. Many industries and segments have buying groups that allow smaller and independent companies to pool their purchasing power. Especially important in those segments with large, resource-guzzling companies in their midst, these groups do come with restrictions along with the perks so research fully before committing.

Bonus tip: Just communicate

One more tip that is always worth repeating: Communicate. Whether it is with suppliers or customers, a vast majority of the damage that is done to relationships isn’t because of unmet delivery dates or unkept promises. It is because of the lack of communication. Every organization up and down your supply chain is living through the same disruptions. So communicate clearly and often. And don’t forget to share your appreciation when an order goes right. Those moments need acknowledged now more than ever.

About Tom Rioux

Tom is a dynamic, high-performance team leader with unique skill set that he’s gained from over 25 years of logistics and manufacturing experience. He comes with over ten years of experience as an authorized OSHA instructor, Forklift Trainer Certification through The National Safety Council, and customized training for numerous areas of safety protocols and practices. Tom has a unique ability to encourage and motivate staff to excel within expectations and guidelines by serving as model for intuitiveness and creative problem solving.