It’s a benefit of reducing “head count”.
I called a vendor to be sure an order was shipping Tuesday as planned. The order was placed last week and scheduled to ship Tuesday. I was just checking to be sure it was going to actually happen. You have to do that these days, unfortunately.
Well, my “rep” tells me he can’t guarantee it will go out because the “shipping department gets really busy at the end of the month trying to get all the orders out”. This company is losing a lot of money and they let half of their people go this year in what they called “reducing head count”.
Now, even though they’re near collapse, they can’t ship orders as fast as they are getting them. Ok, it’s month end and they have a bottleneck in shipping—you obviously don’t hire 50 people to work in shipping if [only] once a month that area of the business goes into overload.
But if everybody seems to know that this happens every month, why doesn’t anyone fix the problem? They are incapable or they would fix the problem.
This is especially lame because they all know it’s going to happen at the end of the month, every month.
Shipping orders is second priority only to making sales. Period. Period. Period.
What do you do to fix this when your business is running very, very tight financially?
1. Look at the whole process from the minute an order is taken to moment it goes onto the shipping company’s truck. Look for ways to streamline every step—not just slow steps—every step.
2. Plan ahead. Make the 20th crunch time. Get everything out the door before the month-end slam. Clear the deck.
3. Get organized. You know what’s going out—mostly, right? So get those goods staged for shipping. Run tags, print packing slips, check boxes for damage.
4. VERY IMPORTANT. Subordinate resources to the bottleneck. Do you know what that means? It means the suits need to get off of their butts and head down to shipping and help get the orders out. And then they take what’s left of the shipping crew out for pizza and a beer. And they tell them to have their families join them if they’d like them to. Because those guys are working hard in spite of knowing their head may be reduced.
Subordinating to a bottleneck means you put every available resource at that point to keep the flow going. This might mean getting some suits dirty. It will also build loyalty and respect.
You want that don’t you?
Things happen and there are reasons an order can’t get out when requested. That happens. But it better never, ever happen because you’re too busy. Especially if you’re going broke.
Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog