Headlines about ongoing supply chain issues are all over the media, and consumers are increasingly becoming used to seeing sparsely filled or even empty shelves in stores. But supply chain issues aren’t only hitting the retail sector; businesses across industries are struggling to maintain adequate supplies of the materials they need.
A fast and easy answer to widespread supply chain issues isn’t likely to come soon. Still, there are several ways that businesses can adapt so they can continue to provide services to customers and clients. Below, seven members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share their best advice to help leaders cope with ongoing supply shortages and delivery slowdowns.
1. Be upfront with clients.
Be transparent! We’re all facing supply chain difficulties and running into backlog issues. The client will (or should) understand the challenges in the current market with supply. Where you get into hot water is when you aren’t upfront about these constraints and the customer is continuously disappointed by delays. You may have one the first deal, but you’ll never win another. – Colt Parsons, Insight
2. Look for new ways to serve customers.
Every crisis is the foundation for a new opportunity or service. It’s hard to get business partners to consider changes when things are rolling along. Supply chain issues create a perfect environment to secure the attention of senior leaders to propose meaningful change. – Dave Doherty, Digi-Key
3. Relay information from your suppliers to clients.
Prepare your team and your clients by diligently keeping in touch with your suppliers. In the construction and design industry, we are advising our clients to order things earlier than they would traditionally be needed to try to stay ahead of supply chain interruptions. When there are interruptions, we assess if there are alternative solutions that won’t compromise the final desired product. – Laret Casella, Casella Interiors
4. Ensure processes are optimized before a crisis hits.
The best way to weather any storm as a business — including one related to supply chain shortages — is to be prepared. Before a crisis hits, make sure that your processes are optimized and rely on the most essential inputs only. Establish relations with alternative suppliers and look for substitute inputs. Build a team that is capable of helping you find alternative solutions in case of a crisis. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor
5. Find out each client’s driving factors.
Driving factors vary for clients; some may prefer to wait things out while others will be willing to do whatever it takes, whether that’s paying a premium or waiting for the long haul. Find out what your client’s driving factors are first. Establish systems and relationships that allow you to address your client’s needs irrespective of where their goals and objectives fall. – Maleda Berhane, AR Spruce LLC
6. Always have alternate supply sources, and shop locally.
Specific products will fall victim to supply chain issues. That is why it’s important to be looking well in advance to problem-solve issues that come up. Source replacement products or locally sourced supplies that will not have the same issues. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
7. Consider what customers need versus what they want.
As you consider what you provide, consider what customers truly need versus what they want. Creative solutions are often met with grace during challenging times. Also, think: What else can you provide them? For example, if you provide a product, what adjacent services can you provide to help fortify the customer or fill a different need? Or if you provide a service, is there an alternative? – Kimberly Janson, Janson Associates