Small Businesses: Shore-Up Your Supply Chain with these Eight Tips
Your business is growing – which means the demands on your supply chain are increasing. So how do you stay ahead of your supply chain and keep both your customers and your bottom line happy?
These eight tips will help you check in with the health of your supply chain and calibrate your next steps for growth.
Start with good data
You can only make decisions based on what you can see. How much of your supply chain data can you truly see? Make sure you have centralized methods for storing your supply chain data, from vendors to pricing. For example: Do you have a way to easily access all of your vendors for a particular item, along with accurate historical order/invoice/pricing data? Do you have an easily accessible way to review vendor payments to assess who pays invoices early/on-time/late? All of this “good data” will help negotiate future pricing, build better vendor relationships, and keep both your bottom line and customers happy with fewer surprises in your supply chain.
Track your vendors
After you’ve shored-up your data, keep an eye on your vendors. By tracking your vendors, including pricing history, shipping time, and reliability, you have better information to negotiate future orders. You can also decide whether to continue the vendor relationship.
Establish a vendor review process
All of your vendors should be subject to periodic review. It’s just good business to know who your best vendors are. On top of that, regular calls with your vendors can help identify potential opportunities for improved pricing and discuss ways you can help one another speed and smooth operations.
Plan, plan, plan
Examine how you order for both ongoing and incidental events. Whether demand ends up being lower or higher than expected, that good data you started with can help you have fewer out of stocks and less waste. By employing both advanced planning and demand planning into your supply chain strategy, you’ll become a small business thinking like a big business.
Count your middlemen.
How many people are between you and your goods? When you started out, it’s possible you were looking for sources who could get you what you needed, when and where you needed it. As you’ve grown bigger, however, you might be facing unnecessary layers between you and your goods. With that good data you’re building, make sure you know every step of the supply chain for every good you take in. From there, you can look for ways to potentially purchase direct or negotiate price breaks due to increased volume.
Use relationships to your advantage.
There’s a reason data was first on this list – solid supply chains all begin with good data. Relationships in supply chain are built on data. As you build relationships, don’t be afraid to leverage them – openly discuss pricing options, more favorable invoice terms, and potential price breaks on shipping. Relationships are the valuable partners in your supply chain. As a result, the bigger you grow, the more you’ll need those trusted vendor relationships.
Invest in supply chain management software
The larger your business grows, the more moving parts your supply chain will have. If you’re not already using supply chain management software, now’s the time to begin exploring options. By being an early adopter of supply chain management (SCM) software, you’re putting your business in a position to succeed. Furthermore, visibility across your entire supply chain is key for healthy growth, and software can put technology on your side as you look ahead.
Strategic Funding provides needed operating funds to small businesses. Strategic Funding has helped business in hundreds of industries. Industries served include: restaurants, personal services, construction, medical, manufacturing, agriculture, retail stores, automotive, and food stores.