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By now, even people who are not involved in commodity-dependent businesses have heard of supply chains. And most of them know all too well that these supply chains are slowing down, sometimes even breaking completely, due to global obstacles as varied as the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
Supply chains for the production and delivery of many types of products, raw materials and other goods have been affected. And while the latter has affected consumers, the consequences are usually limited to longer waiting times for the completion or delivery of something, such as consumer goods, a house, or a car. But for businesses, the impact can mean life or death. After all, if you can’t deliver your finished products to paying customers, you won’t stay in business for long.
That said, supply chain disruptions are not necessarily the end of your business. With a little smart planning, a little foresight, and a willingness to change focus, you can keep your business up and running and even grow while supply chain disruptions are resolved.
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1. Be clear about the situation
The first and most fundamental task you have ahead of you is to identify and understand the root cause of the delay. A supply chain disruption caused by some aspect of the pandemic is very different from one caused, for example, by the regulatory shutdown of a single key supplier. One is likely to last longer, while the other can be avoided if provided by a different provider.
Another key initial task is to assess the damage caused by the delay. Finding out the scope of the problem means determining how much product has been lost and whether any part can still be marketed and sold. Developing a plan is the first step to mitigating damage and keeping revenue streams flowing as much as possible.
2. Find out how to move forward
Once you have a clear understanding of the cause and likely duration of the delay, it’s important to focus your attention on implementing a plan to move forward as soon as possible. Don’t be late. Instead, look for actions you can take or delegate immediately. Explore tactics for acquiring and allocating resources in a way that minimizes the impact of the delay.
As part of this process, review your order history. Track delivery time and other metrics over time, and then make projections of how future delays will affect your business so you can plan ahead.
3. Keep lines of communication open
The worst thing you can do is leave customers, employees, and other stakeholders in a position where they have to guess about deliveries, schedules, and deadlines. Instead, propose solid strategies to communicate clearly with everyone who may be affected by your supply chain problems.
While it has nothing to do with the slowdown, it’s important to recognize the impact on your customers, employees, and others. We apologize for the inconvenience and give you all the accurate information you can share so that they can make their plans accordingly, which is especially important for your customers.
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4. Focus on other aspects of your business
Now is the time to focus on customer service and any other aspect of your business that is not directly affected by supply chain issues. It’s a particularly good time to focus on customer service because these changes can last far beyond the end of current hurdles and help you create a more loyal customer base that will last into the future.
It is also a good idea to take advantage of the delay to improve business processes. Even the smallest incremental improvements can optimize your business practices. And in the face of such significant disruptions to your customer-oriented operations, even incremental changes can give a significant boost to your results.
5. Plan ways to deal with or prevent future delays
This is unlikely to be the last major supply chain disruption event the business world will ever see. So, once you’ve implemented plans to focus on optimizing other aspects of your business processes, consider taking steps to avoid future delays in your supply chain.
First, make sure you have a timely and effective system for tracking your inventory at all stages of the customer’s journey. This will help prevent you from being surprised when there is a future delay or breakdown in the supply chain. Find affordable supply chain management (SCM) software suitable for small businesses to help you track your inventory and manage shipment to your customers.
Then look for ways to add a buffer to inventory counts. This will not always be physically possible or economically viable. Take advantage of discounts and closures to increase your inventory when and where your company’s finances and physical storage capacity allow. Also, explore possible alternatives to the usual inventory specifications. Both competitors and eliminated lines can offer affordable replacement products.
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6. Keep your team motivated
It’s important to keep your computer up to date on how supply chain delays affect your business. Putting on a brave face will only go that far, especially if there are real problems to face. Communicate openly and honestly with your team and keep them informed of any changes while remaining positive and optimistic. Don’t forget to reward your team for their effort in uncertain times.
7. Don’t forget to protect your physical and mental health
In the “last but far from least” category, take care. Your business has never needed more than your leadership. Prioritize basic self-care, including relaxation and time out of the office to relax and recharge.
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