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How to Manage the Barrage of New Suppliers Knocking at Your Door January 1, 2010

Posted by solutionsbconsultants in Improving Personnel Performance, Increase Profitability, Procurement.
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I receive hundreds of solicitations “to buy” every week. Some are directed to me, others are forwarded to me by clients. The amount of time required to answer phone, cell and email solicitations is significant. Fortunately, the solution to this barrage requires little in the way of resources and time. I implemented this idea in several engagements and in each case it was monumental in payback. Try this method and save hundreds of staff hours each year.

Every Tuesday, we institute “Open Vendor Day”. Actually, we put aside one or two hours depending on response and had a procurement staff member (we rotate between everyone in the department) conduct five minute meetings with potential suppliers. The format was simple and was given out to the suppliers in advance so that they would not be caught off guard. This technique was conducted on an “in-person” or “conference call” basis depending on the supplier’s location.

Here is what we ask:

1) What products/services do you sell?
2) What is your company’s competitive advantage (i.e. what can you do that others can’t or won’t)?
3) How is this going to benefit my company – what’s in it for me? (i.e. streamline process, cost savings or avoidance, value add, etc.)
4) We expect a proof-of-concept or a “try before we buy” before we will do business with any new supplier and we prefer a transparent relationship – do you have the resources and willingness to do this.
5) Provide us a price list of services and recommendations from other satisfied clients.

Yes, there are a lot of other great procurement/purchasing questions, but we really wanted to keep the meetings short and productive. This is why we sent the questions out before the meeting along with the assigned call-in time. While we could have sent the questions via e-mail, I have found that personal communication is important to gauge the knowledge, sincerity, and culture of the supplier, and it is key for relationship building which, as you know, is the cornerstone of all successful supplier relationships.

Call-in times were actually scheduled 10 minutes apart to allow for time overages and note-taking.

Suppliers that survived this gauntlet would then be invited back for a more in-depth discussion with the appropriate category buyer. It should also be noted that suppliers love this idea. Oftentimes, new suppliers have no way to reach a decision-maker in your company. On more than one occasion, we were able to speak to suppliers who had been previously blocked and whose services we desperately needed – a true win-win.

Remember what the Aberdeen Group says……….

“For a typical enterprise, it takes an increase
of $5 in sales to equal the impact of
a $1 reduction in procurement costs.”

If you have a topic of interest you would like me to discuss in our blog, “in-person”, or see a typo, just send me a comment or email me directly. I would like to hear from you!


Steve Gordon
Senior Consultant
Solutions Business Consultants
”Bringing Service, Value, and Efficiency to the Supply Chain”

(865) 356-3575
Skype: stevegordskype
Blog: https://innovativeconsultant.wordpress.com/
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevegordonthecostsavingsguy

Engaging Your People! September 27, 2009

Posted by solutionsbconsultants in Accountability, Business Improvement, Improving Personnel Performance, Increase Profitability.
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A common theme has cropped up in several of my recent engagements. A perceived (and actual) communication gap between direct reports and their supervisor.

Here are some actual quotes, “I think John is here only to draw a paycheck”; “My boss has no idea about what is going on in the business and doesn’t have a clue as to what I do. . .”; “I wonder if my company really has a game plan.”

These issues didn’t happen overnight but they can be solved in a relatively short period of time. Here are a few tips. . .

1) Manage by walking around – If you live in an office with a door, make sure you spend no more than 20% behind closed doors and the remainder (outside of meetings) with your direct reports and internal/external customers. Ask what is going on and how you can help facilitate their mission.

2) Communicate clearly what the company (and your department’s) mission statement is.

3) Have regular (agendized) formal meetings with your staff as well as brainstorming and social (lunch or outside the office) sessions. Make sure you are getting and giving feedback so people don’t think they are working in a vacuum.

4) Compliment and recognize those that are doing a great job.

5) Collect and post KPI’s for your department.

6) Use the phone or in-person approach instead of relying on email or memos.

Today, every department is running lean so it is easy to disengage from your staff. Take the time to put the “human” back into Human Capital by engaging your staff!


Solutions Business Consultants are specialists in cutting costs and expenses without sacrificing employees™. We take an enlightened look at a company’s spend and create innovative cost savings methodologies which bring money to your bottom line!

Is there any Passion Left? or I love my job! May 5, 2009

Posted by solutionsbconsultants in Business Improvement, Improving Personnel Performance, Increase Profitability.
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A while back, I spoke about customer service and illustrated my points with a couple of concrete examples. But that didn’t solve the customer service meltdown we are experiencing in the States.  This post speaks about the underlying causes of poor customer service and poor employee performance and most importantly, offers some solutions.

Recently I was reading comments in Facebook that had been entered during working hours, it is amazing to me the number of people that are counting the hours, minutes and seconds until they can leave their job for the day. It was as if they were being tortured and at 5pm the prison gates would swing open to freedom. What truly amazes me is that we are in the middle of an employment crisis and today I still heard those magic words in a Starbucks, “my job sucks”. I asked the employee if she just said “her job sucks” and she turned a little red and dismissed her comment. I wasn’t fooled – hopefully she wasn’t either.

Understand that I am not one of those people who lives to work but I have to ask, “Where is the sense of obligation of today’s employees, the passion to do something great, the joy of solving a difficult problem or innovating a new process. Why would you drive 5 or 6 days a week to something you hated?

Incredible yes? But this issue is completely reverseable with a paradigm change from two departments….HR and Senior Management. Before your hairs raise up on your arms you have to understand that I am not here to slam Human Resources or Senior Management (they are usually the folks that hire me) but for today I am saying that things must change  if you are wanting to maximize productivity, create a culture of innovation and retain good employees. The solution is relatively simple and involves an old management concept aptly named, managing by walking around. In many companies, HR and Senior Management types typically hole up in their silos and await an triggerin action by an employee. “I need an insurance form”; How do I apply for FMLA” or “I appeal this write up by my no-good supervisor” or “I have this idea I would like to share with the President”.  If Human Resources and Senior Management would  come in early and talk to folks getting their morning coffee or while they are settling in their cubes or if they would stop by at the end of the day and ask questions – both personal and business – the results would be amazing.

Examples of questions:

1) How is the family?
2) What project are you working on?
3) What roadblocks are you running in to?
4) What could the company do to help your team operate more efficiently?
5) Would you mind if we spoke more in detail at a later time.

Now you wouldn’t ask all of these questions to each person nor would you get perfectly honest answers initially but you get the picture – over a period of time you will meet your most important asset – your employees. And you would give them a gift far greater than money – you will bestow them with a sense of belonging, supply them with someone to connect with, and show they that the folks upstairs really care about them and their work product.  And as a free bonus, you will find out quickly what can be done to better your company.

It is important to remember that everyone who works at your company begins with passion.  After all, they send a motivational resumé and cover letter, beam during their interview and promise that they can fulfill the companies goals and objectives.  Their passion is fueled during  the orientation week as they are introduced to the company, staffers, leadership, their department and their new desk and duties. Sometime between that magic hire date and six months to a year later, things can start to turn sour. The pox may be unclear goals or multiple unachievable targets; it could be an already vexxed employee who actually poisons our new recruit; many times it is a supervisor who knows the technical skills of the job but lacks the people skills (nurturing, training, listening, advising, mentoring). Companies that fail to manage by walking around are condemned to never know what is happening around them as they sit around and wonder why they are the last to know when a staff member decides to terminate their employment or why their latest IT project is six months and $40 million dollars behind

Some of the most critical solutions in running a successful company are the simple ones and they involve key players investing precious time in their staff. Starting is easy and can begin tomorrow.


Solutions Business Consultants are specialists in cutting costs and expenses without sacrificing employees™. We take an enlightened look at a company’s spend and create innovative cost savings methodologies which bring money to your bottom line! Many of our services can be enjoyed on a contingency basis – based on our success!