If you ship food or beverages, then you know damage claims, overages, shortages, and substitutions can create substantial headaches for accounting, eat into your margins, and damage your credibility with your customers.
Are damages inevitable? They don’t have to be.
Some companies are developing best practices that help them fill orders perfectly. Check out these four tips for reducing exceptions:
- It’s all about metrics. Identify the appropriate key performance indicators (KPIs) and prioritize them. Sure, it sounds boring, but metrics create a common language toward improvement throughout the entire organization. And they translate the company’s strategy into actionable measurements. Just make sure you choose specific, measurable, and actionable metrics. For example, “improving on time performance” and “cutting costs” are not considered KPIs. Instead, try “measuring on time performance of x%” and “achieving cost savings of x%.”
- Measure consistently. Once you establish the KPIs and priorities, ensure you have a process in place to capture data accurately. Everyone in the organization must use the same definitions of terms and handle each situation the same way every time. Use discipline and consistency in recording information, and you’ll be golden.
- Create standard operating processes (SOPs). Consistency in response is also critical to decision-making. SOPs describe what is supposed to happen at each stage of the process and what will happen if those steps fail to occur. Basically, this step helps establish what a company values most. For one shipper, that might be having an order complete before it leaves the dock, even if the truck will then be late. Another company might base its brand reputation on orders arriving on time. Whether your goal is to prevent damage, or to have the seal intact, or all of the above, establishing the priority takes away ambiguity. And that, friends, helps prevent unintended consequences.
- Analyze the data and take action. Quickly! Dig into the database and analyze.
Get this—at some companies, data can be 60 to 90 days old before it becomes available. Is that actionable? NO, especially if it takes another 30 to 45 days to obtain the reports needed for analysis. Slowdowns like this can literally break your budget. For example, say three months lapse before the shipper learns that their first-choice carrier rejected most of its tendered loads and more expensive carriers picked up that business. By then, it’s too late to get the budget back on track for the quarter.
At the end of the day, you value customer relationships, your reputation, and profits. Paying attention to the details and gathering good data will help you fill the perfect order. Hard data takes the emotions out of tough conversations, and makes problem-solving easier and less confrontational. It turns out, good details are all they’re cracked up to be. For more information on fulfilling the perfect order, read our white paper, Emerging Best Practices in Food & Beverage Shipping.
What are your best practices in order fulfillment? Share your successes!