Tag Archives: Reinforce success

Coaching suppliers

In an earlier post I emphasized that treating your suppliers as customers was a good business practice. A further point is that most suppliers benefit from being coached on how to best support your business. If you make them guess as to how to best support you, you will very likely be disappointed in their performance. On the other hand, if you teach them how to help you succeed, both you and your suppliers can improve the processes and tactics that support business success and growth.

If your suppliers are not meeting your expectations or if their lack of performance is hurting your business, your first reaction is likely to be a desire to want to penalize them. Unless you have already gone through the process of discussing and defining the issue with them and agreeing on a plan for improvement and given them time to improve, you are only hurting yourself when you penalize them. By treating them badly you may scare them into complying, but that’s all you will get. You won’t be encouraging them to want to better learn how to support you.

In my 20+ years managing suppliers for 3 big box retailers, I know from experience that coaching suppliers can significantly improve their performance and their willingness to help you grow your business. Coaching suppliers effectively helps them better collaborate with you and also allows them to increase their emotional investment in your success. And you want to be the company that suppliers compete to support.



To improve your business, analyze your top performing locations

There is a trend in business that focuses improvement efforts on the low and poor-performing locations. While there is some validity in this, especially where obvious operational problems can be easily corrected, I believe there is more value in studying what your best locations do well, and then applying what is learned there to other locations.

I call this reinforcing success.

If you break down the processes that your successful locations use, you will find steps that can be applied to other locations, often with very little expense and only minimal training.

As an example, I managed a category where an outside firm was responsible for managing the inventory and display of product. This company did an outstanding job maintaining the displays once a week. But what I found was that in the top-performing locations the staff at the store did not wait for the reps from this company to service the displays. They took this on themselves and made sure that they displays were always full and clean. The result was a significant increase in sales. The store had a stake in the success of the program, and it showed.

While it may not be profitable – or possible – to expand this practice to all the other locations, it would make sense to find ways to increase the store’s stake in this program’s success.

In my opinion this is a far better approach than setting up programs that penalize stores for poor performance.


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