4 Communication Tips for Better Supply Chain Management
From working with internal teams to managing growers, suppliers and distributors, strong communication means greater productivity, better tracking and less risk of major mistakes. A breakdown in communication can lead to delayed deliveries, stock shortages and even compromised food safety.
If you struggle with getting and keeping your supply chain stakeholders on the same page, try these five tips to strengthen communication and help your network operate more effectively.
1. Be Transparent within Your Team
“Ninety-nine percent of the time … important supply chain information is held too closely by those at the top of the organization,” says supply chain professional Rob Cheng. Be honest and open with all internal stakeholders so they feel trusted and in-the-loop on important management decisions.
Talk to your team about where they’re encountering bottlenecks. If you or your buyers are spending a disproportionate amount of time with some suppliers to the neglect of others, you can intervene as needed to remove roadblocks or reallocate resources.
2. Discuss Key Metrics
Establish your critical supplier metrics around quality, freshness, cost and lead time, and communicate them to suppliers on a quarterly basis. Let suppliers know promptly about menu changes that might affect your priorities.
Connect the dots between your key metrics and the needs of restaurant customers to give suppliers a view of the bigger picture. This valuable industry context could help growers and distributors steer their own business planning.
On the flip side, find out how your suppliers gauge success. You might not need to track crop yields or truck deployments, but these factors can reverberate through your entire chain. Gather supplier intelligence for a well-rounded perspective—and to show you care about their success. Knowing one another’s bottom lines establishes a shared vocabulary, which can help you find common ground if conflicts arise.
3. Be Proactive
Don’t wait for a crisis to bring up demand capabilities or sourcing concerns with your supply network. Initiate ongoing, honest communication about suppliers’ tracking capabilities and each party’s plan of action for stock withdrawals.
Discuss how consumer preferences are driving demand, and how rising consumer quality standards are leading you to seek more sourcing information from suppliers. Find out what suppliers are hearing on their end and whether trends are inspiring changes in their own business practices.
Don’t forget to review one another’s disaster plans. If a drought or hurricane were to impact a region’s crops or transportation lines, make sure suppliers’ action plans would be compatible with your own.
If knowledge is power, then increased access throughout the supply chain to inventory and demand data as well as product sourcing information can empower key players to improve efficiency, consistency and quality—which means more happy restaurant customers served by your brand.
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