In today’s supply and demand marketplace, lead times on material handling products has become a predominant issue with some lift truck and rack manufacturers. Component availability, labor shortages, and freight delays on the supply side coupled with unprecedented demand has led to significantly increased lead times. Account managers, like myself, are like Magellan when he navigated the seas searching for new lands. It has been a daunting task and I’m here to say, please don’t shoot the messenger.
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We as account managers fully understand the challenges that our customers must meet to fulfill the expectations of their customers. Let’s face it, without the equipment needed, product doesn’t get shipped- resulting in lower sales revenue and unhappy customers. Nothing is more nerve-racking and gut wrenching than to have to call our customers to let them know that the order they thought they would receive in the next couple of weeks was pushed out by the factory for two months. Believe me when I tell you, if we could load up our vehicles with product, we would have it on your doorstep tomorrow. No, this is not an infomercial for Amazon…LOL.
The positive note is that our suppliers are very aware of the issues and are doing as much as they can to mitigate as many of the delays as possible. Regardless of cost, they are investing in the production machinery to increase throughput. The problem is that the new machinery has long lead times, so it’s taking too long to make an immediate impact. And so, on it goes…
The other positive note is that there are a few of our supplier partners that have been proactive with their inventory and have quick lead times. Products such as rack protection, cage and security enclosures, modular offices, etc. We also have rack suppliers that can supply standard racking sizes and widths through their quick ship programs. Rental equipment is also a hot commodity and many customers have utilized our rental program to assist in mitigating wait times for new equipment.
Our job is to be as proactive as possible with our manufacturers regarding lead times. The best plan of attack is that we are transparent with our customers and let them know what the current lead times are even before we secure the business. I’ve always lived by a saying that I learned from a former VP of sales of mine many years ago, “Always under promise and over deliver. This is what builds integrity and solid relationships with customers.” Our job is to give reasonable expectations to you, and I must say that many of you do understand our challenges since you are dealing with it in your daily business.
Account managers are a dedicated group of people that live and breathe helping their customers to the fullest. In these challenging times, we try to stay on top of all these supply chain and logistics issues. Customer satisfaction has always been and still is our number one goal. We appreciate all our customers and if that call arrives from us about a delay, please don’t the messenger.