In this report for Windows Active, John Crittenden, Managing Director at Carl F Groupco details some of the supply challenges faced by the hardware distributor during the corona crisis and how these have been addressed.
The company is committed to open, honest relationships and John believes that this has been particularly important during the pandemic to respond to the ongoing difficulties that have been presented.
John outlines some of the ways that Carl F Groupco is managing this unprecedented situation.
Pre-empting market needs is at the backbone of Carl F Groupco’s service to make sure we have stock availability to meet our customers’ requirements. The corona crisis has thrown forecasting up in the air, but we are working with suppliers to rearrange shipments to ensure the right stock deliveries at the right time. There are back order issues with over 80% of suppliers and this is not something unique to Carl F Groupco, this is being experienced industry-wide… unfortunately, things will get worse before they get better which is reflected in the predicted V shaped recovery.
These issues are throughout the entire supply chain of raw materials including glass, profile and hardware, and these challenges will continue in the short term. We are spinning a lot of plates to satisfy orders as best we can, which includes working with suppliers continually to keep flow through the system, checking orders to offer substitutions and liaising with customers to avoid over ordering.
Back in March our concerns were about the future, now we have a complete different set of challenges because the market has bounced back very quickly.
And, as we continue on this nightmare roller coaster of a year, as of September our concerns about Brexit began to be revisited with the horror stories of the impending 7,000 lorries that will be stacked up at the border.
As we face all these issues we are usually finding that where there is a will there is a way - for example, as field sales visits are restricted we are providing new systems and technology to support a different way of working e.g. using technology such as video and audio conferencing to keep in contact with customers.
Some face to face contact is essential - we have built our business on the strength of our personal service and our Regional Sales Managers are allowed to visit customers when necessary: these visits are pre-arranged and naturally take into account all social distancing measures, please be assured that we are still accessible.
On a side note, there is a positive impact of the new systems, we use far less paper and our office workforce is fully adapted to working from home so we can adapt immediately to any future restrictions.
Most importantly, we have focussed on making sure everyone is safe. To reassure our customers, we have invested a lot of time and money over the years in our processes and we are able to flex our systems to respond to the unpredictability of the market’s changing needs. We have had to manually override and ‘kick start’ procedures as trend history has been affected by abnormal sales patterns throughout lockdown. However, the phenomenal commitment and can-do attitude of everyone in our company, combined with the flexibility that comes from being an independent organisation and the robustness of our systems means we have risen to this challenge.
It’s very easy to hide behind a crisis and point fingers. These challenges will be overcome by the industry and we will overcome them in a way that means our customers won’t have to change the way they order.
I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to our staff who, as ever, have been totally flexible in these demanding times and have never lost their focus on customers’ needs. Also our suppliers who have excelled in their commitment to our deadlines and our deliveries – they are doing all they can to address issues: the pandemic has brought out the true meaning of hardware partnerships. And we thank our customers for their patience and understanding in working with us to find solutions.