The challenge ahead for distributors

"Distributors must prepare themselves for unforeseen roadblocks, staff shortages, supply chain interruptions, and more."

Everything has changed in the world of distribution, and this applies to distributors in the jansan sector, packaging, food service, healthcare, and others.

Going forward, distributors must prepare themselves for unforeseen roadblocks, staff shortages, supply chain interruptions, and more.

At the same time, they are trying to keep their workforce healthy, dealing with health concerns not even imagined just a few short weeks ago.

So, what should they be doing to remain viable, serve their customers well, and provide reliable service?

According to Michael Wilson, vice president of marketing and packaging for AFFLINK, a distributor-membership sales and marketing organisation, the following tactics can prove helpful:

  • Avoid cognitive overload

Information is coming in fast and furious from many fronts. This can cause paralysis. Distributors must keep focused on what must be taken care of now, next week, and in the weeks ahead.

  • Define priorities

For all distributors, employee safety is always a principal concern. But so is financial liquidity, customer care, product delivery. Determine top priorities for your company and realise these may change over time.

  • Toss out yesterday’s playbook

Plans for 2020 are no longer relevant. Your top priorities, just referenced, is now your playbook.

  • Create a “war room”

A distributor should not make all decisions. Relegate issues to different department heads. Just make sure all departments are aligned as to the top priorities of the company.

  • Embrace action

Mistakes are going to be made in such an uncertain environment. But studies indicate inaction is often worse.

  • Know what is happening on the ground

Right now, many large contract cleaners are laying off people, some for the first time in years. Distributors need to know what is happening in all the sectors they serve.

  • Set up key performance indicators

Determine which key indicators best substantiate how well the company is doing. This may need to be on a weekly basis for now.

Finally, stay in fighting shape. Eat well. Take walks with a mask on. Exercise as much as possible. Meditation can also help right now.

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