Your supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Choosing the wrong warehouse provider is a detrimental mistake. In this series, we have identified 2 of the 3 factors needed to find your perfect warehouse provider; the right location and the right value. In this article we will discuss how to identify the warehouse with the right people.
Two Factors you Must Assess when Choosing a Warehouse Provider
After 35 years of experience, we have learned from our customers that two of the most important factors in their decision of who would be their warehousing provider was finding a company with longevity and an experienced team. Picking the right warehousing provider requires learning about that company’s history in this particular service. You will also want to understand how to assess the knowledge and experience of key people on the operations teams. When you find a great operations team with the needed warehousing or distribution experience, you will find a history of successful customer stories.
Knowing a Company’s Experience
Many logistics companies offer a variety of services, so you want to assess that company’s experience providing warehousing services. Often a company will start in one aspect or another of transportation and later decide to jump into warehousing, so you need to understand how long the company has been providing these distribution services. For instance, Easley Transportation, established in 1984, has been providing warehousing services in the Memphis area for over 35 years. In 2017, we launched similar services in Atlanta. Even though our Atlanta location has only been offering similar services since 2017, our experience in warehousing and distribution goes back over 35 years. Depending on the complexity of your warehousing or distribution needs, a warehousing company may not have the ability to meet your service levels. You need to ask your prospective service provider about the history of their company’s service offerings.
longer term employees can better understand new standard operating procedures
Gauging Tenure of Key Players
Companies who have been operating for a number of years have the higher likelihood of delivering quality experiences because of their tenure. The tenure of key players on the operations team will drive the overall service levels. Also longer term employees can better understand new standard operating procedures (SOPs) that may be needed to adapt operations for new accounts. As an example warehouse operations teams that have seen multiple SOPs for differing accounts over the years can adapt operations for a faster implementation of new accounts.The standard operating procedures for a pick and pack warehousing service is quite different from the standard operating procedures of a pull distribution operation. When you are looking for a warehousing or distribution company, you will need to take into account the tenure of warehouse employees and their understanding of the procedures required for fulfill your warehousing needs.
Assessing Specialized Knowledge
What is the knowledge level of the warehousing team? The knowledge level of the operations team will enhance your chance of success as you make a decision to potentially outsource. Some warehousing companies have specialties in certain areas and have the needed knowledge levels for excellent service, and some companies do not. You want to find those companies that have the operations and management teams who have specialized knowledge of warehousing and distribution. Pool distribution, omni channel and cross docking services are all examples of operations which require specialized knowledge in order to be well executed. You could ask a service provider to give you reference accounts where similar services have been provided, or you could meet with the actual operations teams rather than a sales person or account manager. Asking the operations team to provide an assessment of current operational challenges on an account could help you understand the team’s knowledge levels.Too often, outsourcing warehousing and distribution fails when you do not understand the knowledge and experience of key management and supervisors on the operations team. Only those warehousing and distribution companies who have operations teams with specific knowledge of the services required should be considered as an option.
Determining the Right Team
Spending the time to understand the personnel part of a warehousing solution is often overlooked and leads to poor and costly decisions. Recently, I encountered a customer that chose the wrong warehouse services provider, and they relayed a story of how their pricing had increased over 100% within a few weeks of starting service. Obviously this customer was upset with the price increases, but they also experienced ongoing service issues as they became aware that the third party warehouse had very limited experience in this particular service area. As you explore warehousing options, take the time to work through an understanding of the team’s tenure at their company. You want to look at the history of the service providers operation and length of time providing warehousing and distribution services. When these factors around the personnel are considered, you will understand the operations team and their knowledge and experience in this industry, and you can be confident that you are making the right choice!
The task of picking the right warehousing provider can be daunting. When you know the right questions to ask in order to assess the company’s experience and the quality of their team, you will have the clarity you need to make a decision that will profit your company. If you would like to talk more about Easley’s services or about how to choose a warehouse provider, please get in touch with us.