What’s Your Position?

- Vincent Veneziale

It’s Monday morning. The farmer on the telephone is inquiring about a seed variety he believes is ideal. He needs it tomorrow in half-ton bulk bags.

You say, “I’ll call you back in half an hour” and put the phone down to go to the warehouse to see what’s available. Then you call the third-party processor you contract to process your seed to find out if they have any of the requested variety, only for them to go looking for some, too.

You call the farmer back and learn that while you were searching, the farmer has been in contact with your competitor down the road who had some readily available and took the order.

There could have been many other answers to the farmer’s inquiry to get you the order: “I won’t have that variety for a few days, but I have a different variety available now that would perform just as well.” “I have some but it’s in paper bags, I can get it repacked and delivered to you tomorrow.”

This is the kind of information you could have used, right in front of you, to answer the farmer’s request while still on the phone. A proper business management system should give you the following information:

  • What is on the floor in each of the warehouses? What is physically in the warehouse and ready to go?
  • What variety is currently being cleaned in the plant? What is a “work in progress” that will soon hit the warehouse floor? You may not have any ready right now, but you may have some very soon.
  • How much of what you have is already scheduled for delivery? What is reserved and about to be loaded onto a vehicle? The last thing you want to do is upset existing customers.
  • How much of it have you already committed to other customers? You know there are other customers waiting for that seed, you don’t want them to wait too long to receive it.
  • What alternative do you have that you could offer the customer?

Making sure you have up-to-date and accurate information on hand helps you to improve the service to the customer, to avoid missing out on sales, to spend the time you have building better and more productive relationships with your customers. If you could bring all the information you needed together, then you could make a real change to the way you deal with your customers.