“You have to manage a system. The system doesn’t manage itself.”
-W. Edwards Deming

Our current blog series focuses on delivery systems. If you can get your product or service into the hands of your customer efficiently and effectively, you are creating an excellent customer experience that will have them coming back for more. As we said last week, you can have the best sales staff in the world, but if you can’t deliver the product, sales becomes meaningless.

So how do you start to design a top notch delivery system? The first step is to determine where you currently stand in terms of getting your product out the door. One of the best tools for analyzing your current system is our old friend the SWOT analysis. The SWOT analysis gives you a picture of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and helps you to rate yourself in some key areas:

Production Capacity and Capability – Take some specific measurements of your current system. How many units can you produce in a day? How quickly can you get them out the door? How many production errors do you allow for? How much extra capacity do you have to handle big orders? Is your work flow seasonal? Take time to analyze your capacity and how well your production staff are performing.

Getting Out the Door – How does your team do at getting the product out the door? This is really an efficiency question. Are you getting the product or service from your shop to the customer as quickly as you can? When was the last time you analyzed shipping methods and costs? Are there any gaps in your production process that could be tightened to speed up delivery? Does your company handle physical delivery or do you sub contract it? Who is responsible for making sure the product gets to the customer as promised?

Production Flexibility – This is another key barometer of your delivery system’s success. How flexible is your production system? Can you respond quickly and accurately to special orders? Do you know where you draw the line between what you will and won’t do? And can you measure for how those changes affect your profitability? These are all important questions when designing an effective delivery system.

Sales Flow – What does the path from sales to production to the customer look like? Who is responsible for what along the way? How do you follow up with the customer once the product has been delivered? This flow from the sale to the delivery is critical to the success of the customer experience. And a good customer experience is what improves your chances of repeat business and good word of mouth.

This week take a look at the key components of your delivery system. Analyzing what things are working and what aren’t is the first step toward designing a system that will be cost effective for you and that will meet your customer’s expectations. And we all know that happy customers are a big part of winning the game of business.


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Ralph White
Business Coach, Author, Artist & CEO
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