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Substitutions and Back Orders.

Saturday, March 27, 20100 comments

I have wondered  how many business owners are having to deal with product substitutions or back orders from their distributors, not only in the dry cleaning industry, but in all industries. With today's economy and tighter cash flows, it appears the "just in time" methods of inventory management, are the order of the day and inventories are leaner than ever.  Unfortunately, this is causing a larger number of back orders and/or substitution of the ordered products with another, often lesser quality product. An example of this became evident to me today.  A  dry cleaning plant owner was preparing to change his filters this weekend.  He had ordered a premium quality all carbon filter (Puritan), only to have a much lesser quality filter be delivered to him. That is kind of like setting down at your favorite steakhouse, ordering a steak and being served a hamburger, well maybe not quite, but you get the idea, it just doesn't work for most folks.
He had not noticed this at the time of delivery.  So, here he was, all prepared to make the changes and in the middle of the procedure finds out he does not have the product he had ordered.  Not only that, he realizes that the lesser quality filter will result in shorter life, which means he will have to purchase  the next set of filters sooner,  he will pay for disposal sooner and this represents a small amount of solvent loss, all in all, it will cost him more money because of this glitch.  Needless to say, he was not happy (although, checking in his order when delivered, could have headed this off, too), not to mention, this had left a bad impression of the distributors salesman, reflected poorly on the distributorship as well and questioned the manufacturers production levels. The plant owner told me, that all they had to do was give him a call and let him know, he could have waited one more week.
In this business climate and with competition as keen as it has ever been, it is the small things like this that can make a difference. Working to prevent situations like this can help all of our bottom lines. It makes me wonder how often, the customer never says anything and just moves his business to someone else or uses the different product or his customer realizes there is something different, (maybe not to their liking, smells different, feels different, etc) and they go to a competitor.  Lets face it, things do happen and things will slip through the cracks. This doesn't mean that we should have to accept it.  If you are not receiving the brand of products you ordered, let your salesman know, or his call his boss.  Call your manufacturers rep and let him know.  Communicate. Good communications are important for all of us from the consumer to the dry cleaner to the supplier and to the manufacturer. In the end, we are all in this together and it is by working together that we can strengthen all of our positions in this industry. 


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