That’s the question small businesses should be asking over and over right now if reliant on – or responsible for – the smooth execution of the supply chain, according to Xavier Villarreal, who spends his days advising companies on how to make their businesses more resilient in the face of adversity.
The only thing that you can really count on these days is that things won’t go as expected. You must have a plan for anything and everything that could happen to ensure you can still meet customers’ expectations, regulatory mandates, and that magic number that keeps the lights on.
Mark Wheeler, Director of Supply Chain Solutions at Zebra, agrees.
Like Xavier, Mark has spent the last several months helping customers negotiate the supply chain disruptions caused first by pandemic shutdowns then cumulative shortages: labor, materials, transportation, you name it. He knows how even the slightest imbalance between supply and demand can exacerbate every pain felt by manufacturers, warehouse operators, distributors, shippers, retailers and consumers.
Fortunately for you (and all of us, as consumers), both are well-practiced in relieving critical and compounding pain points in supply chains. So, we asked them to get real about the current situation:
- Do businesses have any control over the current supply chain situation?
- How hard will it be to recover from the latest disruptions?
- Is there anything that small businesses in particular can do right now to improve stock levels, shorten fulfillment lead times, or regain control of their operations more broadly?
- Is there a right way for companies to level set with customers about delivery delays or inventory shortages without driving them to competitors?
- Can we keep current issues from further escalating – or happening again in the future?
The good news is that it wasn’t all doom and gloom. In fact, Mark and Xavier made it very clear in our 15-minute conversation that small businesses might have some underrated advantages when it comes to agility, even if they don’t have the same resources as larger enterprises. You’ll want to hear what they have to say (regardless of the size of your business):