Are we there yet?
At the end of a long day, that final mile of the journey can be torturous. Will I ever get there, why is it taking so long and why didn’t I know about the roadworks? These are just some of the thoughts that go through our heads at the end of every journey – because all we want to do is get there.
Going that final mile in business is exactly the same.
Justifying that extra mile
For reasons that are sometimes unclear, projects need more resource and support than originally expected. There are a lot of processes in place to ensure that this doesn’t happen, but regardless of how carefully planned some projects are they can change direction quickly and at the most inconvenient time. Operating in the channel, the problem is heightened as the supplier is one step removed from the customer and the partner is the interface between the two. This can be an uncomfortable position and as the company in the middle, you need to have complete confidence that your supplier can go the extra mile for you and your customer. How do you know that your supplier team can and will?
There are four key areas to look at:
Any business operating a very lean model will rarely have enough resource to provide the flexibility and skill needed for the final mile of any project, regardless of whether it runs smoothly or not. The real test comes when the project changes direction and it either requires additional resource or specialist skills to resolve issues and steer the project back on course. The skills needed at this stage of a project are not just technical, but also account management and project management.
We are all aware as consumers that ‘you get what you pay for’ and in our industry, it’s no different. The simple economics of any deal must be based on the fact that everyone can afford to take the order. If there is no margin in a deal for anyone, there is no room for error and no reasonable justification for going the extra mile if it’s needed.
A supplier with a high level of experience and range of expertise will handle difficult projects with ease and provide you and your customer with confidence that it will run smoothly, even after it may have changed direction. This comes down to experience of the individual and the company and is as much about attitude and willingness to help as it is about the technical and commercial skills to manage even the most difficult scenarios.
This relates back to my previous blog, ‘When partnership makes a difference’, and it’s something that you have to consider in your own business. What loyalty do you show to your supplier? Is your relationship based on opportunities or a true partnership? In a partnership, loyalty comes from visibility of opportunities and joint business planning, making it easy to justify going the extra mile. When business is based on sporadic opportunities, potentially driven by price, the same level of loyalty cannot be expected.
At Node4, we always go the extra mile for our partners and their customers, helping to make that final part of the journey an easy ride home.
Head of Sales