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Control Supply Chain Costs by Asking the Right Questions

Control Supply Chain Costs by Asking the Right Questions When the going gets tough in the supply chain, the tough cut costs. But, where to begin? Purchasing, warehousing, sourcing, production, customer fulfillment, logistics, shipping, packaging, transportation — there are so many targets to choose from. Yet, by demeaning any one of them in a rash budget slash you may risk hurting your bottom line rather than improving it. Each link in the chain is essential and important. Instead of taking a slash and burn approach, a strategy of continuous improvement may prove more beneficial, because every link in the supply chain can be influenced by making even the smallest adjustment in the cost or the time it takes to complete a task. No matter how many times you’ve done a task, shipped a piece of heavy freight or used a supplier, it pays to hold onto the belief that there just may be a better way to get the job done. Ask yourself: Are my suppliers getting their raw materials from the best source? If you wonder, ask them. Are my warehousing…

Nurturing Supplier Relationships for Mutual Benefit

Nurturing Supplier Relationships for Mutual Benefit Of all the things that keep a business running smoothly – ample financing, strong products or services, effective marketing, an enthusiastic and professional team, and interested customers -- we put supplier collaboration near the top of the list at ICAT Logistics DTW. When your suppliers are cordial and cooperating with you, one another and among themselves, there is no limit to what you can accomplish. When they’re at odds, competing for attention or resentful of how they are being treated, you and your customers are bound to suffer. Organizational bliss doesn’t happen by accident. It takes consistent effort, nurturing, listening, and a willingness to make concessions to keep the crimps out of a supply chain. Last week in this space we talked about vetting suppliers, and that is a first step. But once you’ve established a relationship the next step is to nurture and develop it. At no time does that become more important than when economic conditions take a turn.…

A Strategy for Supplier Consolidation

A Strategy for Supplier Consolidation We’ve all had one of those “any-port-in-a-storm” moments when any supplier would do, as long as they’d agree to deliver what was needed in a hurry. Sometimes the quick fix is necessary, but most managers who source products and services would probably agree that building a small roster of dependable suppliers you can count on for consistency, flexibility and fairness pays big dividends -- as long as you don’t lock yourself into a vendor who has become complacent and takes your business for granted. That’s why it makes sense to periodically look for ways to consolidate your supplier list. By taking a strategic approach to supplier consolidation, you are likely to see: Reduced Costs. The cost of managing procurement, taxes, duties, packing, shipping and handling charges with a large base of suppliers means more vetting, billing, and transaction fees. A short list of dedicated suppliers is more likely to remain competitive and find opportunities to streamline…

Planning for a Good Year

Planning for a Good Year No matter what business you’re in, as competition, economic conditions and market trends change — and they always do —it’s always helpful to find time periodically to reevaluate your strategy, anticipate the emerging needs of your customers and ensure your team is aligned so that every employee can contribute to your success. During the past two decades at ICAT Logistics DTW, we’ve learned to begin each year by asking ourselves a series of challenging questions that help us look ahead and plan accordingly. Answering as honestly as we can has helped us weather change, grow our business, hold on to our best employees and meet or exceed our customers’ expectations. We start by reviewing where we’ve been. Q. What did we do in the past year that set us apart from our competition? A.We got personal. We built lasting relationships by listening to, and where possible, participating in the success of our customers. By year end, they knew more of our team…

When Service Counts, Old Sales Models Fail

When Service Counts, Old Sales Models Fail Pity the salesperson facing year-end negotiations with a management team that counts dollars, not service, as a full measurement of success. Suddenly, the people management relied on to market their products and services are scrapping for some sign of appreciation while their books and territories are carved up to ensure they can’t quite reach their extra bonus level or become too comfortable with their clients. Logistics sales, at some companies, are no different. The top inside sales person may spend more time grinding through cold calls and chasing new business than paying proper attention to the customers who are already on the book. “We saw the problem years ago,” said Dan Cser, owner of ICAT Logistics DTW. “Of course we appreciate and work hard to earn and retain new customers, but ICAT built its reputation in the industry by offering impeccable service to every client we have. We solve problems. We seek solutions in partnership with our customers to make…


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