Archive for January, 2014

The Buyer in All of Us – Part V of V

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Sr. Vice President and COO at SafeSourcing.

This week we have been looking at a lot of different buying behaviors based on the amount of money at the company’s disposal, the view about discounts and values, and those based on loyalty and comfort levels.  Not every buyer is the same and some buyers have aspects of more than one buyer in them.  We conclude the series today with the final buying behavior we will be looking at:

Cash Rich (Fat, Dumb, and Happy)

John is a very successful person.  He does extremely well and is making more money than he can spend due to some great ideas he has sold.  The more he spends the more he seems to make.  When he goes to a restaurant or to a store, he barely glances at the prices because he knows he has plenty of money in the bank.  If he wants something or wants to take a trip he just spends the money and does it.  If John saves money throughout this he barely notices it because he gets the things he needs and wants whenever he feels like it.  He thinks that he is well-insulated to the emergencies that may come and believes he will always have enough.

No Time to Save  – There may not be too many businesses in the position that John is in but there are some.  These companies are ones that are and have done very well, growing faster than they can sometimes handle and increasing their revenue year after year.  Their resources are completely focused on the growth of their fortunate business and so they have little time to invest in doing the things to save money now.  In their minds it is tough to justify spending time on a process to save a million dollars when they could invest that same time to grow their profits by ten million.  They know there may be a time when they have to save and cut costs but that time is not today.  This can lead to issues down the road if they do not have the infrastructure in place to transition to a new way of business.

The Crash – “Down the road.”   There always seems to be an end to the growth “down the road” followed by a time that requires expense reduction.  If cost-controlling processes, tools and partnerships are not established when the company is growing it is difficult to turn those on when expenses must be cut.  In many of these cases this involves cutting blindly from the #1 expense; headcount.  As we saw during the turmoil of the auto industry, staff was greatly reduced, plants were closed, and jobs lost in order to combat lost revenue.  Having processes in place that are operating even at a minimal effort, can leave a system which can be ramped up to help later if they are needed.

Trickle Down Effect – As many people in John’s life will attest, when the controller of the money is unconcerned about how that money is spent, those around him tend not to either.  John’s wife, children, employees, and friends have the tendency to spend John’s money just as easily as he does.  In the business world this translates to employees who travel without trying to get the deals, paying extra money to fly on a certain airline or stay in a specific hotel because they want the miles or points.  It can also mean that managers and executives may spend too much money enjoying the benefits of strong growth without the consideration that the growth and extra cash may someday go away.

Growth is a great thing and rewarding those people who got it that way is also a good thing.  The best approach to dealing with growth and increased revenue, however, is to put the programs in place to prepare for a time in the future when it goes away.  By putting savings processes and policies in place when things are good, even if you don’t put a huge time investment into it, you can be prepared for leaner times. 

Regardless of what type of personal buyer or corporate buyer you are, or even if you are a combination of any of the five we have covered this week, the goal should still be to prepare and create savings and value where you have the resources to do it.  Some companies will have more time and resources to invest and others, due to circumstances, will make the time and resources to do it.  For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team this process or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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The Buyer in All of Us – Part IV of V

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Sr. Vice President and COO at SafeSourcing

This week we have been looking at the buying behaviors that each of has in our personal lives and equating that to the type of buyer you are in the business word.  In some cases the two may be the same and in others completely different.  This is wholly dependent on whether or not you view your company’s money the same way you do your own.  Today we continue looking at:

The Traditionalist (A.K.A The Relationship Builder)

Janet loves the people at the places she shops.   They are like a second family to her and she thinks of them as part of her social circle.   When Janet shops she doesn’t just buy, she builds relationships with the store owners and workers she buys from.  Janet isn’t rich, by any means, but the relationships she has built over the years are very important to her and even when new less expensive competitors come into town she refuses to leave her favorite stores and shops.  Loyalty is important to her even if the shop owners sometimes take advantage of her.

The Extra Mile  – When companies take Janet’s approach they very often experience great customer service from their suppliers.  This is to be expected for a few reasons.  First, many companies appreciate loyalty from their customers and try to reward in kind where they can, especially when the customer gets into a crisis.  Secondly, they know that they can count on the customer’s business and want to ensure they do not lost that business to one of the aforementioned “less expensive competitors.”  Their reminder to their customers frequently is “We may not be the cheapest, but we’re the best!”

Taking Advantage – The downside to being a loyal customer like Janet is that some businesses can take advantage of that relationship and loyalty.  They understand that the customer likes their company and doesn’t want to go elsewhere and that they also appreciate the little extras the supplier provides.  Because of this, many suppliers in this position don’t mind passing on little increases in price every year even though their costs may not be increasing along with them.   The customer may notice the increases but usually not enough to outweigh their loyalty to the company and will often justify the increases by thinking of the extras the suppliers gives them even when those extras don’t come close to equaling the increases being passed along.

Beyond Your Own Backyard – Blind loyalty can be a dangerous thing especially when, as mentioned above, suppliers begin to take advantage of the loyalty.  It can also be detrimental to a company because of the missed opportunities to receive better service at even better prices.  Because Janet never even looks at stores outside of her favoritesm, she will never know what other companies could offer her.   The sad truth is that so many organizations operate the same way.   They won’t leave what they know and so they will never know what they could have had.

Traditionalists operate under the best of intentions.  Unlike the Misers they are not interested in savings nearly as much as they are in solidifying their relationships with their vendors.  They usually will get great customer service but are in frequent danger of being taken advantage of by those same vendors over time.  For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with getting value without damaging your current supplier relationships or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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The Buyer in All of Us – Part III of V

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Sr. Vice President and COO at SafeSourcing.

We are looking at behaviors of how we purchase items both as individuals and as businesses this week to discover the connections between what we want to do and what we actually do when it comes to buying.  Today we continue looking at buying behaviors with:

The Miser

Bob is the Miser.  Bob and his family make a good living.  They earn, they save, they spend and generally have enough cash at any one time to weather the needs and emergencies life throws at them.  In spite of having a healthy bank account, Bob hates to overspend for anything.  “I didn’t get rich by blowing my money on overpriced items,” is his favorite saying and his purchasing habits model that.  Bob will find every deal even if it means driving twice the distance he normally would to save even a little bit of money.  At times he drives his family crazy with his “penny-pinching” ways as even when on vacation Bob questions every cent and never believes that the first price he sees is the final price he can get. 

Great savings  – Companies that operate like Bob are known for achieving terrific savings and great contracts for their business.  By reviewing and scrutinizing every penny the company spends there are few times when these companies would feel that their suppliers are getting the better of them.  If it means switching a supplier they have done business with for 20 years to save an extra 3% they will do that.  Businesses like this, however, generally expect to get the same quality of better from their new suppliers.  They are the “wanting your cake and eat it to” buyers.

Strained Relationships – To achieve the savings mentioned above, most procurement professionals will tell you that a cost-only mentality will eventually lead to major problems down the road.  Companies that take this approach develop two types of strained relationships; externally with the vendor and internally with operations.  Suppliers who see that their customer only cares about low prices at any cost tend to deliver just that.  They won’t deliver value-added services and typically won’t go above and beyond for their customers.  This causes strains with the operations of a company because they are trying to conduct business and need their suppliers to service them, delivering on time and helping when a crisis comes.  This can cause resentment internally and lead to bigger issues.

Juice Worth the Squeeze – The Miser purchasing behavior looks to save money anyway possible.  No project is too small and every penny is worth pursuing.  In theory this is a good practice until it creates situations that cost the company more time and resources then could be achieved by getting the savings intended.  Each category and project should be examined from a spend, complexity, and potential savings perspective to understand its priority; whether the “juice” potential is worth the “squeeze” effort.  Every spend should be reviewed but priority should be put in place before executing projects.

Misers have the potential to get great savings for their companies but sometimes at the cost of valuable internal and external relationships.  Understanding the priority of projects and working with the suppliers to achieve more than just price reduction can ensure everyone’s goals are met.  For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with getting the most “value” from your suppliers or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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The Buyer in All of Us – Part II of V

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Sr. Vice President and COO at SafeSourcing.

We are looking at behaviors of how we purchase items both as individuals and as businesses this week to discover the connections between what we want to do and what we actually do when it comes to buying.  Today we will look at the next type of buyer:

The Casual Saver

Dave is the casual saver.  Dave and his family are living just past “paycheck to paycheck”, with a little bit of savings but enough to pay all of the bills and still have some money left over.  Dave’s income covers all of the expenses of his family’s lifestyle while being able to improve its quality slowly over time.  When Dave shops he won’t turn away savings if a discount is offered but Dave does not actively seek savings out.  He has enough to get by and is better than average about creating a cushion for his family if things get rough but is not prepared for something major to happen.  He is comfortable.

Quick decisions – Businesses that take Dave’s approach to sourcing frequently put contracts into effect quickly.  These companies will never refuse a better deal from their incumbents and are not apt to change suppliers easily because it would require “fixing something that ain’t broke” and may create a situation where the product or service is not as good and money is wasted.  Like Dave, these companies may not actively pursue savings, but they don’t like wasting money.  When the product or service is not mission critical, companies are likely to try new offerings if they are cheaper and come with a history of similar quality in the industry.

Missed Opportunities – When companies stay with the status quo and do not actively search for something better in the way of service, quality or pricing they miss opportunities for their company to get a better product or price.  For Example, Dave needs landscaping services and has the current company he has used for years fit into his monthly budget.  When he throws away the flyer for a new landscaping company in town he does not know that this company is already doing better work for his neighbors at 2/3 the cost.  Dave has a budget and the incumbent fits in that budget and does good work.  How many companies everyday have incumbents that don’t even get considered for change because they fit the budget and do “good enough” work?

False Sense of Security – The Casual Saver companies approach to sourcing is precariously balanced on one very fallible position; the revenue won’t decrease and the expenses won’t increase.  Everything about the Casual Saver works as long as the revenue stays ahead of expenses even if at a slightly higher rate.  This creates a false sense of security because most businesses will eventually run into a decrease in revenue or outgrow a building that requires increased expenses or a capital investment.  When a company misses opportunities to save extra cash they are creating a situation where they most become the Discount Shopper and possibly have to cut resources that no company ever wants to.

Casual Savers miss opportunities that are readily available because they are fooled into a false sense of security created by a situation that could change at any time.  By investing just a bit more time pressing their incumbents or seeking new product/service alternatives they could get returns of that investment of more than 10X.  For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team achieve a 10X investment ROI on their time to be an “Active Saver” or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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The Buyer in All of Us – Part I of V

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Sr. Vice President and COO at SafeSourcing

It is interesting to look at the business world in the perspective of how we function in our personal lives; seeing the differences and similarities with which activities are accomplished.  Sometimes we behave in business as we do in our personal lives and sometimes we behave totally opposite, especially when we are dealing with someone else’s money.  This week we will take a look at some different types of purchasing profiles and the defining characteristics of each.

The Bargain Hunter

Sue is what we call a thrifty coupon cutter.  She is on a fixed income since she lost her job and has had to take another which makes less income.  Since many of Sue’s expenses, especially those relating to her two children are difficult to adjust, Sue must do everything she can to cut her expenses until she can grow her income back to a level she was used to.   Sue searches through the paper for coupons, pays attention to special discounts and will even shop at multiple stores to get the items she needs at the best price available.  These efforts take time and an investment from Sue, but it is worth it in a situation for her where the money is tight.

Many businesses are not unlike Sue.  For one reason or another, their revenue stream may have taken a hit due to losing a major customer, having a major expense that has depleted capital or from rising supplier costs.  In these situations companies must review their expenses and determine, as Sue did, where they can cut costs until they can return the company’s revenue to previous levels.

Cut the luxuries – The first step to take in cases like this is to review those areas of expense that aren’t necessary.  In Sue’s case, the cable TV package and restaurant meals were the first to go because they were luxuries and not necessary for her family to survive the reduced income situation.  Many companies often follow this same strategy and will cut those “luxury” expenses that their company can live without.

Look for discounts – The second step is to begin looking for discounts on the services and products that you cannot live without.  In Sue’s case she found e-coupon sites, clipped coupons and registered for discount programs from the places she shopped most.  Many businesses will do the same thing, looking for suppliers who are offering deals on new business.  The important thing here is that changing suppliers or products introduces unknown variables in the equation that should be examined before deciding on full switches.  Trying or testing out a product or supplier first will be a very important part of this process.

Discover new sources – There may also be times when it makes sense to split your spend among more than one supplier so that you can get the best deals on the items you need when you need them.  This does create more effort to manage multiple vendors, but like it did for Sue, the investment of time may be worth the savings received when multiple suppliers constantly compete for the business with no one vendor being guaranteed they will keep all of the business by default. 

Discount shoppers must invest more time but their circumstances often require this in order to get the savings they need to run their business.  Keeping watch of the market and being familiar with multiple sources of supply is a big key to this model.  For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team in a revenue decline/cost cutting situation or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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It’s Story Time!

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Today’s post is by Sarah Kouse; Project Manager at SafeSourcing

Everything in life always has a story behind it. There’s always a beginning, middle, and end to all experiences and situations. If you don’t have all the pieces to the story line, it leaves the story very choppy and senseless.

Here at SafeSourcing, we are always telling the full story, beginning, middle, and ending. The following are what’s involved in the beginning, middle, and end:

Beginning:  When the story begins, SafeSourcing starts with research to obtain more information on the product or service to gather a list of vendors/suppliers that can offer the product or service. Once the research has been completed, we then reach out to qualify the vendors to identify that they are fit for what the client is looking for. When the list has been created and qualified, we then obtain approval of the list and any other event documents from the client.

Middle:  Once the client has approved the list of vendors and the event documents, we then send out the invitation to participate in the RFI, RFP, or RFQ process. After, the invites have been sent to the vendors, we then follow up to confirm their receipt and determine if it is something they are interested in participating in. If someone has push back on the process, whether it’s questions on items, scope, or just the process, we work through to get their concerns taken care of. After the vendors have accepted or declined to participate, we continue to follow up with the vendors to keep them engaged in the process and make sure the process is still running smoothly.

Ending:  The ending can be compared to the grand finale. This is the most exciting part, the results. Whether it is an RFI, RFP, or RFQ, we compile the results into a report package to present to the client. Involved in this report package is an Executive Summary, this truly tells the story of how everything started and finished. The ending results of the RFx and recommendations of what we recommend is based on the story that developed from experiences during the process with the vendors to physical results and information the vendors provided during this process.

Here at SafeSourcing, we ensure that the story is always complete and thorough. For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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What positions SafeSourcing as an innovator in the eProcurement industry?

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Today’s post is by Ryan Melowic; Vice President of Customer Services at SafeSourcing

SafeSourcing was founded on core values that separate us from our competition.  These core values drive the SafeSourcing team and is a key element as to why we are more economical and achieves far better results with our eProcurement projects then does our competition.  The simple core values are:

1.  The highest quality results possible

2.  Keen attention to details

3.  Constant improvement

4.  Veracity and honesty in all the we do

To deliver high quality results SafeSourcing’s team of trained procurement specialists’ research and analyze indentified project categories.   Careful consideration is given to market conditions.  Any other key price drivers are researched and analyzed.   Understanding the category in depth is key to delivering high quality results.

In the eProcurement industry, Keen attention must be given to details.  The details are what allow vendors to compete for your business accurately.  If there is any  lack of clarity in the specification it could mean disaster for a project.

By being willing to constantly improve our process, positions SafeSourcing as an innovator in the eProcurement industry.  We listen to our customers and vendors feedback so we can improve our tools.  SafeSourcing’s procurement specialists participate in programs to further their procurement education.   We want to be the source for experience for all of your company’s procurement needs.

Customers and suppliers have to know they can trust our process.  By never wavering on veracity and honesty, SafeSourcing has proven we are a company to be trusted.  SafeSourcing will always keep this important attribute in mind with decisions we make.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with eProcurement Solutions or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative to assist you today.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

 

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For all you DIY’ers out there!

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Today’s post is by Dennis Nicoletti: Manager at SafeSourcing.

It wasn’t until I began working at SafeSourcing that I realized the absolute value and benefits of having a professional do the sourcing (aka) the “heavy lifting”, no matter what or size of the project.  I recently moved into a pre-owned home that needed some home improvements some of which I could do myself. Other projects required professionals.   My wife and I prioritized the projects and developed a cursory budget and that’s was the easy part. 

Contractor/supplier research – not only did I have to call friends, family and neighbors but I also spent an inordinate amount of time (evenings and weekends) calling, qualifying, getting estimates over the phone and in my home.  BTW – the in-home estimates were painful and exhausting after a work day.

Bid comparisons– Once all the above was completed (or should I say all I could handle) I compared best bids, services and warranties, then began the elimination period of the process. That was time consuming as well (more evenings and weekend shot).  By now I was thinking; “do I really need to do this project”?

Summary – Once I had decided on the best overall bid, I still did more leg work to be sure I understood all aspects of what was going to be provided by the contractor/supplier as well as doing my best to minimize my costs.  Again, more time and energy.

Result – In the end I got what I wanted and was happy with the cost.  However, the one thing I could never get back was my evening and weekend time usually spent with family.  That’s when it hit me…what we do at SafeSourcing keeps our customers focused on their day to day business while we do all the heavy lifting, utilizing our vast supplier data base, expertise and professional project teams that will save you money…EVERY TIME.

For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

As always, we look forward to your comments.

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Technology Helps Good Freight Companies!

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Today’s repost is by Mark Davis; Sr. Vice President  and COO at SafeSourcing.

Recently a couple of new technologies have made their way in to the freight and logistics world to help promote and safer and more efficient transportation system, helping to focus the inspection and weigh station attention on the companies and drivers who need it most.

The first of these technologies, PrePass, which will send data to upcoming weigh stations in advance of the driver getting there, with information about the company, the driver and the load being carried.  If there are no compliance issues found, the driver will be allowed to bypass the weight station.  If any compliance issues are found, however, that driver will be notified to stop at the next weigh station. 

A similar tool called 360SmartView will instantly download information about the carrier and driver from 90 different government sources at the inspection locations to help inspectors focus their time on the areas that that carrier or driver has had issues with in the past.

So what does this mean for the rest of the country and your business?

Safer Roads – By allowing the Department of Transportation to focus on the people and carriers that have a history of non-compliance, law enforcement in conjunction with state and federal agencies can get the suspect trucks and drivers off of the highways.  For you and your company this becomes information to share with your customers and shareholders about the types of suppliers you do business with and your commitment to safety.

Greener Output – When trucks have to stop less it means that the gases and emissions released by the trucks are reduced, contributing to a greener logistics footprint.  As with safety initiatives, many companies now have initiatives in place to reinforce their commitment to reduce their carbon footprint.  One of the ways to accomplish this that some companies don’t always think about in this process, is selecting vendors and suppliers that are also helping to get greener.  These new processes with help your carriers and, by default, your company achieve greener practices.

3PLs and your Money – The easiest way to encourage compliance among vendors is by affecting their margins.  By not having to stop as frequently for inspections, 3PLs, Carriers and Drivers all have an opportunity to save fuel, time and money.  This, is the end, will allow your company to save money and will produce more companies who strive to achieve the type of compliance that will also allow them to bypass some inspections.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help you find 3PLs and Carriers with positive history, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.

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Updates, Upgrades & New Releases!

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Sr. Vice President  and COO at SafeSourcing.

Recently I reviewed an email from Microsoft about the latest version of Windows letting me know all of the new improvements they have made.  We all constantly are bombarded with new versions of all types of mobile technology.  I even read a trade article recently about Oracle’s important new Security and Alert Patches. 

With so many updates being released for both hardware and software it begs the question of an organization of how to keep up with everything; staying current while balancing the costs and disruption to the business.

Today’s  blog will focus on a few areas to consider before making the move to implement an upgrade.

New Features and Functions – Every new release of hardware comes with two varieties of changes; new features and fixes/improvements.  New features are original offerings that the hardware or software did not offer before while fixes and improvements generally focus on making the current offering a little better and stable.  As a business, the new offering must be evaluated to determine if presents changes that will allow it operate more efficiently than it currently does.

Upgrade process – The process to upgrade to a new version must also be carefully considered.  Some upgrades will install right on top of the versions currently in place or for hardware, it may only require a firmware or software upgrade.  These types of installations are much less intrusive and easier to implement across the organization.  In other cases the new version will require a complete uninstall and reconfiguration in order to use it.  These are less common and usually provide justification with the new features being offered to do it.  Disruption to an organization is critical and the risks must be weighed against the reward of the new features.

VAR Assistance – Many hardware and software agreements made with a companies’ Value Added Resellers (VARs) come with a certain level of technical support services to make upgrades such as these.  Understanding those contracts and agreements in advance may prove to be the difference for companies whose IT staffs are usually already swamped.  Getting these types of services is also a key thing to keep in mind when negotiating new contracts with your VARs.

Current Version – Knowing the current version of software or hardware implemented is a final area to consider.  This is so important because if the software or hardware has not been upgraded in a while, there may be several sets of features that the company can take advantage of beside the ones in the latest version.  Many suppliers will discontinue active support of older versions of hardware and software after a period of time so if the company is in danger of discontinued support or if it has been several versions since a group of hardware or software has been updated, this could affect the decision on whether to proceed with the upgrade.

Evaluating all of these factors will help your company determine whether it is time to perform a hardware or software upgrade.  Depending on the cost of the upgrade, this may also be a good time to evaluate other technology providers for these products.  You will generally find an incumbent more willing to negotiate additional services and new vendors hungry to win your business.

For information on how SafeSourcing can help you during this evaluation process or to help provide new vendors to review, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.

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