Archive for February, 2016

Bags and Boxes and Bailers Oh My!

Friday, February 26th, 2016


How best to manage a plastic bag and cardboard box baling program with only one baler at a store.

Today’s post has been written by Ryan Melowic Vice President of Customer Services at SafeSourcing.

The first approach is the program that numerous large retail chains have adopted, which is known as creating “sandwich bales”. These bales are compiled of both cardboard and plastic.  Workers place 10 to 20 inches of cardboard into the baler first, then shrink wrap and plastic bags are loaded in, and another section of cardboard is placed on top.  The baler then presses the bale into a “sandwich” with 9 to 18 inches of recyclables plastic in the middle.  However, in the recycling world, when fiber and plastic are together as one, this is considered contamination.  Therefore, the bales must be picked up, taken to a local recycling center and broken apart and separated.  Then, the plastic is baled together and the cardboard is baled together.  At this point, these items can be effectively sold.

The second approach is where the store has enough space to stage the plastic bags until there is enough to complete a full bale. This requires the backroom of the retailer to be large enough to store 400-600 lbs. plastic.

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.


What My Dogs Teach Me about Customer Service

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016


Today’s post is by Christine McConnell Account Manager at SafeSourcing

I have spent the bulk of my career in Client Services, Account Management, and Sales. As a result, many of my working hours are devoted to communicating directly with customers. Many of my non-working hours, on the other hand, are spent interfacing with my three dogs: Zeus, Mabel, and Blaze. These relationships have more in common than you might think.

  • For starters, my dogs have clearly defined roles. Zeus (a one hundred and twenty pound adult male Bernese Mountain Dog) patrols the grounds. Blaze (a six-month old puppy-boy with a checkered pedigree) is our resident court jester. And Mabel (an eleven-year old Golden Retriever) is the put upon elder stateswoman. My customers also appreciate clearly defined roles that ensure that they are dealing with the most appropriate representative of our company at all times.
  • My dogs have vastly different styles of communication. Mabel has a repertoire of snorts, groans and heavy sighs. Zeus prefers nose nudges and soulful stares. And Blaze, literally whines and sings like fan belt that is about to snap. My customers use different methods to communicate with me as well. Some call, while others send email. Some complain, while others cajole. All welcome as clear communication as possible and have an uncanny ability to sniff out immediately when something is “off” and I am not being genuine.
  • My dogs are unendingly patient with me. They are ready and willing to spend as much time as is needed to master a task, whether I am training them to fetch a tennis ball or they are training me to fetch them Milkbones out of the treat cupboard. With their limited understanding of linear time, my dogs enter every new interaction with a clean slate. My customers also deserve my patience and ability to address every new situation without assumptions or expectations based on what might have occurred in the past.
  • My dogs, and customers alike, hope to be treated with consistency and fairness. They expect that I’ll do what I say; whether that is honoring a refund policy or to taking them to the park after work. They hope to be treated fairly and equitably across the board and will complain to their peers if they feel that’s not the case. Just try to sneak one of my dogs a Fig Newton without the other two rushing into the kitchen to collect their fair share!
  • Finally, my dogs are motivated by satisfaction and loyalty. When I am happy, they are happy and vice versa. My customers deserve the same from me. My dogs are 100% loyal from the tip of their noses to the end of their tails and I strive to deliver the same to my customers.

When done correctly, both dog ownership and customer service can be mutually gratifying two-way relationships. My career serving customers has been professionally and personally satisfying. I have gained much more than I have given. And of course, my dogs provide a constant stream of unconditional love, and I have the thumbs required to open the treat box and work the can opener!

For more information on how the team at SafeSourcing can help your company, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

Need help improving your Wi-Fi connection?

Friday, February 19th, 2016


Today’s post is by Troy Lowe; Vice President of Development at SafeSourcing.

Installing a wireless router can be a very simple thing to do to allow internet access throughout your home or business. Depending on the location of your router, the signal may be too weak for your devices to connect reliably.  One solution to this problem would be to move the wireless router to a central location to improve the signal.  In some cases, moving the router is not an option.  If this is the case, there are several devices that can be used to improve the signal within the weak areas.  Below are some devices that can be used to extend and improve the Wi-Fi signal.

Wi-Fi Extender

A Wi-Fi extender is a device that can be plugged into a standard power outlet. It receives your current signal, amplifies it and then transmits the amplified signal.  This allows the existing signal to travel further to allow access to other rooms or floors.  There are also weatherproof extenders so that you can extend your current signal to your outdoor property as well.  More than one extender can be used to amplify your current Wi-Fi signal.  The extenders are easy to setup, they just need to be connected to a computer and authenticated on your network.  Once on the network, disconnect from the computer and plug into an outlet where the signal strength is weak.

Powerline Ethernet Adapter

Powerline adapters allow you to use your current electrical circuits as Ethernet cables. Using this method is faster than the extender because the extenders can experience some speed loss due to the communication between it and the router.  Installing the adapters is quick and easy as well.  To install, plug the first adapter into a wall outlet by the router and connect the adapter to the router with an Ethernet cable. Next, plug the second adapter into a wall outlet next to the device to connect and then connect the device to the adapter using an Ethernet cable.  The device is now connected to your internet connection and ready to use.  Multiple adapters can be used by simply plugging them into additional outlets and attaching the other devices.

If you are having connectivity issues and would like some help finding the right solution, we can gather all the necessary information for you and help you decide which option meets your needs. If you would like more information on how SafeSourcing can help you, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative.  We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

Two Heads are Better Than One

Thursday, February 18th, 2016


Today’s blog is by Margaret Stewart, Executive Assistant at SafeSourcing.

We were all told and retold the importance of teamwork throughout our school and work experiences, but have you ever really questioned why we need teamwork?

In many industries today, employers seek and expect employees to be able to work as a team. Anywhere you look, you can expect to see a multitude of places that list teamwork as a requirement. Some jobs require teamwork when one may not even work as a team. So, why is the ability to work as a team such a desired skill? There are, in fact, a number of different reasons why teamwork is a sought after trait.

First, an ability to work as a team means one is able to communicate well enough with others to get tasks accomplished. Even if someone doesn’t need to work with a team, communication and the ability to relay ideas and updates in a clear way is essential for most industries and positions. Employers need to have workers that can talk not only to management, but also to each other.

Second, working as a team indicates that a person can get along with others. This may not necessarily affect one’s job directly, but can make a massive impact on the work environment. If an employee can work well with others, then the whole organization can function smoothly and without friction. One member that cannot, or chooses not to, work well with others can affect the whole group.

Finally, working together can help spark ideas within the group, help keep each other accountable, and help see things in a new perspective. This skill is especially sought after by employers because these activities help engage the employees and create a sense of satisfaction over their accomplishments. That engagement and fulfillment at work leads to happier and more dedicated employees.

For more information on how the team at SafeSourcing can help your company, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.


Purchasing through a Cooperative Part V of V

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016


Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives.

As we close out this week’s series on Retail Purchasing Cooperatives we want to focus on one last cooperative that can trace its roots back to the early 20th century; Unified Grocers.

Unified Grocers which is now the combination of three successful west coast cooperatives (United Grocers, Certified Grocers and Associated Grocers) is the largest retailer-owned wholesale grocery cooperative in the western United States.  In an industry where major companies compete fiercely for very small margins, this is a savior for small grocers.

Looking at our final cooperative some of things that Unified Grocers is offering today provide tremendous value to its members.

Store Resources – From schematics & merchandising software and services; to retail pricing consulting; to in-store development, Unified offers a host of valuable services and products to its members.  From a technology standpoint Unified Grocer members have access to Interactive Ordering which is a technology that allows instant access to ordering information from a handheld unit right on the floor.  Some of Unified’s members may not have even had an opportunity to have this type of technology without their ties to the cooperative.

Consumer events – Unified is a huge supporter of public events including 6 major marathons; an Air Show and Women’s Show and the annual Seattle Seafair bringing hundreds of thousands of consumers to a month long celebration.  Through these events the Unified members can get directly involved and benefit from the exposure at a level most members could only dream of on their own.

Professional Services – Being a smaller retailer can make some professional services difficult if not impossible procure.  Unified has the capability with its size to offer significant savings on professional services to its members.  Logistics, Real Estate and Insurance services are key to the Unified members but on of the key services are the financing services where Grocers Capital, a subsidiary of Unified Grocers has provided over $125 million in financing to its members to help grow.

As we have detailed this week there are many great cooperatives out there helping retailers compete in industries that are getting tougher and tougher and to compete in.  Many cooperatives offer tools and services to their members to help leverage the power of the group to procure products and services with some offering specialized benefits and opportunities as we have described over the past week.

For more information on the retail industry’s cooperatives or other ways you can leverage the buying power of a purchasing group, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. 

We look forward to your comments.

Purchasing through a Cooperative Part IV of V

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016


Today’s post is our SafeSourcing  Archive

In this week’s series we have been looking at the retail cooperative and in particular focusing on some of the organizations out there in different market segments and what they are doing to separate themselves from other groups.

One of the most successful retail purchasing cooperatives is one that many people do not even know is a cooperative because of how well they are organized and branded; ACE Hardware.

ACE Hardware, which also includes True Value and Do it Best, represents the purchasing power of over 13,000 independent stores.  Founded in 1924, by a small group of Chicago hardware store owners, the organization has become one of the most successful cooperatives in U.S. Retail history, allowing smaller stores to compete even in landscapes with larger competitors.

Some of the things that have made ACE so successful are the capability to convert your business to an ACE location, the capability of International opportunities and a huge support system for advertising and marketing needs.

Conversion – One of the unique benefits this group offers to companies is the capability to convert your existing business to an ACE, True Value or Do It Best format.  With this benefit comes a slew of professional services that help owners with the transition into the ACE family.  With every conversion a customized plan is developed to ensure the easiest and most efficient transition occurs.

International – With the ACE brand being one of the top 100 most recognized brands in the world, the opportunity for international cooperative services and purchasing power opens doors in a way that would traditionally never be accessible to most retailers.

Advertising/Marketing – As with some other cooperatives, one of the big benefits ACE, True Value and Do It Best bring to its members is a cost effective marketing programs that can drive sales and traffic at a level on pace with the larger national chain hardware stores.

For more information on the retail industry’s cooperatives or other ways you can leverage the buying power of a purchasing group, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.

Purchasing through a Cooperative Part III of V

Monday, February 15th, 2016


Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives

In this week’s series we have been looking at the retail cooperative and in particular focusing on some of the organizations out there in different market segments and what they are doing to separate themselves from other groups.

Today we are going to be focusing on the Chain Drug Consortium.  The CDC is a collective group that represents 1150 retail Drug Stores with over $8 billion in revenue.  Its 18 members span the United States and service hundreds of thousands of customers.

Each day the CDC provides its retail members “an innovative savings approach through key purchasing programs and services, which help maximize market opportunities.”  Some of the specialized programs the CDC provides it members are detailed below.

Product Lines – The CDC offers two corporate product lines to its members; Premier Value and Premier Traditions.  With over 1,800 products that span over the counter medicine, HBC and general merchandise, the Premier Value brand provides its members a huge value in alternatives to National brands at a low cost to them.  The Premier Traditions line includes Christmas seasonal items such as lighting and tree products.

Conferences – The larger the cooperative/consortium is the more opportunities to provide members valuable activities such as National Planning Conferences become for the entire group.  The CDC provides its members an annual planning conference which allows all of the member presidents an opportunity to present their business strategy and receive high level executive collaboration to build more successful programs.  This is a valuable benefit the CDC and other cooperatives can bring their members.

Member Chirp – Through the member portal the CDC provides its members a forum for members to access import program information ranging from seasonal program offerings to latest updates of activity within the organization.  This is also a place for the pharmacy members to be able to access national and private brand label pharmaceutical information.

The CDC is just another great example of how a cooperative/consortium can provide great value to members who belong to it and how they can continue to grow with the clients with new and innovative to services and offerings such as aggregated purchases or both product and services.

For more information on the retail industry’s cooperatives, the CDC or how consolidating your purchase activity with other similar companies can benefit you, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.

We look forward to your comments.

Part II of V Purchasing through a Cooperative

Friday, February 12th, 2016


Today’s post is our SafeSourcing Archives.

Continuing with our series on cooperatives, today we are going to take a look into the hospitality industry by focusing on the Hospitality Services Group (HSG).  This group, formed in 1989, provides small chain and independent hotels, restaurants, and retirement communities the purchasing power of a large company and is one of the most successful cooperatives in the United States.

The HSG is a fee based system that focuses on hospitality businesses in the northeast and touts some very useful benefits to its members that are 100% focused on the procurement process.

Industry focused expertise and planning – The HSG offers several tools, whitepapers and articles geared toward helping hospitality businesses plan for their most efficient and cost-effective operations.  From menu planning and pricing to managing vendor agreements to a database full of product specific facts, the HSG is more than just a Buying Group.

High powered software – The HSG offers all of its members high powered software that allows them to track their costs, create recipes that allow for easier improvements in managed costs, and manage purchase orders from beginning to end.

Delivery & invoicing – By working with the HSG, companies have much less to worry about, as product is delivered straight to their building and the vendors invoice them directly.  The HSG handles the relationships for their customers so that their customers can focus on running their business.

Research – Part of what the HSG offers its members in the way of purchasing is by researching new products, standards and technologies for producing the items they are purchasing to continually look for ways to reduce their customers cost-of-goods.  This frees up the owners to be able to focus on their restaurants and hotels providing better service to their customers without worrying about staying current on everything in their industry from a procurement standpoint.

For more information on the retail industry’s cooperatives, the HSG or how your cost-of-goods can be positively affected, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.

Purchasing through a Cooperative Part I of V

Thursday, February 11th, 2016


Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archive.

Throughout the years many industries have discovered that their smaller companies and independents can benefit greatly from cooperatives; business organizations that are owned and operated by their members for the mutual benefit of pooling their resources in a more productive manner.

As time has gone by, and more and more companies merge and consolidate into huge super-corporations, these cooperatives become even more important for their members as they try and compete with companies 10 times their size.

This week we are going to take a deeper look at some major cooperatives in different retail verticles and focus on some of the similarities and differences between them as well as some of the unique things that each is doing to provide greater purchasing power for its members.

Although there are some obvious differences between retail “co-ops” that coincide with how their industries work, there are a few items that are shared by all.  We will start today by looking at some of those common advantages.

Economies of scale – One of the main reasons companies join a cooperative is to be part of an organization with the purchasing power of a large corporation, benefitting from the lower prices achieved by purchasing much higher quantities of goods than they could on their own.

Group Training/Education – In many cases smaller companies must either forego much needed training and education opportunities because of the cost or they must settle for online or webinar courses.  As a cooperative, the group can easily schedule and host multiple training and education sessions throughout the year that would normally be available only to the biggest companies in that industry.

Enterprise product/service opportunities – As mentioned above, purchasing as part of a larger group can reduce the cost of things you are already buying.  As a cooperative, companies also have the opportunity to purchase enterprise products and services such as enterprise software that they could never possibly have afforded on their own.  With so many software companies offering Software as a Service (Saas) models, this is becoming a more important benefit of cooperatives every year.

These are just a few of the basic advantages for becoming part of a cooperative.  The rest of this week we will be taking a closer look at some of the different retail industry cooperatives and what they are doing to help their members with purchasing different products and services.

For more information on the retail industry’s cooperatives or how your cost-of-goods can be positively affected by joining one, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.

What is Emotional Intelligence? Why It Should Matter in Any Business?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016


Today’s post is written by Heather Powell, Director of Customer Services & Project Manager at SafeSourcing, Inc.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions and to recognize, understand, and influence the emotions of others. This means being aware that emotions drive behavior and impact people- positively and negatively, and learning how to manage those emotions- in ourselves and others- especially under pressure1.

Why should emotional intelligence matter in any business?

Recognizing Emotions: Good managers are able to recognize emotions in themselves and others. This requires an openness to emotion to be able to answer the question, “how am I feeling today” with a one word answer. Recognizing emotion also involves the ability to recognize emotion in others through their facial expressions2.

Using Emotions: Is about the link between emotions and cognitive thinking. Successful managers know it is not possible to make a decision “with our heads or our hearts.”  Emotions are involved in every decision that we make and we need to pay attention to them. If you know which emotions are useful for which tasks and can switch moods, create a mood task match.  Then you will be more effective and efficient in your day to day jobs2.

Understanding Emotions: Understanding the combination of emotions we feel at a deeper level is a vital element of EQ. Understanding also involves identifying the causes of emotion as well as tracking how our emotions change over time. Emotions follow logical patterns.  Knowing these patterns will greatly enhance your emotional “what if” planning2.

Managing Emotions: Our skills at managing our own and others’ moods will determine how well we deal with difficult situations. Rather than ruminating or suppressing emotion, to be effective we need to go to the emotion (recognize it), get insight (through using and understanding) and then go through the emotion. We can do this by implementing short or long term strategies to achieve the optimal emotional outcome for ourselves and others2.

We enjoy bringing this blog to you every week and hope you find value in it. 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.