Archive for the ‘Sourcing Strategy’ Category

What’s Trending?

Friday, June 14th, 2019

 

 

Today’s blog is by Margaret Stewart, Director of HR and Administration at SafeSourcing Inc.

You may have noticed while researching topics or just browsing through videos online that there are topics that say “trending”. So, what does that really mean? Like any trend, it is something that is growing in popularity, most likely at a higher rate than normal. Sometimes topics or videos “trend” due to recent media coverage and a large number of people are seeking more information. Sometimes, though, the trending topics seem obscure. Is it possible that “trending” could be based on more than popularity alone?

The short answer is yes. You can, with a certain amount of money, pay to have your video, tweet, or topic show “trending” in certain platforms. The idea behind this is that if your chosen topic trends enough, you will get a larger amount of exposure, thus increasing personal ad revenue, site traffic, and simply gaining a larger audience of potential customers.

While this may seem entirely good, there can adverse effects. Let’s say your topic is trending and many people are exposed to it. What would happen if, say, you have a typo or bad grammar, or even worse – wrong information? Then any positive exposure you had hoped for is likely turned to negative and negative exposure can actually lessen your customer base. With the overwhelming power of social media, someone is able to expose wrongdoings like corruption in civil services or blatant discrimination, yet they can also resurrect a beloved television show or spread positivity of doing good deeds for others. So, being careful about what you present is important. We at SafeSourcing can help with your trending needs or help you achieve the trending goal of cutting costs without sacrificing quality of service.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help your procurement efforts, or on our Risk

Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

 

 

 

Fail Quickly!

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives.

Those of us who are too afraid to fail, inherently play things safe. Those of us who play it safe, don’t set “unachievable” goals.  Those of us who don’t set “unachievable” goals, don’t rethink our mental models of what is possible for achieving success.

Of course, no one will say failure doesn’t hurt. However, it doesn’t have to be crippling, if we approach it correctly. In weightlifting we have to allow the uncomfortable microscopic tears in our muscle fibers to occur before those cells can rebuild bigger and stronger. In our personal lives, it we have to be challenged and tested, and shown where our blind spots are before our character can be improved. In business, sometimes we need to surpass our own expectations of what is possible, and test that with both success and failure, before we will know what we or our organization is truly capable of.

Nathan, my second youngest brother, is more of a risk taker than I am, and I suspect there’s a lot I could learn from him. He’s traveled extensively, goes sky diving, purposely seeks out random strangers in public to sit and have lunch with, and generally is always trying new things that I’d rather not.  But he has a method about it; If the only reason he doesn’t want to take a risk is apathy, he takes it anyway. However, if the risk is so great that failure would be unrecoverable, he doesn’t go through with it. He has a lower and upper threshold for the risks he takes, so that he’s never too inactive, but also never betting more that he can afford to lose.

The point of failing quickly is not to take on gargantuan risks. In other words, we don’t go out and bet the farm just to prove a point. There are foolish ways of taking on excessive risk of course.

The point of failing quickly is to expand our self-imposed limitations of what is possible within the proving grounds of activity that we can quickly recover from should the experiment be a failure.

Please contact SafeSourcing if you’d like to discuss how this strategy can help your sourcing projects.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Workplace Discipline vs Self-Discipline

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

 

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives

Nobody hates workplace discipline more than those that are forced into having to dole it out. For management, performing disciplinary tasks are time consuming, awkward, personally taxing, and carry a huge opportunity cost. However, the need for disciplinary action can be reduced by getting ahead of the problem through investment as a preventative measure, and with exponentially better return compared to the alternative.

Most infractions can be reduced to shortcomings in SELF-discipline: Wasting company time, miss-management of schedule, not learning best practices, tardiness, lack of effort, lack of respect, etc. In these common examples, improving self-discipline proactively, prevents the need for discipline reactively. Self-discipline is not just a character trait to be valued in our personal lives; it’s a worthwhile investment for any company to make in its workforce. Although there are many different approaches to improving self-discipline, my research has found several recommended practices common to most approaches, shared below:

  •  Do an assessment of your self-control: How “in control” of your life do you feel? When you have a goal, do you always accomplish it? Or do you feel rolled around by whatever random thought, unhealthy food, uncontrollable desire, distraction or consequence of poor planning might get in your way? Are your circumstances in control of you? If the answer is yes, you’ve found the reason to look seriously at the rest of the steps below, and identified their targets.
  • Increase delayed/deferred gratification: Avoid activities of instant gratification for a while, with one target at a time. Rather than going out to eat: Cook a meal. Instead of buy: Build. Instead of streaming the movie: Read the book. Go throughout the day looking for opportunities to practice delayed gratification, find things you have to “earn” before you get the reward. Start with small things. The point here is to improve your ability to wait for the payoff. Once you can apply that to small goals with short waiting periods, you’ll can keep building up until you are able to accomplish anything no matter how long the investment period, or how hard the work..
  • Increase “grit”:  Angela Duckworth defines grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals”. This trait is not the same as delayed gratification, but the two do depend on each other. Grit is a little bit darker, in that it deals with maintaining the belief in our abilities and a positive outcome, in the face of failure or hardship. How do we increase grit if our “grit score” is low (you can take a survey that will score you here https://sasupenn.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_06f6QSOS2pZW9qR)? Small wins are your key to success. Don’t give in to the temptation (or bad advice) to accomplish overwhelmingly large goals before you’re ready. Start small, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good, and get some small wins under your belt before graduating to larger ones.
  • Find alternatives for accountability: Accountability can be summed up as ‘find something you value, and put it at risk as a consequence of failure’. Although it should be used carefully so as not to lead to discouragement or take unwise risks, many people have found this useful in keeping their feet to the fire when they would otherwise slack off. Online programs like www.stickk.com allow you to put money or other objects on the line, and partner with coaches to hold you accountable.
  • Positive self-talk: Have you ever had someone give you encouragement that made you feel what they were saying, even if you didn’t believe it? That’s because the brain’s mirror neurons reflect what we hear emotionally, even if our cognitive functions believe something differently, and hearing ourselves works the same way. Try a quick experiment if you don’t believe it: The next time you find yourself assigned something you don’t want to do, keep telling yourself how tired you are/how difficult it is/how pointless it is. Then the next day compare the difference in how you feel to telling yourself that it’s NOT that difficult/you’re NOT that tired/this IS very important, etc. Using self-talk to get through a task or challenge you find particularly difficult can give you the small edge you need to get over the finish line.
  • Mindfulness Meditation: I love learning. A lot. Sometimes so much so that I lose track of really important things, because I have so many thoughts running at one time that I’m not able to choose and prioritize. Mindfulness meditation involves concentrating on your breathing, then your pulse, then your muscle movements, and so on, until you are keenly aware of the here and now. If you find yourself distracted by your own thoughts, mindfulness meditation can help to pull your head out of the theoretical things you’re learning about, and into the present moment, where you can prioritize and accomplish the tasks in front of you. There are many places online where you can find more detailed instructions.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with 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.

 

 

Keep on Trucking!!

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

 

 

Today’s Post is by Eli Razov, Senior Account Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

Establishing a maintenance schedule is the best way to protect your fleet. An experienced company will help this system work well. In addition to drivers, the system ensures maintenance and repair companies handle each vehicle properly.

Here are five tips for fleet maintenance:

  1. Schedule Inspections

Vehicles break down for multiple reasons, anything from accidents to undiagnosed wear and tear can stop a vehicle dead in its tracks. Addressing the issues can be easily resolved with regular scheduled inspections. These inspections help detect problems before the problem strikes. Regular inspections may seem like a waste of time and resources, but they easily save money overall. One small problem can snowball and create more issues in a vehicle. This can lead to expensive repairs that could have been avoided during an inspection. Always go for brake and tire-tread inspections. Check the engine, filters, oil, fuel, lights, and wheel alignment. Remember to test and replace the battery if necessary.

  1. Perform Tune-Ups and Cleanups

Tune up your engine to make it more efficient. This will increase the engine’s lifespan and improve its fuel and oil use. Moreover, it will boost the engine’s performance and prevent stalling or “knocking”. Second, wash the vehicle to remove dust and other particles. This dirt can damage your paint and expose the vehicle’s body to the elements. As a result, rust will form and start eating away at the metal. Also, use high-quality wax on the vehicle body to protect it from the sun’s effects.

  1. Get a Maintenance Checklist

Have a maintenance checklist as part of your system to ensure you don’t miss anything. This list should include the fuel, steering, suspension, brake, and electrical systems. It should also check the engine, tires, vehicle body, and potential fluid leaks.

  1. Do Immediate Repairs

Stay in touch with drivers to get views on potential truck problems. They know their vehicles well and they’ll know when there’s an issue. The important thing is to ensure you do repairs as soon as possible. You can get a mobile truck repair and servicing company to check what’s wrong. They send their technicians to review and solve the vehicle issue you are having. These immediate repairs will prevent bigger problems from arising.

  1. Install Fleet Maintenance Software

Get updated fleet maintenance software for your business. You can input all the details about your vehicles, such as mileage and servicing dates. This ensures you have all the information on the health of your vehicles. The software provides reports that show you are complying with safety regulations. It allows you to set reminders of when a specific vehicle should go for servicing. Plus, it will also help you when making a budget for fleet management.

SafeSourcing can help keep you on the road. By working alongside your Fleet and Vehicle managers we can help build preventative maintenance schedules and help lower repairs and equipment costs. For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact SafeSourcing  we have an entire team waiting to assist you today.

 

 

 

 

Loss Prevention

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

 

 

Today’s post is by Ashley Riviello, Account Manager at SafeSourcing, Inc.

In 2018, it was reported that U.S. retailers posted an annual loss of $35 billion dollars due to theft and errors. This includes internal theft, shoplifting and also errors such as inventory not being accounted for correctly. According to hubsopt.net there are 6 principles you should follow to minimize theft in your company.

  1. Prevention: Taking the necessary steps to prevent theft from happening. Dedicating resources, whether internally resourced, co-sourced or outsourced, brings the skill, knowledge and attention to the concepts of loss prevention and the continued progression of a loss prevention function. The creation of policies, procedures and processes geared toward the holistic approach to loss prevention provides the greatest long-term opportunities to prevent loss and increase company profitability.
  2. Awareness: Make sure you and your team are aware of how to prevent theft and steps to take to be more diligent. The key to awareness is to make certain that it focuses on all levels of associates; field management, store management and all associates. It must also be viewed as part of the overall business and not seen as something separate or only utilized by store personnel.
  3. Compliance: Maintaining compliance within retail locations is always best served through auditing the various operating procedures and policies. You need to make sure you hold people accountable and everyone is doing exactly what they need to. Having random audits keep everyone in line and hopefully less mistakes.
  4. Detection: The use of technology, coupled with generating awareness about the    technology, a retailer can create a level of deterrence against future thefts. Technology alone, however, is not a complete solution. Make sure once something is detected you take very quick action to fix it. The longer you wait the chances of bouncing back from the loss is minimal.
  5. Investigation: Involving the collection of evidence, interviewing of associates, or the overall process to find someone involved in theft. Although the term investigation is often used in this sense, it is not entirely accurate. An auditor conducting an operational audit is in fact conducting an investigation to determine compliance or adherence to policies and procedures.
  6. Resolution: The reactive aspect of a loss prevention program starts to become proactive once again. Establishing a process for resolution will help to answer the questions of how to prevent future losses. After a solution has been determined it is very important to see it through and make sure things get fixed for future problems.

Per hubspot.com, reviewing the six principles of Loss Prevention, it has become evident how each of them plays great importance in building and maintaining a solid loss prevention program. As individual principles, they each provide elements toward reducing shrinkage, margin loss and costs. Collectively working in tandem, they provide the key principles of a loss prevention program and a solid foundation against loss.

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

References:

http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/31499/file-282948940-pdf/The_Six_Principles_of_Loss_Prevention.pdf

 

Procuring Your Proprietary Product- Part 3

Friday, May 24th, 2019

 

 

Today’s post is written by Heather Powell, Director of Major Accounts and Special Projects at SafeSourcing Inc.

A proprietary process is like grandma’s secret lasagna recipe. Lots of people make lasagna, but nobody does it quite like grandma. In fact, you don’t even like other lasagnas; because grandma’s is so much better that it makes all the others seems cheap and terrible!

You might be currently selling grandma’s lasagna but want to expand your customer base, or you are looking to take the recipe to a manufacture to create your own private label lasagna to be sold by distributors. How do you protect your recipe? How do you maintain ownership of the recipe if you want others to mass produce it?

To be clear, there are a lot of confusing technical terms that need clarification of how to protect your recipe:

Patents: Patents protect new, useful, and non-obvious inventions (ideas!). An invention can be a device, a structure, process, machinery, etc. A patent for a composition of matter, including a food recipe, allows you as a small-business owner sole right to prepare your product for sale to consumers and profit from those sales for a period of years. A United States patent has strict filing requirements, and the approval process can take months to years to complete. You must describe the shape, look and ingredients that go into making your product in great detail. Your product must also meet the “nonobvious” requirement, meaning your recipe must not be easily discernible to a professional with food training or the everyday consumer. A patent for a recipe usually covers either mass market products or those designed to perform specific functions within existing products. In seeking your patent, you must decide how you intend to use your product in the market. For example, if you’re designing a product to increase the shelf-life of existing products, you must name that as your product’s purpose in your patent application. You probably won’t win patent approval if you have no intended use for your product or concrete business plan.1

An inventor’s patent will expire after 20 years, and in any case, require the inventor to publish every step of his or her creation. In essence, filing a patent for a recipe requires the chef to let the cat out of the bag.3

Trademarks: Trademarks protect source identifications, usually for brands, slogans, logos, or designs (sometimes even scents or colors). A trademark protection may extend perpetually.

A trademark allows you as a business owner to protect a word, design, symbol or phrase used in connection with your company’s proprietary products. Many companies large and small choose to trademark brand names for products and business logos to ensure each company’s products and business logos remain easily recognizable to consumers. This helps companies maintain brand recognition over time. You have the right to enforce your trademark in court by suing for damages if another company attempts to use your company’s product symbols or business logo.1

Copyrights: Copyrights protect original textual works and visual or artistic expressions.

Copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients. Nor does it protect other mere listings of ingredients such as those found in formulas, compounds, or prescriptions. Copyright protection may, however, extend to substantial literary expression—a description, explanation, or illustration, for example—that accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook.2

Trade Secrets: Trade secrets protect valuable secret information like ideas that must be kept confidential. Others to whom they are disclosed to must also keep them confidential. Similar to trademarks, trade secret protection may extend perpetually.

Unlike trademarks, which protect recognizable designs, trade secrets protect information such as formulas, drawings, patterns, customer lists, programs, devices, methods, techniques or processes. A recipe may be either a “formula,” “method,” or “process” and can be legally protected as a trade secret so long as (1) the owner takes reasonable steps to keep the information secret, and (2) some independent economic value is derived from the information.4

How to Keep Your Trade Secret Top Secret?

Treating your signature product as a “trade secret” is the easiest and cheapest way to protect your culinary assets, unlike the legal hoops required in filing a patent or trademark.

  • Keep your recipe under lock and key. Make sure only your top team members are in your “circle of trust,” such as an executive chef or manager. Word of caution: not every recipe on your menu can be a trade secret, but only those that have a unique feature that sets it apart from competitors’ offerings, like the recipe behind Thomas’ English Muffins’ “nooks and crannies,” may be a trade secret.
  • Quantify the dollar value of your recipe. Keep track of the sales generated specifically by your signature product.
  • Make sure the keepers of the recipe actually know it’s a secret. Include a confidentiality agreement in your manager’s employment contract. Also, remind these employees regularly during training and at staff meetings of their legal duty to not disclose your restaurant’s signature recipes.4

In part four of this series, the author will provide the clarification of a confidentiality agreement and non-disclosure agreement. Meanwhile, SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions for your proprietary product on our “Risk Free” trial program for RFPs and RFQs, 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.

References:

  1. https://smallbusiness.chron.com/recipe-patent-vs-trademark-20893.html
  2. https://lizerbramlaw.com/2015/04/07/copyright-protect-recipes/
  3. https://www.tuckerlaw.com/2018/03/19/secret-recipe-still-secret-protect-restaurants-signature-recipes/
  4. https://www.tuckerlaw.com/2018/03/19/secret-recipe-still-secret-protect-restaurants-signature-recipes/

 

 

Redefining heroics

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

 

Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Archives.

Dale Carnegie advised us in 1934 that we should be Hearty in our approbation, and lavish in our praise. And we are, of the people who save the baby from the burning building, divert tragedy, or run ultra-marathons. These individuals do deserve our admiration to an extent, but we need to be careful not to overemphasize the more visible accomplishments to the extent that we de-incentivize the small wins.

If management is pushing productivity through an organization, leadership is pulling from in front. But leadership doesn’t have to be 1 man or woman pulling an entire organization up the mountain. It takes a chain of linked individuals, each pulling everyone forward in great and small things to create success across an organization. However, the culture of the optimal organization is not to point to the top rungs and say be THAT guy, because we don’t need 2 CEO’s, we need people who take ownership and create value in every position of the company. But how many times have we had people go above and beyond in the small things that had a profound impact on our personal or professional life and never given them the praise they deserved? Or worse, how has it effected you when someone only gives marginal or poor effort, because the tasks they’re working on aren’t praised in their organization no matter how well they are done?

When we make leadership into something bigger than ourselves, we give ourselves an excuse to not take responsibility for the profound ways our actions affect other people. We all have had experiences where someone’s small act has had a profound impact in our lives, for good or bad. Don’t forget to praise their investment in you or your organization, or learn from their mistakes.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team in being a savings hero for your ortanization, 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.

Procuring Your Proprietary Product- Part 2

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

 

 

Today’s post is written by Heather Powell, Director of Major Accounts and Special Projects at SafeSourcing Inc.

In this series, the author will work to educate you on how you CAN take your proprietary product out to market. While there are many confusing words associated with proprietary products; such as trade secrets, non-disclosure agreements, trademarking, and many more. The author will break down the meanings and how many of them are in place to protect you and your product.

According to the Merriam-Webster definition proprietary means “something that is used, produced, or marketed under exclusive legal right of the inventor or maker”. It takes patience, dedication and years of hard work to build a proprietary product, especially in a foodservice program, that customers can trust, but not all creators have the patience, desire or aptitude to take on the commitment required.

There are many ways creators make a proprietary product, out of necessity or to satisfy the need of many people. Those who create proprietary foods may start with a family recipe or create something from scratch and family and friends encourage the creator to market the item. Many items come to mind as a food product that is proprietary; Kentucky Fried Chicken famous blend of 11 herbs and spices breading, McDonald’s special sauce, and Oscar Mayer Bologna are just a few of many hundreds of thousands of proprietary products.

It is possible to take your proprietary products out to market for new manufacturers, co-packing needs, or to get better market rates on your ingredients or materials needed for your product. In the next series of procuring your proprietary product, the author will define and discuss the importance of trade-marking.

SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions for your proprietary product on our “Risk Free” trial program for RFPs and RFQs, 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.

 

 

Better Business Outcomes

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

 

Today’s post is from Alex Borbely, Vice President of Sales at SafeSourcing, Inc.

Over 30 million Americans don’t have access to modern broadband. The Federal Communications Commission announced that it would hold the biggest spectrum auction in U.S. history, aimed at bolstering 5G network deployment. The bidding will see roughly 3,400 megahertz across three spectrum bands auctioned off for commercial use. The auction is scheduled to start in December 2019 and may be the largest in the country’s history. The FCC also stated that there would be more auctions after this one. Three rounds of clock-phase bidding will be held each day at this stage in the auction. The clock auction format being with a “clock phase” that lets participants bid on generic blocks in each Partial Economic Area in successive bidding rounds, followed by an “assignment phase” that allows the winners of the generic blocks to bid for frequency-specific license assignments. Thirty-eight bidders qualified to participate in the auction.

In an auction, the activities are targeted towards researching/inviting suppliers and ensuring that any existing supplier has an opportunity to propose keener prices and better terms. The auction is usually held via e-procurement and has a number of activities concluding with a short time period with dynamic bidding ensuring the pricing moves rapidly downwards. This type of auction provides any number of advantages including:

  • Suppliers are encouraged to bid low and provide good terms in order to win the contract.
  • The process is seen as a fair way of awarding government contracts as well as those from large monopolistic companies.
  • It is a low cost, much quicker method of finding new suppliers.
  • Negotiation costs are almost zero.

SafeSourcing eProcurement, particularly reverse auctions, is a relatively new way to increase your bottom-line and enhance the spend process. Utilizing new technologies will add profit dollars without selling one new customer buying your products or services. The savings are traditionally 10X your investment in e-Procurement tools. You’re just accepting a different way to silicate bids/pricing even with your incumbent vendors that you currently work with.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help in your procurement efforts, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative

 

 

 

 

Part II of II. Are reverse auctions a good tool to use in the retail distribution cost plus arena?

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

 

Todays post is by Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing

Yesterdays post reviewed why and how this author felt that reverse auctions were potentially good for both the distributor and the retailer alike. So just what is cost plus?

According to Wikipedia  Cost-plus pricing is a pricing method used by companies. It is used primarily because it is easy to calculate and requires little information. There are several varieties, but the common thread in all of them is that one first calculates the cost of the product, and then includes an additional amount to represent profit. It is a way for companies to calculate how much profit they will make. Cost-plus pricing is often used on government contracts, and has been criticized as promoting wasteful expenditures.

Once unit level cost has been established for the distribution of products it’s easy to turn that into a percentage and add it to the price of a product coming up with a distributed unit price or category price. The most important part of this pricing exercise for the distributor is to get the distribution costs correct. This can include price of storage, freight, length of travel, driver cost and any number of other costs. This is an area where a distributor can lose a lot of money if they are not very careful.

So, are revere auctions a tool that can help distribution companies?  The answer is a clear yes both above and below the gross margin line. If you like to know more please contact me at ronsouthard@safesourcing.com.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.