We’ve all heard the saying about no second chances for a first impression. Being a cliché doesn’t make it any less true though and it’s a good lens to view national MRO suppliers through.
When you sign on with a new electrical and lighting MRO supplier, the first 60 days create your “first impression,” which influences how you view your supplier during the entirety of the contract period. As a provider in the national account space, we understand how the success or failure of a supply agreement is often determined in the first stage of the relationship. That’s why we’ve developed a battle-tested process to onboard clients and deliver results in the first few weeks.
Here are five things you should demand of your new MRO supplier:
1. A shared definition of success
Proper onboarding ensures that you achieve your desired outcomes, whether its reducing spend, collecting MRO data, preventing plant downtime or any other company objective. This means, your supplier should define their success around your goals.
Sometimes goals are mutually exclusive, so it’s crucial that clients and suppliers are on the same page when it comes to executing a successful MRO relationship. Even when different goals are compatible with each other, an agreed-upon priority list will ensure that you receive the results you’re looking for.
2. Rapid deployment delivers results
When commencing a new contract, it is critical to “hit the ground running and start implementation very quickly,” said Keith Jack, vice president of sales at IM Supply. “When our customers change MRO suppliers, they are expecting savings and if we don’t implement quickly and effectively, then we don’t get the savings. We have a very detailed plan that we use on a consistent basis among client sites and we leverage the resources of our distributors.
“We know our role, our distributors know their role and we articulate the plan with the customer, so they know their role and together, we can quickly implement a new program from scratch in 30 – 60 days,” continued Jack.
A leading cause of a failed MRO supplier relationship is poor implementation. If the supplier can’t execute quickly, then it will often find itself playing catch-up for the rest of the contract period.
3. Boots on the ground win the battles
A key element of any new client implementation is a physical inspection of your stockrooms and inventory levels (also known as a “crib crawl”). This, combined with purchasing and maintenance records sets a baseline for you, identifies outdated inventory to get off the books, and helps your supplier work with your plants to set new min/max inventory levels.
For example, this Fortune 500 company had a goal of reducing MRO spend and brought on IM Supply to do the job. “We went through each location to see what inventory was there, did buy-backs for excess supplies and identified obsolete inventory to discard. The customer viewed this as direct savings to reduce unnecessary inventory from their system,” said Jared Johnson, national sales manager at IM Supply.
This hands-on action contributed to IM Supply exceeding the cost savings goals the customer had set, and it was possible because IM Supply could leverage its network of 800 distributor locations. With distributors near each of the customer’s plants, it was easy to deliver this essential local service.
4. There’s no such thing as over-communication
Implementing a national MRO supply contract is a significant logistical task and with so many moving parts, communication is vital. “During implementation, we have a weekly call with the client and our distributors to define our plans keep things rolling. This way everyone is clear on their role and we can successfully achieve everything in a very tight timeframe of 30-60 days,” said Johnson.
After the initial implementation is complete, the communication shouldn’t stop. “We continue the regular calls with our clients’ corporate offices, moving them to a biweekly frequency and complementing them with quarterly business reviews, so we can all stay on the same page,” said Johnson.
If the rule in real estate is, “location, location, location,” the rule in national MRO is definitely, “communicate, communicate, communicate.”
5. The right people in the right place with the right resources
Your plants need maintenance, which requires replacement parts. If your MRO suppliers are a far distance from your plants, implementing the contract will be a challenge and unfortunately, it will only go downhill from there as things inevitably break and cause downtime. Add in a dash of expedited shipping charges for rush orders and your new MRO contract quickly gets more expensive than you anticipated.
When your suppliers are far away, it’s difficult for them to do the basics like a crib crawl in a timely manner and implementations take longer and savings are smaller.
Leaders in the national account space know the importance of a keen strategy for implementing new agreements with clients. See how IM Supply can quickly start delivering results for your electrical and lighting MRO needs.