3 Rules for Working Together in the Material Handling Industry
by Brandon Blair

As a Material Handling Company, it is important to understand the relationships that can be built in the industry, particularly with vendors. The adage of “Take care of your vendors and they will take care of you!” applies well here. That being said, a person can sometimes come across vendors that are less than helpful. Without a doubt, I’m sure vendors know of customers that can be the same way. So, let’s go over a few points that can be helpful for everyone involved and make the buying/selling relationship easier.

  1. Communication is costly. Be detailed, ask questions, and never assume.

– Everyone thinks they are good communicators, but what does that really mean?

  • Whether you are asking for a quote or ready to release a P.O. for a purchase that you are behind on, make sure you have information as exact and detailed as possible. If you know there are gaps in what you are providing, let the other party know this.
  • On the receiving end, do you have questions about what was communicated to you? Ask. There is a prevalent sense of not wanting to be seen as ignorant, or maybe not as intelligent as you are. Appearances are just that, appearances. Do your best to get over that and just get the information you need.
  • Don’t make assumptions. Everyone knows the saying: “When you assume, you make a donkey out of you and me”. Typically, in this industry, assumptions cost money. Either the buyer or the manufacturer must pay for assumptions that were based on incorrect or no information. Do your best to be clear.
  1. Follow-up creates trust and provides opportunity to grow.

– No one wants to worry about a job once it is done, however, it is important to look at our past so that we can improve our future.

  • You see that email in your inbox? The one with the subject line of “How did we do?” or something similar. Do you spend time at the coffee pot complaining about a vendor or buyer? Do something to help them get better!
  • Did you get that quote out, but are worried that you missed something? Shoot them a message asking if they want to go over it over the phone or if they need to have a better breakdown of costs.
  • The next time you are on the phone with the customer, ask them how you’re doing with their requests. Ask them what you can do better!
  1. Be honest, your timeline depends on it.

– Honest statements and clear directions go far in our industry.

  • We are in an industry that is volatile, fast-paced and ever-changing. The demands that customers place on companies in the Material Handling industry are only going to get more challenging.
  • Taking on these challenges is going to demand awareness, honesty, and downright-hard work. There are so many parties involved in each project and even more personalities. No one can afford to be vague, it only leads to confusion. Don’t be afraid to be clear and direct. That combination is sure to save time, energy, and money.

Keep in mind that these tips mean nothing if you don’t want to try to get better. If you don’t care what your relationship is with your customers or vendors, then don’t pay attention to them. However, if you want to build a better industry, if you want to have better partnerships, then it is up to you to do it. Remember, we are a better industry working together!

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With a background in Project Management and Process Improvement, Brandon is used to creative problem-solving. He has expanded his experience into the Material Handling industry as an Estimator for DCS. Capitalizing on previous experience and a new knowledge base, Brandon has moved to a position as a Process Leader, designing and implementing new workflows to make his teammates’ work lives easier. Outside of work, Brandon enjoys spending time with his family, his church life and being a huge nerd.