Supply Chain Issues – Navigating Its State of Difficulty

Supply Chain

Don’t Let Supply Chain Issues Affect Your Business

Supply Chain Issues have become a big issue over the past few years. Everything is becoming more expensive, and the cost is being borne by the entire supply chain. Delays are already expected this holiday season, but what can you do to help meet customer demands while keeping costs low?

Supply Chain

Everyone is feeling the effects of the current Supply Chain Issues, and the subject has become commonplace. It’s no longer just a lack of bathroom tissue. It’s a lack of everything, from a loaf of bread to big-ticket items like a new car or roof for your house. Nothing is forbidden… Or is it?

The supply chain is currently stressed. We all know this. However, while all roads seem to lead back to the pandemic, there are a variety of reasons how and why we got here. There are ways to get out of this mess.  If not in time for the holidays, then certainly in time to make a difference in the future.

Demand Is High

Demand is higher than supply. Supply chains were strained at the start of the pandemic because manufacturing plants were closing down. Today, while manufacturing remains important, the greatest strain on supply chains is simply demand being much higher than the supply. Consumer demand, combined with monetary assistance via stimulus packages, as well as increased savings for many households, has pushed supply chains to the breaking point. With the onset of the pandemic, purchasing behavior changed. Many households have gone to online shopping. This includes just about everything from homeware basics and food to larger appliances and electronics. In addition, an economic rebound fueled by vaccine rollouts and relaxed COVID-19 restrictions, resulted in many businesses trying to maintain pace in meeting consumer demand. The ultimate result has proven disastrous. The supply chain that supported 2019 and was strained in 2020-21, is still having difficulties supporting 2022.

The result has caused production disruption across industries and around the world.

Supply ChainProduction Is Low

Production has been tremendously disrupted.  Manufacturing output has not been able to provide enough components that go into finished consumer goods. Vehicle production has stalled due to a shortage of semiconductors and chips. These are overwhelmingly produced in China with many other car parts. Without the necessary components, factories in the United States have delayed production. Many have even shut down operations until production levels can meet demand.

As a resort of Supply Chain Issues, many consumer goods have been offshored, leaving us overly reliant on foreign factories. While COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed in some parts of the world, this is not the case in others. Southeast Asia has had to close factories or reduce capacity. Goods cannot be produced at the rate required to meet demand in the United States. The imbalance between highly vaccinated segments of the world purchasing goods from highly unvaccinated segments of the world contributes to the bottleneck and rising raw material costs.

Costs Are On The Rise

Transportation costs have increased tremendously. Fuel prices have risen, making it more expensive to transport goods by road, sea, or air. Aside from fuel, other factors are driving up shipping costs. Containers, for example, were not being shipped at the start of the pandemic because most manufacturing plants around the world had been shut down. When exports from other countries resumed, the containers were not where they needed to be, resulting in a shortage and the construction of new containers. All of this came at a steep price, which is now being felt around the world. Nearly 80% of the world’s trade is done via ocean freight, and the cost has risen from an average of $2,000 to nearly $14,000 for the same container (600%) compared to a couple of years ago.

Supply ChainWhen transportation costs eat into product margins, decisions must be made whether to pass the cost on to consumers or to halt production and shipment of those products entirely.  This results in major supply chain issues throughout all industries.

Ports Are At Capacity

Traffic flow impediments have affected shipping ports around the world. Businesses that can find and purchase containers are now confronted with a new issue: Containers that are stuck at port. Waiting times before ships can dock have reached up to a month in some cases. Because ships can’t be unloaded, there aren’t enough empty containers in transit to carry the extra goods consumers are purchasing, which brings us back to the previous issue of transportation costs. It all exacerbates the issue of being able to deliver goods to businesses and consumers on time and when they are desperately needed.

The problem appears to stem from a few factors… Increased demand meaning more ships are arriving at ports, which are already at capacity and have no room to unload containers. In addition, there has developed a severe labor shortage ranging from those who work at the ports to those who need to transport goods from the ports.

Labor Is Hard To Attain

There are labor shortages everywhere. It’s not just at the port. There’s a labor shortage throughout the supply chain, including manufacturing, warehousing, transportation, and retail. There is an estimated 80,000 truck driver shortage in the United States, which is impeding both regional and local deliveries of goods to manufacturing plants, as well as retailers and direct to consumer from online purchases.

Supply Chain

According to labor statistics, there will be twice as many job openings in the manufacturing and warehousing sectors this year. There are reports indicating that 4.3 million people quit their jobs in August 2021, the most since records began in December 2000. Labor shortages have an immediate impact on our daily lives, but they also have a direct impact on the other supply chain issues which include pent-up demand, delayed production, higher costs, and shipping traffic jams.

It’s easy to get bogged down in a crisis when it affects every aspect of your business. However, with a broader view of supply chain data and a better understanding of overall operations, it is easier to identify and address root problems and plan for more agile supply chain operations. Here are some suggestions so that the data you already have can help you make better decisions for your business and customers.

Inventory Control Via Data Management

It is difficult to optimize the level at which supply meets demand. Analytics eliminates gut instincts and depends on data to make informed decisions.  It ensures your levels of on-hand inventory meet consumer demand.

Warehouse Operations

Inefficient warehouse operations that falls short, contributes to workforce under or overutilization. Analytics provides full view visibility for better workforce management, inventory control and overall improved warehouse processes.

Transportation Best Practices

Tracking the movement of your product is complicated, especially when working with third-party logistics. Analytics provide visibility into your goods’ movement and can lead to cost-effective route optimization opportunities.

General Condition of Your Supply Chain

The supply chain is a network of linked business processes. A failure in one can have a domino effect on another. Analytics can combine inventory management, warehouse processes, and transportation into a unified view to evaluate critical lapses in one and better performance in another.

Supply ChainIt’s easy to become overwhelmed in a crisis, especially when it affects every aspect of your business. However, with a broader view of supply chain data and a better understanding of overall operations, it is easier to identify and address root problems and plan for more agile supply chain operations. Keep the basics up front… Inventory Management, Warehouse Processes, Transportation Administration and Supply Chain Condition, so the data you already have can help you make better decisions for your business and customers.

We Are Your Partner

Customer Equipment Company, empathizes with any supply chain issues you may be experiencing. When using us as a supplier, please work closely with your CEC Customer Representative, to make certain your order is fulfilled in an expedient and efficient manner.

 

Visit www.cec.mhs.com To Select From A Large Variety of
Custom Equipment Company’s Custom Packaging,
Facilities and Storage, Ergonomics and Custom Fabrication Products.

 

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Warehouse Storage Containers, Bins and Totes Best Practices

Warehouse Storage Containers, Bins and Totes

Storage Containers, Bins and Totes

Containers, Bins and Totes

Containers, bins, and totes for warehouses and distribution centers provide long-lasting, heavy-duty storage further helping improve and enhance storage and the entire supply chain.  Warehouse storage bins and totes will help you maximize productivity while also reducing downtime and human error.  Whether your warehouse is full of small parts that need organization, micro chips that need protection, or clothing that needs to be efficiently stored, the right storage unit is vital for efficient and economical fulfillment.   Storage bins offer warehouses solutions that are long lasting, heavy duty, waterproof, easily to wash and chemical resistant.

Bulk Containers

Custom Equipment Company offers an extensive selection of bulk containers ideal for a broad range of material handling applications and support large weight capacities up to and beyond a ton.  These industry-leading reusable containers generally allow you to ship, store and handle your products with ease while increasing your operation’s productivity and profitability.

Bulk ContainerOur Heavy-Duty Collapsible Bulk Containers have load capacities up to 2,500 lbs.  They collapse flat in seconds.  They stack for storage and return shipment.  This optimizes space usage and saving money on returned freight.  Hand-hold areas on panels provide a comfortable grip for panel movement.  In addition to automotive and other packaging applications, these can also contain resins, preforms, food, granular products and other bulk solids.

Industrial container designs are available for the transport and storage of bulk liquid and granulate substances (i.e. Chemicals, food ingredients, solvents, pharmaceuticals, etc.).  Fixed Wall Bulk Containers stack with fork pockets.  They move using a forklift, pallet jack or other material handling equipment.

Bulk Container Features

Containers, Bins and Totes

  • Compatibility: Will the container need to stack with others that are already in your, or your customer’s plant?
  • Stackability: Will you be stacking one full container on top of another? Note the stacking height restrictions.
  • Return Ratio: Some containers fold down to a lower height than others, saving space and freight charges on return trips. Example – 3:1 ratio means 3 collapsed units equal the height of 1 erect container.
  • Collapsibility: Don’t need to collapse a container? Choose from numerous fixed height models.
  • Drop Doors: These are the small fold-down doors on some of the walls. They allow easy, ergonomic access to contents.Containers, Bins and Totes
  • Latch Style: Some containers offer snap-lock style latches to easily open and close drop doors and to easily collapse walls. Heavy-duty models offer post & pocket latches that are less prone to damage.
  • Lids: Optional lids protect contents from dust and damage. Stack containers with or without the lids.
  • Special Conditions: Always consider testing a container under actual conditions to determine suitability.

Bins to Pick and Stock More EfficientlyContainers, Bins and Totes

Warehouse bins are ideal for storing and organizing various parts and supplies.  Applications for these bins include storage of fasteners, hardware, parts, hoses, valves, clothing and a variety of other items.  Picking and stocking bins are ideal for any warehouse that requires quick and error-free inventory or supply picking or shelf stocking.  These bins are useful because you’ll always know where each supply or piece of inventory is, allowing you to quickly select that item for internal use or to fulfill a sale. Additionally, picking and stocking bins typically have open hopper fronts and can stack on top of or nest inside of one another when empty.

Plastic Totes For Storage and Shipping

Containers, Bins and Totes

Containers, Bins and TotesPlastic totes are the most commonly used storage, transport, transfer, and shipping containers in warehouses and distribution or fulfillment centers.  These heavy duty totes have optional lids and can be stacked (with or without the lids) or nestled (when empty) to save space.  Warehouse totes are strong, dependable, and waterproof, and they will not rust, corrode, or bend.  Because their textured bottoms provide a safe and easy non-slip grip, plastic containers and totes are frequently used on conveyors.  The high quality of these totes gives warehouses a longer service life, resulting in low replacement fees.

 

Visit www.cec.mhs.com To Select From A Large Variety of
Custom Equipment Company’s Containers, Bins and Totes
or Choose From These Popular Items Below…

Interflow Container

Bulk Containers

The Interflow Container is a rigid, collapsible, dispensable and re-useable lightweight container. It is used for the storage and transport of dry flowable products. This unit can be stacked up to 5 high with 3,000 lbs. per bin

The Interflow Container is comprised of a woven polypropylene outer fabric with 5/8″ – 5 ply plywood panels inserted in the walls. There are no exposed panels.
No assembly required, simply unfold the unit, the container is ready to fill.
The interflow pallet stacks and nests so the container offers product protection while giving very economical per trip costs.

Click Here To Order The Interflow Container

 

Chrome Wire Shelving With Ultra BinsChrome Wire Shelving Units with Ultra Bins

Chrome Wire Shelving With Ultra Bins combine stylish chrome shelving and parts to organize bins.  Sturdy shelving unit supports loads up to 800 lbs.  Choice of bins.  Easy to assemble.  Ultra Bins are available in Blue, Red, Yellow, Green, Ivory or Black.

Click Here To Order Chrome Wire Shelving With Ultra Bins 

 


Attached Lid ToteTote with Lid

Our Attached Lid Totes – Gray – 24″ x 20″ x 12″ are great for storage of parts and facility items. They have a solid wall inside for easy cleaning and the interlacing-lid allows for stacking and security. These can ward of weathering and other outside contaminants to a degree. Household uses also apply.

Click Here To Order Attached Lid Totes 

 

 

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Plastic or Wood Pallets?

Plastic and Wood Pallets

Plastic vs. Wood Pallets

Plastic or wood pallets – Which is the right choice?  Pallets are built from a variety of materials, the most common of which are plastic or wood pallets.  If you work in the manufacturing or logistics industries, you know how important pallets are.  Pallets are vital parts of any supply chain, so it’s worth thinking about which type is ideal for all aspects of your organization in the long run.

Plastic pallets provide the best return on investment.  In this blog, we’ll cover the primary distinctions between plastic and wooden pallets and why many forward-thinking companies are choosing plastic pallets over wooden pallets.

Drawbacks of Using Wood PalletsPlastic or Wood Pallets – Which Is The Right Choice?

Wood pallets have been a mainstay of the supply chain for many years.  Wood pallets are heavier and you must mend and replace them on a regular basis.  Due to their irregular surface, wood pallets can be difficult to clean and pose a higher risk of infestation and contamination when damp.  This is a particularly serious problem in the food and pharmaceutical industries.

The average wooden pallet can have up to 100 nails, posing a risk to employees and materials.  These dangers only get worse as the wooden pallets get older and wear out.  By decreasing the risk of broken nails, splinters, and broken boards, you can prevent pallet-related labor accidents.

Plastic or Wood Pallets – Which Is The Right Choice?

  • Wood pallets can harbor bacteria and other microorganisms
  • They are difficult to keep clean
  • They are less safe to handle because of nails, screws, and splintered wood.
  • Requires more frequent replacement

Why Should You Use Plastic Pallets?

Plastic or Wood Pallets – Which Is The Right Choice?Pallets made of plastic provide a variety of advantages, including…

They are more portable making them easy to transport.  Plastic is more resilient than wood and less prone to break down over time.  Plastic pallets are also useful for transporting large cargo during shipping and moving about a warehouse with a forklift.   Moreover, compared to wood pallets, plastic pallets can tolerate harsher weather conditions while in transit.

Plastic pallets are more cost efficient. Plastic pallets are lighter than wooden pallets, so freight rates are lower whether items are transported by road, sea, or air.  Despite the fact that plastic pallets have a greater upfront cost, their cost per trip is generally much lower due to their endurance.  New technological developments have cut the cost of plastic pallets even further in contrast to wood pallets in recent years.

Pallets made of plastic are hygienic. Common difficulties with wood pallets, such as decay, infestation, fumigation, and odor absorption, are no longer a concern because plastic pallets cannot absorb moisture.  As a result, between uses, the smooth surface of plastic pallets may be quickly and thoroughly cleaned.   Plastic pallets are ideal for businesses like pharmaceuticals and food & beverage, which have stringent regulatory health and cleanliness standards.

Plastic or Wood Pallets – Which Is The Right Choice?Plastic Pallets are safer for everyone. Unlike wood pallets, pallets made of plastic do not have weak places at specific points.   This is because plastic pallets are made in one piece.  As a result, the chances of units collapsing under excessive load are reduced.   Plastic pallets don’t have nails, splinters, and broken boards like wood pallets.  As a result, your important items are less likely to be harmed, and your workers work in a safer environment.

Nestable Plastic Pallets Save Space

Nestable plastic pallets take up less space. This provides a significant advantage over wood pallets in terms of the amount of space they take up.  Nestable pallets have a nine-leg bottom that nests into other pallets, preserving valuable warehouse space.

Pallets made of plastic are more adaptable, flexible and versatile.  They come in a variety of designs and can be utilized in many different settings and applications.  Plastic pallets, being more pliable and strong, can be made to suit the specific needs of specific industries, whether the majority of your operations take place in the warehouse or in export.

Wood PalletPlastic pallets have a longer lifespan than wood pallets. When deciding between plastic and wood pallets, think about how you’ll use them.  If you ship things frequently or use pallets in a warehouse, it makes sense to invest in long-lasting pallets.  Plastic pallets have proven their durability time and time again.  This helps to counteract the throwaway culture that leads to climate change, as well as putting your company on the right side of history by doing your part to remove garbage from the ecosystem rather than adding to it.

 

Visit www.cec.mhs.com To Select From A Large Variety of
Custom Equipment Company’s Plastic Pallets
or Choose From These Popular One Way Pallets Below…

48″ x 48″ Solid Deck, Nestable
One Way Plastic Pallet

Plastic Pallet

Our Solid Deck One-Way Pallet – 48″ x 48″, also known as an Export Pallet, is strong, durable and great for one time use or inner facility multi-use.

They offer durable and reliable solutions for your export and logistics needs. The unique, nestable design allows you to stack more pallets at a safe height while maintaining structural integrity. Light weight, one-way plastic pallet with great space saving ratio. Easy and safe to handle and cost effective.

Common Uses: (1) To ship items when you do not expect to receive the Pallet back. These Pallets are more expensive than some wood pallets, but they offer protection to your products and your employees because they do not splinter. There are no exposed nails and they are made of a durable plastic that doesn’t break easily.

Click Here To Order Solid Deck Nestable One Way Plastic Pallets

 

48″ x 40″ Nestable
One Way Plastic Pallet

Plastic PalletOur 48″ x 40″ One-Way Pallet, also known as an export pallet, is strong, durable and great for one time use or inner facility multi-use.

They are nestable (Stacking 79 high) and offer space-savings for your facility. The unique design allows you to stack more pallets at a safe height while maintaining structural integrity.

Light weight, one-way nestable plastic pallet with great space saving ratio. Easy and safe to handle and cost effective.

Common Uses: (1) To ship items when you do not expect to receive the Pallet back. These Pallets are more expensive than some wood pallets, but they offer protection to your products and your employees because they do not splinter. There are no exposed nails and they are made of a durable plastic that doesn’t break easily.

Click Here To Order 48″ x 40″ Nestable One Way Plastic Pallets

 

Advantages of Plastic PalletsPlastic or Wood Pallets – Which Is The Right Choice?

  • Lasts longer than wood pallets, typically exceeding ten years
  • Because there are no screws or nails, they are safer to handle.
  • Easy to clean
  • Pallets are lighter than wood pallets.
  • Facilitates in-process and logistical operations.Plastic or Wood Pallets – Which Is The Right Choice?
  • Recyclable
  • Durable
  • More Reliable
  • Stackable to utilize space
  • Long-term use
  • Bug-free
  • Lighter
  • Smooth
  • Weatherproof
  • Simple to store
  • It’s possible to make it out of recyclable materials.

 

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Storm Season Safety

Storm Season Safety

Storm Season Safety goes into effect when spring showers morph into summer storms, making storm safety a priority.  Because of these natural disasters, ranging from heavy rains to tornadoes and hurricanes, emergency preparedness is essential in these situations.

Thunderstorms and LightningStorm Season Safety

Thunderstorms and lightning are among the most common causes of injury and death during Storm Safety Season.  Despite the fact that the majority of lightning victims survive, they frequently have a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.  Thunderstorms are dangerous storms that involve lightning, strong gusts exceeding 50 miles per hour, as well as dangerous hail and flooding.

 

PREPARE NOW

  • Know how likely thunderstorms are in your area.  They can happen at any time of the year in most regions.
  • Become a member of your community’s warning system.  Emergency notifications are also provided through the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio.Storm Season Safety
  • Determine the location of nearby sturdy structures where you live, work, study, and play.
  • Trees that are at danger of falling on your business or home should be cut down or trimmed.
  • Update to Custom Equipment Co. Safety Gates.

 

 

Click Here For More Information On Safety Gates

 

TornadoesStorm Season Safety

Tornadoes are capable of destroying buildings, flipping cars, and generating lethal flying debris.  Tornadoes are violently rotating air columns that originate in a thunderstorm and extend to the ground.  These catastrophic storms can strike at any time and place.  With powerful winds of over 200 mph, they appear like whirling funnels and can cause extensive property destruction as well as death.

PREPARE NOW

  • Know the tornado danger in your neighborhood during Storm Safety Season.
  • Tornadoes are more common in the Midwest and Southeast of the United States.
  • A swirling, funnel-shaped cloud, an incoming cloud of debris, or a thunderous boom, similar to a freight train, are all warnings of a tornado.
  • Become a member of your community’s warning system.  Emergency notifications are provided through the Emergency Alert System (EAS), as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio.
  • If your neighborhood has sirens, get to know the warning tone, so you’ll know when to react.
  • Keep an eye on the weather forecasts because meteorologists forecast when the conditions are favorable for a tornado to form.
  • Wire Mesh BarriersIdentify and practice going to a safe shelter in the event of high winds.  Find a safe room built using FEMA criteria or a storm shelter built to ICC 500 standards.  The next best protection is a small interior, windowless room, generally on the lowest level of a sturdy building.
  • Consider constructing your own safe room.
  • Add Custom Equipment Co. Wire Mesh Barriers.

 

 

Click Here For More Information On Wire Mesh Barriers

Hurricanes Storm Season Safety

Hurricanes are powerful storm systems that form over warm ocean waters and sweep inland. Hurricanes can cause strong winds, heavy rain, storm surges, coastal and inland flooding.  They also cause rip currents, tornadoes, landslides, among other things.

The hurricane season in the Atlantic spans from June 1 to November 30.  The hurricane season in the Pacific spans from May 15 to November 30.  Hurricanes can strike anywhere along the United States’ coasts or in any territory in the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans, however they can even strike locations more than 100 miles inland.  September is the busiest month for them.

Hurricane Storm Winds

PREPARE NOW

  • Sign up for your community’s warning system.  The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
  • If you are at risk for flash flooding, watch for warning signs such as heavy rain.
  • Practice going to a safe shelter for high winds, such as a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter.  The next best protection is a small, interior, windowless room.
  • Based on your location and community plans, make your own plans for evacuation or sheltering in place and furthermore, act quickly.
  • Become familiar with your evacuation zone, exit route and shelter locations.
  • Gather needed supplies to last at least three days.  Bear in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication.  In addition, don’t forget the needs of pets.
  • Keep important documents in a safe place or create password-protected digital copies.Fans To Dry Flooding
  • Protect your property.  Declutter drains and gutters.  Install check valves in plumbing to prevent backups.  Consider hurricane shutters.  Review insurance policies.
  • Use Custom Equipment Co. Industrial Blowers to help dry flooded spaces.

 

 

Click Here For More Information On Industrial Blowers

 

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Forward to a Brighter Tomorrow

When I think about a life motto or mantra, I always come back to the idea that we should view life through the lens of ‘getting better every day!’ That’s why the end of every blog incorporates the idea of ‘looking forward to a brighter tomorrow!’ Today is only twenty-four hours and this week was only seven days. If one hour, or one day, or one week ruined us, then we have got to pick ourselves up and remind ourselves to keep moving forward. Martin Luther King Jr. said “If you can’t fly then run. If you can’t run then walk. If you can’t walk then crawl. But whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Where are you Right Now?

Take an inventory of where you are right now. Are you in a rut with work? Is your relationship with a spouse or loved one shaky? Have you fallen out with a best friend or family member? It could be one or all of these things. What happened? Taking the time to think about the situation after the ember has cooled a little will give you a greater understanding of you and your choices and actions as you look introspectively at your own life. Don’t dwell on what someone did to you or how they hurt you. Instead, when something like this happens, focus on the only piece of the situation you have control over and responsibility of, how you acted and how you responded.

Too many times, even the coolest heads get heated in an emotional discussion or situation. Think about what you did… now decide if what you did requires an apology. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t, but it is VITAL that you figure that out. Next, you need to think about how you responded, even if you thought it was only inward. Were you angry? Offended? Were you hurt?

This is a harder spot, because I am asking you to look inwardly and determine if that was warranted. If you say, ‘no’, then that is something you can apologize for. If you say, ‘yes it was warranted’, then I would encourage you to look harder and remove any ‘pride’ that you may be harnessing. You still say, ‘yes it was warranted’, then you do not need to apologize unless your heart tells you to.

“Looking inside yourself is a practice that we as people need to do on a much more frequent basis. It would rid the world of most ‘Karens’ and put us on the path to a brighter tomorrow.”

Where do you Want to Be?

Once you realize where you are, there are only two paths. You either move in the direction which will take you forward, or you don’t. There is no reason to overcomplicate life. Teachers and philosophers and heads of religion have used the simplicity concept for thousands of years because they knew a simple path was the easiest to follow. So don’t complicate it. Either, you choose to move in the direction of what you want to obtain, or you don’t.

Gym goers make a mental choice to fight for what they want. Doctors and Lawyers make an active choice to study hard for what they want. Business women and men make personal sacrifices for where they want to be. Moms and dads make hard choices for where they want their families to end up. If you aren’t where you want to be, there is no magic potion or genie to make it happen. But where there is willpower, there will always be a way.

Or you decide that it isn’t worth the energy and settle for staying where you are and remaining who you are in this moment. You need to recognize that this is also a choice. The world is not laying out your path and then guiding you down it. YOU are laying out your own path and leading yourself down it. It is YOU who is in control of your destiny and of your future. You decide on your own Brighter Tomorrow!

 

What will it Cost to Get There?

“Everything!” It will cost you everything to get where you want to be because the process will not bring the old you along. The process will leave your past there and create a new self. We can not move forward without also becoming a new person in the process. I’m not saying you’ll be completely different, because you will still have many of your attributes as you grow. I am saying you will be refined. Bad habits will be chiseled away like a sculptor chiseling the stone. Like melting gold so that you can scoop away the impurities, you are refined. And so, when you choose to be different than you are, you will always come out better on the other side. Then, repeat the process.

And when you feel lost and the darkness of doubt and fear are overwhelming you, take courage. You are not alone. There are people here who want to see you succeed. The tunnel gets darkest before the light at the end comes into view. So, in the words of Dory, “Just keep swimming.” Keep swimming until you reach the other side. Swim until you find the current that will boost you forward or the school of fish that will join you in the journey, even if only for a short time. Just keep moving towards your goal of a ‘New You’!

And together, in 2022 and beyond, let us work on ourselves as we look forward to a brighter tomorrow!

 

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Being a Leader

Statue that needs Chiseled

Being a Leader is one of the most important materials in building a successful and longstanding organization. But Being a Leader isn’t easy. It requires focus and self-awareness. It requires attention to detail and humility. A great leader must have balance in every arena. These are traits that can come naturally, but can also be developed in those who truly want them. So what does this leadership look like? How does an owner or manager become the type of leader that can take a company from the small business arena into the vast world of big business without getting lost in transit.

You Have to Want the Transformation

Being a Leader - Unfinished StatueLeadership begins inside of you. Imagine yourself as a work of art, a sculpture. You start out as a big chunk of marble, and the first pieces of rock that have to be chiseled off are easy to see. Things like dishonesty need to be broken off to leave only integrity. Chunks of timidity chiseled down to leave only determination and boldness. Breaking off those blocks of negativity to leave more positivity.

Once you’ve done that, you are left with a figure that looks more human, but that still needs some fine tuning. This is where many leaders get, but become unwilling to finish the project. They say things like, “This is just who I am.” Or, “I’ve been like this for forever.” And what they mean is, “This is as far as I’ll go, and I am unwilling to change.” That type of leader will never be their best. Being a Leader is choosing to always grow. If you aren’t growing, or in the case of a sculpture, being chiseled and polished, then you are not growing. And many would say that if you aren’t growing, you are decaying.

This is step one in becoming a great leader, and if you have already decided this is too much, then turn back now. The chiseling process is not for the faint of heart. It requires constant commitment and humility.

You have to be willing to see your imperfections, but you can not be willing to settle for them.

Statue that needs ChiseledYou Have to Know what Chunks to Chisel

In this analogy, many times we are both the sculptor and the sculpture. So, we need to be able to see the pieces of ourselves that need to be cut off. Here are the top 3 things I’ve seen that leaders are most unwilling to chisel off.

Micro-managing

The first flaw that leaders tend to have but choose to overlook is their Micro-management. The symptoms within an organization where a leader micro-manages are lack of enthusiasm from the staff, negative outlook for administration as a whole and frustration across the board. They don’t allow personal development or empower staff to be creative. These leaders are viewed as rigid and often, the micro-manager gets burned out trying to do the simplest of tasks.

You can recognize it by watching whether they delegate tasks and let the staff handle it. A micro-manager will also have the ‘my way or the highway’ mindset. More often than not, these leaders fail and either step down or are let go because micro-managing is never conducive to building a strong organization. It will always be the chunk on the sculpture that everyone sees is out of place, everyone but the micro-manager.

Are you a micro-manager? Introspection of oneself is vital to good leadership. If you are, don’t hide behind things like, “This is just how I am.” Or, “If I’m not this way, things won’t get done.” Learn to get the right staff around you so that you can delegate tasks and let them blossom to fruition. If you aren’t surrounding yourself with capable staff, then you have a bigger problem with your leadership than simply micro-managing.

Indifference

A plague on being a great leader is found in indifference towards the company and towards the staff members. Indifference is defined as a ‘lack of interest or concern.’

Indifference to the Staff – Professionally

The most common form of indifference is found from the leader to their followers, in this case staff members. It often takes form as apathy towards the projects they are working on and the accomplishments they make. Remember that when an employee gets excited about their accomplishments and want to tell you, crushing that excitement by brushing it under the rug is bad for the company. Sure, they might be just trying to brag, but you can’t know their heart or motives so… just be excited as a leader and feed their excitement. We shouldn’t leave work beaten down and defeated because of our leaders.

Indifference to the Staff – Personally

Indifference for your staff also comes in the form of apathy towards their personal lives. Now, this is a tight rope to walk because there are Human Resource issues that arise from being too personal, but you can still care about your employees without crossing that line. You do so by allowing them to control the dialogue.

Leader: “Good morning, Susan! How is your week going?”

If Susan responds, “Fine.” Don’t try to dig, keep the comments on the surface level. You could say, “Fine is better than terrible, so I guess that’s a win!” Or, “Well hopefully by the end of the day it goes from fine to AMAZING!” If Susan wants to talk more, she will. Otherwise you leave the conversation knowing you gave positive remarks and didn’t pry into inappropriate territories.

If Susan responds with something deeper, then perhaps you step to that level. If she says her daughter is sick, you can apologize for that and ask if there is anything the office can do to help with that. Or perhaps it’s finances or trouble at home. You should point her towards HR and let her know that ‘this company is here to support her in whatever way they can.’ (Notice how the leader always pushes her towards the company, not towards them as an individual.)

Indifference to the Company

Lack of consideration for the company is the second major indifference you’ll see among leaders. They don’t care about the organization as long as their own wallets grow. These are the C-suite officers and Presidents who give themselves outrageous salaries, bonuses and allowances that don’t make sense for the bottom line of the company. Don’t mistake this as a dis against six figure salaries, but everyone should be paid according to their work and if the CEO is making more than what the owner makes, well that’s the indifference I’m talking about. If the CEO is taking a bonus that more than double’s her staff? That’s the kind of indifference I’m talking about. And if those allowances are greater than that which is offered to the other staff members, whether it is a car, health insurance, life insurance etc. Well, that’s what I’m talking about.

The company’s success and survival should be first and foremost, and bonuses should be based on the success of the company as a whole. Leaders who don’t care about the bottom line as long as their paycheck clears… That’s indifference to the Company.

Egomania

The third chunk most leaders refuse to chisel is their ego. Ego in this case is a person’s sense of self-importance. ‘Egomania’ takes that to an unhealthy level, and in leaders it leads to a destructive and toxic work environment. But how does one know that their ego needs to get checked?

  1. If you have a self-proclaimed title or constantly feel the need to tell people your title… you might need to check your ego.
  2. Do you feel entitled to more because the company can’t run without you… you might need to check your ego.
  3. If you demand more money or bonuses or pay increases… you might need to check your ego.
  4. Do you ever take advantage of the company because you feel you were entitled to it… you might need to check your ego.
  5. If the company struggles but you don’t really care because it owes you… you might need to check your ego.
  6. Do you position yourself over the other people you work with… you might need to check your ego.

And that list could go on and on for days. Check your ego at the door… All it does is create a toxic work environment that will inevitably tear down the company or get you pushed to the outside and ready for the ‘boot’.

Being a Leader stands against all of these things. If you hope to lead people into a brighter tomorrow… you’ve got to drop these childish things. Leaders transform, and then they can lead.

 

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Multi-Generational Struggles

At our Industry Conference in Austin Texas, discussions were had at our round tables. From future outlooks on the economy to marketing strategies during and after Covid, conversations were uniform as these were all major junctures that we face in the United States. One in particular stuck out. The Struggles in a Multi-Generational staff. How do we handle cross pollinating a work force that is as different as roses and dandelions? How do we create synergy between the Baby Boomer generation and Gen-Z and everyone in between?

Fixing Multi-Generational Struggles Starts with Understanding Each Generation

Every generation has something to offer, and so I encourage Multi-Generational staff even with the struggles that come with it. And in these cultures, it is vital that each person understands what each of the other generations has to offer. This even includes “The Greatest Generation” (1901-1924) and “The Silent Generation” (1924-1945) who are likely retired or retiring.

Baby Boomers (1946-1964):

In 2021 this generation is between the ages of 57 to 75. They grew up during the Vietnam War and post war eras. They were the Rock and Roll, Beatles and Woodstock enthusiasts. Many of them were a part of the FIRST two-income households, first generation with TVs and the first to openly accept divorce as a tolerable reality. History even noted them as the first ‘tolerant’ generation, paving the way for American Freedoms. But what do they offer to companies like yours?

The answer is experience. This generation is the one who blew figurative holes in the mountains of society and culture. They weren’t just “rebels without a cause” because moving forward was the cause. Freedom to be and choose was, in their early years, their motif. Though, for some, that has changed as they have gotten older. In the work place, they should be the wise guides for the new generations who are rising up to make industries new and bring business back to the present and then push it to the future. They need the Baby Boomers to teach them so that they don’t make the same mistakes.

“The Generations before are meant to teach us what was, so that we can properly direct what eventually will be.”

Generation X (1965-1980):

In 2021 this generation is between the ages of 56 to 41. This generation grew up street-smart because of career driven parents and often divorced or broken homes. They learned to fend for themselves early on which has earned them the term, “The Latch-Key Kids”.  Most remember the introduction of computers in middle school or high school. They were interested in philosophizing more than settling with a long-term career and family. They tend to commit to self growth and average seven career changes in their lifetime.  Society, and thus individuals, are often seen as disposable unless they enhance this generations growth.

So how do they fit into our work culture?  Seen as the renaissance of entrepreneurship, and rightfully so, they typically push the companies we see around us onward. This Generation took up the reins and drove Business to the next level. They have the experience of transforming companies from what they were to the next level, what they should be. They are the driving force and that energy is needed by the other generations. That leadership is required for the other generations to learn it and often to live by it because it was and is the life blood of leadership and entrepreneurship!

 

Millennials (1981-2000):

In 2021 this generation is between the ages of 40 to 21. This generation, my generation, are thought to be sophisticated, technology wise, immune to most traditional marketing and sales pitches, they’ve seen it all and been exposed to it all since early childhood. According to a Goldman Sachs research:

“Millennials have come of age during a time of technological change, globalization and economic disruption. That gives them a different set of behaviors and experiences than their parents. They are slower to marry and move out on their own. Millennials show different attitudes to ownership that helped spawn a “sharing economy.” They’re also the first generation of digital natives, and their affinity for technology helps shape how they shop. They want instant access to price comparisons, product information and peer reviews. Finally, they dedicate themselves to wellness, devoting time and money to exercising and eating right. Their active lifestyle influences trends in everything from food and drink to fashion.”

So what do they bring to the table? What do they offer to your company and team? Well they are the future of your industry. They are driven to learn more and understand more. Gen Y want to see the world as a better place, not only for them, but for everyone. They are the PRESENT DAY represented and personified. These are the leaders and future leaders of the world and of your business.

Remember, they usually won’t stand for companies that don’t have humanities best in mind, and they won’t allow disrespect or harassment in the workplace or anywhere for that matter. If you want to know where the world will be in thirty years, look to Generation Y (Millennials). And then, look to them to be the catalysts of Multi-Generational growth and solutions to those struggles.

Gen Z (2001-Present):

In 2021 this generation is 20 years old and younger. They have never known a world without computers and cell phones. They are digital integrators, having integrated technology seamlessly into their lives, and having used it from the youngest age. It permeates almost all areas of their lifestyle and relationships. They are only barely into the workforce, but they are a company’s energy source and connection to all things progressive! We need them so that our companies don’t get stagnant again. Let’s catch up and then use Gen Z as our catalyst to the future!!

 

When we learn to understand one another, we conquer Multi-Generational Struggles. And we grow into a Brighter Tomorrow… TOGETHER!

 

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Corporate Synergy

Corporate Synergy is the cooperation of staff, clientele and vendors formed to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. That is the positive effect of one staff member to another. One Customer to a Salesperson. One bookkeeper to a Vendor. When we maintain a balance and harmony amongst those three parts of business, we find Synergy. And Corporate Synergy is what takes a good team and moves it to excellence.

Sparking Synergy

Finding the spark to this synergy is very easy for the administrator or leader who is proficient with it. A leader who can observe the ‘language’ each person needs to feel respected and accepted. A leader who can learn the body language of their coworkers and subordinates, so well that they can see issues before they get out of control. These are the leaders who not only avoid big issues by handling them before they get out of hand. These are the leaders who can spark enthusiasm in the workplace. They make every worker feel appreciated by the company as well as by that administrator. These are the leaders who make every person in the company want to succeed.

To spark this sort of community and cooperative teamwork, a leader needs to be attuned to the following

  • The Employees feelings about Administration, Cooperative Treatment, Working Conditions and Personal and Professional Preferences as they apply to the job
  • The small and large impacts of making policy and procedure changes
  • The Health of the Company Overall
  • The Structure of the Company
  • The Trouble Spots of the Company (including Employees, Policies, Past and Present Hardships)

Fueling Synergy

Now that your leader has sparked the fire, you need to add some fuel to really ignite it. That fuel can be anything that gets your employees excited. These are sometimes the events or gatherings that make employees hate work a little less. Because, let’s face it, no one wants to work at a boring job these days. We are a society that is finally coming back to the age of ‘Work hard to Play harder’. If we aren’t fulfilled and happy, we will pick up and leave, and that generation is the one that is taking the front row on this leadership train. We might as well accept it.

So what are some good examples of this?

  1. A Christmas Party (or any Party based around a holiday or event) Is PERFECT for fueling that synergy. This can also take the form of Friday Cocktails for Happy Hour or even a Corporate Luncheon. Anything to get people interacting outside of their cubicle, as it were.
  2. A Company Picnic  (or an event to bring family). Meeting family members helps to soften the rough edges on most people and make them more relatable, etc.
  3. In-House Competitions – like Highest Sales for the Month, Safest Procedures or Most ‘Check Ins’. You could even do a different one each month to highlight specific areas within your facility so that the same group doesn’t win every time.
  4. Reward their efforts… however you can. Reward their efforts!

Utilizing Corporate Synergy

Now that you have sparked and fueled those flames of Corporate Synergy, it’s time to utilize it! How? Simple… just keep stoking the fire as you did to get it started. Now, watch the flame grow and the Synergy push us into a Brighter Tomorrow.

 

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Return on Investment

Yes, when it comes to marketing we are always discussing a company’s Return on Investment, or ROI. But this shouldn’t just apply to Marketing. This should be an administrative tool we use on the regular and in all areas of our company. From Customer Service to Sales to Marketing to HR. Everything you ‘invest’ in, whether time or money or energy, has a ‘return’ tied with it. Whether it’s a good return or not? Well that depends on what you’re investing in. Let’s break down a few of those together.

Marketing:

This is the most obvious of the areas where we would want to see a Return on Investment, but it is often the most difficult. Much of the ROI in Marketing is invisible. How can you truly know if it’s a strategy you’re using or the culmination of word of mouth. Perhaps it’s your paid ads on Google, or it might just be an organic happenstance. In most cases, it is probably a mix of both, but how do you determine money spent vs money it gained.

The answer is, you can’t ever know completely. But, if you’re willing to put the time and energy in, you can come pretty close.

Try these:

  • Compare last year to this year Spending Vs Earned
  • Every 3 Months make small changes to test your numbers
  • Survey Customers/Run Reports to find out where those leads came from
  • Use ‘Call to Action’ buttons to trace information

Customer Service

Customer Service is another area where the ROI indicators are nearly impossible to gauge. However, anyone who has ever had a bad experience with Customer Service knows the benefit of good Customer Service. That’s why companies like Walmart and Costco spend all of that extra money on additional staff. There is no way to figure out how much return is being gained on that investment. However, those companies chose and choose daily to maintain this Customer Service program because the return is real, just not visible.

If you want to test it, then try these:

  • Compare last year to this year revenues
  • Compare reviews on sites like Google
  • Survey Customers as they come in

Sales

This is an easy one. We invest a lot of time into our sales departments. From training to expenses to most of our overhead costs, our Sales Departments get the “Gold Star” treatment. I think that is a two-fold strategy. For one, Sales bring in money, and without money the company doesn’t survive. But the second, which ties closely to that, is that this is one of the few departments where you can easily break down the return on investment. You can take the Gross Revenue and subtract the costs of goods and labor and overhead and determine what that sale was worth.

That being said, I have seen many companies who have the tools to measure things like Net Profit and Profit Margins. And yet, they tend to just run without looking and hope for the best. That’s not a good business practice and you will never know the actual ROI of a sale or the salesman’s time by doing things that way.

Human Resources

The last department I want to focus on today is Human Resources. I chose this department as the last one we look at because I believe it is the ROI that is most important to any good company. The investment here is your employees. You invest in them with your time, energy and money. And their return is the greatest you can ever receive in business. Ever.

These are the people who, when the company plunges into a pandemic, stick with it to pull it through. Don’t be mistaken thinking they had no choice or that it was the better choice. I can promise you making more money and having to do nothing for it would have been the better choice for them. It would have been safer and less chaotic. And yet, they stayed. YOU SHOULD BE APPLAUDING THEM!

They are the ones who, when 3/4 of the staff is out sick, carry the load of the entire team to keep the place running until the other’s return. They are not your pets, so don’t treat them like dogs. They didn’t have to carry that burden, but they did it for you. Why? Because you invest in them… and this is their return to you.

So invest in your staff and know that the return is well worth it! As we invest in a brighter tomorrow!!

 

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Capitalize on Your Weird

“Capitalize on Your Weird” feels like an odd concept, but in reality, this is what makes history. For example, think back on Great Leaders like Pope Francis,

Notable Leaders with Weird Traits that Made them Great

  1. Pope Francis, the Pope of the People was a Nightclub Bouncer which he feels helped him connect to people who attended and softened his heart where other hearts have been hardened.  He became a great leader because he understood everyday people.
  2. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, believes in only organizing meetings that are small and intimate. They should only involve the key players and decision makers. So,, he has a ‘Two Pizza’ rule. If the number of attendees can’t be fed by two pizzas, then the group is too large.
  3. Sara Blakeley, CEO of Spanx, believes that car commutes are where the best ideas originate. She feels that this time is meant for clarity of thought. So, even though she only lives a mile or so from the office, she drives around her work for an hour before finally pulling in.
  4. Michael Kors is an American Fashion Designer of the brand that holds his name. A fashion company worth $20 billion. Kors, however, does not wear his fashion. Instead he comes to work in a black crewneck each and every day. He says this allows him to focus on other decisions rather than wasting time curating his own outfit.

Notable Companies with Weird Traditions or Policies that make them Great

  1. Pixar creates a work culture by allowing creativity to be the forefront, including in the construction of its “cubicles,” which are often shaped like huts and are tricked out to the nines.
  2. Amazon’s “returnless refunds” which allows sellers to offer refunds without actually getting the item back from the buyer. And their Automatic Authorization policy for returns has made them a powerhouse in the retail industry and beyond. It’s not just about inside culture, but your outside culture too.
  3. Costco adopted their four Operational Choices: Offer less, standardize and empower, cross-train, and operate with slack. These were pretty weird when they were first introduced. Now, they are want the company is founded on. And Costco execs say, “Culture isn’t the most important thing — it’s the only thing.”
  4. Spotify has created a culture of guilds and tribes and squads that serve not only as a fun little group building exercise, but also as an accountability process. Team Building doesn’t have to be tedious it can be fun.

How can you Capitalize on your Weird to make your Company Great?

Well, first things first, you have to embrace it. Take whatever makes you stand out and run with it. The ‘old world’ hated when things stood out, but today? The whole world thrives on ‘weird’. People are rooting for the odd and unexplainable. They want to back and be a part of the out of the box ideas. Don’t let the world stop you…

Be weird in a brighter tomorrow!

 

 

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