How to Keep Customers Happy With Supply Chain Management

h3graham    June 22, 2018

In business everything is about the bottom line, how can you come out on top at the end of the day?? In order to do that you need to have a great customer experience, a great employee experience and you need to achieve great results. In order to achieve those results you need to keep your customers happy and delivery what they need when they need it.

Norwell Dairy is the largest dairy supply company in all of North America selling and servicing approx. 1700 dairy customers in Ontario. They have four locations across Ontario with the head office being in Drayton. Each location has their own warehouse but all shipments are sent to the head office and distributed from there.

Over the years Norwell has worked to implement a plan that works best for all their warehouses, trucks, service and sales team to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding inventory. NAV and Mobile NAV were put in place as an ERP system to help keep track of all the parts and improve the overall supply chain and inventory which meant getting to proper parts to customers faster.

Doug Henderson is the Inventory Analyst and System Optimization Specialist at Norwell Dairy and during an interview with him he explained “inventory, cycle counts and ensuring everyone is on the same page in regards to inventory is so important to make sure everything is tracked properly. We have 23,596 SKUS in NAV with 18,072 being active and 7,282 in the system to ensure we keep stock, there’s alot of parts to track.”

Norwell has its main warehouse at the head office but it also has 120 employees and over 50 trucks on the road daily, each truck containing their own inventory as well as the other three locations having inventory as well. Using paper and pen to track items was clearly not working which is why NAV and mobile NAV were put into place to try and make everyone’s life easier. After an interview with Kerry Reibeling, Director of Customer Relations he explained; “At Norwell we have implemented multiple warehouse inventory which gives us more visibility, mobile nav which is a program to allow these vehicle warehouses to invoice right on the farm/customer.  This gets inventory out of the system and moving quicker.” Every service guy carries a cell phone with mobile nav on it and they can do transfers, invoicing and cycle counts right from their truck, therefore they no longer have to wait until they get back to office.

Reibeling explains, “The other issue is having people use the “you touch it you record it” mentality because if someone moves inventory without recording it there is no way to know where it went.” using technology at your fingertips, literally has helped Norwell with this problem, employees are no longer forgetting to record parts when they get back to the shop or have to rely on writing it on a service order because it has already been done on their phone.

Overall Reibeling explains NAV and mobile NAV have been great for their inventory system as a whole however “the largest issue is managing inventory levels; you need to have product in order to perform service and sales but not too much that restricts cash flow.” This issue is common amoung any company, you need to ensure you have the parts in stock that customers need and for the service team to properly fix customers equipment however you can’t lock all your revenue up in inventory.

Lessons for Others

Not being a known company or brand worldwide and not being a typical example of supply chain management it was very interesting to speak with Reibeling and Henderson to understand how a company of 120 employees is the largest of its kind in North America and how they make it work everyday. Dealing with farmers who work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and need their equipment to work those hours as well is different then shipping a t-shirt or a pair of jeans. Inventory is extremely important to make sure the proper parts are always on hand for the on call service guy to have when he needs to visit the customer in the middle of the night to fix something. Being able to provide the customer with what they need keeps them happy and loyal to you. Using supply chain management to understand what works best for your inventory, your employees and overall your bottom line will make you successful.

Organization: Norwell Dairy Systems
Industry: Agriculture
Name of Organization Contact: Kerry Reibeling, Director of Sales and Operations

Authored by: H3Graham

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  1. Norwell Dairy Systems (2018) About Page
  2. Norwell Dairy Systems (2018) Services Pages
  3. YouTube (2018) What is Supply Chain Management
  4. Microsoft Dynamics (2018)
  5. Google Images (2018)
  6. YouTube (2017) What’s New Microsoft Dynamic NAV 2017