What do you call a FMCG Consultant? Trouble-shooter, Problem Solver and Magician!
Over the last few years and working with the team here at Customer Attuned with our clients, I have been called many things – always polite of course! – but two or three descriptions have resonated recently with my work within FMCG supply chain.
The pandemic and the impacts of lockdown measures have been reported at length – so no need to go there. Providing a robust supply chain for food and beverages under normal circumstances can be a challenge. Providing it when a business is unclear about its markets, its customers, and its suppliers creates an immense business challenge. Hence the descriptors above. Let’s have a look at them in a bit more detail.
Trouble – Shooter
When a business is struggling, they tend to engage with subject matter experts that come into the business to have an almost forensic look about what is going wrong. They are looking for individuals, or a team that have credentials relating to what they can do, not necessarily what they have done in the past. My own experience is pharmaceutical wholesaling, but this knowledge is entirely transferable to any supply chain operation. Being able to see clearly behind complexity and describe the problem statement is the skill that is needed. So identifying the key issues for FMCG supply chains – revenue / stockholding / cashflow / cost base / potential support options – is the number one priority.
Having identified what the key issues are, working through solutions with a joined-up plan that can be put in place by the company. But here is the real benefit of the approach – working with the company to activate the solutions so that it happens. Having real life experience in relevant roles at this point now does become essential – knowing how to do it but more importantly providing confidence to the leadership team that it can be done. Implementing the following became business critical for most supply chain companies;
- Realistic expectations of your revenues
- Reducing range and stock levels to provide excellent service of the basics
- Tight management of cash – get money in quicker, spend only when essential, manage your access to finance through the banks
- Tight management of your costs across everything – some decisions are easier than others but have to be taken
- Applying for and utilising support – access to furlough and grants promptly
When a good plan comes together, and a business survives the initial impacts and is then able to steer a path through a few more turbulent months on the edge of lockdown restrictions being lifted it feels like a rabbit has been lifted from the hat, but only as you see the light at the end of the tunnel. So it is no surprise that the term Magician has never been used but when you look back at the journey that you and many other supply chain leadership teams have gone through you could describe it as a magical experience.
If you want to know how the magic happens, there are actually quite a few ways we tackle different needs in the world of FMCG. Have a look at our Business Capabilities page and I would be happy to talk them through with you.