An interesting question that I was asked the other day by a friend was “Is it possible to be both creative and reliable at the same time?” My initial response was probably not, as creativity requires you to be inventive and/or imaginative to create something. Whereas reliability requires you to be consistently good in quality and/or performance. In other words, be trusted to consistently perform at a high level. So, you would think it would be very hard being creative whilst at the same time being reliable.
Then I thought about the challenges that we as a business have faced since Covid reared its ugly head last year. Especially in managing the nightmare that is international shipping and logistics today. Here at Jenkins, we pride ourselves in providing great customer services and consistency in supply of packaging i.e., the reliable and trusted supply partner. However, to maintain that reliability and consistency, we have had to be creative in how we manage supply from the other side of the world, all in an environment where shipping times have blown out from 6 weeks to 12 weeks, availability of containers and getting space on ships is extremely challenging.
So, what have we done? Well first off, we imbedded a logistics and inventory specialist within our sales team, to manage forecasting, negotiations with suppliers and freight forwarders. Normally logistics and inventory control are managed within the operations or supply chain team, but by bringing it “inhouse” to sit alongside the sales team, has meant that we’ve been able to be nimbler and more proactive in forecasting and managing our relationship with our Freight Forwarders. This has taken some of the stress away from the Sales team, so that they can concentrate on managing customer relationships and enabled us to maintain stocks and cushion as much as possible, the impact of huge and unpredicted rises in freight costs. Alex, our Inventory and Logistics coordinator has proved invaluable to the sales team and the business over the past 12 months as he finds creative ways to get our packaging into the country in a timely and cost-effective way.
In addition, we have worked in collaboration with our board to get approval to relax our inventory ratio numbers. This has provided us with greater flexibility to enable us to manage our inventory levels, flexing them based on transit times from offshore suppliers and giving us the buffer, we need to ensure continuity of supply against a backdrop of global uncertainty.
So yes, it is possible to be both creative and reliable, you just need to understand the goal and then think outside the box to achieve it.