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Have you ever made a mistake?  Wait…don’t answer…I’ll answer for you, the answer is undoubtedly, “Yes.”  Whether you want to admit it or not, we have all made mistakes.  Mistakes are an unavoidable occurrence in life, something we have all experienced regardless of our profession or position.  It’s hard at times to admit when we make mistakes, but the sooner we acknowledge them, the sooner we can learn and move on.  But what if we don’t even know that were making them, how then can we learn and move on?  I want to offer an outside perspective on, “What are the biggest mistakes that buyers make?”

Honesty First:
If there is one thing I have learned after spending nearly 20 years in manufacturing, it’s be honest with those around you.  I strongly believe that honesty is the key to fostering great relationships.  Share things you have learned and help others to be successful.  The information contained in this article is meant to do just that, help others.  Now let’s take a look at some areas of concern…

Big Mistakes:
Since buyers deal with money, the result when a buyer makes a mistake usually means a loss of money or profit.  You guessed it…the bigger the mistake, the bigger the financial loss.  Let’s take a look at some simple things to keep that from happening.

1. Lack of information:
How many times has a supplier asked questions after receiving a request for quotation?  Every answer to each question will determine if the price goes up or down.  When you aren’t sure…or don’t have the right information, the supplier may be safe and quote a higher price.  Also, ensure to tell the supplier about the intended use for the packaging so they can offer suggestions that can save money.

Personal example:  I recently had a customer ask me to quote a clamshell package for their electronics product.  After having a short conversation and asking the right questions, I was able to learn that there are 5 other clamshells that are very similar to this one.  We were able to create a tool that allowed for the change out of inserts in the mold and saved $25,000+ in tooling and also allowed him more flexibility for ordering his product.

2. Not being open or staying current to new ideas:
The manufacturing industry is quite similar to the computer industry.  New breakthroughs continue to emerge that can save companies money and help them to reduce costs.  When is the last time you invited a new supplier in to see what they can offer?

3. Price is important, but…
Buying based on price alone is one way to get in trouble.  Although price is usually the key driver in selecting a supplier, look at other areas as well.  Quality, product offerings, innovation, delivery costs, on-time delivery, etc. can become costly if ignored.  For example, you can get a great price on packaging components, but it will take 8-12 weeks to get them.  If  your customer demands you ship them in 4-6 weeks, you may need to pay a little more to get the quicker turn around for your product.

A buyer’s job is very demanding.  Getting the right people involved can make a huge difference.  Yes, mistakes are going to be made, but learn from them and seek advice when needed.

If you would like more information on new ideas or new products the packaging industry has to offer, don’t hesitate to contact Brian – bpankratz@mercuryplasticsinc.com.

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