Co-ordination Between Sales and Transport
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AT a joint meeting of the Birmingham branches of the Industrial Transport Association and the Incorporated Sales Managers Association, Mr, E. H. Deighton read an interesting paper On "Sales and Transport." The author asked what the sales side of any business requires from the transport section. The answer, transport of goods from the factory to the buyer, seems a simple matter, but, actually, far more responsibility devolves on the transport side than that which appears on the surface. •
The three headings for discussion are: The effect of distribution Methods on sales; to what extent transport meets sales requirements; and whether it fails to meet them.
The chairman of the Railway Goods Managers Conference, Mt. Ashton Davies, has stated that fast, reliable, cheap transport is an essential to the prosperity of industry. For the author's purpose be takes the four factors: promptness, flexibility. courtesy and. economy.
Promptness is of first importance. The quickest means must be taken of putting goods in the hands of the buyer, so that they may be offered to the consumer with resultant early sales and quick repeats. This matter of repeats is a factor which is not always recognized by the transport people.
We. should view railway transport largely al something over which the concern's transport department cannot have any real control, as little or nothing can be done to expedite matters, unless it be to see that the suitably coloured arrow is affixed and hope that the bow will be bent to facilitate the flight.
Delivery by motorvan is •a feature of practically every manufacturing company's operations in the light industries. The running of a fleet calls for specialist control if adequate delivery support is to be given to the sales effort. It is futile for a traveller to. tall on a four-weeks route if the goods take two weeks* to get there, for neither repeat orders nor cash payments will be forthcoming. Particularly is this the case with seasonal goods, and where any delay curtails the placing in circulation of " dated " goods, as, for example, lines intended for Christmas or Easter. Some goods not delivered on time cannot be sold later; in addition, there is a disgruntled customer and damage to goodwill.
• The Great Importance of Flexibility.
As to flexibility, in some businesses there arises the question of special arrangements to meet the needs of a particular section of the distributive chain, such as mailorder organizations. Again, at seasonal-pressure periods it is the rule to receive orders of substantial volume for which urgent delivery is essential. In this type of business there are circumstances peculiar to it which do not exist in the ordinary shop or wholesale trade. One leading firm issues a catalogue containing more than 1,000 lines, and if your products be amongst the articles it requires and then delivery be delayed, one of two things must happen—either the parcel has to be held up pending their airival, or separate dispatch has to be arranged, with additional packing and postage charges.
These businesses are not in the position to drop the late parcel from a daily delivery van, but have to pack and rail or post, which adds considerable cost. Not all businesses cater for this trade, but the author is convinced that similar circumstances arise in most concerns, so that when the sales department asks for treatment outside ordinary routine, do not think this a specimen of sheer cussedness designed to disrupt a nicely prearranged delivery schedule, but, rather, an opportunity to help the organization to consolidate that hardly gained but easily lost asset, goodwill.
As to courtesy, are drivers fully aware of the need for a40
using this in their contact with customers and their employees? Are they of the type who dump a load of goods in the first clear space, irrespective of the customer's requirements?, The old platitude of the soft answer turning away wrath should be pasted up in the driver's cab of every delivery van, If 300,000 C-licensed vans operate throughout the country daily, each van averaging Bye calls, then the transport system has a customer contact of 1,500,000 per day; this means 7,500,000 a week, or nearly 400,000,000 a year. Thus transport personnel has within its power a minimum of this number of opportunities of spreading the gospel of goodwill, to the ultimate benefit of sales. An order book in •the pocket of the driver's cab will assist, particularly with urgent orders that may have been forgotten by the customer.
Remember always that a shabby, dirty van suggests slipshod control and lowers the opinion of both trade and public in respect of the operator. A smart van is evidence of efficiency, a valuable advertisement and a-definite service to a customer.
Transport Economy Helps Sales Section.
With regard to economy, it is immaterial in which of the costing sections we include transport costs. Economy of operation results in lower overheads, all of which help in enabling the sales section to offer goods at a competitive figure, and it is justifiable to ask the transport manager to ensure the utmost economy, whilst recognizing the need for the maintenance of efficiency.
Opening the discussion, Mr. S. Macadam stated that the manufacturer or trader of to-day surrounds himself with a variety of experts. Viewed -from the transport angle alone, the outstanding characteristic is that, individually, each is apt to regard his particular section as the hub of the universe, a most common manifestation of this being the frequent requests for " urgent " deliveries of raw materials, essential ingredients, and even of manufactured goods or advertising matter. Investigation into such requests shows that most of them could have been avoided by the exercise of a little foresight, and expense could have been reduced.
Whilst this is true of inwards traffic, it is equally so on the distributive side. Unfortunately, it is an axiom of salesmanship that the customer is always right, and the unfortunate transport operator has to endeavour to achieve the impossible. He has himself largely to blame, for during the past decade he has developed such a high standard of delivery service that now what was formerly regarded as a luxury has become commonplace. In this way the onus of holding bulk stocks has been removed from the customer and has been placed on the manufacturer and transport executive.
Transport is so efficient that its assistance to sales is enormous; often the difference between profit and loss is measured by this efficiency. It should he remembered that, generally speaking, the bigger the average order the cheaper the distribution. A good salesman can often persuade a customer to order in sufficient quantities and keep reasonable stocks, thus making urgent deliveries unnecessary. There should be a halt in indiscriminate promises of immediate or urgent delivery. More consideration should be given to the real causes for requests for extra ordinary service. Co-operation should be promoted between the sales and transport departments in the preparation of sales, journey routes and their frequency. There should be a decrease in the tendency to persuade the transport department to make good avoidable delays in production, invoicing, etc., which have occurred since the customer has placed the order.