This week at All-Phase we discussed our final project which is putting together a forecasting report for our profit center. This tasks includes determining your market and forecasting what your next year market share should be. You look at all the salesman’s individual sales territory and forecast how much more gross profit they could make in the next year. You also include the goals of your profit center on market share, amount of gross profit, customer base, etc. I believe this is a very cool and unique opportunity to get a very in depth look at the business and experience what each profit center manager has to think about throughout the year.
This week at All-Phase we are presenting our projects department and warehouse to a contractor who has yet to utilize our service. Here in Grand Rapids we have created a service called Rapid Solutions, a service to contractors to receive, store, handle and deliver their material for a job. It is a great service to our contractors who are busy on job sites because it eliminates storage space they have to have either on the job site or in a different storage facility which would cost them money since ours is offered for free. If a manufacturer makes a mistake or the material is damaged in some way, we can catch it here in our facility instead of the contractor dealing with it on the job site. We also put our own labels on each product that helps the contractor determine the type. This service also eliminates packaging waste on the job site. As we store the material for the contractor they can let us know when they need the material and the quantity they need at that time. If they have a total of 180 fixtures and want 30 on Tuesday we will organize the product and get it to the job site. A large part of my internship has been to constantly update our storage tracker so we have an accurate count of products for each job. Currently in our warehouse we are storing over 30 active jobs. It’s been very cool and interesting experience to work with this service and to promote it more to contractors.
This week at All Phase in Grand Rapids I’ve continued to learn the extreme importance of maintaining a business/sales plan that evolves around adding value. When you work in the supplier/distributor business, regardless of your industry, you face competition that more than likely creates and sells a very similar product to what you sell. The key in being successful in these markets is setting yourself apart and adding value to your product. All Phase Grand Rapids does this in many ways and has created a basis of practice that revolves around this business mentality. Treating our customers to lunches, sporting events, special occasions and serving them everyday with quality service are key ways we differentiate ourselves from our competition.
These past two days of my internship has been spent visiting a different electric distributor under ownership by CED and attending a merchandizing class put on by one of our vendors, Ideal Electric in a suburb of Chicago. Effengee is the name of the distributor in Chicago. They are one of the top 5 largest under CED ownership and have a GP of about 80 million dollars in an 800 million dollar market. The office and distribution center we visited was much larger than our own, they had teams of people for lighting and gear where we only have three people. Their warehouse used a tracking system and bar code guns for pulling products and filling orders. It was interesting to see a production of that size and their different processes. The next day we spent at Ideal Electric, one of our vendors that makes tools and other products for electricians. We toured their old/current DC and then toured their very new one that is not yet in full production. We also learned how to most effectively merchandize your store front to better serve your customers and increase counter and impulse purchases.
Here is a very interesting article forwarded to me by my boss on career advice for young grads. Great read.
Tomorrow will be my fourth Wednesday working for All Phase Electric Distributors in Grand Rapids. Like every day I will awake at my house here in East Lansing at 5am, okay 5:30 am, drink two cups of coffee, drive my hour commute and at 7 am begin learning more about the electrical industry and how a successful company runs. Tomorrow, however, will be the first Wednesday of the remanding Wednesdays that I and the other 4 interns will host a cookout for our customers. From June 1st to September 12th, the All Phase in Grand Rapids will cook burgers, chicken, brats, possibly even roast a pig; every Wednesday 11am-1pm. It’s our way of giving our customers the “pickle”. The “pickle” being a certain product or service that you give to your customers to make their experience at your business unique and your customer service over the top. The most important lesson I have learned in my first full month working for All Phase is to listen to the customer. As complicated or uncomplicated an industry may be, if you ask the customer what they want, you will be successful. You must find your company’s “pickle” and utilize it in order to be competitive in your given market. A frequent question from my boss is “how much money do we want to make?” and the answer is always “more”.