Supply & Demand During COVID
Business owners, employees and customers all have found ways to adapt and get comfortable being uncomfortable in 2020 as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue.
Even as we find our collective groove, hurdles such as manufacturing setbacks and mail service delays continue to challenge all facets of business. Those challenges trickle down to the customers who find empty shelves, low inventory and price increases, which often strain new and long-standing customer-business relationships.
A reality that goes well beyond toilet paper supply and demand, supply chain issues continue to disrupt a vast variety of industries: copper shortages slow HVAC company productivity, delayed arrival of appliances affect property management companies and scarce aluminum slows down fencing companies. And that’s just a small sample.
On a consumer level, overwhelmed parents frantically look for any sort of antidote to fight the secondary epidemic hitting households across the nation: boredom.
Aisles of outdoor recreation have been picked over and wiped clean. People are eager to do whatever they can to get out of the house, enjoy some fresh air and stay sane while being safe. The bicycle industry in particular has been struggling with a radical increase in demand that has been compounded by supply chain speed bumps.
Bike shops are peddling hard to keep up. Some find the proper tactics and strategy while others miss the mark.
One Boise resident shared his frustrating experience with an out-of-state direct-to-consumer bike manufacturer. Terrence Groth placed an order back in the beginning of the pandemic for a custom-made bike, one that would take 10 weeks to build and get delivered.
He was willing to wait.
“But 10 weeks came and went, and there was nothing from the company. I reached out to them on weeks 11, 12 and 13 to get an update but never got a response. I was looking for any sort of clue on what was going on,” Groth said.
Finally, after weeks of trying, Groth connected with someone on the phone and learned parts delays slowed delivery.
While the baseline information helped, the company damaged the relationship by offering no apology, no new estimated date and no transparency.
“I’m still excited to get my bike, but I’m not sure I have confidence enough in the company to recommend them to friends like I was eager to do previously,” Groth said.
Making it Work
Transparency and responsiveness are two BBB Standards of Trust that could’ve elevated this transaction.
One BBB Accredited Business explains the importance of doing it the right way.
Mojo Cyclery, based in Spokane Valley, Washington, works tirelessly and closely with their customers and vendors – and continues to make changes to accommodate the changing business climate.
“It’s a struggle but not a setback,” says owner Morgan Johnson. He explains they’ve taken this time to help their customers in new ways. “We’ve increased our service workspace, and we’re encouraging people to dig out what they have in the garage and bring them in to get them fixed up.”
Businesses can navigate the rocky roads of product delays with these tips to improve transparency and responsiveness:
- Be clear from the get-go: Communicate with your customers about potential delays. Be upfront and honest about expected delivery dates before they place their order. Provide frequent updates from checkout to delivery.
- Be there along the way: Provide your customers with contact information and the best way(s) they can get ahold of you for questions. Beef up your customer service team, and give them tools to better assist your customers.
- Take ownership: If delays happen after the point of purchase, give them a call; let them know what’s going on, and apologize for the inconvenience. The way you handle a roadblock can make or break a long-lasting relationship.
- Hustle: If your inventory is low with no signs of relief, find new ways to access your customer base. Think outside the confines of your shelves.
Learn more about what it means to be an Accredited Business today.