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An Invaluable Opportunity

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An Invaluable Opportunity

By Susan Bloom

Open through April 22, NAED’s PAR and Warehouse Operations Surveys offer participating distributors an invaluable opportunity to share their data and subsequently assess their firm’s performance against that of similar companies in our industry and identify areas for improvement.

While the renowned PAR Survey has been NAED’s “superstar of benchmarking” for decades, the newer Warehouse Operations Survey was launched for the first time last year at the request of members and offers invaluable insights into such measures of warehouse performance as lines picked per day, fill rate, average value per order, inventory accuracy, number of deliveries per day, backorders/supplier lead times, services offered (wire-cutting, etc.), and more.  Since its debut in 2021, a growing number of distributors nationwide are eagerly participating in this survey to see how efficiently their warehouses are operating and are helping to make the annual Warehouse Ops survey an integral part of their ongoing business analysis.

As a leading provider of research that serves nearly 300 national associations and their members, “we began our relationship with NAED in 2013 and this will be our 10th year leading the PAR Report Survey and our second year leading the Warehouse Ops Survey,” said Scott A. Hackworth, CPA, president of Columbus, OH-based Industry Insights, Inc., the firm that’s been administrating NAED’s PAR and Warehouse Operations Surveys for the past decade.  “Most of our studies establish and monitor the metrics that matter most to our clients and their industries.”

In the following interview, Hackworth discusses the value of NAED’s new Warehouse Operations survey and why distributors should absolutely make the time to participate in it by this April 22 – both for the benefit of their own firm as well as the industry as a whole.

TEDMag:  Please share the range of industries for whom you administer “Warehouse Ops” surveys and why these industries want this type of data.

Hackworth:  We lead Warehouse Ops surveys for several industries, including pharmaceuticals, food supplies, book publishers, and industrial equipment; we also fielded a large national “Census of Distribution” several years ago that focused on warehouse operations statistics.  The data from Warehouse Operations surveys are extremely valuable to distributors because so much of their profits are achieved by boosting efficiencies and productivity.  Margins are always tight, so distributors can’t afford to fall behind.  Warehouse Operations studies establish key warehouse benchmarks and trends for the industry so that members can regularly evaluate what they’re doing and how they’re performing.  A side benefit of the study is that it helps members identify and spotlight warehouse metrics they should be tracking.  Last year, for example, several NAED members who participated said that they couldn’t answer a few items on the form because they hadn’t previously thought to track them….but they promised to have the data ready for this year’s study.

TEDMag:  How are other industries using the results of their “warehouse ops” surveys/reports?  What types of conclusions can it help them draw about the industry’s operations and their own performance and what types of confirmation or corrective actions can it lead to?

Hackworth:  Our participants evaluate their own key metrics (e.g., Fill Rates, Perfect Order Rates, Orders Picked per Hour, etc.) against the industry’s performance to see how they compare.  An example of the data in use would be a member noticing that their fill rates were lower than most others’ rates.  This single data point could push them to evaluate their inventory holding levels, review their ordering process, examine their relationships with manufacturers, and assess client satisfaction.

TEDMag:  Please discuss the survey process and the investment of time it requires relative to the value a company receives from their participation.

Hackworth:  The questionnaire is detailed and does require some effort.  However, several participants have confirmed that they get significant value from just pulling together the data before they even receive their benchmark results back.  The questionnaire is user-friendly and will guide participants through the process, although our associates are always here to help with any questions participants may have.

TEDMag:  Why is our distributors’ participation in the NAED Warehouse Ops survey important?

Hackworth:  This survey is specifically tailored to the warehouse operations of electrical distributors.  The information can’t be found anywhere else and is only available to participants.  For that reason, it’s a valuable resource that all members should take advantage of.

TEDMag:  Finally, what advice can you offer NAED distributors when it comes to ‘taking the plunge’ and participating in the new Warehouse Ops survey?  What’s the experience they and their companies will have when they do?

Hackworth:  We ask for a lot of specific items and it’s okay for distributors to leave questions blank if they don’t have the data.  Our hope is that they’ll see the value of those items and start collecting them in the future.  The results will help validate many of the decisions they’ve made for their operations – and it may signal that some should be re-examined.  The results will also help them find ways to gain efficiencies and pinpoint key metrics that drive success for their operations.  As we and the research team at NAED are always looking for ways to improve the survey and results, we also want distributors to know that this is an interactive process.  We welcome feedback and suggestions about the study and how we can help make it as valuable as possible for industry members.

 

For more information on participating in this year’s PAR Reports, including new reporting bundles, visit naed.org/par-survey-2022 or contact NAED’s Member Engagement TeamIndustry Insights administers the survey and is available to answer questions as well.

 

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Susan Bloomis a 25-year veteran of the lighting and electrical products industry.Reach her at susan.bloom.chester@gmail.com.

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