Sustaining a superior hardware supply through a pandemic
11 May 2020
For over 30 years, we've helped our customers grow their businesses and delight their own customers with a simple and reliable service and product offering. Here, our Managing Director, Sam Nuckey explains why Window Ware's value in the supply chain will prove even more important in the future.
Sam explains, “Successful companies are agile and can adapt in unpredictable times. Thanks to careful Brexit contingency planning, our company had already built excellent resilience and adaptability into the business. We spent months in the run up to Brexit preparing for every scenario, talking to key brands in the industry and future-proofing our inventory, our processes and our systems to secure essential stock and to buffer our customers against supply delays as far as possible. This has no doubt helped us weather the unexpected lockdown and manage the impact of the COVID pandemic."
"We have learnt over the years that disaster planning and risk mitigation is critical to maintaining a consistent and reliable service that fabricators can trust in their supply chain. After all, no matter how much work a fabricator does to strengthen their business internally, a weak supply chain can bring the whole enterprise to its knees if it can’t deliver the right products at the right time. Like many providers, we know our service has suffered in the past few months, but the situation could have been far worse were it not for our primed agility and adaptability.”
“The fact that we’re a multi-brand distributor is a major advantage too because it means we don’t have all our supply chain eggs in one basket! We’re not reliant on any single hardware manufacturer and that, combined with our extensive 5000+ product range, means we are in a strong position to manage inbound delays and still fulfil customer orders with the critical quantities or best-fit alternatives to keep their production lines moving.”
Helping firms meet the home improvement boom
“Historically, October and November are some of our busiest months, but this Autumn demand for hardware is unprecedented as our customers play catch-up on projects halted over lockdown and COVID-confined homeowners spend more money on fixing up their homes instead of splashing out on activities like travel, holidays or meals out.”
“Nevertheless, Window Ware is primed and ready to help fenestration firms meet the home improvement boom. Our pro purchasing team is pulling out all the stops to maintain stock levels of our most popular products. At the same time, our sales team encourage customers to buy only what they need, plus we’ve put safeguards in place to prevent hoarding and ensure there’s enough hardware to go around. Warehouse turnaround times have been shortened too, enabling us to fast track our top sellers from Goods In to Goods Out in a matter of hours!”
Communication is key
“Regular conversations with all stakeholders and persistent forward thinking have been crucial in our company’s ability to stay agile, take action and adapt, both throughout lockdown and during more recent months as restrictions lifted and the industry finally got back to work.”
“The senior management team meet on a daily basis to evaluate the situation, define our priorities and adjust our strategies accordingly. Any decisions are then quickly and effectively disseminated to the rest of the business, thereby keeping everyone well-informed and working on-track.”
“Likewise, we’re constantly talking with our brand partners so we can resolve supply delays together and, wherever possible, negotiate priority access to new hardware shipments for our customers.”
“We’ve made sure to keep our customers in the loop too and we’ve worked hard to maintain a steady flow of communication to cut-through the ‘noise’ and industry panic. While grounded and unable to travel, our area sales managers have channelled all their efforts away from traditional site visits and provided valuable back-up to our internal sales team instead. They’ve been helping to pick up support calls and answer enquiries, so customers have a reliable point of contact during these uncertain times. Honesty is by far the best policy, so our team is especially careful to be open with customers whenever products are out of stock or deliveries are delayed – we’d rather set realistic expectations than break promises.”
Only as good as your team
“Our resourceful, talented team has been instrumental in helping our business successfully negotiate the ever-evolving coronavirus climate. They’ve been open to change, willing to let go of their usual habits and adopt new ones which strengthen our position, meet market needs and provide the best possible service to the customer without increasing our cost to serve. We’ve been able to redeploy our multi-skilled colleagues wherever extra manpower was needed to ease bottlenecks or staff shortages caused by coronavirus, to fulfil orders as quickly and safely as possible and get the goods out to the customer. They have championed new COVID-secure work practices in a bid to protect colleagues and customers while providing the critical COVID-secure source of hardware the industry needs to get back up and running.
What we’ve learned over the last few months
“Our customers are highly innovative and able to adapt quickly. We’ve proven we can meet them every step of the way.”
“Strong relationships and effective communication help to build confidence, manage expectations and plan for success. This is vital to creating a reliable supply chain.”
“Resilience, passion and commitment prevails! Your people are your greatest asset and luckily, we have a great team at Window Ware.”
“These are undoubtedly challenging times, but whatever the next few months bring, Window Ware is resolved to support fabricators and installers every step of the way with products and service they can rely on even during these uncertain times. Our independent and innovative culture, our proven technical and commercial skills, and our many years of industry knowledge keep us in tune with our customers’ needs and help us think smarter about ways we can improve the supply chain without necessarily increasing costs.”