Hey there, I can’t believe it’s been so long since I did a post.
Life has been incredibly busy over the last two months, I was up at 2am this morning working (get your violins out) trying to keep on top of various projects and I’m currently in Palmerston North waiting for a delayed flight so a perfect time to do an update!
So there are quite a few things to update you with, however I’ll focus on our SCS Brand refresh and evolution of SCS from a 3PL to an SCM (exciting I know…hold onto your hats!)
Late last year we officially declared ourselves an SCM (Supply Chain Management) company. “What’s that?” I hear you ask…glad you asked! For many potential clients this is going to change your life.
When I launched SCS in 2001 I had a vision to develop a company that provided a full suite of supply chain services. I can still picture my 31 year old self sitting on the couch (a bottle of Heineken in hand) dreaming up the business model that would change the landscape of logistics in NZ. The concept didn’t exist and best as I can figure, we are still the “first to market” with this business model. And let me tell you, its phenomenal.
I’ve always believed the way to grow a business is to listen to your customers and in doing this I believed that if I could build a company that took all the hassle away from managing your entire supply chain, I’d be onto a winner.
The logic was, many 3PL customers were brilliant at buying and selling great products but many lacked (and/or didn’t like) the intense detail required to manage Supply Chain brilliantly or the deep expertise to build and leverage IT to deliver stunning logistics solutions; the kind of stuff my team and I revel in. As I built the business and started to understand concepts like psychographics and even how people then to think I learned sales and marketing is predominantly right-brained (creative) and logistics and accounting is predominantly left-brained. The Yin and the Yang. That’s why our model works, we bring a left brain balance to dynamic entrepreneurs.
Anyhoo, I expected to figure this offer out and have this cracked around 2006, I’m currently about 13 years late (soz) but phew what a ride…my first phase of world domination was to build the best 3PL in NZ and I gave myself until 2004 (stop laughing) I reckon we achieved this from a service perspective according to the plan; from the get-go we started delivering service levels that the market was desperate for and to this day we continue to operate between 99.7 and 100% on all of our key metrics. This has seen SCS surpass the capability of all of our “competitors” and the scale of most of them including the multi-billion dollar multinationals we compete against, to the point we are now NZ’s only tier one 3PL (this is explained in my next blog). Today we manage 27 million units per annum, support 3/4 of a billion dollars of annual trade and employ just under 250 staff.
We started releasing innovation after innovation, most were first to market e.g. live order tracking portals, live inventory tracking reports, we built ticketing systems before ticketing systems where a thing, we were doing messaging before Amazon made it cool and we built a 90 minute order to door service for one client that to this day, no one has been able to replicate. BUT we didn’t make money in this division for the first 9 years which included the GFC (I’ll try and explain that in the next blog when I explain the difference between a tier 1, 2 and 3 3PL provider) that was hard – really hard. It then took us about 6 years to learn how to become a top level consultant to the point we now go head to head with EY and PWC for all matters Supply Chain and IT and our customers will tell you, we deliver value orders of higher magnitude.
OMG why are these blogs so loooonnngg?! Funny you ask; we’ve agonised over this for years and we’ve finally decided to own it. In most of our solutions we are overly verbose compared to the “norm”. I was reading a solutions proposal we did for an apparel client the other day it was 62 pages of mind-numbing observations, graphs, insights and recommendations, most consultants would probably have done the same thing in under 10 pages, after all, we are all time poor right? We’re being taught to be snappy, concise, headlines only, if we want to keep someones attention…the only reason I can think that our way might not be so bad is that, our solutions never fail. I think there is something in that??? We over-engineer, over explain and over deliver – constantly, it appears it’s in our DNA (more about that soon). We’ve taken this same annoying attitude into our new Digital Agency and it is boring the pants off our clients who are used to high-level low detail ad campaign presentations with vanity metrics; this would be a problem …except we are delivering results they have never seen before; we are quoting financial metrics and demonstrating complex multi-touch funnel campaign strategies to achieve more profit…interesting…anyhoo the point is we’re unapologetic about this now and there is always my favorite “sorry for the long letter, I didn’t have the time to write a short one”. We’ve learned that complex problems require complex solutions. Supply chain is complex at the level we execute which is why we deliver more value than anyone else and complex solutions take time to explain and understand.
Anyhoo, I digress, in developing our consulting capability we have discovered we do two things traditional consultants don’t:
- We guarantee value. Maybe it was naive of me to offer this I have seen a lot of raised eyebrows when I mention this but I always figured if I was going to pay someone for advice they should put up or shut up. Turns out this is not what consultants normally do, they are more “all care no responsibility” and like to leave back doors to escape through, at SCS, we back ourselves and guarantee every workshop we deliver and we have clients that are literally millions of dollars better off based on guarantees underwritten by SCS to deliver SCS solutions. So there.
- We are consulting practitioners (whaaat?) Yeah turns out this is unique too… we not only practice what we preach and have bloodied our noses on most of the solutions we recommend with our own money, we also get down in the trenches with our clients and deliver our solutions at a tactical level alongside our clients – we are there to manage the unforeseen consequences and bring it home…don’t all consultants do that? As it turns out, no.
We call it “attach to the result or die” bit dramatic perhaps but when you see us still there at 2am you know it’s true.
We are not shy advocating for our customers either. We recently had a shouting competition with a pompous IT provider who tried to baffle one of our clients with IT speak; the client, unfortunately, backed the IT provider (turns out we were stereotyped as a 3PL provider in the clients mind, like what did we know about complex procurement processes and architecting sophisticated ERP based IT solutions right?) well that decision cost our client hundreds of thousands and a couple of senior jobs. On a positive note, we had to step in, design and manage the UAT process for the “big fancy specialist IT provider” for code they wrote to save their project! The point? It’s our ability to attach to the result or die that makes the difference. How much? All of our solutions get delivered to spec, no exceptions – that’s how much! (occasionally we miss the deadline when Murphy pops up but we ALWAYS get there).
Through our evolution from a 3PL to an SCM (Supply Chain Management) company, we have built insane Supply Chain capability our team is immensely proud of…OK, I can tell you’re dying to know more so I’ll tell you…we built an online freight solution (www.parcelwings.co.nz – new site being worked on as we speak), we’ve built a brilliant H&S consultancy company (www.wsas.co.nz) that is helping ~500 companies ensure their staff go home safe, we have built a strong global forwarding offer (www.supplyci.com) , we’ve built a stunning strategy software application called PaT (website built but not being released until about August, currently has 1000 users …OK here’s access to a draft site http://patwebsite.flywheelsites.com/ ) that we are now commercializing, we developed supply chain and IT consulting capability under our Supply Chain Fusion company and our most recent (and super exciting) addition to the family is Glass Elephant info.glasselephant.co which is acquiring customers like mad for our clients wanting to develop a digital channel (and why wouldn’t you? bricks and mortar is growing 1% YoY and ecom is 9% YoY).
So where we landed, when we pull all of these capabilities together is this; an SCM (Supply Chain Management) company that operates under three core pillars:
- Logistics (global and domestic)
- IT (full stack)
- Consulting (IT and Supply Chain strategy, digital customer acquisition)
As I was building SCS and teasing out the model I was influenced by our lawyers (Morgan and Coakle) business model, they are amazing, as we navigated through the process of building our business we came across some truly awful clients (including a couple of con men one had been in jail for manslaughter – I tell ya), honest-challenged staff and complex legal issues – in every instance Morgan and Coakle stepped up and delivered amazing service and solutions for us – they are professional but informal and deliver fantastic value for money, they have helped us manage litigation, successfully defend a high court injunction, manage employment contracts, property and commercial agreements, they have these specialist humans (they are very approachable and relatable) for each area and each one of them has been simply incredible. With them in our corner we have never lost a fight (we have never been in the wrong to start with and we have never started one but you learn in business that’s not that important) and so I have wanted our SCM model to be like that, if a client wants a new IT system that works within a budget, a global forwarding solution to improve their working capital, an epic last mile delivery solution or a back office debtor management solution I want us to be their trusted go-to, that Supply Chain firm that has exceptional capability across the board…their (your) supply chain partner, I have always considered M&C a partner and that’s what I want to be for our clients, their partner and that’s what we’ve done.
That’s what an SCM is, a partner you can trust unreservedly that can deliver great solutions for you anywhere across the Supply Chain for you and always has your back…for a fee…a commercial fee that is enough to ensure we employ the quality of staff and build the systems to deliver what you need to win your battles and always come out on top.
Just yesterday I spent a few hours with an existing SCS (SME) client showing him how to build a demand plan that feeds into a dynamic P&L forcast that feeds through to a cashflow forcast to manage his working capital better. Its a great little business but keeps getting tripped up on cashflow because building integrated financials is not his thing, with SCS we will help him fix this. Today I am talking to a large national retailer showing them how to develop a modern IT roadmap and a brilliant e-commerce offering that will deliver 7 figures of new value annually to the group. For one of our ecom clients we have recently taken over the day to day management of their business and grown it from low 5 figures per month to low 6 figures per month in just over 6 months using cutting edge Facebook ad media buying strategies and other cool stuff.
So here is what SCS looks like now:
- Contract warehousing (b2b/c)
- Global forwarding (air and sea)
- Domestic forwarding (bulk and courier)
A lot of people mistakenly confuse a 3PL with a contract warehousing provider, actually it is a logistics provider who is third party to a contract so that means global forwarders, domestic freight providers and contract warehouses are 3PLs – SCS offers a full suite of Logistics services as a 3PL and we contend we are the best you will find.
- IT Systems
- WMS, ERP, POS, CRM, HR, QMS, EDI, WEB
As an SCM we now offer a full stack of IT solutions (and support)
- Supply Chain and IT strategy
- Digital Strategy with a focus on customer acquisition
- Project Management
So now that you have got your head around all of that (ha ha I know its a lot to take in) here’s the zinger…our core business remains that of a 3PL and until someone else can match or better our capability we always will be a 3PL at our core however when we augment our 3PL offering with our SCM capability, they deliver more value than a pure 3PL offer can dream of.
Fun fact, down under there is an order of prestige here that goes; International Freight Forwarding then Domestic Forwarding then way down at the bottom is the poor 3PL cousin…this has always confounded me, I have done and do all three (here and overseas), 3pl (multi-tenant contract warehousing) is materially more complex than domestic or international forwarding. In Europe and the US, the order is reversed – 3PL, International then the simple stuff, domestic forwarding. You can sit degrees for 3PL overseas, in fact it is so important some companies like Amazon (the biggest company in the world now) recognized it is everything …worked out well for them…
Can one company be that good at all of those things – yes and we have hundreds of clients to prove it.
Can anyone do this, not on your nelly. We have been building up to this capability for years we have literally spent millions on specialist IT systems like PaT, staff training, EDI solutions and wellness programs (despite brilliant software apps if you don’t have amazing people you only have half the recipe).
The way we engage with clients is also changing, rather than respond to tenders (which destroy value in the case of complex supply chains that our customers have) we conduct workshops, they started off at 4k now start at 7k. Yeah, I know – ouch…but they are fully guaranteed, we call it our subjective guarantee if you are not overwhelmed by the value we deliver back to you after the workshop with the output document – don’t pay the bill. We need to charge that to get the right people involved if you are having a heart transplant do you want the best or the cheapest? No one has claimed the guarantee yet because when we get this level of engagement it allows us to apply our full capability and that’s where the magic happens…now instead of debating around 50 cents per pallet per week which might end up dropping 10k to the bottom line we’ll show you how to book 7 figures of value to your bottom line over 5 years doing stuff you haven’t considered (true story, done this twice as an SCM already) each client is different so each solution respects that but we’ll find the right one for you to take your business to the next level through our workshop process – guaranteed.
Introducing our new logo
Articulating the concept of an SCM has been hard, until us it hasn’t been a thing, its been like explaining a PC to someone who has only used an abbacus their whole life…through Simo who runs our Ecommerce Growth Engineering firm, Glass Elephant, we happened upon a dude called Jack Butcher, Jack lives in New York and is a next level graphics genius, one of his big accounts is Ferrari (I know, I was like whhaaat too) one of his specialties is his ability to take complex concepts and display the value visually, he’s very good with visual metaphors too…anyway he helped us come with our new logo, its based on a DNA strand (thats what I was alluding too earlier in this blog, clever huh, no? oh well never mind…) and the narrative is that each dna strand (Supply Chain element) holds the code to a healthy life (business), the integrity (our guiding principle – btw check out our new tag line SCS – Operate with Integrity I nearly died when Jack proposed that, its everythign we stand for) of each cell (data) in each strand is essential to support in synchronicity to each other cell – and that’s the difference between a highly successful business and … “meh”.
It’s our ability to look at a supply chain like a DNA strand and consider the complex interplay which is the genius and delivers the value…it is rarely a silver bullet, there is not usually a single panacea, usually, it is a combination of many smaller interrelated strategies that delivers the massive value.
The way we are are presenting our offer is Splice or Synthesise
So it is a “choose your own adventure” approach, we have clients that started off as B2B contract warehousing customers that we have developed B2C ecommerce solutions for and we have clients that have engaged with as from the get-go as a supply chain partner that we deliver mind boggling complex solutions to that encompass every element of their supply chain and we do it brilliantly (if we do say so ourselves – but don’t ask us, ask our evangelical clients) so if you are ready to take your business to the next level or learn how an SCM will outperform a traditional logistics or consulting solution all day, every day, drop me a line and lets chat.
Our sales process is a 60-90 minute consult to see if we are a good fit (no fee), if we are ( we both decide that) we’ll recommend a workshop (7-10k range usually for a standard strategy workshop) and outline the value we expect we will be able to deliver, we then run the workshop, build you an output document detailing our recommendations, supported by a business case that shows the probable cost, ROI and impact on your business.
If you are like our other clients we will show you new ways to make additional 6 and 7 figure profit levels – if we don’t then your risk is the time you invest in us to find out, 4-6 hours for the strategy meeting and time to gather and provide our subsequent info and data requests so we can build your output document.
firstname.lastname@example.org, email me and take your business to the next level!
I’m looking forward to delivering the next blog I’m going to finally blow the lid on the biggest 3PL (Contract warehousing) myth of all time and show you why 3PL buyers execute the process of buying 3PL services incorrectly, so often – 80% of the time.
Until then – happy selling!