You may be facing stiff competition in your industry, but on your most stressful days take a moment to feel grateful that you aren’t competing against the ultimate all-time master of supply chain management. No question, the Santa Claus operation would easily crush the efforts of any small or large company — with nary more than twinkling wink and a cheerful swipe with a white-gloved fist.
Thankfully, for you and everyone else in business, Santa isn’t interested in competing for profits. But we can all learn a little something from the man who single-handedly delivers presents to most of the world’s children each year. Here are the things that impress me most:
Anyone not impressed with the way Santa appears in malls and other public places — all around the world — is kidding themselves. Duplicating your body probably isn’t going to work, so stop trying; it’s an inefficient use of your time. Instead, consider the possible validity of a small, shunned school of thought that posits Santa may be using helpers to take orders from children in malls. However he does it, Santa’s process for order intake is incredibly productive.
Malls actually pay him to take orders at a certain location! This alone may be the best inbound marketing effort known to mankind. But Santa also takes orders via mail, email, Twitter and Facebook. And these orders get processed in time to gather raw materials and allow elves to produce the products long before December 24 rolls around.
Santa Lesson: Outsource smaller tasks when you need to. Having one person do the work of hundreds of people will only end badly — unless of course you have access to magical hot chocolate or some other concoction that wildly improves productivity without resentment.
Motivating production staff
Santa’s masterful use of an unsaturated labor force — Do you see anyone recruiting the elves away from Santa’s workshop? — allows him to hire an entire population to complete high-quality production quickly. Though it all sounds a bit shady, Santa’s bringing work to people who wouldn’t otherwise have it … no doubt a downside to the workforce’s remote town. One has to assume that the elves are grateful and happy. After all, they produce an average of 1.05 million gifts each year!
Santa Lesson: Motivate your workforce and keep them happy with the workplace. Positive motivators often lead to greater productivity.
Completing on-time distribution
Even Santa isn’t exempt from the use electronic fleet management tools. To fulfill the desires of today’s plugged-in-children, he needs to stay on top of the technology world, so it just makes sense that he also makes use of GPS tracking. Tracking technology not only helps the elves in the shop monitor his location throughout the night and provide alerts regarding weather and air traffic; it also lets recipients know when he’s coming so they can be prepared for his arrival. He likes them to be sleeping so he can make a quick exit to the next house. That’s efficiency!
Santa Lesson: Knowing where your inventory is located at any point in time allows you to deliver quality results to customers in a timely fashion.
Managing customer expectations
No question: Santa has the toughest crowd to please — ever, in the world. He’s dealing with kids who believe he can do magic and work miracles. Sure, he usually pulls through, but some things just aren’t in his wheel house. But he does his best.
Santa Lesson: Even if you can’t deliver on a customer’s unrealistic expectation, you can be clear about why it can’t happen and give them the best quality product that you can offer.
Santa will always be better than you at supply chain management, but don’t be discouraged. Instead, sharpen your skills by learning from him!