|Indie blog: Mike Matthews on uniformity among suppliers|
|Thursday, 12 July 2012 15:36|
Independent wine retailers, like all other businesses, need to keep a close eye on the paperwork. A missed invoice here and a final demand there won't keep you trading for long. In short, lousy admin makes for a terrible, money-draining business. What happens though when the admin has been taken out of your hands by other parties?
As independents we are lucky to be able to merchandise our stores to suit our customers' needs. We can react quickly to changes in wine trends. The drawback to this is the necessity to use multiple suppliers. Each one of these companies adopts a different system through ordering to invoice. The communication levels with some firms leave a lot to be desired. Having to chase suppliers for invoices is a time-consuming business. Now I'm not saying all are bad. Hatch Mansfield recently got my vote for Supplier of the year. It listens and works intently with its clients, meanwhile everything is done on time.
Now you'd think it would be an easy process. You call your rep, or email sales, with the order. Twenty-four to 48 hours later a delivery turns up with an invoice attached, including correct costs as agreed by your rep; alternatively an email has been sent by the sales department on day of delivery. Finally, you book the delivery into your relevant systems. Stock control procedures have been adhered to, invoices filed and up to date. Simples!
No. This will happen: your delivery turns up with delivery note attached, if it's wrong then you have to call the supplier, at which point a credit note may be issued; if it's correct, then great! Next you call the supplier, asking for an invoice to be emailed, reminding them "Why do I have to keep asking for invoices?" You finally get your paperwork, only to notice the cost prices are wrong. Another phone call is made to find your rep, again, has failed in their duty to comply with the agreed price. Another credit note gets issued. Upon further inspection, and headaches, you have to add the individual duty costs too.
Uniformity among suppliers with invoicing isn't too much to ask, is it? Too many man hours are spent having to chase people up and it's totally unnecessary.
Mike Matthews helps buy wine and manage the North & South wine merchants on Broomwood Road, London SW11. Mike also writes his own blog which can be found here: magicsnewbiewines.com/tag/mike-matthews