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Dealing with supply chain challenges

When supply chains break down, businesses often suffer operational setbacks, delivery delays and financial losses. The economic hardships in the past year have exposed the fragility of supply chains during a global pandemic. Disruptions may also be triggered by natural disasters, tariffs, shortages of materials, geopolitical clashes and other unpredictable conditions that make it difficult to move supplies.

It’s never been more important to leverage supplier relationships and develop workarounds to help you stay on track during a crisis. If your supply chain is knocked out by a storm, virus or labor strike in your region or across the globe, you want to be prepared to pivot to your backup plan.

Strengthen your supply chain

Work on strategies to strengthen your supply chain so you’re prepared to handle disruptions now and in the future.

1. Evaluate your existing supply chain. Work closely with your suppliers so you understand their process, inventory and lead time. Find out if your suppliers produce in multiple locations. Focus on new ways to collaborate with partners to help you adapt to changing circumstances.

2. Implement better tracking systems. Use technology to improve visibility of your supply chain from end to end. This can help you identify trends and implement solutions faster. Tracking and communication tools can help you stay connected with suppliers and team members so you can stay on top of supply chain issues.

3. Build a buffer. Your business may benefit from purchasing in larger quantities if you have the buying power and storage space to maintain higher inventory levels.

4. Shorten your supply chain. Waiting for shipments coming from overseas can increase the risk of shortages and delays, especially if you’re at the end of the supply chain. Instead, having a framework for centralized distribution can speed delivery and improve the fulfillment process. Identify new suppliers that could fill in gaps if needed.

5. Test your backup plan. Having a contingency plan is key to overcoming the negative effects of supply chain disruption. It’s important to give your backup plan a trial run to see how it works and identify potential problems.

6. Communicate with customers about supply issues. When supply chain disruptions affect your company’s ability to deliver on time to customers, taking a proactive approach to communication can help maintain trust and loyalty. Prepare a targeted communications plan to address concerns about delays.

Focus on relationships

Building key relationships on a local, regional and global level can help your business withstand the next crisis or supply chain disruption. At United Community Bank, we’re here to provide support with financing and other solutions to help your business deliver on time.

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