Problem Resolution: A True Testament To Vendor Relationships

We've all been there. In the office, palms sweating, heart racing on the verge of an emotional breakdown.

problem resolution

Last week we had an international air force AOG for a scarce, nonexistent yoke. No, not the egg kind.

Now envision a drill sergeant yelling at you if you screw anything up.

The order was planned, distribution was set. A week later the OEM advised us they had changed their “policies.” Meaning our order isn’t a priority and there’s now an additional lead time.

Thank you corporate structure governed by an aggressive union.

No calls to advise us on status, 10 emails left ignored and a careless attitude because of internal politics and simply not giving a ****.

Companies are horrible at communicating and resolving problems.

This is true for 95% of the industry, big OEM or small, 2 person distributor.

Identify the problem & fix it

Identifying problems and issues is a three step process.

Most people over-complicate the first step and then kick and scream eventually giving up and leaving the customer high and dry.

First step: Identify

This is where you dig down and find the real issue. Most of the time the problem is rarely the real issue. Dig deep to find the cause.

For us we recently had a fire-bottle that needed to go to Uganda on an AOG basis. Every day the freight kept getting bumped and we narrowed it down to the 1.4S HAZMAT classification.

With the real issue identified we could begin discussing resolutions.

Second step: Discuss

In an open and honest environment everyone must share their thoughts, ideas, concerns and possible solutions regarding the issue. After discussing and debating with the greater good in mind, the solution is always simple, though not always easy and sometimes very hard.

For the fire bottle our client and VP discussed and debated collaboratively. No rock was left unturned, no email went unanswered. We were on a mission to get it resolved.  A few carriers were crossed out, a bonded warehouse was found and the end destination was possibly going to be changed.

Step 3: Solve

Once a solution has been stated and agreed upon it’s time to take immediate action. Put it on the person who owned it’s to-do list and confirm completion.

We eventually decided that the fire bottle was best to be transported to S. Africa to a bonded warehouse in Johannesburg. Then our clients could take receipt of the goods and install it. A decision was made to redirect the material and that's exactly what happened.

An effective problem resolution strategy is best in conjunction with effective communication.

Once people begin only thinking about themselves and not in a collaborative, team environment, more unnecessary problems will surface.

Do you have issues resolving problems? Or do you deal with vendors who do? Comment below.

7 Ways Active Listening Can Prevent Aircraft Parts Supplier Sabotage

Lets face it. Aircraft parts suppliers can be the WORST listeners. Yes, I said it! It's not that they don't care, they're just disengaged from reality. Or maybe they don't care. Could be both. You try to communicate with them, but every time it seems like nothing progresses, or it's the same old behaviors. The below picture is probably what they're doing on the other side of the phone right now.

Prevent Aircraft Parts Supplier Sabotage By Listening

This happens all the time, but there's no need for me to tell you this, I'm sure you experience this much more than I do.

But, you continue to try to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Here's how you can fix that...

Recognizing poor listening skills

Most of us have trouble actively listening. We have so many distractions and noises that pull us from our tasks.

My colleagues will come in my office and say something, I'll say uh-huh, or yea and completely miss the entire conversation. Does this sound familiar?

I've recognized this, as I'm sure you have, and try to focus on listening better.

The problem arises when your aircraft parts' supplier stops listening to what you have to say and gets distracted. This is the WORST time to not listen.

The reason this occurs is simple. They just don't care, or maybe they do, you just can't tell.

7 tips you can teach your aircraft parts supplier to actively listen

1. They must decide they want to listen - Listening can't start without them deciding they want to be present in the conversation. There's an age-old saying that we have two ears and one month, so we can listen twice as much. They must first commit to unselfishly wanting to listen to you.

2. Give 100% - If they're truly interested in your discussion they will be present for the entire time. They should push all other tasks aside and avoid multitasking. If they don't, they're not listening.

3. Listen 75%, Speak 25% - Once your aircraft parts' supplier begins talking more than you, it's a sales pitch. They should be able to listen to your concerns and instructions and only speak 25% of the time. Why must we talk more than this?

4. Respond with interest - During the conversation they need to show verbal and non verbal cues. It can be nodding, smiling, or commenting but they must show interest. When they respond, if they speak at the same energy level as you, they're definitely interested.

5. Let the speaker finish - I know what you're thinking. This one is the most frustrating of them all. There is nothing like you presenting your concern or instructions and being interrupted every sentence. Our brains speed along four times faster than we speak, so your vendor needs to make a conscious effort to not finish your sentences or interrupt. Waiting for pauses could be a good opportunity for them to comment, but not while you're speaking.

6. Show understanding - Just because they say, "I understand," doesn't mean they actually do. Crazy, right? They need to prove to you they do. This can happen a number of ways. They can restate your idea or they can ask a probing question to get deeper into the topic. Simply repeating what you said doesn't count. They must show comprehension.

7. Be respectful - They need to show you that they take your views seriously. Changing their tone of voice, rate of speech and choice of words are all great signs that they're being empathetic.

Thats it! Thats all they have to do. By listening, your aircraft parts' supplier will be able to better understand your needs and requirements. They will also be able to communicate with you better.

There's nothing worse than talking to someone who acts like they slept through your conversation.

What are some listening issues you've come across when dealing with an aircraft parts supplier? Comment below.

4.5 Reasons You Should Avoid Your Aircraft Parts Supplier

Is the accessibility of your aircraft parts supplier making you go nuts? In a world where everyone is reachable, it amazes me that an industry full of "we're available 24 hours a day with an AOG line"  it's still hard to get a hold of someone regardless if it's AOG or not.

Inaccessible aircraft parts supplier

From not picking up the phone or responding to an email, to no extended hours and lunch times the last 2 hours, it's MADNESS!!!!! Are these aircraft parts suppliers serious? Some times I just want to reach through the phone and…

No client deserves this but it happens too frequently.

Below are 4.5 reasons you should avoid your aircraft parts supplier because their ACCESSIBILITY is horrific:

1) No Extended Hours

9:00AM - 5:00PM is all you get. If you plan on calling or emailing at any time before or after these hours, you'll just have to wait. Most of the time, you'll try contacting these aircraft parts suppliers at 4:45PM and they've already left for the day.

What does that say to you? It says they don't care and provide no value added service. As a client, you want accessibility. Most of the time you have an aircraft to keep in the air, or a $100,000 part that you've paid for and want to make sure your money is okay. Security is necessary and I know how you feel.

Many things run through your mind and accessibility is the only way to ease your thoughts.

2) 2 Hour Lunch Breaks

I know you've encountered this before. You call in to your aircraft parts supplier and you ask for "Dave". The receptionist tells you that "Dave" is out to lunch and you then ask for "Sales". She then tells you that "Sales" is out to lunch and they'll be back in 60 minutes.

Are you KIDDING me?

So no one in sales can help for 60 minutes. This tells us that they rather eat than service their clients. Yes, people have to eat but sales must rotate so the customer is taken care of in the time of need.

You deserve more than a lame "we're out to lunch" excuse. You should be able to call your account manager on their cell phone if need be, or email them with a response shortly after.

3) Odd Meeting Times

Do companies have meetings? I'm sure you answered yes. Now let me ask you as an airline, do you have meetings that restrict your aircraft from flying? Do you tell your passengers, sorry, our pilots are in a meeting we wont be able to take off for 60 minutes?

This is a common occurence with aircraft parts suppliers. You'll call at 10am and the receptionist will tell you that the entire sales department is in a meeting. So they essentially shut down their entire sales department for a meeting in the middle of the morning.

With such poor planning, we should wonder about the organization as a whole.

4) Poor Order Confirmation

Have you ever sent an order and never heard back from your supplier? You then have to call them 3 times and send 2 more emails to get a confirmation.

You just sent an order and YOU have to chase them around for confirmation. They should be happy to work with you and provide you with a superior service. Instead, they don't care and you're just another number.

.5) All Around Accessibility

You can tell you have  good aircraft parts supplier if they are willing to take your calls late at night, or email you at odd hours, especially weekends. If they care at all about building a relationship with you, your account manger should be reachable at almost every hour of the day.

Of course, you have to give them a break, but it's nice to know they're there for you no matter what.

When dealing with aircraft parts suppliers, it's important to know who is accessible throughout the day…even weekends. If they have short operating hours, crazy lunch and meeting times and don't confirm orders…STAY AWAY.

You, the customer deserves more. You deserve someone that is willing to help you all day, every day.

Have you encountered any of these issues with your aircraft parts supplier?

Quality Assurance: Your Vendor Can't Define It

We’ve all experienced an aircraft spares quality control issue at some time or another and if your experience was anything like mine, it was beyond annoying. It was ridiculous. Quality assurance should be an essential part of every organization and it goes far beyond the meaning of a good product. It's better  defined as a good brand. I recently ran into a problem with a new company whom we were dealing with for the first time and it was quality assurance at it's worst. Aircraft Spares Quality

Imagine this. You send a $10,000 order to a company, which has to be wired up front, but due to a severe time constraint, you overlook your typical vendor approval process to make sure the unit is at your facility the next day. You figure, you can finish the paperwork in the morning. The next day arrives and your chief inspector is ready to review the material but the order never shows up. You call the vendor…no answer! You call FedEx…package is untraceable!

Through some luck you end up getting in contact with the vendor, however he is disengaged and states "we dropped the package off at FedEx, if they lost it, too bad". Now at this point I'm sure you're furious, so you call FedEx. FedEx tells you they reviewed the video tapes and the gentlemen who dropped off the package, came back and asked to retake the package  because he "forgot" something. At this point you know you've found a crook and unfortunately time is going to have to be spent chasing this guy around.

You see this happened to me and if I just had relied on the quality assurance program we had in place for new vendors, this could have been avoided… I was  constrained by a deadline and rushed.

Here are 3 reasons why your vendor needs a quality assurance program:

1. Reduces Risk

With lower barriers to entry, we've all seen an increase in aircraft spares part suppliers, mostly low overhead "brokers", but the amount of honest companies compared to the amount of actual companies is low. What a quality assurance program  forces companies to do is to be organized. They must understand that policy and procedures are necessary to minimize quality control issues during the aircraft spares sales process.

It isn't easy and it takes time  and additional staff to do so.

Quality assurance drastically reduces the risk you'll take in dealing with a company. If they have an internal audit form, a QC manual and specific policies in place, you have a much better chance of knowing your dealing with someone reputable. Isn't this critical when dealing with expensive assets such as aircraft spares?

2. Reduces Laziness

Do you want to deal with a company that appears to be lazy, I don't. A quality assurance program help's distinguish the lazy companies from the companies who are making an effort. If they don't have specific guidelines to abide by in their quality department, they're lazy. And what's worse than a lazy company? Being lazy in quality control means they're lazy in shipping, customer service, among every other aspect of their organization.

Lazy here, lazy there, lazy everywhere!

3. Increases Organization

Having structured, quality control procedures you can be certain that the organization you're dealing with is more organized than the companies who don't. From record keeping, aircraft spares traceability, vendor audits, shipping standards, certain activities have to be in place and organization is essential.

The moral of the quality control story is...try to deal with vendors whom have a history of quality on their side. But make sure you broaden your view, because you deserve not only a high quality product but a high quality service experience as well.

What are some quality  assurance concerns you experience? Comment below.

3 Reasons You Should Fire Your Aircraft Spares Vendor

Are you frustrated? Is it hard to sleep at night because it seems your aircraft spares vendor just doesn't care? This is an all too common occurrence and I know exactly how you feel. It seems in such a critical environment that the distance between us and certain companies only grows further apart. I have a rather funny story to share with you, but a serious one for that matter.

The other day we called a company and needed to buy a $100 part off of them for a rotable we were having repaired. We told them we needed it shipped the same day and we could buy it for $100. He said "In today's environment, I'll take anything I can get". So we proceeded to purchase the part.

The piece part didn't show up the next day. We called the vendor (keep in mind this is on a Thursday) and nobody answered...all day! So we had to buy it from elsewhere, having to spend more time and money on such a small piece part that could eventually have a dramatic effect on us. The original vendor part showed up the next day, which we had to deny. We have yet to get a return phone call.

This is a simple story that had a rather minimal impact on cost, but it happens on much greater scales and we are victims of the larger issues as well, as I 'm sure you are.

Below are 3 reasons why firing your vendor is necessary:

1. Reliability

Poor reliability is devastating to you and the close relationship you need with your vendor. I understand issues arise, whether it be logistics, MRO repair, or OEMs dragging their feet but it's overcoming these problems, solving the problems and working day in and day out to come to a resolution that makes a vendor reliable. During difficult situations you can test a vendor on how they react to a situation and see if they're willing to do everything they can for you. This proves to you they don't just care about receiving a PO, but legitimately care about you personally and your organization.

2. Accessibility

Mediocre accessibility can create bottlenecks in your productivity. A good vendor must be reachable at all hours of the day. Whether it's an AOG, or you just want someone to talk to, it doesn't matter.

Our Account Managers will answer their Blackberry and respond to emails at 3am. They do everything they can to stay in constant communication with our clients. Now, this doesn't have to be the case for everyone, but when they aren't asleep can you call or email them and get a response? Or maybe through a different medium such as Skype or text? If so, you know they care about your operation and are available to make sure that your job is that much easier…it's peace of mind.

3. Flexibility

Now, this point may seem like I'm going to talk about prices but I'm not.

The flexibility of a vendor is critical, why? Because it doesn't take them 3 days to meet your requirement or get a response. Who wants to talk to a machine, press numerous numbers, and then have to leave a voice mail to talk to a human? I don't. Even if they don't answer their voice mail right away as most people are quicker via email, that's a start.

Have you ever heard a vendor say "if you don't hear back from us in 48 hours, consider it a No Quote"? Are these companies kidding! No, I rather you just tell me right away or at least engage with me so I know in the future, you care about my needs. This is not a flexible interactive relationship, but instead you just telling me that you care about yourself and I come second in 48 hours.

Today, it's important to understand the role of a vendor, aside from their product lines. You need the whole package from distribution, to a relationship built on reliability, accessibility and flexibility. When one of these start to deteriorate, it can make things much more difficult than they have to be.

What do you look for in a vendor? Please comment in our comment section below and we will respond.