How to Overcome the Current Demand Crunch and Thrive in Today’s Market
Demand is back. After many industries saw customer demand dry up during the pandemic, it is surging like it hasn’t in a long time. Consumers are spending money again. That’s the good news. The bad news? Companies across many industries, especially manufacturing, are struggling to meet that demand.
The reasons for this are as varied and unique as every company out there, but we are seeing a one-two punch creating capacity limits among our clients: the tight hiring market coupled with supply chain disruptions. So, how can businesses overcome these restraints and get ahead in the current landscape? First, let’s understand the issues at hand.
The hiring problem
We haven’t seen this tight of a hiring market in two decades or more. Businesses in many industries were forced to lay off or furlough workers during the pandemic, and now that demand is back up, they’re finding it next to impossible to fill those shoes, or in many workplaces, steel-toed boots. Why? The pandemic caused employees of all stripes to rethink their life choices. Maybe they don’t want to work in a manufacturing facility, or retail shop, or in a cubicle anymore. The result of that is what economists are calling “The Great Resignation.” According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 4 million people up and quit their jobs in April 2021. In May, that number dipped “all the way down” to 3.6 million, but by the time June rolled around, it was back up to 3.9. We haven’t seen this kind of mass exodus in generations, if ever. Make no mistake, the jobs are out there. Companies in all industries are scrambling, even desperate, to fill them. But this is not a matter of “if you post it, they will come.” They’re not coming.
The supply chain problem
Yes, many restrictions have been lifted, but supply chain snags, roadblocks, disruptions and downright stoppages continue to bedevil many industries. So even if you have enough people to get the job done, the supplies may or may not be there when you need them.
The hiring crunch and supply chain double whammy, combined with skyrocketing demand, is creating a difficult situation out there for many industries.
How USC Consulting Group can help
When it comes right down to it, meeting increased demand with fewer workers and a disrupted supply chain means one thing: Getting the job done requires increasing your operational efficiency. At USC Consulting Group, that’s our specialty. We’ve been doing it for 50-plus years. But it’s not easy. Sure, everyone wants to do more with less. But how, exactly? Here are some ways we find work well to ferret hidden opportunities for greater efficiency.
Engage the line. This means getting up close and personal with anyone who has anything to do with the production line, mining their expertise about what’s working and what’s not, and looking closely at the job on an hour-by-hour basis. Looking at the operation through that lens, you’ll be surprised what you can find.
Get a firm handle on capacity. How much is actually possible to produce? How much time will it take?
Rethink your staffing. How many people will it really take to get the job done? Looking at the operation with an eye toward people power, you may find you can get the job done with fewer employees. Which is good news for companies scrambling during this hiring crunch.
Scrutinize the management operating system. This is about how you plan your work, assign it and follow up to ensure the job is getting done. Make this part of your business a well-oiled machine.
Get real about throughput. What is the ideal “drumbeat” of your production line? Are things moving at the right speed? But, this isn’t just about speed. It’s about producing good product faster.
In the end, we use these and other strategies to uncover opportunities for efficiency and help companies meet rising demand even with the constraints they’re facing today. If you’d like to read about this topic in more depth, download our whitepaper, “Strategies for Meeting Customer Demand” or give us a call today. We’re ready to help.