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You Might Have a Bad Warehouse If…A Salesperson Is Loading Appliances!

By Kate Vitasek | 11/28/2011 | 5:05 AM

We all know about the necessity of multi-tasking in today’s business environment, but asking salespeople to pull double duty on the warehouse floor makes for a bad, and unsafe, warehouse in this situation related by guest writer Philip J. Reed, on behalf of HP Spartacote. (HP Spartacote manufactures high-quality, high-performance and eco-friendly industrial floor coatings.)


Philip writes that larger warehouses tend to belong to larger companies, and larger companies tend to have a “more rigid delineation” of employee duties. “Small businesses though, depending upon their nature, will sometimes have their own warehouses. And if there’s one thing we know about small businesses, it’s that a few people taking vacation time or sick leave can have a big impact on those left behind, who now have to pull double duty to get the job done.”

That’s the nature of business, and “it’s something we’ve come to accept,” he says. “But when “pulling double duty” involves a salesperson lifting and moving large appliances alone, unassisted, and without proper training, there’s a much bigger problem afoot.”

He knows of one particular business – which shall remain nameless – that not only allows this to happen, but implicitly requires it. Philip writes:

“The unfortunate person in question is a sales person for an appliance store, and if his warehouse crew is out of the building, it is up to him to pull the appliance out of the on-site warehouse, uncrate it, and often load it into the customer’s vehicle unassisted. If he doesn’t do these things, he doesn’t make the sale.

“Your mind should be reeling with the problems inherent in this situation. Without proper training, nobody should be in the warehouse at all, let alone lifting and relocating heavy items.  Even with proper training, nobody should be doing this unassisted. The potential for injury, damage to the goods in question, and, of course, liability should the customer attempt to assist the salesperson are enormous.”

As Philip concludes, “There’s no practice discussed above that shouldn’t be discontinued immediately!”

No matter the size of the warehouse, this flies in the face of WERC’s Best Practices Guide on housekeeping, training, safety, space utilization and warehouse management. For instance, I shudder to think about an untrained salesperson operating a forklift. A warehouse may look like a big space with stuff in it, but it is way more complex than that.

Philip says, “There are various ways to handle workforce situations that don’t involve salespeople endangering themselves for the sake of a sale.” For one thing, warehouse staff should be qualified, knowledgeable, and, above all, present during times of operation.

I really love your feedback - and love your contributions to share those bad warehouse stories to help educate the profession on what NOT to do, and maybe what to do if you’re not doing it.

If you've got an example of a bad warehouse practice, send me your story and photo(s) to [email protected]. If I feature your example in one of my blogs, WERC will send you a free copy of the WERC Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmark & Best Practices Guide (a $160 value).

Your submission can be anonymous if you like so you don't get your boss or company in trouble! I'll be collecting examples all year and the winner will receive a free WERC Warehouse Certification Assessment by Supply Chain Visions, a $10,000 value. The runner up will win a free conference registration to the WERC conference (a $1,375 value).”

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About Kate Vitasek

Kate Vitasek

Kate Vitasek is a nationally recognized innovator in the practice of supply chain management. Vitasek is founder of Supply Chain Visions—a boutique consulting firm specializing in supply chain management. She is also a faculty member at the University of Tennessee's Center for Executive Education. A prolific writer, Vitasek has authored the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' best-selling mini-book series, Supply Chain Process Standards, and has contributed to other management books as well. Along with Karl Manrodt of Georgia Southern University, she co-leads WERC's popular annual benchmarking study.

About Steve Murray

Steve Murray

Steve Murray is a Principal Consultant and Chief of Research for Supply Chain Visions, a boutique consulting firm specializing in supply chain management. Prior to joining Supply Chain Visions he held a variety of functional and management roles in the distribution and manufacturing sectors, including 15 year managing an IT consulting firm. Steve has been instrumental in development of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professional's "Supply Chain Management Process Standards", the Warehousing Education and Research Council's Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmarking & Best Practice Guide" and the WERC "Warehouse Certification Program". He is lead auditor for the WERC's Certification Program.


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