116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Grocery aisles have empty sections and shoppers can’t predict what’s going to be available. Baby formula availability is headline news and car dealerships struggle to fill their empty lots. People building homes report waits for critical materials.
Almost every industry has shortages and delays that all boil down to supply chain issues. Business owners and consumers are frustrated and confused.
Disruptions cause everything from meat to household appliances and furnishings to be in short supply. How did it get this way?
The situation is hard to fix because many factors that caused it still exist. Once the global machine shuts down, it takes a while to get things started again.
Organizations halted production and laid off employees. Component shortages began affecting everything from automobile production to medical devices.
Fewer goods were produced as demand surged. Shipping containers piled up, costs skyrocketed and means of transportation were clogged.
Businesses experienced labor shortages, trucking companies, warehouses and ports were understaffed, further complicating distribution.
When one link in the supply chain gets broken, it affects everything that comes after.
How long will supply chain issues last? Some economists say things should ease up later in 2022, while others predict problems to continue into next year.
What can you do to keep your business running and your customers happy?
Plan for more disruption — No one seems to have a working crystal ball right now.
Businesses need to be creative and have more than one plan for addressing the next round of manufacturing and supplier delays.
Streamline offerings — If you’re a restaurant, pare down your menu to include items that are easier to find.
If you’re a retailer, try to order more from the manufacturers that have been coming through for you all along.
Create realistic expectations — Don’t overpromise. Communicate what you offer and how much is available.
Consider incentives — If you run out of an item, consider offering a coupon that brings people back.
Invest in technology — Automate everything possible to free up staff.
Improve your local network — If possible find business products close to home.
Consumers know there are problems but there is no substitute for good communication in times of crisis.
Bobby Hansen is regional director for the Better Business Bureau Cedar Rapids office; (319) 365-1190.