It’s no secret that one of the most costly aspects of running an ecommerce business is order fulfillment, and it’s…
How to Maintain a Successful Account with Your 3PL—an Employee Spotlight with Senior Account Manager Lori Grim
Every DCL Logistics customer knows that their dedicated account manager is a direct line of communication to their entire supply chain. Unlike other 3PLs who only have a call center or hotline, at DCL all account managers build a solid working relationship with each of their accounts; they get to know all aspects of the businesses they represent in order to provide the best logistics support possible.
Lori Grim is a seasoned Senior Account Manager at DCL (with the company in many roles for 30 years!). Sharing her specific tips on creating a successful partnership with DCL, and steps that a new account takes to get integrated, Lori says. “I learn something new everyday, and I’ve never had two accounts the same, ever. I think DCL’s strength is that every account is unique and different. We offer a type of customization that other 3PLs just don’t. We do so much more that just pick, pack, and ship.”
What an Account Manager Can Do for You
At DCL, we maintain a 4-to-1 Customer-to-Account Manager ratio with the Account Manager as the primary point of contact. Lori explains, “I have a weekly call with each of my accounts. We also hold quarterly business reviews to make sure we’re all on track. It’s fun to see their growth over time.”
DCL Account Managers become an integral part of the teams they support. Lori recounts, “I get lots of requests like ‘Can you send me a picture of this product?’ or ‘Can you go look and tell me how this came in?’ My response is always ‘Of course!’ So I’ll walk to the fulfillment facility, check it all out and get back to my account. The first few orders that ship for any of my accounts, I’m there to sign off on first articles, and first ship.”
How to be a Success—Steps to Becoming a DCL New Account
Once a new account is closed, an account manager, like Lori will take the account through the following steps.
The most important step to get right, is integration. Weekly meetings are scheduled run consistently for approximately six to eight weeks; these are to figure out all of the business requirements. Lori says, “The account manager is involved in every one of those meetings, because we have a lot to cover: setting up the part numbers, setting up the rules, figuring out how the company will ship, what they are going to ship in, informing them of how their product needs to arrive to us, how it needs to be packaged, setting up all the documentation that goes along with shipping customer items—we cover everything.”
Internal Hand-off Meeting
The step after integration is a meeting to brief all the departments who will work on that account to sync on the business requirements established during integration.
Lori says, “At DCL the account manager and the Head of IT Integration bring all the team members together to get the full download on the account’s needs, products, and how the account will run. The business rules are set up by then—everything from accounting to their inventory, to their distribution, to RMA, to every aspect of what we do for the customer. We make sure everyone is on the same page and that those rules are always kept current, so that if somebody taking over, or somebody is covering me, or somebody comes on new, has a place to locate the rules specific to that customer.”
The First Six Months
After integration and set-up, then the first six months are usually categorized by lots of communication, lots of questions, and also corrective action. Lori says, “I have to be available, I have to respond quickly, I have to teach, I have to point my new accounts to where to learn webinars in eFactory, video conferences to teach them eFactory, we try to cover most of all of that during integration, but there are always some things that come up after we have integrated, that we need to address.”
Ongoing Management and Additional Launches
After around six months, most questions have been answered about any initial setup. Lori says, “If I don’t hear from my accounts after the six month mark, that’s pretty good. Usually then it’s just identifying and addressing issues that come up periodically—or special cases like promotions and new products.”
Some of the other things that might come up after an account has become established include:
- Shipping methods. It can take time to settle into the shipping method that’s best. There might be a need for switching, adding new methods, or making adjustments.
- Distributed inventory. As a company’s order volume grows, it often makes sense to split inventory between two facilities. This ends up getting the product to the end consumer faster and more cost effectively.
- New products. Launching a new product line can require a lot of attention and detailed communication. It means doing the entire setup process again for a new item while also continuing logistics for already established products.
- Product updates. At DCL we facilitate space and time to do product fixes, product updating, and firmware updating. A lot of our customers are consumer electronic startups with a new product; we make sure we have the capacity for our customers to do coordinated testing and keep their tech updated.
- New retailers. Most accounts don’t start out with all the retailers and distributors that they are going to do business with. A big part of an account manager’s job is to onboard each brand with each retailer. It requires in depth knowledge of each retailer’s complex routing guides. Each account goes through new steps for each retailer they acquire.
- Promotions. Especially during holidays, many product companies offer special deals and bundles. Account Managers coordinate a lot of product preparation, which includes special promotional labeling, adding marketing materials to packages, or putting together a bundle for the holidays—like putting two or three things into one box.
“I really feel like for the majority of the orders in my accounts, everyday stuff goes seamlessly. It’s because, again at integration, we’ve set it up to go seamlessly. I only get involved in orders if something needs my attention. The difference here at DCL is that we work with our customers to proactively fix the issues, improve the processes. That’s not what all 3PLs do.”
– Lori Grim, Senior Account Manager
Tips for Holding a Successful Account with DCL
The two main tips Lori has for new accounts are: constant communication, and to visit the facility and meet your team.
Once you’ve established a contract and are starting up your account, lots of communication is what makes an account successful, especially upfront. “It’s a big deal to launch something new, it can be nerve-wracking for a business owner. Your product is going live, you are buried with all the stuff that you have to do to get your product to us—the last thing you want to deal with is shipping issues. My customers have my cell phone, and they use it! I get texts and calls on the weekend, not a lot, but I do. It’s just expected, especially during the beginning.”
“But first and foremost, visit us,” Lori says. “Come and meet me and come and walk the warehouse with me—it helps to visually see what happens from the minute an order comes over to us, what happens from the start to the shipping. Then we can truly work as a team, on 1-to-1 basis.”
Secret DCL tip, if you’re ever in the Fremont facility, you can see all the newsletters that Lori wrote and printed between 1985- 2000. They are framed and hung on the walls there. She spent many years in marketing, helping dabble in the logo design, and many more tasks.
If you looking for a 3PL partner to work with we would love to hear from you. You can read DCL’s list of services to learn more, or check out the many companies we work with to ensure great logistics support. Send us a note to connect about how we can help your company grow.