What We Need is the Split Second Decision

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Exchange from the TV show LAW & ORDER, by Detective Lennie Briscoe:
Lab technician (trying to establish the age of a skeleton): “Once we get the chemical analysis, we can narrow it down.”
Lennie: “Great. When you get an answer, give me a call at the retirement home.”

Anyone can analyze then buy one, but how long does it take to learn the operations of apparel production needed to maximize the investment?

Once they learn, why have a micro-factory that waits and waits and waits for a decision to make something? We talk about cycle times and efficiency but ignore the elephant in the chain – the lack of a split-second decision. Actually, I’ve seen these.

The best example was my visit to Chico’s years ago, before they tried to become something else. Back then, they had 4 sizes, no mirror in the dressing rooms, fantastic fashion, fierce loyalty and awesome margins – in great looking stores.

They told me the way they worked. A supplier would bring in a garment. They would look at it. If they liked it, they would order 5,000. Not 5,000 dozen, 5,000 garments. They never asked what it cost. It didn’t matter. Their customer knew if they liked it and it fit, there was not another one in the pipeline.

THAT was a business model built on trust, confidence, knowledge and empowerment. In other words, good people on staff.

Another example – HaggarAAPN VP Tony Anzovino, a VP at Haggar, explained his staff philosophy. When they get buried, slammed, overworked, he still does not hire more people. He explains to his staff that when you survive this bump, you’ll become better decision makers, allowing them to do more with less.

Or TexOps in El Salvador. They once gave a tour to a merchandiser, took her right out onto the production floor. She saw this terrific pair of yoga pants. You make these, she asks? We do. Can you make XX,000 pair? We can. She orders on the spot. They sell out full margin like it was Black Friday.

These are Zara-like stories. At Zara, a young staffer is authorized, on her own, to make the spilt-second decision to produce 25,000 garments. They hit the stores in 3 weeks or less. If the garment doesn’t work, they sell out. If it does, they ramp up. Nothing can stop a producer who can make a short run then ramp up except for the lack of a decision.

Today, every brand and retailer faces the same problem – shrinking quantities per style. On top of that, as Kevin Williams recently told us, “logistics is the new marketing“. The driver in all of this is split-second decision making. And if this truly is the issue of the day, then its our new agenda for our ongoing conferences.

This network has so many stories. This industry has so many issues. Our members have so many skills. The intersection where these all connect in here. See for yourself by coming to the only supply chain exchange in our industry, AAPN

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