I am totally convinced that many brands are not getting the most out of their warehouse.

We are all guilty of regarding our warehouses as the guys that do the dirty, dull work.

We send our stock to them, we send our orders through to them and they do what warehouses do.

The problem is that approach often leaves us feeling frustrated with them.

They just don’t seem to be on the same wave length as us. We get annoyed when things don’t go the way we expected.

Well, here’s a little insider knowledge- the warehouse feels exactly the same.

3PL warehouses are managed by logistics experts with many years of operational experience.

They are at the top of their game.

Whatever challenges we are facing they will have dealt with it before.

It’s time we revised our attitude to warehouses.

They don’t just do the dull, dirty work.

They are the infrastructure that will enable our brands to grow.

They are the professionals whose work has a direct impact on our reputation and customer perception.

It’s time to start working in an equal partnership with them.

Its time our warehouses became extensions of our own business.

Here are 5 ways you can improve your relationship with your warehouse.

Monthly Operations Meetings– talk to your warehouse. Tell them about your plans and your challenges. Ask them for advice. Tell them about your successes. Show them the publicity you are receiving. Build a relationship with them. Make them excited about your products. Make them enjoy working with you. Make them believe in your brand. Operations meetings are also the perfect place to discuss and resolve any problems. A monthly meeting means no problem is unresolved for long. This ensures your relationship is always positive and forward looking.

Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) – make sure you have a clear set of SLA’s. These define exactly what you expect of your warehouse and exactly what your warehouse expect of you. They are the bedrock of your relationship. Clearly defined service expectations prevent those familiar feelings of frustration.

Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) – Warehouses love to show that they are good at their job and so most of them will offer KPI’s. KPI’s provide hard data with which you can congratulate and thank your warehouse. They also provide context for mistakes. When something goes wrong we all have a tendency to over react. All mistakes should be taken seriously but we should always look at them within the context of all the work a warehouse is doing for us. KPI discussions can be used to provide a structure for the monthly operations meetings.

Reports- what data does your warehouse have that would be useful to you? They could tell you how many orders you have had in a period of time, how many units you have sold, fast and slow moving lines. Talk to your warehouse about having a set of reports that would help you. There may be a small charge for the programming involved, but if the data is valuable to you it will be worth the investment.

Rewards- if your warehouse is doing well reward them. There is nothing your account manager values more than an email saying thank you, an email to their boss praising their skills or an unexpected parcel of goodies to sample.

To conclude, our relationship with our warehouses should be two way.

We should be using their expertise and making their strengths work to our benefit.

We should be involving them in planning and operational decisions.

Great businesses and success are based on fabulous partnerships.