As we draw nearer to the tail end of 2019, distribution centres throughout the country are gearing up for what promises to be a busy festive season. However, the diversity of the supply chain, and the importance of timely delivery and customer service, presents a unique challenge to the industry.
In this article, I outline how logistics suppliers can organise and implement a robust strategy to ensure their distribution centres remain efficient enough to support the tidal wave of increased demand during the festive season.
Proactive forecasting and planning for deliveries is essential
1. Analyse past sales
While it goes without saying that many companies will be looking to hire greater volumes of staff over the festive period, it’s important to gain insight into the exact scale of the demand first. To achieve this, you must carefully analyse past sales, future orders and defined delivery days.
2. Review forecasts from clients
Reviewing forecasts from clients will give you insight into where you’re at in terms of volumes. This information can then be used to evaluate fleet size and help to secure agreement from third party partners before the Christmas peak.
3. Leave plenty of planning time
The critical ‘seasonal forecast’ period will vary significantly depending on the products and holiday period in question. However, demand for almost all products increases sharply, delivery volumes to stores are consequently very high, so stock building has to begin well in advance. Thus, the season-specific planning period needed is at least six weeks, and usually higher.
As part of this planning stage, you must consider your marginal capacity. All operators have a maximum authorised number of vehicles permitted on their licenses and margins must be sufficient for each authorised operating centre, this means a higher number of vehicles must be authorised than normal.
Do you have enough people to meet the increased demand?
How many shifts do you plan to run during peak holiday logistics season? How many agency workers will you hire, and what sort of tasks will you allow them to handle? It’s best to answer workforce questions early, because once the tidal wave of orders strikes, you will need extra staff to cope with the increased demand.
1. Plan now for vehicle usage
Take potential sickness/holiday cover into consideration and when in doubt, overbook. It’s always easier to ‘double-man’ or cancel a driver than it is to have a vehicle which is unable to depart from the distribution centre.
2. Work closely with your agency
Share your recruitment plan early on so that they can be prepared and recruit specifically for peak demand. Agencies can be more effective when they are an extension of the transport team in terms of planning headcount. Make sure your agency is available 24/7 to support you during peak demand.
Search has successfully supplied some of the largest companies with seasonal workers, find out more about our recruitment services we can offer here.
3. Be flexible
Once you determine which shift times you will struggle to fill, tell your agency and work in partnership to discuss the plan to cover all eventualities.
4. Have a unique selling point to retain drivers during peak demand
While many transport companies will offer bonus payments, it’s important to note that it’s not always about the money. There are a number of additional benefits a driver may desire, such as family-friendly start times, a decent vehicle and to feel part of the team rather than just an agency driver.
5. Ensure your driver is paid correctly and on time
Work closely with your agency to ensure that wages are paid on time. Remember that a disgruntled driver will quickly move on if they are unhappy and short on their wages.