November is almost at an end. As December nears, the holiday peak looms for many distribution centers. The season will be the busiest for us in logistics and transportation thanks to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas Eve, and Boxing Day.
Customers will be expecting to receive their purchases and gifts with little hassle. This means that for many organizations, the sole focus of the winter peak will be to customer satisfaction. Thanks to the increasing number of people shopping online, the winter peak is especially volatile for orders.
Proper planning for the winter holiday peak should have started months ago. Some businesses go all-hands-on-deck as early as August, or October. While strategic planning is important for a smoother peak, it doesn’t guarantee it. There are several ways the plan can become derailed.
This week we’ve decided to focus on the five ways to help make sure your business stays on track.
1. Clarify Your Expectation to the Staffing Providers
As Deborah Ruriani of Inbound Logistics points out in her article, planning for the holiday peak should have involved your staffing providers. With the winter peak so close, it’s important that the expectations of your relationship are re-communicated. Turnover is likely to be high until the peak is over. Staffing providers need to ensure that new hires are of the same standards as those they are replacing.
2. Audit the Preparedness of Your Organization on All Levels
As the holiday season approaches, it might be tempting to hunker down and only focus on your work until it passes. Doing so puts your organization at risk. Fulfillment centers can only succeed if all its parts are all working smoothly and towards a common goal. Any weakness in the management, operations, support, HR or other departments can lead to a domino effect.
3. Regularly Check the Morale of Your Employees
It’s normal for stress levels to be higher during the holidays. A lot is expected of the staff and they’ll have tight deadlines in which to accomplish these tasks. Stress levels can’t get too high however. Too much stress over too long a period will cause mistakes. Too many mistakes will cause more stress, growing and extending the cycle.
4. Check and Update the 5S Lean or Other Quality Initiatives
The 5S Lean Methodology is a strategy on how companies organize a work space for efficiency and effectiveness by identifying and storing the items used, maintaining the area and items, and sustaining the new order. By this time of year, your company should have a detailed space utilization plan in place. But remember, this time of year is volatile so your plan may need tweaking. You’ll need to check which variables have changed since the plan was drafted and adjust accordingly. Flexibility is crucial in this area.
5. Continue to Audit your Building’s Processes for Best Practice Research
Peak is an important time for many organizations. This is why a record of what worked and what didn’t needs to be kept during and after every peak. Each peak brings with it the opportunity to do things a little bit better.
The winter peak is a stressful time for many of us in the logistics industry. Our customers expect us to deliver so they can have a happy holiday season. It’s because of our customers that we need to ensure that both the planning and execution of peak plans are done with the utmost dedication and care.
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