When many of us hear the word “logistics” we think of trucks, and our minds immediately take us to that place when we were kids. I hear logistics and think about big trucks, semi-trailers and my arms up in the air trying desperately to get the truck driver passing by to blow the horn.
The 4th Quarter
When I was a kid, the last part of the year was a mad rush balancing football and getting things done before the snow started to fly. Some of those things included ensuring all of my lawns were mowed, the yards were cleaned up and the invoices were distributed. I scheduled meetings with all of my neighbor customers so I understood their needs. The summer tools were replaced with winter tools, equipment I needed for snow removal was inspected and I made sure that I had everything I needed – ready and waiting for the first snowfall.
As I fast forward a few years and think about how things are today, it’s not that much different from those days when I was doing it for extra money, to now, when I do it as a career. It’s really about logistics.
When I hear the word logistics today, I think differently. I focus on people, process, equipment, and now more than ever, technology.
Let’s break down the 4th quarter into four areas – people, process, equipment and technology – to see how logistics play a key role in the success of an organization’s last few months of the calendar year.
Stay engaged with your people. Your people should include your family, your employees, your contractors and your customers. If you treat your customers like family, and vice versa, you will be better off in the end. Transactional relationships are usually short-lived, so stay engaged, before, during and after.
The 4th quarter is also a time for family and friends. Don’t forget, there are five recognized holidays in the U.S. during the 4th quarter. People want time to spend with family and in some cases are distracted, so be as close to that as you can.
There are leaders and there are followers in life, and we all need a plan. Establish your 4th quarter planning, set your goals, create expectations, communicate the process to your people, and then go with them on the journey.
Have you communicated your needs to your teams, to your vendors, to your manufacturers? Everyone in your circle should know what the process is to help you get there. Have you run forecasts, based on the resources you have available, and do you know what you will be able to accomplish? Have you communicated this information to your customers? Are you prepared financially; do you have what it will take to make it through to the end of the year? Have you communicated your forecasts to your distributors, do they know what you are going to accomplish? As a reminder, everyone in your value chain can help you be successful if they know what you need from them.
Inspect your equipment and evaluate the capacity. Do you have enough, will it last, does any of it require upgrading and is it safe? Will it get you through the next few months or do you need to purchase more, lease more, have critical spares? Is your equipment prepared for the workload and the weather? Will it be enough to get you through the year? Are your providers going to be operating, will they be delivering, will they be active while you are?
Sit down and think about all your equipment needs. Your partners will need more than that, as you are probably not their only customer. Remember, equipment is not only trucks and trailers, but it can also be service vehicles, waste receptacles and more.
Does your team have the right technology for what will be required during the 4th quarter? Have you evaluated the need(s), is it hardware, software, data, or capacity? Are you properly backed up, is your e-mail provider available 24x7? What happens if the internet goes down, what happens if your accounting software locks up, what happens if your customer relationship management system goes down, or a loss of cell service, do you have a backup plan to communicate with your people? Can you operate, from the office if the roads are closed?
The bottom line: Logistics is no longer just a word. Like trucking, transportation or how to get somewhere, logistics is an all-inclusive process from the point of sale to the result, where your product is installed and paid for – and everything in between.
How you do things – is how you do everything. Trust the Process!
To your success,