13 keys to survive seasonality

“If you want peace, prepare for war.” This ancient Roman proverb has been a classic of military academies for a long time. However, its applications do not end on the battlefield. Anyone in logistics who has experienced the problems of a mismanaged spike in volume knows how similar it can be to war.

If you want to be prepared and keep the peace in your supply chain, we encourage you to brush up on these concepts before the battle.

13 keys to manage your seasonality
1.- Start early

A cautious logistician is worth two. Starting preparations for your critical phases of the year is something that, if you do it right, is going to take up a lot of time. Draw up your plans, execute them, check that they have gone as expected and that everything is ready… Also, keep in mind that the closer you are to your critical days, the more likely it is that the volumes have already begun to grow and, therefore, you have Less time to finalize preparations.

2.- Know yourself

On many occasions, part of the problems arise from the fact that we are really unaware of our own logistical capabilities. If we are trying to manage large volumes that we have already planned, it is essential to know data such as the amount of merchandise, trucks or dock unloading that we are capable of managing, the time it takes us to prepare an order, the staff that may be working simultaneously in our facilities, etc. Establish indicators that control the main variables that measure your capacity.

3.- Use the calendar

The calendar, despite its archaic and harmless appearance, is a vital and often underused tool. The weight of habit means that sometimes we do not consider modifications that would be of great help to us. During our sales peaks we may want to change shifts, create additional shifts, work on weekend days that we normally don’t, etc.

All this requires prior planning of human resources and staff work calendars, as well as eventual hiring. But that shouldn’t stop you from looking for solutions that use the calendar outside of your usual bounds.

It is also important that you balance your calendar with suppliers and clients. Find out what you will need from them at all times (and what they will need from you), find out if you can obtain it through information technology and coordinate on what dates and times you will both be available.

4.- Check your flexibility

We all like to believe that we are flexible; that we have the ability to adapt to circumstances and react quickly to what happens around us. But unfortunately, we often take it for granted before checking it out. Being flexible, for example, to assess whether it is even necessary to rent a new facility during our strong seasonal demand. That is, having the open-mindedness necessary to weigh and make unusual decisions.

The physical media you have will also need to be flexible. Do you have the material and human resources to deal with the volumes that await you? Do you have trusted suppliers on hand that you can turn to in case of need?

Keep in mind that on D-day the forecasts can blow up and your plans will remain on paper

5.- Remember your maintenance

When the war starts you don’t want your tanks to leave you lying in the first trench. There are countless factors and machinery involved throughout a supply chain, and the number of points where something can go wrong is enormous. In the lead up to your sales spike, be sure to carry out the necessary checks on your equipment.

Also assess the need to not settle for essential periodic reviews and consider the need to review the status of all the critical points of your operation.

6.- Emergency button

You may have mapped out the perfect plan for the sales spike you expect to experience. However, on D-day the forecasts are blown up and your plans remain on paper. It is then when we need a plan B, which we will have to have designed before.

Again, your ability to be scalable and have resources you can draw on will be critical. Quantify how much help you might need and discuss it with the necessary providers to ensure that even in the worst case scenario you will be covered.

7.- Stay informed

It is clear that the work does not end in the previous preparation, but we have to follow up during the increase in volumes. One of the best ways to make sure everything is going as it should is to monitor what is happening in real time. Check that the volumes are within the expected margins, that we are placing orders at the expected speed, that the input of materials is going according to plan, that deliveries are arriving on time at their destination, etc. It will be the best way to be able to readjust on time and keep your logistics on track.

8.- Meet with your clients

As surprising as it may seem, it’s much more often than not that customers are left out of all this preparation, when they should be an essential part. Coordinate with them to specify the service needs they are going to have, the volumes they expect, how they are going to be affected and how that can affect you, what alternatives you could take in case of need, changes or delays, etc.

9.- Omnichannel

Omnichannel -that is, the integration of the different sales channels to the public- is something that you should also take into account. Ecommerce sales tend to be especially sensitive to peak sales seasons and if you have a large exposure to the online world, you are likely to have greater fluctuations.

Another interesting point is that some companies decide to keep separate stocks for different channels while others pool all their stock for all channels. Consider whether your usual way of working with omnichannel will also be the most appropriate for this specific period.

10.- Train the staff

You have analyzed your needs and have detected that you are going to need more staff. However, your task does not end here. As a general rule, temporary staff will not enter management positions, but that does not mean that you should not give them the necessary training, since the good result of your critical sales period will be in their hands.

Establish a calendar to train them and give it the importance it deserves. Processes such as labeling, merchandise handling and shipment preparation are critical to the quality you offer your customers, and must be carried out by trained personnel.

11.- Review what you know

Once again, our enemy here is working on automatic pilot. Do you know the news in the services of your logistics providers? Is there a new form of shipping, transportation line, or technological advance that you can employ? Transport companies are constantly trying to innovate and sometimes we can overlook solutions that would help us enormously, assuming that there is nothing new available.

12.- Learn from your history

Companies that forget their past are doomed to repeat it. Fortunately, the past is going to be a very useful tool for those willing to learn from it. Once your sales season is over, analyze what has happened; Both good and bad. This way you will know what were the best solutions or where not enough attention was paid. Also, last year’s experience will always be very important in predicting sales volumes for the following year.

13.- Get ready for unscheduled climbs

If you are a toy maker, you know that the results of the year depend on Christmas. If you dedicate yourself to fruit, you will have marked your calendar with the different seasons. However, sometimes we only have eyes for the most extreme sales peaks on our calendars and we forget about their little brothers. The same tips that will help you in your great annual war will help you in the small skirmishes, in those smaller climbs but that can also get you through and get you in trouble in front of your clients.

Related Posts

Khaterine William

Back to top