American professor, Randy Pausch aptly said “One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose.” As business owners, mishaps and mistakes are not foreign territory as you navigate the unpredictable terrain of entrepreneurship. Thinking ahead and working through alternative arrangement is a key practice for almost every aspect of your business
Entrepreneur Weekly has taken the month of October to address the critical issue of logistics management and has shared the woes, tips for peak season and general information on how logistics flows and affects your business. So, how do you handle when you have tried your best to put things in order but there is still fall through? Let us first look at some common logistics failures and what contingency plan can be put in place to tackle the issue.
Delivery delays is a very common mishap, both with your raw materials coming in late from the dock or on the end of bringing the finished product to your customer. There is a reality, after putting everything in place on your end that there are things outside of your control such as factory shutdowns, port capacity issues, pandemic responses and other disruptive events.
Such are the risks of a global supply chain, and so it’s vital to have diversified supply bases as well as alternate shipping routes as contingency plans for when troubles arise. Globally, people have taken steps such as using Micro-fulfillment centres, last-mile delivery focus, and cross-docking.
Locally there are some practical steps that can be done but these must be considered and put in place as your premier plan B before the failures come into play. The reality is that this solution is not a one size fit all approach but in the event that there are delays, it is wise to consider alternative suppliers. Begin researching if there are local suppliers that carry your goods and be willing to make adjustments.
Forbes Magazine said “With an unpredictable supply chain, you never know when a certain product will become unavailable, possibly at short notice. Be proactive and anticipate such problems. Research alternative suppliers, preferably in different locations.” According to DMG Freight, “You can be able to maintain your stock even if a certain supplier is unable to fulfill your needs. You can also be creative about offering alternative options for your customers. For example, if you have a restaurant or food-related business, research alternative ingredients and dishes to offer customers.”
Delivering Finished Products
In the event that you have managed to pass the hiccup of freight misfortune, but realise that your faithful delivery option is quite occupied during this busy season, what can you do? Businesses must consider having a list of delivery options available on stand-by, that if one company is unable to support during a peak season, you would have had access to alternatives.
Many small business owners also know the reality of having to take on a few roles simultaneously. In the worst case scenario, when your goods are ready but unable to be delivered, can you or close family and friends shoulder the delivery during the peak season? This is a consideration that must be made when exploring all the plan B options available to you to avoid repeat delayed deliveries. Additionally to maintain the quality of your brand in your customer’s eyes in the event of delay, you can provide a special offer or an added token to maintain good relationships.
Weather and Infrastructure Disruptions
Jamaica does not have regular extreme seasonal conditions but the reality of delays being caused by the weather is not a foreign idea, given that we contend with the transatlantic hurricane season just ahead of peak season. This is a logistics management issue that contingency plans must also be put in place for. DMG Freight said “Lessons to learn – after bad weather, expect to find slow moving vehicles clogging the roads for a full seven days. If you don’t factor in the time and cost of dealing with the restoration of service process, you will continue to fall behind schedule.” If the weather disrupts your flow, it is important to communicate with customers in a timely manner, with clear communication what your business will be doing to get their products to them.
As part of the planning surrounding this, DMG Freight encourages businesses to “Avoid delivery on significant dates – February 14 is an insane day for logistics, like Christmas Day or Black Friday. To make substantial changes to your supply chain on a day that is already stretching transport infrastructure to its limits is – frankly – insane.“
As we wrap up this logistics management series, remember proper planning helps your business to thrive, saves time and money and increases profit margins. To catch up on all that has been spoken about during this logistics management month, visit the JBDC website at www.jbdc.net and click on the “What’s Happening” tab to find the Entrepreneur Weekly Blog posts as well as subscribe @JBDCJamaica on YouTube to binge watch the JBDC Virtual Biz Zone webinars.
Six Ways Small Businesses Can Overcome Supply Chain Challenges (forbes.com)
Logistics failures and how to avoid them – Warehousing & Distribution Tips (dmg-freight.com)