Christmas is one of the most demanding times of the year for businesses managing large fleets of vehicles.
Everything needs to run as efficiently as ever but there are far more factors working against you – increased demand, more traffic on the roads, poor weather conditions.
Whether supplying consumers directly, or helping other businesses to keep running, the pressure can be just the same – and intense.
At ByBox, for example, we supply both sides of the spectrum from field engineers on the way to their next job who need parts delivered to them before 8am, to consumers who are collecting their online purchases from one of our locker locations.
Christmas puts increased pressure on both sides of the equation due to a combination of volume and need to maintain vital services and match customer expectations.
It goes without saying that there is more consumer demand for deliveries in the run up to Christmas but a less widely considered demand during the festive period is all the service providers who have to keep the country’s services working flat out and will need added support – such as ePOS equipment and vital public services.
The cold weather, for example, can lead to more utility related faults, which require field engineers to fix the problems quickly and these engineers therefore need a higher frequency of parts without delay.
A large part of our business is supplying tools and parts to these engineers with quick turnaround, and therefore we also have to be ready for this increased demand.
In order to meet it, we run the service 365 days a year, 24 hours a day to ensure our customers can work effectively in the busiest times of the year without any disruption.
We even run our fleet at night to make sure deliveries can be made avoiding traffic delays and that our customers can receive crucial equipment within 24 hours.
The key, therefore, is to be prepared. If you manage a fleet it doesn’t matter whether you are supplying consumers directly or businesses, both will be under increased pressure, so work closely with them to find out what those demands will be will help in forward planning.
Last minute deliveries might need to be made so ensuring there is capacity for extra vehicles to be rolled out from your network at short notice can help to cope with fluctuations.
Managing staff well during this period is also essential. With employees often taking more leave than any other time of year, and all at once, a business can easily find itself stretched to its limit and without planning it can be difficult to access additional drivers quickly.
Therefore it’s vital to plan staff shifts months in advance to ensure there is back-up man power in case the customer base needs additional last minute deliveries or very time critical orders.
With all the increased pressure on staff and resources during Christmas it can be easy to lose track of how efficiently a fleet and its deliveries are running at a time when it couldn’t be more important and expectations are high.
So in a time when many businesses are considering winding down and looking forward to taking a well earned festive break, spare a thought for the businesses keeping Christmas moving.
It is often the fleet services which keep these systems ticking over just as everyone else tucks into their mince pies.
By Mark Garritt managing director at ByBox