Regardless of where you stand on the controversy over when and how the U.S. economy should “open up,” the fact is that the economy will eventually start to come around. It’s safe to say that we aren’t going to flip a switch and have the economy come back to its old form. It’s more likely that the economy will open in a phased, strategic approach. Much like many American businesses, your business needs to be prepared. Part of that preparation must include having a shipping strategy that responds to a phased-in recovery. Find out how you can start preparing your business today.
Outline the Phases
There is no one-size-fits all strategy that will carry every small-to-medium sized business (SMB) from where they are now to where they want to be when the economy reaches its new normal. By outlining the phases your business will go through, the broad strokes of your company’s customized and phased shipping strategy will emerge.
Not sure where to begin? Here’s a template you can use. Customize the text to make this outline apply to your organization. Please note that these phases are not in chronological order, as no one can say exactly which phase will happen when, and the order will differ from one organization to another. You and your leadership team will need to decide what phases of the strategy to implement at what times.
Workers Return to the Office
As America opens up, companies are starting to plan different waves of how and under what circumstances they will bring their workers back to the office. Where on this list are the people you rely on for shipping? Remember to include everyone, from shipping managers and administrators to packaging, warehouse and loading dock personnel.
- Workers who have been working from home
- Workers who have not been working
- Workers vulnerable due to age and/or underlying conditions
- Workforce changes as required
Increase in Demand
If demand for your products is low now, you should feel confident that these three factors will spark increases in demand, which will cause an increased need to ship. How will your organization adjust as each comes to pass?
- Geographic expansion of economic activity
- Customers’ phased-in recoveries
- Return of stability and optimism to the market
Improved Supply Chain
Trucks are rolling, but getting the goods, parts and raw materials you need can be problematic. It’s like having a clogged faucet that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. As conditions improve for the components in your supply chain, these factors should trigger the various components of your phased shipping strategy.
- Deliveries become more regular
- Parts and raw goods are easier to attain
- Prices stabilize
Many types of people and organizations are invaluable to your company when times are good. Don’t forget them now. For each of the categories listed below, detail who they are and how they play a vital role in your shipping program. Then, create a communications strategy that is both empathetic and business focused. As conditions improve, you don’t want to find out that people or businesses you were relying on are no longer available to you. Likewise, you don’t want to hear anyone say, “We thought you were out of business.”
- Core (essential) personnel
- Balance of salaried employees
- Hourly employees
- Contract employees
Once you’ve customized and filled in the details of this outline, amplify each element with the strategic impact it has on your company. Note how elements of each phase impact the other phases. This should create a clear picture for you of the phased shipping strategy you need.
Stay in Touch with Your 3PL
For businesses that rely on a third-party logistics provider (3PL) as their virtual shipping department, it’s important to treat them as your strategic partner. When your company goes through its different phases, your 3PL can help you adjust your strategy by informing you of things like:
- The status of the carriers you typically depend on
- Dependable carriers they’ve added that serve your shipping lanes
- How shipping rates are being affected
- Their recommendations for how early you should book your shipments
- Additional specialties they’ve picked up in response to the pandemic
As an example of a 3PL developing new specialties, FreightCenter has become experts at shipping hand sanitizer, which has sharpened our skills in the area of hazardous shipments. Other areas where we’ve seen a significant increase include temperature-controlled food products, medical products and eCommerce shipments. You want to have a skilled partner at your side.
Developing your phased shipping strategy now is the best way to ensure that you are prepared for every stage of recovery. Need help developing your strategy? FreightCenter can help. Don’t wait, contact us today, get your free quote or call us at 844-212-7447.