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We've previously talked about how warehouses can take a few basic steps to more easily get through a large holiday season rush… without completely falling apart. In that blog post, we covered the 3 basics; testing your warehouse operations ahead of time, educating staff on best ways to operate during the increased order volume of the holidays, and potentially partnering with a 3PL to take some of the legwork out of it all.
But it got us to thinking…
Knowing how you should operate under pressure is different than actually being able to perform when those circumstances become a reality. And more often than not, increased order volume can happen at any time, it is not limited to holidays. And for larger companies or those that are in a growth period, the likelihood of it happening is increased triple-fold.
Today we are revisiting that old blog post to talk a little about preparing for periods of increased order volume whenever it happens.
Key Performance Indicators, also known as KPIs, are sets of data that can be actively monitored and modified to increase the performance of the supply chain.
These sets of data are things like inventory counts, the time between when an order is received and when it actually gets pulled, how many returns you receive and why, speed of the loading process, etc…
By monitoring the speed and overall performance of your warehouses' most crucial elements over time, you can compare them and then adjust them, hopefully impacting performance positively.
And that is exactly what you need to be doing on a routine basis; monitoring and tracking all of your warehouse data.
Every 3 to 6 months, compare the current period of months with the previous. Are you on track with the previous period? Are you halfway through but already have better numbers than you did in the previous 3 months? Or are you doing less in volume?
Now, compare this year to the previous year. Did you do better or worse? What did you do differently between this year and last year?
Focus on that difference and work to increase it further or to decrease it to minimize losses.
Without proper monitoring of KPIs, you will not be able to make much of an impact.
Unfortunately, there are still companies out there who are not very attentive to their company culture.
And this is a massive downfall that all companies need to avoid… especially during a time when tensions and emotions are high, like during a rush of orders.
The culture or “vibe” of a company is one of the largest drivers of success that every single company has at its disposal.
If your employees aren't feeling appreciated, recognized or challenged.. they will begin to perform roles much less efficiently. They may begin to cut corners just to get through the day a bit faster, put off other tasks that then get neglected, and just appear to be unhappy to be at the warehouse.
If the employees are comfortable, enjoy going to work, and feel recognized, they will perform much better. It’s really as simple as that.
And honestly, those are the type of employees you need on the warehouse floor when you get hit with a massive influx of orders all at once. They are the ones who are going to not only hold their ground… but they will also go above and beyond in the name of the company.
None of that other stuff is going to matter very much if your employees are not properly trained to handle a business rush. Nor can the previous two areas we covered in this article be improved upon much without this, either.
A business rush is usually handled just a little differently when it comes to most logistics operations.
This could be any number of ways of working, but it is always done with the goal of taking a workload that has doubled due to a rush and trying to cut down the time it takes to complete said tasks.
Additionally, it may include things such as increased safety protocols, stricter inventory methods, or increasing handling speeds.
Talk with your employees, other managers in-house, or your 3PL service to determine what areas need to be modified and making sure that all of your workers are on the same page.
Finally, you need to test your entire operation from start to finish.
To do this, you will use the data from your KPIs to determine what system would work better during a rush.
Then, find some spare time when normal operations have slowed down for the day and gather a few of the leads from every team (by team, I am referring groups of various roles within the warehouse) and walk through a mock scenario. Make it as difficult as you are predicting the rush to be this year and see how well they perform.
Congratulate them for getting faster or reaching a certain goal in the exercise to build confidence and motivation.
Do this a few times a week, if possible, in the month leading up to the rush (if it is a major one that is easily predicted). Throughout the process, teach the new system bit by bit, over and over until it is time for the real thing.
Then when increased order volume, your employees will have the confidence to tackle it head-on with a newly learned system that is fresh on their minds and you will have the reassurance that the rush will come and go with little issue.
The next year, follow the same process and double down on what you learned the last time.
Getting your warehouse and distribution centers prepared for a sales rush is no easy task!
In fact, there are a lot of complex and constantly moving parts that need to be taken into consideration. And when we are talking about larger warehouses, this process can quite easily turn into nothing short of an extremely stressful situation.
Luckily, this is where partnering with a professional and reputable 3PL such as Redwood Logistics comes in handy!
Redwood offers a variety of warehousing and distribution services to our clients. With over 30 years of experience, we are able to provide full-fledged and customized WMS solutions, Cross-Dock services, storage options, and unbeatable customer service among a plethora of other useful supporting services. Even if you just need some extra help with labeling, picking/packing or transport, Redwood has got you covered.
So, if you are ready to really dig in and gain the peace of mind that comes with being fully prepared for an onslaught of orders, head on over to this page, drop us a line and let us show you the Redwood difference!