Wayne Brophy

Jun 06, 2019

Can you 'peak' too soon?

Having previously worked in the Logistics industry for 10 years, I know that ‘Peak’ trading is a period that is talked about throughout the year with a mixture of dread and excitement. I may have enjoyed being busy and never worried about increasing my usual 50-hour week to 60+ during Peak. But that didn’t mean I could negotiate to increase our shipping allocation by 20%. The ship doesn’t get bigger, after all! Brexit now makes forecasting a challenge (at best). So how should you now plan for Peak? And when should your recruitment planning begin?

Brexit: addressing forecasting and talent challenges

Our first CastConnect Lunch focused on planning for Brexit and a recurring theme was how will it impact Peak. Forecasting is challenging - at best. Whatever deal (or not) we strike, it will still be at the forefront of customers minds come Black Friday. With so little time before leaving the EU and Peak, there’s no real time to gauge public reaction. The consensus is that relying on algorithms alone won’t be enough. Yes, it serves as a starting point but there needs to be more. Understanding - and predicting - the human psychology of how consumers respond to uncertainty will now be critical. Businesses need to prepare for a number of different outcomes, but exhausting them all is impossible. Remaining agile by developing strategic partnerships with other businesses is key.

Planning for Peak: a short checklist

We’ve provided a brief overview below of all of the issues you need to consider when planning for Peak (for a more in-depth overview of recruitment-specific issues, see our Peak Recruitment Checklist).

1. Forecasting – How accurate are the forecasts?

  • How do you compile your sales forecast?
  • Is your previous ‘Peak’ experience reflective of current trends?
  • Have you prepared forecasts for different Brexit scenarios?

2. Capacity – Do you have enough?

  • Are your warehouse facilities big enough?
  • Is there additional space within the network?
  • Do your existing suppliers have the required capacity?
  • Can your suppliers support the increased demand within the required timescales?
  • Will you require further 3rd party assistance?
  • Will you need to look elsewhere for warehouse operations post-Brexit?
  • Have you started to develop alternative strategic partnerships that will keep you agile?
  • Do you need to stockpile goods? If so, where?

3. Resource – Staffing plays a critical role during the ‘peak’ period.

  • By what method do you ensure you have the numbers of employees required?
  • How do you secure the top talent in the current candidate-led job market?
  • What alternative methods could you use to attract and retain key workers that may be ‘lost’ due to Brexit?
  • Exactly how do you induct that talent to ensure consistency?
  • How do you create the ‘one team’ mentality? Do you require senior-level interim or contractor hires to deliver business change/increased sales? If so, to what degree would this impact on your projected seasonal staff need?
  • What is the overall ROI of contractor/interim-led projects versus your current recruitment strategy?

When to start your Peak recruitment

Having moved from an operational role into logistics recruitment, I no longer worry about how big a ship is or if I have enough trailers and drivers to complete the short-term requirement of the increased workload. Instead, I now focus on how to attract and pipeline the best talent for my clients during their Peak period as early as possible to ensure their success. Most organisations start reviewing their Peak performance as soon as the previous Peak has ended. Recruitment drives then typically kick into gear 3 to 4 months before Peak staff are required. However, with the added uncertainty, the time to act is NOW. For example:
  1. You may need to re-review salary & benefits benchmarking to find out what your required workers need (e.g. low-skilled migrant workers may seek English lessons or help with Settled Status, whilst British Citizens may crave more job security).
  2. How will you stand out as an ‘employer of choice’? (It matters more than ever now.)
  3. Has your business strategy changed and will you now require contractors/interim hires that can deliver a much-needed ROI? If so, who will you turn to for this talent?
For a more in-depth checklist for preparing for Peak recruitment, download our Peak Recruitment Checklist. Or if you would prefer to speak to a consultant with in-depth knowledge of Peak recruitment strategies for your sector, visit our contract recruitment page here. Alternatively, get in touch with one of our Logistics, Supply Chain & Procurement experts today on 0333 121 3345 or via email at hello@castuk.com.
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