One of the most exciting parts of running any business is the moment when things are succeeding well enough that growth and expansion becomes a tangible option for you. After all, growth is a natural part of any business’s evolution. Of course, just because it’s natural doesn’t mean that it’s always easy. A lot of the ways in which businesses attempt to grow can be extremely challenging.
One of the most challenging elements of expansion and growth that a lot of business owners come up against is the introduction of logistics as a business element. The distribution of products may well have been an integral part of your business from the very beginning but the way that a small startup delivers their products is going to be very different than that of a larger business with greater demands placed on them by customers.
There are those who will choose to simply outsource the logistics in their business to a third-party, which can come with a lot of benefits. However, if you’re in a position where you’re looking to run the logistics in your business in-house, here are just a few things that you should keep in mind.
One of the most important things that you have to consider when choosing to handle your logistics solutions in-house is how much it’s actually going to cost you. Obviously, it represents a pretty significant investment for your business but there are also financial benefits to choosing to handle it in-house as well. For one thing, if you are outsourcing your logistics, there are plenty of expenses that you will have to pay.
However, if you are handling it in-house then you are going to have a lot of more direct control over the costs involved. The key is to make sure that you’re able to remain in control of those costs. Without a strong degree of self-control, it’s entirely possible for the costs involved in logistics to spin wildly out of control and cause serious problems for your business as a whole.
Everything from fuelling to insurance to the maintenance of vehicles needs to be fully costed so that you can be sure that it’s something that you can manage. One of the most common issues with the cost of logistics comes down to scale. It’s tempting to try and grow as quickly as possible but a huge fleet can be seriously problematic if your business isn’t large enough to sustain it.
Finding the right staff
As with pretty much any expansion to your business, the introduction of logistics means that you’re going to need to hire more staff members. If you’re outsourcing your logistics then the company you hire will provide drivers but if you’re handling it yourself, that responsibility, obviously, falls to you.
One of the biggest mistakes that a lot of business owners who have never managed logistics before make is to think that they only need to hire drivers. Of course, drivers are absolutely essential, and finding the right people to actually make the deliveries can make a business. But you also need to remember that it’s just as important to hire engineers and mechanics who will help to actually keep your trucks on the road.
Not only that but you may also need to hire a manager to handle the logistics side of your business. You may be a great manager but managing a fleet of trucks is very different and requires very different skills than managing people working in an office space.
One of the most important things that you need to deal with right at the very start of your logistics process is making sure that you have all of the right insurance policies in place. One thing that a lot of business owners forget is that they will need to be insured for the vehicles and the place that they are kept when not in use.
Of course, the most obvious insurance that you need to have in place is the insurance for your drivers. How much this costs and how easy it is to arrange may well depend on the driver. An experienced driver with a great track record is unlikely to cause many issues for your business in terms of their premiums.
However, trying to find commercial truck insurance for new drivers can often be something of a challenge. Fortunately, there are always things that you can do to make sure that even new or inexperienced drivers are fully insured. The cost of insuring your vehicles and drivers can be frustrating but it’s far better than going without it and not only getting into even more financial trouble but a fair amount of legal trouble as well.
Take care of equipment
It’s true that equipment is often right at the core of just about any business but it’s fair to say that there are few elements of a business that rely more heavily on ensuring that the equipment is always functioning properly than logistics. The truth is that the business of logistics is one that lives and dies on the strength of the equipment that is used.
The most important thing is, of course, to ensure that your vehicles are always carefully maintained. Every vehicle should be fully inspected before and after any job and if you find even the slightest issue, even if it’s something that likely wouldn’t raise too many eyebrows, you should get it fixed before that vehicle is used again.
The reality is that, while maintaining equipment is essential for any business, when it comes to logistics it can be a matter of life and death. It’s not just that you want to be sure that your deliveries get made on time, but if a truck isn’t in perfect condition then you’re putting the life of your driver at risk. And that’s a risk that simply is not worth taking.
Making sure that your business is running efficiently is always important but there are few areas of business where time management is more important than logistics. The logistics element of your business is going to be working against the clock at all times and that’s something that you need to be constantly aware of.
Whether you’re making deliveries directly to customers or to other businesses, if you’re not able to make those deliveries on time then that’s going to wreak havoc with your business’s reputation. It’s the kind of thing that can have a knock-on effect on just about every aspect of your business as a whole.
It’s essential that you, and your logistics manager, do everything you can to keep things running like clockwork. You need to have your time planned carefully enough that, if there is some kind of issue, you can deal with it and get back to normal without suffering any kind of major disruption to your fulfillment and delivery schedule.
Of course, it’s important to remember that logistics is just one part of the ongoing process of growth, expansion, and evolution that your business is going through. A business should always be pushing forward and finding new ways to innovate.
If you become complacent and let your business just sit still, there’s a good chance that you’re going to end up stagnating and your business will just be left in the dust by the competition. In the modern world, whether it’s in your logistics or any other part of your business, you simply cannot afford to fall behind the competition.