With the pandemic creating havoc, remote work for almost every industry came to the forefront. This creates a gap for companies to employ remote logistics managers.
One of my lecturers always said: “In the world of Logistics, the only constant is change”.
If you are a person that likes consistency, then logistics can seem daunting. Do not let this fool you. Logistics are only as scary as what you believe it is. Anyone with the following skills can be a great Logistics Manager:
- Be able to adapt quickly to any situation
- Have the ability to see the bigger picture
- Be great at problem solving and be calm and collected under pressure
- Continuously seek to improve systems and procedures
- And be an effective project manager, with a good ear to listen when problems arise (as this will happen very often)
What is logistics?
Before we delve into how logistics have changed the remote work industry, let’s talk about what logistics is.
Logistics management is easily one of the jobs with the most responsibilities in any company. Effectiveness has a direct impact on the bottom line. And a profitable bottom line makes everyone happy. Logistics managers handle the supply chain, implements and control the effective forward and reverse flow of goods, services and information between the point of origin and point of consumption (end user) in order to meet the customers’ needs.
The flow of information between origin and consumption is especially where remote logistics come into play. Now the employee can work remotely on anything logistics without even being at the point of origin where services and goods are stored. With effective process systems and applications for logistics and project management, remote work can be handled efficiently and in real time.
Real time management is especially important when it comes to logistics management, information, goods and services. These functions all need to flow in real time to make sure that the product, service or information is delivered to the customer at the right price at the right time. When real time management is not handled correctly it can cost a company money, you could lose information and potentially lose a customer.
Logistics managers strive to effectively control the following 6 fields when a company is product driven (remember if inventory is not sourced at the correct price there will be no profit margin for expanding):
Control the profit margin
It may seem that the logistics manager has nothing to do with profit, but this is not true. From sourcing, import duties, cost of freight, transportation and the production and how all of this is handled has a direct impact on profit.
Reduce operational cost
What is the best kick for a logistics manager? Being able to save on production or finding that bargain. Finding that great quality inbound product at the lowest price and using that for production.
This is where the logistics manager comes into play in a big way. They handle trade negotiations, transport and delivery negotiations and negotiate the best price for the company and the customer.
The logistics manager makes sure that warranties and what the product has to deliver, is true. Maximizing on reverse logistics of unwanted products in the production line, ensuring recyclability and a stable carbon footprint, lets your company stand out and make contract winning easier.
Work with the rest of the team
The logistics manager needs to make sure that collaboration between all departments happen efficiently and effectively to ensure that profit margins are made, accounts are paid, and employees know where the products are in the production line.
Keeping the customer happy
The logistics manager will make sure that the customer feels like the winner by delivering a great product at the best price at the right time. This process will ensure a greater need to your product which in turn will generate more profit.
Let us get back to the process of remote logistical management. Remote logistics management provides the function and system for supply chain management from any base point at a remote location. Materials like dry goods, services and many more are ordered to the remote location for the starting of production.
If there is not enough stock to start production, make sure to order as quick as possible. Always have an eye on buffer stock, this will decrease lead times or no production at the worst. All of these processes can be managed remotely through online collaboration tools like Asana; Monday.com; Bitrix24 and Easy Projects.
Remote logistics is especially important in material and product tracking. It is always good to have a reporting tool from the beginning that tracks materials to post point and destination. Make sure to have a status report to document flow in each level of production and delivery.
All of these seem like big words with many moving parts, which is in fact true, but it does not need to be a daunting task. Remote project managers need to stay focused, consistently check process flow and use the team on hand to minimize costs and losses.
Logistics can be fun and rewarding as the world will never stop working. As a business owner you do not need a logistics manager sitting in an office to be effective, you just need someone that is on the ball and great at managing your supply chain. At the end, if your logistics manager is sitting at home, and your client is happy, no one can lose.
For years, I have never been a true believer of fasting. The thought of not eating for 3 days or more is a concept- that I thought to believe –was only for monks up on the hills in Tibet. Why fast when there are so many people starving in the first place?
Well, years later, I found myself a boyfriend, who was well into new and trendy health theories, and who convinced me that this is just the perfect ingredient for a clear mind and healthy body. A couple of days later, and there I was – saying no to food for 3 days in my beautiful kitchen in the middle of Cape Town.
Why Fast? That’s a Perfectly Valid Question
I didn’t only begin fasting for the obvious reasons – losing weight. I was healthy and lean but I was curious to clear the so-called “brain fog” and a reboot of the immune system, which promised a true mental benefit and a test to my own strength of self-discipline.
Benjamin Hardy, a psychologist and best selling author says:
“Fasting is essentially the putting-off of the physical to tap into higher realms of meaning.”
To be honest, I didn’t reach my higher realms of meaning or any higher sense of self that is… but what I do know is, that it was an experience I urge every one to try.
Here are my 4 most loved benefits of fasting, which I hope will motivate you to start too.
1. Mental Clarity
I was on day 1 of my first fasting experience, and after having my last meal just 20 hours ago, I found myself hiking for 3 hours after just having a black coffee and some water. I never felt better. I was energized, the fog had cleared in my brain, and my endorphins were rushing through me like I was on my way to an exciting music festival. I was sharp, quick, and mentally structured, which I had never experienced before. Need a boost before an important presentation? Here is your tool.
Every decision one makes is important, isn’t it? If you have a track record of bad decisions, you end up with a ‘not so happy life’. This all comes down to lack of self-control. And if you cant control yourself, then what can you control?
If you need to learn self-discipline, let me tell you, fasting is the way to do it. You are constantly choosing NOT to eat, even when you are hungry. If you get good at fasting, you get good at discipline, you get good at life. Period.
3. Weight-loss & Detox
Although my goal wasn’t weight-loss, loosing a couple of pounds and water weight was an added benefit to this whole fasting-thing. (Lets be honest, ladies, who doesn’t love to wake up in the morning and feel like your pants are a little looser?) With that in mind, this brings more confidence in you, thus, more confidence in the workplace. On top of that, scientists say that it is a complete reboot of your entire immune system just after 24 hours. I am sure we all have years of guilty junk food eating habits, so the thought of clearing all those toxins sounded peachy.
As Angela Duckworth, psychologist and popular science author, put it in her TED Talk: “Grit is the power of passion and perseverance.” Why is this so important? It helps you focus on long-term and meaningful goals whilst giving you the ability to persist and move through difficult obstacles.
On day 2 of my fasting experience, I had a minor (well it was a major) emotional breakdown. Google said I had severe “carb withdrawal symptoms”. I felt like I was in rehab. I was literally crying on the couch wanting food and begging my partner to get me something to eat. I felt ridiculous. But I guess my ‘Grit’ got me through it, and I never felt better the next day.
Would I do it again? Probably not, but with the benefits I might consider it. Experts say you should be fasting 2-3 times a year. Practice makes perfect, right? I felt incredibly proud when I finished my 72 hours of fasting. This boosted my self-confidence and provided mental strength and assurance that I can deal with difficult situations and temptations. I feel incredibly focused and motivated,and have the willpower to push through anything – and so should you.
With the current state of the world it is extremely difficult to stay motivated – even the most driven people struggle.
Staying motivated to achieve sales targets in any climate can be taxing. Managers and supervisors can get frustrated and use methods of motivation that may be detrimental rather than effective, such as negative reinforcement. I personally do not respond positively to negative reinforcement and having managed a small sales team for a few years, neither did they.
A great demonstration of this is shown in a Netflix series called 100 humans that experimented with this theory in an episode named Pain versus Pleasure. This episode centers around how humans respond to criticism versus praise, and which works better.
Criticism and praise
The participants are tasked with spinning plates on a stick, and there are two rounds. In the first round, participants are either criticized or praised for their performance, regardless of how well they perform. The results from this round show that individuals that performed exceptionally well but were criticized, lost confidence, and performed poorly in the second round. Whereas the participants that performed poorly in the first round but were praised excelled in the second round. This experiment proves that despite the performances, positive reinforcement was more successful in motivating the participants than negative reinforcement.
Tried and tested methods
It can be frustrating to keep everyone motivated under normal circumstances, let alone during a pandemic, primarily when targets are not being met. Here are a few examples on what I have used in the past and my tips on what keeps me enthusiastic to reach or exceed my sales goals.
- Praise for small wins – I received praise by a simple phone call from my COO for a closed deal from a personal sales lead. Even though it was a small order, it showed that every bit of my effort was appreciated and drove me to close an even bigger deal. This can be used at every level to reassure your team that their hard work does not go unnoticed.
- Tiered targets – Having a target for a set timeline. I have used a 3-tier quarterly incentive approach with a large bonus for the top salesperson, a local holiday trip for the second tier, and a valuable prize, such as a laptop for the 3rd tier prize.
- Performance based commission structure – Not only do you reward your sales team fairly, but it also drives under-performing sales team members to thrive especially when their colleagues are receiving higher commissions. It also instills a level of healthy competition within the team.
Innovation and creativity
However challenging this period may be for your sales teams, innovation and creativity needs to be a massive part of your motivation strategy. Having regular check-ins and listening to your team’s suggestions on what motivates them is vital. The most important thing is to try and test various methods with your team to find out what works, whether it’s a pat on the back or something more tangible.
I believe that it goes without saying that if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business.
You might not think so, but budgeting is one of the most creative things that you can do. Closing your eyes and making a wish is the way we humans dream. Having a thought, making a plan and working the plan, makes our dreams or thoughts come true! Budgeting is putting that thought on paper and if you are sticking to that plan, your dreams will come true.
I want to give some tips from my personal experience and years being part of many companies and their budgets.
There is still today a lot of businesses and people that don’t understand the reason why they have to have a budget. I think it is because the definition for a budget, ”an estimate of income and expenditure for a specific period”, sounds so vague and uncertain.
But implementing a budget can change your whole cash flow issue and can be very rewarding, IF you are doing it correct and IF you are disciplined to stay focused on what you have decided.
Estimate your income
The first section of your budget is the income estimate.
Surely you must have something to work on, you can’t decide that I am going to do a budget with an income of R500 000.00 per month and you trust it will be there, no, you need to have previous sales history and projections to back a budget like that.
Whether you are working with actual stock or giving a service it is very important to make sure that what you using as a figure for your budget you can also verify.
A car salesman can’t have a budget of R500 000.00 income, if he has only stock of 20 vehicles and he knows his profit per sales is +/- R20 000.00 which will only give him a R400 000.00 income, IF he sells all of the vehicles.
A service person that is working per hour, can’t use an income of R200 000.00 and his rate per hours is R250.00 p hour. Even if he works 30 days in the month for 24hours a day he is not going to get to R200 000.00 income for the month. Your budget must have a reason why you say you will be able to get that income.
For example, you work 10 hours a day at a rate of R250.00 p/hour and you know that with all the work you have, you will only be able to rest for 4 days in this month.
- Days worked 26 days
- Hours worked 260 hours
- Total income for hours R65 000.00.
Your budget can’t be more than R65 0000.00 for the month except if you are going to get in another person to help and you can add more hours.
Rather make your income a little bit less, than committing yourself to expenses that is not going to happen at all. Then you tell your bookkeeper “I told you a budget won’t work”
If your budget income is projected on actuals like stock, hours, capacity, and history of sales and not a thumb suck or wish list, I can assure you, the budget will work.
Plan your expenses
The second part of your budget is your expenses and I am sure I don’t need to tell you that if you have in your budget an income of R200 000.00 you can’t have expenses of R300 000.00!
There are different expenses on our budgets.
Items like telephone bills, internet service, rent, salaries and wages, fuel, printing and stationery, insurance and this can differ from person to person.
These expenses are usually easy to budget for, because we have history and actual figures on which we can work our budgets. Keep in mind situations where those expenses might increase for example, now we use more data for Zoom calls than Fuel for driving due to Covid 19. Just take some time and think through your planning for the month and you will be able to see where there might be changes.
Yearly expenses are expenses like your Licences on vehicles and also programs that we are using.
Instead of going into a panic because you have to have R10 000.00 one month for an accounting license renewal, budget it over 12 months and putting aside R833.33 per month and you don’t need to worry one month!
Now I have touched a very important part of budgeting, and that is the saving part and discipline part. If you budget for a big expense or taxes or even a yearly fee, you need to keep that money in your bank every month as per budget. The budget won’t help you, if you have that amount of money budgeted every month, but you are using all the money every month because it is available in your bank and when you need to pay your yearly bill…. the budget did not work.
Budget and saving work hand to hand. If you are lucky to be in government you budget and they give you that amount of money that you budgeted for, for that month, but if you are in the private sector, you have to make sure that, the money you have budgeted for a certain expense on a certain time, will be available.
I find the best way to make sure you keep to your budget is open a separate savings or money market account. Do transfers for the amounts that you know, is not this month’s expense, to that separate account, you can also earn some interest on that amount, if you choose the right account and then you know the money is not lying in the current account that you use for daily expenses.
Your wish list
The last part of your budget is your wish list. I always keep a wish list apart from my budget to make sure that when good times are here and I made more profit than expected, that I spend it on the wish list items. These are items that you know you need to better your work or service but there is no money available now. For example, I have a printer, but would like to have one of those big printers that can scan and email lots of pages with a touch of a button.
Instead of wasting money on unnecessary stuff, keep to your wish list, and then you will eventually have everything you wished for.
As Abraham Lincoln said – “The best way to predict your future, is to create it”
The global pandemic has seen a dramatic increase in virtual sales, but there seems to be a continuous divide when it comes to developing sales strategies for the future. Can we return to the classic method of face-to-face direct sales as soon as circumstances allow, or joining the revolution of going full virtual. What should we plan for in the “new normal”?
This time last year, I was waking up at the crack of dawn to brace the Johannesburg morning rush to get to my first client meeting in Pretoria. Today, I am working virtually for an American company. My first Zoom meeting is at 3 p.m., which is 8 a.m. Central Time Zone in Tennessee. I have gone from meeting clients in person every day, to calling and emailing them. Building virtual relationships with the time difference has been quite an adjustment, but I am enjoying not having to sit in traffic for hours. As someone with experience on both sides, this is my take on the two strategies.
The way I distinguish virtual from direct sales would be, quality versus quantity.
Direct Sales – Quality
Direct sales would be the quality approach. The focus is on face-to-face interactions. The value of the relationship between business and client is heightened because of the personal bond created. The client’s trust is built on meetings where informal conversations can lead to a higher chance of client retention. Even if the number of clients reached is considerably lower, because of the time taken to build the relationship.
Virtual Sales – Quantity
Virtual sales would be the quantity approach due to the access to a larger spectrum of potential clients from various industries, and the ease of contact via electronic platforms i.e. email. It is a great way to determine which industries to target and eliminate the ones that do not bring in positive metrics or sales. However, maintaining good relationships with clients can be difficult because of not having the face-to-face factor, and managing a concentrated customer base can create a lower chance of client retention.
To further differentiate the two sales strategies, I will use the 4 A’s model: Acceptability, Accessibility, Affordability, Awareness, and the selling of sweaters as an example for each.
4 A’s Model
- Acceptability – Why should customers buy our sweaters? Are they priced according to the quality we are offering? This component can be used in the sales pitch to potential customers.
- Accessibility – Ensuring the store is stocked up with sweaters and positioned where customers can easily see and reach them.
- Affordability – Are our sweaters priced to attract our target markets? How are the sweaters priced against competitors at stores nearby?
- Awareness – Can customers see that we sell sweaters in our store? Are they visible on mannequins in the display window? Do we have a sign?
- Acceptability – Why should customers buy our sweaters? Are they priced according to the quality we are offering? This component can be used in the product title and description on the website.
- Accessibility – Having a website that is easy to navigate, and mobile phone optimised, so customers can effortlessly buy sweaters from any device.
- Affordability – Are our sweaters priced to attract the desired target markets? How are sweaters on competitors’ websites priced?
- Awareness – An email campaign, targeted at a group of potential customers to inform them about our brand of sweaters.
We can see from this, that the mechanisms of the 4 A’s in both approaches often coincide and have similarities.
Adapting to the current climate and adopting a sales process that not only protects your team, but also grows your business, is essential.
A combined approach of both sales strategies based on your company’s goals and objectives, would, in my view, be the most beneficial in these uncertain times.