Is It Scary to Do Logistics Remotely?

Is It Scary to Do Logistics Remotely?

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.

 

Going global

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.

 

Reverse logistics

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.

How to get the most out of hosting online meetings

How to get the most out of hosting online meetings

You might think that online business meetings cannot possibly be as effective as in-person meetings.

Think again!

During this pandemic we have no choice but to meet online.   While a virtual meeting cannot replace personal contact, there are many ways to manage virtual meetings to get better outcomes than you would by sitting around a table.

Have shorter meetings

If your virtual meetings aren’t shorter, they should be.

‘Zoom fatigue’ has entered the lexicon – online meetings are more tiring than in-person.   The most obvious reason is that staring at your mirror image makes one self-conscious.   It takes real strength of mind not to worry about your appearance.   You also cannot shift on your chair without wobbling on video. Extroverts feel that they do not get a chance to interact with their colleagues and introverts don’t enjoy being on camera.

These are a few in-depth articles you could read for more information:

Zoom fatigue is real — here’s why video calls are so draining

‘Zoom fatigue’ is taxing the brain. Here’s why that happens.

Here’s Why You’re Feeling Zoom Fatigue

 

Get great participation

Let’s face it, getting participation during a any meeting can be a challenge – but technology we have at our disposal makes it possible to energize and involve people.  It does mean that the host needs to do more preparation than walking into a room and starting a meeting with an icebreaker, but this can be a good thing to give structure to your meeting.

Here are some of the do’s:

  • Enabling the waiting room and be online five minutes before the meeting starts to allow some socializing among colleagues.
  • Plan an activity to energize participants, particularly during those unavoidable long meetings. Here’s an article which will give your thinking a kickstart:

https://www.sessionlab.com/blog/online-energizers/

  • I nclude opportunities for interaction on the agenda.
  • Collect input with polls and surveys.
  • Your Q & A sessions are livelier and more productive with live chat enabled – more people ask more questions. You have a written record to help you collate topics and give comprehensive answers.   This also means that you can address any unanswered questions later.

 

Take control

You can control participation and eliminate most disruption by setting your preferences for each meeting.

  • If you want everyone’s full attention – disable private chats.
  • To encourage discussion – enable chats.
  • Use opinion polls and surveys to dynamically involve your audience.
  • Control who attends with unique passwords.
  • Prevent disruption in your meeting preferences – you control whether participants can mute their microphone and/or video.
  • And you can avoid those potentially embarrassing moments which go viral on social media too! Simply take what precautions you can to avoid disruption at home and remember that you are on video.

 

Bring in the experts

Do you need a consultant to give a quick insight?  No problem – give them a time slot and they can join online for as long as their time allows.   You will find that it’s much easier and cheaper to have outside experts speak at your events when they don’t need to travel at all.

 

Find the right service for you

The tech giants and the newbies are racing to bring more and better features to market.    Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Zoom Meetings are the biggest names in the news at the moment, but more and more options are available almost every day.

If you are shopping for the best platform for your business, visit technology comparison sites such as G2CrowdPCMag Business Software Index or Capterra  to compare features, benefits and pricing.

These are some features to consider:

  • Which face to face view do you prefer?
  • Do the analytics provide all the information you need?
  • How secure is the software?
  • Does it integrate with all the collaboration tools and software you are already using, or offer new aspects you will benefit from?

Use collaboration tools

You might be content with the collaboration tools built into your software but need additional features.  No problem – you will find technology which integrates with systems you are already using.   Some of the features which I find most useful are:

  • Screen sharing.
  • Whiteboards and parking lots.
  • Live chat (group or private). Chat is your opportunity to increase collaboration and keep everyone on the same page.  Some of the actions you can take are:
    • Link your agenda in chat.
    • Link shared documents.
    • Answer questions as you go, or park them on a whiteboard.
    • Solicit and expand on ideas.

 

Record keeping made simple

Record your meeting with a mouse click and save it to the cloud where you can access it later.    Depending on the software you use, you can even get a transcription within minutes.

 

Analyse and monitor your progress

Use the analytics provided by your software for ongoing improvement.  Find out which topics are popular, view and save poll results and create infographics.

 

Make the paradigm shift

In conclusion, although we have no choice other than meeting online during a pandemic, we can choose to make the most of the options we do have. Whether you are new to video conferencing or an old hand, technology changes provide ongoing opportunities for improvement.

Embrace the benefits, be more effective, and enjoy your meetings!

 

Image by Lynette Coulston from Pixabay

How Effective Is Email Marketing In 2020?

How Effective Is Email Marketing In 2020?

In modern times, it seems like social media is taking over and becoming one of the most popular and most used forms of marketing.  But in fact, email marketing is up to 40 times more effective than social media. Social media gets filtered, which causes content to not reach all social media users.  The buying process is also said to happen 3 times faster with email marketing.

“Just look at sites like Amazon, one way they continually get you to buy more products from them is by emailing you offers on a regular basis.”

Neil Patel – Co-Founder of KISSmetrics

Does email marketing still work?

Yes it definitely still works.  Email marketing still remains a very effective marketing method to use, for attracting and keeping customers.  Based on surveys conducted, it is noticeable that 91% of internet users access their email account at least once a day.  Most people would also rather receive business information via email.

Email marketing should definitely be considered as a tool to be used by businesses in their digital marketing strategy.  The content you use needs to be relevant.  Your company can get more sales and even more customers through using this marketing method.  Rather focus on quality over quantity

Email marketing allows you to perform A/B tests, it enables you to target your audience and  communicate with a more personalized approach.  By sending an email weekly or monthly, you can increase company awareness and attract more attention.

 

So how would you do this?

By allowing users to interact without having to leave the email.  You can accomplish this by using interactive content, questionnaires, games, quizzes etc.  It will allow the users to be more engaged with your brand.

You can make the process of buying even faster, which will boost sales as well.  Achieve this by giving your client the ability to make a purchase within the email.

There are excellent email marketing tools available that can be used to help and guide you to creating successful campaigns.

Find yourself an emailing software that uses tools in email campaigns, such as:

  • Reporting
  • Mailing list management
  • Analytic tools
  • Auto responders

Your subject line must grab the readers’ attention.  If you can catch their attention that way, they are more likely to open your email.

Go through your own emails, look at the email subjects that you opened and the ones that you did not open.  Why did those attract enough attention for you to open them?  Adding numbers to the subject line, “5 Ways to boost your sales”, “How to increase your reach by 400%”.

 

You need to plan your email marketing carefully

Because of the fact, that promotional emails are seen in the same light as spam, it would be beneficial if you personalize your email campaigns more.  Making your email interesting is important as well.  This will help you to catch the reader’s attention.

 

Ideas to use in your email:

  • Use interactive navigation bars
  • Polls inside an email
  • Rotating carousel of product photos
  • Enable customers to place their order via an email
  • News feed
  • Use emails as a feedback mechanism

It is important to reduce the number of emails you send. To avoid your email address being listed as spam, try not to bombard your audience with too many emails.

 

What lies in the future for email marketing?

It has been estimated that by the year 2023, there will be around 4.3 billion global email users, according to Statista and it is forecasted to grow at 19.60% from 2017 to 2025.

Email programs will become more and more personalized and more interactive.  With today’s technology it is possible for a business owner, to setup a questionnaire in minutes and to send it out via email marketing.

As we see a growth in the use of smartphones, we see an increase in email usage as well.  It has become so easy to quickly access your email account while on the go, in your lunch break, while cooking dinner, while standing in a queue.  You do not wait to be behind your computer to have access to your emails anymore.  And as user experience becomes better and better, consumers are more likely to use their mobile phones rather than using a computer.

 

So, are successful email campaigns still possible?

Yes definitely!  89% of marketers consider their email marketing successful.  Use some killer content, throw in some personalization, and you can easily create a really successful email campaign.

 

Take Your Video Editing Skills to The Next Level with These 8 Simple Steps

Take Your Video Editing Skills to The Next Level with These 8 Simple Steps

Picture this … you click on a link that leads you to a video and … SILENCE for the first 10 minutes, even though you can see stuff is happening, or even worse … sound, but it is accompanied by a BIG BLANK SCREEN. That is what happens when video editing is not your forte.

So, how to remedy this and stop this scenario from ever happening to you and your videos?

In this article I explore some of the steps you can take to make sure your video editing is smooth and seamless and does not create any anxiety while doing it.

 

Why do I even need videos?

Before we get into how to edit videos like a pro, let me touch on why videos are so beneficial to a business and why, once you can edit videos for your clients (and yourself) you may find a whole lot more engagement and traffic taking place on social media platforms and even on websites.

People love to watch movies. They love to watch things and hear things, a lot more than just reading a whole lot of words. Videos bring a new dimension to things. Sometimes they give a more personal touch and then there are people in the world that learn better when they watch things getting done and can follow the instructions step for step.

Now let us take a look at how you can take your video editing skills to the next level.

 

Next level video editing tools

 

  1. Choose the right software – you want to make sure you get the right software installed on your device according to what you want to do with your video, the type of effects that are needed and also your overall ability to use editing software (but let’s face it, anything you do not know you can find on YouTube). Here are a list of some of the top ones used by professionals:

You can read more about each software by following the link. They all generally do the same thing, but some have added benefits and some software applications, such as iMovie, can be used on Windows and Mac computers, as well as iPads and iPhones.

  1. Speed is key – This does not pertain to your speed personally but more to the speed of your device. A fast, well equipped PC is key in making your video editing smooth and seamless. The reason for this is because the software you will be using can use up a lot of the computers resources and if you have a sluggish PC with outdated parts, operating system and drivers, you are probably going to run into some difficulty. Take a look here to find out some specs that may serve you well when getting your PC in order to start with video editing.
  2. Organisation Skills – To make sure your video editing goes to plan and you get the end result which is a professional looking video, you need to have some level of organization. You need to work systematically because otherwise things will not sync well and you will end up losing audio or video or have video cuts in places that they are not meant to be. So, before you start, set up a system that works for you … and stick to it.
  3. Use keyboard shortcuts – Keep in mind that most editing programs allow you to use keyboard shortcuts to perform a range of in-app editing functions which can cut down time spent considerably.
  4. True Colours – Colour correcting your video clips can make a huge impact. Colours, highlighting, low lighting, fading, those sorts of things can evoke certain emotions. You may want to show something that was happy in the video becoming a little more dark and sad – a good way to depict this and create an effect is to change the colour tone of the video. Most video editing software applications have this already built in for you to use.
  5. Music to your ears – Another tip to take into consideration is the music used, make it relevant to the actual content. It does not make sense to have a happy upbeat song playing but what is happening in the video is sad and morbid.
  6. Use Some Words – Text is also something to look into because sometimes people do not want to listen to a video (perhaps they are in a place where they cannot use the sound) and they can then follow what is happening in the video by reading captions. Large flashes of text on the screen can also evoke emotions and make someone want to watch further. Another idea is to use text to start the video, almost giving people an introduction to what they are about to watch and give an idea of what the video is going to be about.
  7. Last but not least – Make sure that your video can be used on various platforms and various devices – or at least can be converted and edited for such purposes.

 

Conclusion

So now you are in the know of how you can take your video editing skills to the next level. Once you are ready to get started, play around with the software you decide on. Make videos of anything and everything and … drum roll please … watch lots of YouTube tutorials!  To get you started here are some links:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaO0D66xeYY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5jwVM0vX7c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJPwXJYvvys

 

Photo by Matilda Wormwood from Pexels

Travel: What will be the new normal?

Travel: What will be the new normal?

With the pandemic that has turned 2020 upside down, will everything return to normal in a few months or a years’ time? Or will we have to adapt to a different kind of normal? There is no doubt that the tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit with hotels and airlines having to shut down temporarily, and in some cases, staff being retrenched or companies closing. As restrictions start to ease, will travel industry require a complete makeover to survive and once again thrive?

 

Business Travel

Business travel hasn’t been possible over the last few months with many airlines halting operations, as well as hotels closing their doors. Business has therefore had to be done either via email or Zoom/Skype calls. Have companies realised that this is an easier way of doing business? Is human interaction always necessary? Companies will certainly cut back on the business travel if it isn’t necessary, thus the market for this form of travel may decline.

Remote work is, at very least, likely to form a key part of our new normal. While start-ups and youthful companies have been taking advantages of its cost saving and efficiency for a few years, mainstream business has now, through necessity, also seen that it can work and offers distinct advantages.

 

Group Travel

Travel in large groups is likely to be severely affected due to the risk of transmitting the virus to other travellers. This is likely to have a sustained effect, as the world collectively tries to stem cross border carrying of Covid.

With smaller groups comes more administration per person. Meaning a wider team of support staff that are wearing many hats on a day-to-day basis will be required for smooth running of group operations that typically rely on larger, one size fits all packages and operations in order to work efficiently and offer value for money.

 

Hotels, Airlines and Tour Operators

Hotels, airlines and tour operators have almost all had to shut their doors over the last few months. Many employees have lost their jobs with companies not having any form of income. Not knowing when the light will appear at the end of the tunnel, many companies are trying to find new ways to attract clients and even outsource their work force. Hotel and airline call centre staff could potentially work from home given that they don’t have to be face to face with the consumer. Small tour operators are looking at employing virtual assistants to do their back office/admin, or even take calls from new/potential clients.

Employing or growing a full-time workforce will be a huge risk for many a business right now, meaning outsourced, dynamic and contract-based teams will become the standard.

 

Virtual Travel Experiences

So, what will the new normal be?

Will there be a virtual assistant sitting in a small village in South Africa, taking calls on behalf of her client in Florida for bookings on a boat charter? That is already happening.

Will luxury lodges be offering virtual safaris to armchair explorers from the comfort of their own homes? Yep, this too is already happening.

Or will we still crave the immersive, cultural and human interactions that force us to get out there and explore again? This too will definitely happen – it is human nature. But when it does, businesses will need to rethink how they run and grow their businesses.

Agility, a scalable workforce, and being able to roll with the punches will be key. At VA Connect we are able to help you do just that by offering a wide array of skills, expertise and experience through our dynamic team of virtual assistants.