Always Be Ready

It’s hurricane season and here especially in North Carolina, we have to be extra careful. I work for a company that is open 24/7 as we’re in the food/grocery business. People need to eat!

With that being said, Mother Nature can make it so that you cannot go about your normal routine. After the devastation from Hurricane Harvey in Texas, the southeast quadrant of the United States is now bracing for Hurricane Irma.

It’s an unsettling feeling knowing that you cannot escape something that is destined to happen. Think labor after nine months of pregnancy: whether you’ve gone through it or not you know there is pain to be expected. It’s also good that you can prepare for it as best as you possibly can. A pregnant mother can consult with a mid-wife or go to a hospital for care during this painful time in need.

We can think about this in the food industry regarding drivers, distribution centers, restaurants, operators of all of these locations. Although we know what is to be expected, we can better plan around the short falls of our geographic location.  In Eastern North Carolina, we’re preparing to work from home if Irma was to hit as this area is known for flooding with the close proximity of the Tar River.  I personally was displaced out of my home for about a week last year due to Hurricane Matthew.  I was not as prepared for that Category 1 storm as I thought.  Having a backup location to operate out of has help some of the suppliers at work during Hurricane Harvey.  From my Hurricane Matthew experience, I operated out of my in-laws as the roads were inaccessible.

Tempers will flare when it comes to food as it should as it is a sensitive subject where all are impacted.   That is why it is essential to remain calm and always be ready for the unexpectedly expected situations and be of aid to a co-worker.  At work we call each other teammates and once the coach (President) calls the play, we put all hands in to “break” the huddle and execute the plan.

Always be ready… to help someone in need.

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Don’t curve your curve balls, embrace them!

When it comes to an event, planning is crucial. No matter how much planning you do, especially in advance, you can bet something will always go wrong. It’s always good to have a backup plan however some issues are totally unexpected. Thinking on your feet is a major key! Mastering the art of problem-solving is critical when you’re experiencing a huge blunder.

Frustrated

Instead of complaining, be quick to find a solution.

  • The caterer cancelled at the last-minute? Have options that won’t need a long lead time to accommodate large groups such as Subway.
  • Your florist promised seasoned flowers that turned out to be in late bloom and can’t deliver as promised? Get alternative flowers or get fake flowers from Hobby Lobby or Michael’s….get real flowers from Walmart if you have no choice but make sure the florist gives you a hefty discount for your next event.
  • The venue double-booked but you already printed invites? Make sure you notify everyone on the invite list and that have RSVP’ed to understand any changes in venue or schedule.  Call them, email them, text them…make sure you communicate any and all changes to your guests!

Figure out how to solve the problem now and then find the best solution for the variable that caused the issue. Make sure you are made “whole” if someone unexpectedly changes or adjusts what was discussed and contracted out for the event.  Sometimes your solutions will not be glamorous but it will help you plan and prepare for future hiccups and continue on with your event.

Have your contracts ready!

The Plan-Ahead

About a year ago I wrote about one’s image and standing out. With the holiday season approach, a good way to maintain and further progress your image to your clients is to plan ahead. Expecting the unexpected is key.

As an account manager in the food distribution industry, it is imperative that our operators follow strict rules.  We don’t want to mess with the integrity of someone’s food.  Knowing that sales will go up, being extra stocked during key holidays is essential.  Some operators will shut down upwards of a week while others, like myself, work only taking the actual holiday off.

Not only do we have to deal with possible freight and transit-time changes, but we will have price changes, promotions and expedited orders to manage and see through to the product ends at its intended location.  It can be overwhelming during the holidays but there is no need to stress.  Why you may ask? To reduce stress, make a “plan-ahead” plan can:

  1. Help your customers know what to anticipate coming down the pipeline
  2. Help yourself stay on track and have a to-do list weeks in advance
  3. Tackle some tasks earlier than anticipated so your list gets smaller and smaller closer to your deadline

A “plan-ahead plan” can simply be sending a reminder email to your client about the anticipated changes that you’re aware of or a quick internal meeting to tackle the necessary steps to keep track of a promotional item.  Doing this can in turn bring other changes to the client’s attention that may need immediate action before your task can get completed, such as a new UPC number for a box of napkins or an invoice discrepancy with a distribution center.

Another example of a “plan-ahead” action would be to push up delivery dates to your distribution centers a week in advance so that the carriers could have more time to spend with their families during the holidays.  Informing the distribution centers ahead of time about this adjusted delivery schedule would mean that these centers would need to stock up to ensure no disruption in the supply chain.  It would also mean that the carriers would anticipate more loads to move the weeks leading up to the holidays.

Having your departments interdependent on each other really helps with the checks and balances.  We may have to delay a price change to recoup lost funds or research recurring issues that happen every year during the same time period.  This will keep everyone on task and help prioritize.

Do you have a “plan-ahead” plan without realizing?