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black friday logistics

The Impact of Black Friday on the Logistics Industry

Black Friday is, without doubt, the busiest day of the year for couriers, delivery drivers and retailers across the world, who are responsible for ensuring orders and deliveries run smoothly. This phenomenon has been a fixture in the UK retail calendar for the last six years with last year seeing over 60% of us take advantage of the hoards of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on offer, spending an average of £315 each! Consequently, these two days of intense shopping can be the most challenging for logistics companies due to the sheer number of orders that need to be processed and delivered as a result.

This year’s sales event will see around 30 million orders placed on Black Friday – 21 million of which will be delivered to customers’ homes – according to BearingPoint. This works out at around five times the normal daily volume, equating to an extra 210,000 van trips.

Despite not celebrating Thanksgiving, the UK has embraced this US shopping tradition in the last few years with Cyber Monday becoming one of the busiest online shopping days of the retail calendar, surpassing Black Friday. Consumers love the ability to compare prices, avoid crowds and get 24 hour access (sometimes longer) to the deals, ideal for those time-strapped shoppers. Last year, British shoppers spent over £7 billion during the Black Friday weekend and it’s predicted that 2019 will only get bigger.

Logistics companies need to be on top of potential issues they might come across during this holiday weekend. TNT surveyed UK businesses on their main concerns during these sales, finding that 27% were worried they didn’t have the right stock, 25% had concerns they were not be able to service their deliveries and 21% feared they wouldn’t have enough team members to handle the increased demand.

In the 2019 Logistics Report, it was reported that 15% of HGV driver vacancies are not being filled because of a skills shortage. With an ageing workforce and a lack of young entrants in the industry it’s no wonder that stats from the FTA report that only 1% of HGV drivers are under the age of 25, with the average age of a driver being about 53 years old. We talk about this more on our blog.

Troubles arise when planning for a period like this isn’t done in adequate depth. Companies need back up plans – and back up vehicles – in place for when the supply chain suffers delays that could potentially have disastrous knock-on effects for the rest of the weekend. To combat this, companies need to increase the size of their workforce to match the number of hands needed to manage the influx of orders. However, hiring staff can also put a strain on the supply chain as it is imperative that all new workers must be trained to do their job safely and efficiently, which takes a lot of planning and organisation.

Here at Drivers Direct, we specialise in the recruitment and placement of temporary and permanent drivers of all classes. Our team consists of Transport Professionals with decades of experience giving us the unique ability to supply many different types of vehicle; along with experienced, professional drivers, taken from our agency workforce. We also specialise in driver assessments and ongoing periodic training to meet the varying demands placed on organisations during the holiday season.

What do you think about Black Friday?  Let us know on Twitter.

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road emissions, cars in traffic

Road Emissions: Practicalities vs Ideologies

Following the well-documented UN climate action summit in New York last month, climate change and tackling environmental issues have never been heralded such high a profile. One of the issues Governments throughout the globe are looking to work on is reducing road emissions.

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HGV Drivers: the Beating Heart of the UK Economy

HGV Drivers: the Beating Heart of the UK Economy

 

Could you imagine life without next day delivery? Logistics and professional drivers are the beating heart of the UK economy. According to the FTA, over 90% of everything the public eat, drink, wear and build with travels on an HGV at some point in the supply chain.

 

Logistics operators and HGV drivers are the heroes that keep our shops full, even whilst the industry faces a driver shortage and skills gap.  With Brexit looming, this is expected to worsen as restrictions will be put in place, affecting international workers in the UK.

 

In the 2019 Logistics Report, it was reported that 15% of HGV driver vacancies are not being filled because of a skills shortage; which poses the question: how much longer can we keep the hero status? With an ageing workforce and a lack of young entrants in the industry, it is now so important to change young people’s perceptions of a career in logistics. Stats from the FTA report that only 1% of HGV drivers are under the age of 25, with the average age of a driver being about 53 years old. In fact, 47% of all drivers are over 50 years of age.

 

Think Logistics, a volunteer-led programme sponsored by the FTA, promotes careers in logistics within schools and colleges.  They engage with students through workshops and presentations to explain what logistics is – also addressing any misconceptions about the sector.  Many kids have negative perceptions of the sector and this can have an adverse effect on attracting young people to logistics. However, we know that if the industry worked together, we could have more success highlighting the opportunities this sector has to offer.

 

The FTA has suggested the Government should reform the Apprenticeship Levy and replace it with a Training Levy – opening more doors for vocational training and workers, as well as ensuring the upskilling of the UK’s workforce.  At Drivers Direct, we fully support and are actively encouraging more young people into the industry – we provide training and assessments for our own drivers on behalf of our clients, as well as in-house training for other nationwide companies.

 

In schools there can be a cultured expectation and pressure on pupils to attend university -with a heavy focus on the importance of a degree.  However, there is not enough appreciation for the vocational subjects and professional driving jobs that have a hand in the success of the UK’s supply chain.  We feel the Government needs to use its voice and platform to raise awareness of the logistics industry.

 

It is vital now more than ever to have clarity on Brexit, to help EU HGV drivers who are facing uncertainty with their job positions in the UK.  If we want to continue to be the heroes that keep our shops full, we need to get young people interested in the industry whilst they are still at school and show them the career paths available to them aside from university.  We need to see a change in the statistics, so that we are no longer a part of an ageing workforce.

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Patience: The Greatest Value On The Road

Patience: The Greatest Value on the Road

There’s no doubt that the pressure of modern society leaves many of us feeling stressed and irritated on the road every now and then. Our internal training schemeprovides extensive health and safety knowledge for our professional drivers, including ensuring that they are patient, diligent, and respectful on the road.

 

Research from TyreShopper has indicated that aggressive driving is the biggest cause of traffic fatalities in the UK, patience really is the greatest value on the road.  In tense situations on the road, we advise drivers to take deep breaths, turn down music or to stop their vehicle at the next safe location. In our training scheme, we convey the message that all of our journeys on the road are of equal importance and that each vehicle simply wants to reach the destination as safely as possible.

 

In our March blog,we discussed how HGV drivers often come under fire in the media. In reality, the majority of people believe that HGVs are an integral part of the UK supply chain. 92% of 2,095 adults in a 2017 Volvo Trucks survey acknowledged the critical role HGVs play in the smooth-running of the UK’s supply chain. To combat negative perceptions for HGV drivers, we always suggestthat our professional drivers are given time to beable to plan their routes beforehand which also givesthem time before carrying out their driving duties.

 

Patience from fellow motorists is just as important too. Not only are HGV vehicles difficult to manoeuvre, but they also take considerably longer to brake than cars and many of the vehicles are capped at a 56 mile-an-hour speed limit.

 

The warm summer weather and the commencement of the school summer holidays will lead to heavy traffic at times, which means patience from all roads users is more important than ever. Whether it’s keeping distance from the vehicle in front, being extra vigilant to adhere to both permanent and temporary roads signs, or ensuring those in the driver’s seat are well hydrated in warm weather, a calm and patient approach will ensure the safety of all drivers, professional or otherwise, which will in turn support productivity in the supply chain.

 

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Drivers Direct Logistics

Professional Driving Careers: Changing Young People’s Perceptions

 

It’s no secret that the logistics industry has become increasingly concerned over the issue of a drivers shortage in the UK.  With an ageing workforce, a dependence on EU workers and a lack of new entrants, it’s created a cause for concern – with logistics the beating heart of the country, it’s incredibly important to change young people’s perceptions of working as a professional driver.  Changing attitudes towards a career in logistics will fill the skills gap and alleviate the pressures on the sector and current workers.

 

The Freight Transport Association(FTA) is in its third year of sponsorship of Think Logistics, a volunteer-led programme that promotes careers in logistics within schools and colleges.  It engages with students through workshops and presentations to explain what logistics is all about – whilst also clearing up any misconceptions about the sector.

 

It’s a great step in the right direction for leaders in the industry to use their connections to trigger change.  In 2016 and 2017, the FTA exhibited at the Skills Show in Birmingham, an event which is visited by over 80,000 students, teachers and parents.  Through their work with organisations like Think Logistics, the FTA has been able to connect with young people and circulate materials that paint a picture of the industry – using case studies and bespoke career brochures.  With poor sector image being one of the reasons for bypassing a logistics career, it’s really important to highlight all of the opportunities across the sector, as well as within HGV driving.

 

A professional driving career is rewarding with the opportunity to plan your hours to suit your lifestyle – of course as long as delivery targets are met and the DVSA guidelines are met.  It’s guaranteed that you’ll meet new people every day, certainly a far cry from the misconception that it’s a lonely career.  HGV driving also gives you the opportunity to travel up and down the country and see new places and you’ll still have consistent contact with other employees at your base.

 

In its campaign for changing young people’s perceptions, the FTA are suggesting the Government should reform the Apprenticeship Levy to replace with a Training Levy – opening more doors for vocational training and workers, as well as ensuring the upskilling of the UK’s workforce. There’s also been encouragement for the Government to allow businesses to have a freer rein over what skills they require from apprenticeships, which in turn will support internal training.  As part of its campaign, the FTA have also called for the Government to use its voice to raise awareness of the logistics industry for job prospects to further support the efforts of industry leaders.

 

At Drivers Direct, we fully support this move to encourage more young people into the industry.  We provide trainingand assessments for our own drivers on behalf of our clients as well as in-house training for prestigious transport companies nationwide.  If you know a young person considering a career in logistics, be sure to point them in the direction of Think Logistics’ website, which has a breakdown of the various positions within transport.  To our fellow friends in the industry, if we all continue to work together and raise the profile of a career in logistics, we can make a difference.

 

 

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Professional Drivers & Cyclists: Keeping a Harmonious Relationship

Professional Drivers & Cyclists: Keeping a Harmonious Relationship

It’s no secret that there’s an ongoing issue with the relationship between two-wheeled and four-wheeled road users.  The likelihood of this partnership showing any developments remains to be seen.  However, the main topic that cyclists and vehicle owners (especially professional drivers) can agree on, is the issue of road safety.  If cyclists and HGV drivers could sing from the same hymn sheet, this would be a step closer to keeping a harmonious relationship.  In order for this to work, it’s important for cyclists and professional drivers to stay vigilant and aware of who they’re sharing the road with.  We’ve put together some of the most important safety measures for both cyclists and vehicle users.

 

For a cyclist, a high level of concentration is needed on the road, not only is it important to look out for your surroundings but you need to make sure that you’re being seen too.  When it comes to anticipating a driver’s turning intentions, never second guess in the event that an indicator isn’t used – a prime situation for a collision.  On the subject of indicating, know your own signalling for the road is vital – from the right or left turn to showing that you’re slowing down with one arm slightly extended to the side with the palm facing down and raising your hand up and down at wrist height.  To signal that you’re stopping, use one arm extended vertically upwards with the palm facing forward.  To help you further communicate on the road, it’s absolutely vital to have and use a bell.  Whether you’re a serious cyclist or you use your bike casually from time to time, make sure to maintain your bike and have it looked over by a professional at least once a year.

 

For professional drivers and other motorists, it’s imperative to check your blind spots before pulling away from a fixed position.  Waiting to check all mirrors and your blind spot could be the difference between noticing a cyclist and a potential accident.  For HGVs, the driver is of course sitting higher up than a standard vehicle and, with this in mind, the blind spots are even more important to take note of.  Much like the cyclists, signalling your direction is vital – and the earlier the better to make other people aware to reduce any risks.

 

In an ideal world, if all roads users could accept that everyone has equal right to use our roads, this would make a considerable difference to the relationship between professional drivers and cyclists.

 

Do you have any thoughts on what we’ve discussed in our blog or any ideas on bridging the gap between different types of road users?  Tweet us: @DriversDirect!

 

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Drivers Direct MD Meets With Chris Grayling

Drivers Direct MD Meets With Chris Grayling

Our MD Gethin Roberts recently met with Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State Transport.  As a respected spokesperson within the industry, Gethin raised a number of subjects with Mr. Grayling to gain further knowledge on what is being done to support drivers, UK roads and the logistics sector as a whole.  The behind the scenes aspect of goods and products are often overlook, but professional drivers and our industry is the beating heart of the country.  This is why it’s so important to ensure the smooth-running of commercial road operations, whether it’s to do with road conditions, connectivity or opportunities for future drivers and the driver shortage.

 

Firstly, they discussed better ways that logistics companies could spend their apprenticeship levy in order to support the retention of drivers and assist with the driver shortage that is still very much a primary issue within the industry.  Gethin emphasised that a reduction in classroom-based training would be conducive for both companies and individuals who are looking to become professional drivers.  In place of this, more attention could be put on Licence Acquisition as it makes more sense for trainee HGV drivers to acquire more experience from inside a cab as opposed to inside a classroom.  Learning theory, is of course, important but putting it into practice straight away could add a stronger element of preparation for hauliers.

 

Roadworks on motorways were briefly touched on with Gethin enquiring about restrictions on the length and number of roadworks on any one motorway at any given time.  This was a point that Chris Grayling certainly agreed with, whilst being understanding that existing works would need to continue as planned.

 

As Gethin met with Chris at Crewe Train Station, they also discussed creating a dual carriageway between Crewe and Nantwich.  The A500 could be dualled from the M6 – J16 through to the first Crewe roundabout – creating better traffic flow.

 

The advantages of building a strong road infrastructure across the UK, East to West, are also recognised by Chris and his department and Gethin was informed that they are currently exploring a number of options to support this.

We hope to see some positive changes to UK roads and more importantly, a decrease in the current driver shortage.

 

Do you have any thoughts on the areas that Gethin covered with Chris Grayling?  Tweet us at @DriversDirect.

 

 

 

 

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Media and Reality: Why is there such a discrepancy for HGVs?

Media and Reality: Why is there such a discrepancy for HGVs?

HGVs are covered a lot in the media but it’s no secret that the headlines are usually associated with bad news.  In these cases, it’s extremely unfortunate that a sweeping opinion is made of people that are simply doing their job.

Without the HGV drivers who work their hardest to deliver what we pick up in the supermarket or online shopping purchases with the added convenience of one-day delivery, our lives would be very different.  Even during the holiday season in December when the industry is up against a driver shortage, those drivers inside their cabs still work their hardest to deliver.

The media covers a multitude of HGV accidents and the blame is usually on the HGV driver (rightly or wrongly).  Perhaps with trucks being the bigger vehicle, this is where the blame originates, even in situations where the cause hasn’t been found yet.  In an article written by Transport Topics, just last year, it was reported that 80% of car-truck crashes are caused by car drivers however, truck drivers are still blamed.

In the media, it’s a familiar concept for stories to be written purely to stir up outcry.  There is plenty of discussion over how damaging this can be for a number of industries, as well as individuals.  With road accidents, often comes a “he said, she said” situation with eye witnesses describing differing accounts for what happened.  This is why more and more fleet managers are having vehicle cameras in trucks to use as evidence, if ever needed.  In-cab recordings are also becoming more and more popular, as they show clearly what a driver is doing at the time of an accident – making it easy to see they’re blameless and were fully concentrating.

Interestingly, in 2017 Volvo Trucks carried out a survey with the public to gauge attitudes towards lorries.  Out of the 2,095 adults quizzed, 92% said they recognised the role that HGVs play in the smooth-running of everyday life.  96% also said they understood that an HGV driver possesses significant skills and training.  Professionals drivers and their lorries are the beating heart of British trade, supporting the economy as they transport goods up and down the country.

From the perspective of other road users such as cyclists, there’s been a call for lorries in urban areas to be reduced and that goods should be transferred to smaller vehicles, when delivering in towns and city centres.  A valid idea but with this comes many more factors to take into account, for example the extra time and money needed to orchestrate it.

With the current driver shortage that the industry is facing, which is only to be exacerbated with Brexit pending, it’s important to realise just how much the country depends on HGVs.  Instead of reprimanding professional drivers as a whole, bad driving should be called out – consumer, mainstream media attention does not focus on the majority of excellent professional drivers on the road and the necessity to British trade and economy.  The mainstream media should balance out their reporting to make sure their readers can form a fair and balanced view of professional drivers.  If consumers only see multiple stories about bad driving, their feelings will be unfairly skewed.

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Drivers Direct Office Opens in Bury St Edmunds Office

Drivers Direct Office Opens in Bury St Edmunds Office

We are thrilled to announce that we have opened a new Drivers Direct franchise in Bury St Edmunds on Angel Hill – the latest addition to our network of branches across the country as we look to expand to keep up with the growing demand from our clients.

 

On 4th February, local photographer Andy Abbott came along to document the launch and take photos of Drivers Direct MD Gethin Roberts and the Bury St Edmunds team, including Franchise Directors John and Bev Major, as well as Recruitment Consultant, Lewis Abel.

 

 

Our new office will offer more jobs in both the professional driving and recruitment industries to East Anglia.  We’ve appointed John & Bev Major as directors, following their success heading the Northampton office.  We’re looking forward to building a strong client base in the region and we’ve already had an encouragingly high volume of temporary HGV drivers pre-register.

 

With plenty of narrative surrounding driver shortages in the UK circulating in the media over the last couple of years, we feel it’s a step in the right direction for the sector to be opening another branch and creating more opportunities in the industry.

 

Gethin Roberts comments: “We’re delighted to be opening our third franchise in Bury St Edmunds and to be bringing new jobs to another region of the country.  The office will be managed by a strong team who have a wealth of experience, ensuring our customers will receive top quality service.”

 

John Major, Director of the new office adds: “After the great success we’ve had in Northampton, we’re looking forward to building another successful Drivers Direct franchise and establishing ourselves as key recruiters in Bury St Edmunds.”

 

If you’d like to register for any upcoming jobs, give our team of friendly professionals a call on 01284 763476 to see what we have available.

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Drivers Direct: Christmas Traditions

Drivers Direct: Christmas Traditions

Christmas is just around the corner and we can’t believe how quickly the year has gone – it feels like just yesterday that we shared our year in review blog last December.

 

We’ve had an excellent year here at Drivers Direct, from being finalists in a number of business awards to having another successful annual charity ball.  The ball was the perfect opportunity to raise money £2500 for the NSPCC and we’re looking forward to presenting them with their donation at the beginning of 2019.

 

As our last blog post of 2018, we thought we’d take the opportunity to acknowledge someone else that works just as hard as Father Christmas at this time of year!  Our MD Gethin Roberts has made it a Christmas tradition to visit all 21 of our branches to personally deliver presents, including bottles of fizz and chocolates.

 

 

Gethin spends 2 weeks on the run up to Christmas, travelling from branch to branch to visit all of the teams.  He feels it is important for all the Drivers Direct employees to be able to put a name to a face, giving the business a personal feel which might not necessarily be given in a company as large as Drivers Direct.  As Managing Director, Gethin puts a lot of effort into boosting morale and creating the feeling of truly being a part of a team for all employees.

Drivers Direct: Christmas Traditions

 

We give a lot of credence to our mission statement: ‘By offering the experience, quality awareness and support of a big company with the flexibility, innovation and personal touch of a small company we will supply all our clients with the best of both worlds’

 

Our mission statement is also applicable to our employees, as we strive to give them plenty of opportunity within their career and the support of a big company, whilst also offering the personal touch of a small company.  This is something that Gethin upholds as he travels up and down the country every Christmas time without fail.  For Drivers Direct it’s all about making our employees feel valued and appreciated and what better time to do that than at Christmas?

 

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all from Drivers Direct.

 

 

 

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