Facing Headwinds in 2022, There Are Steps Businesses Should Take
Inflation, COVID variants, supply chain bottlenecks…everywhere you look, challenges to business growth keep expanding. It seems as though every day, another report comes out that forces organizations to review and revise forecasts, goals, and planning. Last week, an article in Transport Topics detailed the diminished prospects economies (and thereby businesses) are facing, according to the World Bank.
“In its Global Economic Prospects report out Jan. 11, the World Bank projects that the U.S. economy will grow 3.7% this year, down from 5.6% in 2021. It expects China, the world’s second-biggest economy, to see growth decelerate to 5.1% in 2022 from 8% last year.” And things are equally bad for Europe and Japan.
What created this mess was a tsunami of events, all happening simultaneously. Take COVID…when the vaccines were first available, it seemed as though the worst was behind us. People came out of seclusion, businesses started booming, restaurants were full, and people began travelling. But this move to normalcy happened so quickly that businesses were not prepared, especially with an already strained supply chain. Factories that produced needed items couldn’t power up fast enough to meet demand. The ports were understaffed so containers couldn’t be off-loaded, and the truck driver shortage, which is always a problem, became even more so. And, as the law of supply and demand has always shown, during situations like this, prices predictably rise.
Then…along came COVID variants that once again depressed demand. This see-sawing is a challenge very few could have predicted. But we are where we are…so what our businesses to do?
My recent IdeaXchange blog addressed what businesses need to do to find success in 2022.
- Be proactive, not reactive – Be aware of changes in the industry and the economy but don’t put your business in a situation where you simply react to those changes. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the need to prepare for everything.
- Review your vision and mission statements – This may be a time to reconsider what your goals are; that they are realistic and achievable.
- Ensure you have the necessary resources – Will employee shortages impact how you conduct business? You may need to review your hiring practices and update job descriptions.
- Take a hard look at operational practices throughout the organization – Identify inefficiencies and/or bottlenecks and resolve them quickly. Businesses need to be more focused on doing more with less – and doing it accurately – than they have in the past.
- Make technology decisions that are right for your business – Don’t just chase after the next shiny tech object if it’s not going to further your businesses needs and goals. Whatever technology you do invest in, make sure you have the expertise on-site to optimize it (the old garbage in-garbage out still holds true).
- Don’t lose the personal touch – The pandemic may have limited in-person meetings; however, customers still want to feel important and acknowledged. A Zoom call is a great way of connecting if you can’t be there in person.
Trucking needs to take additional steps
The suggestions above are applicable to any business in any industry, including trucking, but fleets face some unique issues that make a difficult situation even worse. NationaLease’s President, Dean Vicha, addressed these challenges in a blog late last year.
- Assess all personnel shortages – As noted above, you need to have the right people and the right number of people in place to achieve your goals. For fleets that have always dealt with driver and technician shortages, it’s now time to evaluate your entire workforce, regardless of the function.
- Make maintenance a top priority – With backlogs of bookings for new trucks exceeding a full year, keeping every vehicle in your fleet in top condition and road-ready has to be top of mind for fleet managers and owners. And it’s not just the trucks themselves.
- Consider working with a third party to ensure truck allocations for the future – Ensuring you are first in line when trucks become available is not going to be an easy task. This is when it may be time to consider working though a full service leasing organization like NationaLease. We will use the aggregated buying power of 130 member businesses and 1,000 locations to secure as many allocations for 2023 truck production as possible. Plus, we are able to get better pricing and parts allocation than most private fleets.
What’s clear is that, at least for now, 2022 is proving almost as challenging as 2021. We can hope that everything starts to ease up later in the year, but always be prepared for anything.
About Jane Clark
Jane Clark is Vice President of Member Services for NationaLease. Before joining the full service truck leasing organization, she served in executive positions with some of the nation’s top staffing and recruitment agencies.