Spotlight on Event Planning
Delivering 190 million parcels a year is a team effort; from clients providing accurate weekly forecasts to our local depots scheduling the number of routes, drivers & colleagues needed ‘under the roof’.
For several days each year, we see an increase in the number of flowers in particular coming through our network as customers celebrate Valentine’s & Mothers’ Day. 2022 saw just shy of 600,000 bunches of flowers delivered to loved ones over a 72-hour period covering these two sentimental days. Lara Piggott, Head of Business Control & Planning talks about how her team plan for such days.
"We start planning about 6 weeks before the actual event, which for Valentine’s Day means the first week in January. Depending on the week Mother’s Day falls on, we may need to run both events in parallel but 2022 worked out perfectly with approximately 6 weeks difference between the two extremely busy days.”
“We start off with a wider project team including colleagues, not just from the Events team, but from Commercial, Finance, Customer Experience & of course Operations. Through meeting once a week, decisions are made that impact BAU & Events activity. With Valentine’s Day falling on a Monday this year, we had to ensure we balanced the delivery of flowers with the high number of fresh food, recipe boxes we deliver to customers on a Monday."
"With Commercial on board from the very beginning, we could work collaboratively with clients – particularly our flower clients- to gain a better understanding of what their requirements will be and balance that into our planning.” “Once the project team are happy with the overall plan, we will start to include our local depot managers about three weeks before the actual day when they are taken through the plan of action to ensure the whole country is aligned.”
Since 2014, Lara has been instrumental in ensuring these key dates are a success and was promoted to Head of Planning in 2020. With 20 years’ experience in parcel delivery, Lara says she “relies heavily on previous experience & her own intuition when it comes to planning but that data analytics are invaluable to predict volumes, patterns, trailer fill & schedules. Each year provides additional learnings that we can take into the following year. Last year we were extremely aware of how other clients could potentially be impacted with such a keen focus on flower deliveries, so it was important to us this year to ensure all clients trailer requests were protected – ultimately improving our customer experience for all.”
“Our communications need to be very strong & this is why we’re so successful in this space – everyone is completely focused on the task in hand. Myself and the team are so lucky that we are involved with most departments within the business; Marketing to support with comms, Customer Experience in providing their award-winning care, IT in ensuring our backend systems are robust; everyone plays a vital part in the delivery of these events.”
“Reflecting over previous years, our forecasts for 2021 saw a significant increase on previous years’ volumes as the country remained in lockdown for both Valentine’s & Mothers’ Day. From the outset this may have been daunting however we were already scaled up as a business to cope with the additional volumes that we had seen since March 2020. This coupled with fewer cars on the road, cheaper fuel prices and a wider pool of potential colleagues available as furlough remained meant we were in a fantastic place to tackle an increase of 77% on Valentine’s Day and 45% over the Mother’s Day weekend compared to 2020."
“2022 presented us with different challenges; although volumes had dropped compared to 2021, we still saw 185,000 flowers come through our network on Valentine’s Day. Our network had to contend with the above supporting factors no longer being in place. I’m extremely proud of everyone who enabled us to hit our ambitious 2022 KPIs, including achieving a 99.3% attempt on time metric.”
“Before the pandemic our London Central depot would have seen the highest number of flower deliveries for Valentine’s Day as people embraced delivering romance to the office, however this trend has now changed due to people shifting to working from home. Waltham Cross depot took this accolade in 2022. We saw a different story for Mother’s Day where Southampton was our busiest depot, with a slightly different demographic living within the two depots’ catchment areas”.
“Mother’s Day this year presented us with an unusual challenge; the clocks going forward. We instantly lost one hour of sorting overnight & all of our reporting needed adjusting to ensure we were accurately measuring our success. Through working with our clients and implementing earlier collections, we were able to give our operational colleagues the hour back. We even sent reminders out to colleagues about the hour change to ensure everyone was on site on time. Mothers’ Day saw 372,000 bouquets delivered across the weekend with an attempt on time measurement of 99.5% - an absolutely fantastic achievement and a testament to the hard work that everyone puts into ensuring these days are smooth & successful.”
“One of the best parts of my role is the satisfaction of a successful event. Talking to the Client Directors on the following day & hearing positive client feedback & how we have delighted customers on these special days is just amazing.”
“As one event passes, the next one starts” says Lara “It’s all cyclical; We have some additional days to plan for in 2022 with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee & the Commonwealth Games adding complexities. We’re already working on our approaches to these events and how our colleagues can get some well-earned time-off to celebrate the Queen’s momentous anniversary whilst continuing to deliver our clients & customers’ promises”