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Getting answers for the tougher questions
12 December 2012
There is a school of thought that says every entrepreneur should have a mentor Ã¢€â€ someone Ã¢€Å“who's been down that road beforeÃ¢€Â and can share their wisdom on an ongoing basis.ThatÃ¢€â„¢s why UKWA is looking to add to the range of business services it offers its membership by appointing a team of independent business mentors, says Roger Williams, the AssociationÃ¢€â„¢s chief executive officer.
We are going through a period of economic uncertainty and nobody Ã¢€â€œ least of all, it would seem, our political leaders and the fiscal studies gurus who advise them - can really be sure what the immediate and long term future will bring.
Since 2008, when the term Ã¢€Ëœcredit crunchÃ¢€â„¢ had only just entered global consciousness and bankers were still some way down the league table of public hate figures, logistics service providers Ã¢€â€œ in common with all other businesses - have sought to cut cost from their operations.
As their clients have looked to make supply chain savings, members of UKWA Ã¢€â€œ the leading trade association for the UKÃ¢€â„¢s third party logistics industry - have had to become ever more alert to new ways of optimising productivity within their storage facilities and among their vehicle fleets.
One of the few positive Ã¢€â€œ but, in my opinion, highly visible, by-products of the recession Ã¢€â€œ is the apparently growing willingness of 3PL executives to share best practice tips with their contemporaries.
If the growing traffic on UKWAÃ¢€â„¢s internet-based discussion forums and the steadily increasing attendance at our regional networking events can be regarded as a bellwether of wider industry trends, then it can certainly be said that some traditional barriers are coming down. Companies seem more willing to discuss business problems with others and there appears to be an eagerness to exchange information and seek advice that had not hitherto been noticeable.
This is particularly the case among smaller operators Ã¢€â€œ who make up the majority of UKWAÃ¢€â„¢s membership.While there has been consolidation at the top end of the logistics sector with the bigger operators becoming bigger through acquisitions and mergers, around half of UKWAÃ¢€â„¢s seven hundred or so members remain independent business who operate storage facilities of less than 50,000 sq ft.
Although it is dangerous to generalise, companies of this size tend to have a flat management structure, and a small but multifunctional work force. They rarely have in-house specialists, and will rely upon buying-in legal, HR, IT, property etc expertise as and when it is required.
Perhaps more significantly, the owner/MD may not have anyone in the company with whom he can share his or her concerns, aspirations and ideas in confidence.
For that reason UKWA has, over the years, appointed a number of specialist honorary advisers to the association who - in broad terms - provide free initial telephone advice to UKWA members on a broad range of business issues.
But now the Association is looking to add to the range of business services it offers its membership by appointing a team of independent business Ã¢€Ëœmentors.Ã¢€â„¢
There is a school of thought that says every entrepreneur should have a mentor Ã¢€â€ someone Ã¢€Å“who's been down that road beforeÃ¢€Â and can share their wisdom on an ongoing basis. Certainly building a relationship with a mentor can have a positive effect on a business, whether that business is just starting up or is already established. A mentor can help an individual develop important business skills, offer support in making important decisions and deliver useful business contacts.
UKWA has a wealth of warehousing experience among its senior ranks. They are retired or semi-retired warehouse operators who remain close to the industry. In their time they will have built up a warehousing business, found finance, hired and fired, squeezed assets, bought and sold companies, negotiated successfully, learned the principles of effective marketing, leadership, and lots more. They will also have extensive contacts within the industry. We believe that by making use of the collective talents and experience of such people UKWA would be able to provide a service that would be particularly welcomed by the owners and/or MDs of smaller companies who do not have an obvious and qualified sounding board available to them.
If you would like to find out more about UKWAÃ¢€â„¢s logistics business mentoring scheme or would like to offer your services as a mentor, contact Roger Williams,UKWAÃ¢€â„¢s chief executive officer on 0207 836 5522.