We may still have a few weeks left of the year, and thoughts may be turning to Christmas but it’s never too early to start preparing for the challenges awaiting us next year. From training updates to budget preparations, the launch of new clean air zones and even national events such as the upcoming Coronation, there is much to consider for your transport logistics.
Read on for an overview to get you ready for 2023.
Stay up to date with your training
As always, we advocate for continual emphasis upon your driver’s training requirements.
It’s not just about ensuring your drivers are up to date with their CPC hours; it’s about planning any training dates so it causes minimal disruption for your business. You need to have a team in place who always have the right credentials and licences. You also need to make sure your staff have updated first-aid training.
At CJC Transport, we have a wide variety of training courses available, which we can deliver either in-house or off-site at a convenient location. We advocate for looking holistically across your business to identify what training is needed, and whether you have any forthcoming deadlines imminent.
Remember to look at your contracts
Why not start the year as you mean to go on? Now is the perfect time to review your contracts to ensure you have the right processes in place to maintain your business continuity. As part of your review, can you check if any are due for an upcoming renegotiation? Are there any new prospects you can approach to drum up new business?
As the cost-of-living crisis continues to hit us all hard, reviewing your contracts might give you an opportunity to see if you have any protection from these spiralling costs. By thinking of the contingencies should a change in circumstance hit your business, you will be better placed to weather the storm.
Budgeting will remain a key priority
This will go hand-in-hand with any contract renewals and renegotiations. The next year will be incredibly challenging, and we wish we had a crystal ball to help us identify the most pressing priorities.
We know fuel prices and energy costs will continue to have a big impact on your budgets. Rising inflation will also have an effect because your money simply won’t go as far as it has done previously. The increasing number of clean air zones (more of which shortly) will also impact your budgets if your fleet does not meet the minimum emission standards required.
Your staff will likely be asking for a pay rise to help them cope with the cost of living. If you are unable to offer any financial increases, are there other ways you can show support to your team? Could you offer additional time off or paid-for training opportunities to keep them motivated? Are you able to look at the overall employment ‘package’ and see what else you can offer to show your commitment to your team.
Look holistically at your incomings and your outgoings. Are there any areas where you can make savings, or are there any ways you can increase your incomings? By paying close attention to every penny, you’ll feel more secure in how you face the anticipated recession.
Have you got the right people in place?
You may have worked with the same people for many years. Your staff may be loyal and hardworking, but are you using their skills in the right way?
It can be tempting to focus on annual personal reviews to give feedback to your staff, but good employers should always try to have regular communication with their teams. How often are you looking at individual training needs? Do you know what different people’s career plans are? Perhaps you’ve got individuals working in one role who have the skills better suited for elsewhere in your business.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your staff about where they see their careers going. If you can show you are a flexible and responsive employer, you will naturally improve your staff retention rates. If you’re looking to recruit in the imminent future, how are you making sure you have the skills you need now, but also the skills you could need in the future? It’s essential with any recruitment plans you take a long-term view when it comes to hiring new staff to ensure you are selecting the right people with the right skills.
Clean Air Zones could cause disruption
It’s essential you keep yourself updated with the latest regarding the clear air zones emerging across the UK. For a long time now, we’ve been used to the ULEZ restrictions in London, but more local authorities are introducing clean air zones in a bid to tackle air pollution.
There are different types of zones being implemented with different restrictions for buses, coaches, minibuses, and heavy goods vehicles. If your fleet isn’t meeting the minimum emissions standards for each zone, you could face daily congestion fees, or a limit on your offering.
Current locations with clean air zones in operation include Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, and Portsmouth. Over the next 12 months, we can also expect new zones in Bristol, Sheffield, and Tyneside, while Greater Manchester remains under review.
You can create an online account which will allow you to manage multiple vehicles and set up payment charges for each vehicle within your fleet. This may make it logistically much easier to manage for you and your team.
Are you planning to switch to electric fleets?
You may not be ready to switch at the moment, but increasingly coach and bus companies are starting to invest in electric vehicles. It won’t be long before passengers will expect any transport to be fully electric.
Transitioning your entire fleet will be a complex project; it’s not just about sourcing new vehicles, it’s also about looking at how you can integrate the charging infrastructure into your yard. Even if you don’t see yourself making any changes for another year or two, early planning will be needed to help you consider the potential cost and timescales involved.
National events could create demand for coach travel
There are a few national events next year that could boost demand for coach travel so it’s wise to prepare for these events. Even if you are not directly travelling to those specific events, road restrictions or parking limitations could impact your drivers.
The clearest example of this is the coronation of King Charles III, due to take place on Saturday 6 May at Westminster Abbey in London. At the moment, details are scarce, but we will keep you updated as and when more information is released.
Other big events creating create demand include the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool, which will take place the following week, Saturday 13 May.
There could also be demand for coach travel to the BST festival at Hyde Park in July, where the headline acts include Take That and Billy Joel.
Colleagues at National Express have a handy guide to major sporting events on their website.
The return of the HGV Levy
Next year sees the re-emergence of the HGV Levy which was suspended in August 2020 as part of the governments plans to support the haulage sector post-pandemic. The levy, which is for vehicles weighing 12 tonnes or more, is due to recommence in August 2023.
Earlier this year, the Department for Transport held a consultation with hauliers about potential changes to the levy. As yet, details of this consultation have not been made public, but as soon as we know anything we will update you.
If we look closer to home, there are a few big developments on the horizon in Suffolk which could impact drivers making their way around the A12/A14 corridors.
In Stowmarket, Gateway 14 has received planning permission, and work will soon start on the development which is earmarked to be a mix of office space, warehouse units and retail ventures. The 2.36 million sq ft development has already signed up The Range as its first occupied unit.
Further afield between Aldeburgh and Southwold, the government has confirmed plans for Sizewell C will go ahead. This will create a new nuclear power station which should theoretically generate enough electricity for 7% of the UK’s population.
CJC Transports can help you to navigate a tricky 2023
Recent experience has taught us all, there is no way of knowing what could happen in the next 12 months. But we believe advance preparation and contingency planning is always the best way of dealing with the unexpected.
At CJC Transport, we are here to help you navigate these tricky times. From delivering training workshops through to comprehensive consultancy services, we can help you to think about every aspect of your business. We can offer support and guidance and collaborate with you and your team to minimise any disruption and ensure your business is able to cope with the peaks and troughs of passenger transport.
To find out how we can help you, please get in touch.