For us, success is all about preparation. So, it’s no surprise that we’re already turning our thoughts to 2024. We know that right now you’ll have your heads buried into your strategic plans, so here are some of our ideas and suggestions to make sure you know what challenges you might be facing next year.
These insights should give you help and guidance for planning out your year, mapping out your budgets and reducing your stress levels. Of course, each business will have its own challenges, and our team can work with you specifically to improve your planning and preparation, find quicker and more efficient ways of working and ultimately improve your bottom line.
Your number one priority – staying 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.
Now’s the time to review your current contracts
The cost-of-living crisis is continuing to hit us all, and the varying fuel prices are making it almost impossible to stick to budgets.
As you start to plan for 2024, we always advocate reviewing your contracts at the end of each year to make sure you have the right processes in place. Business continuity is about finding ways to enhance and develop your services, and the last thing you want is for a customer to be paying outdated prices, costing you time and money.
You also want to check for any time-specific contracts – will any long-term contracts be coming to an end in the next 12 months? If so, make sure you plan in time to negotiate or build in new client-acquisition into your key priorities so that your business isn’t left in the lurch. 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 continue to 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. Inflation is continuing to impact our businesses because your money simply won’t go as far as it has done previously.
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.
Be aware of any forthcoming clean air zones
Currently, there are clean air zones in Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Portsmouth, Sheffield and Tyneside - Newcastle and Gateshead along with the ULEZ restrictions in London.
There are also potential plans for other clean air zones to be considered in locations such as Bolton, Cambridge, Liverpool, Sefton, St Albans and Warrington while the current proposal for the Greater Manchester CAZ is still under review.
Each individual city has i’s own targets for reducing harmful emissions, so unfortunately, there are no one-size-fits-all restrictions when it comes to large vehicles traveling around the UK. This makes it more complicated to plan for UK journeys, ensuring that each CAZ is managed correctly. Failure to pay the correct charges could lead to hefty fines.
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. In fact, there is also political desire for bus and coach companies to make the switch, with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham suggesting that he wants to see an investment-led approach which would offer cash for cleaner vehicles rather than introducing charges.
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.
Upcoming events could create demand for coach travel in 2024
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.
Obviously there are the well-known annual events such as the Athletics World Indoor Championships (taking place in Glasgow in March 2024), followed by the Grand National (13 April 2024), the FA Cup Final (25 May 2024), and Wimbledon (1-14 July 2024).
But next year also sees the exciting return of two high-profile events!
The return of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris (July –August 2024) could see huge demand for European passenger and goods movements. To prepare for this, you need to make sure your fleet match French standards and your driving team are legal to drive in other countries. Don’t forget to book those channel crossings well in advance!
UEFA European Championships 2024
The Euros will take place in Germany next summer – could the Three Lions replicate the incredible feat of the Lionesses? Or could Scotland pull off an amazing achievement? With the tournament in mainland Europe, we expect there will be many football fans wanting to travel to Germany to watch the football and soak up the atmosphere, as well as again an impact on the movement of goods through the area. Expect an increase in drivers wanting to take holidays or having ‘illnesses’ around the time of the home nations games!
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.
Last year the Gateway 14 development received planning permission, and work has started to create a mix of office space, warehouse units and retail ventures. The Range signed up to be its first occupant and is due to open its doors by the end of 2023. The site is also pending approval for the next stage of construction, with potential opportunities for the next occupier within the next 9-12 months for manufacturing or distribution opportunities.
The government has backed A12 road improvements with “upgrades to the key roundabouts from the A14 at Seven Hills, east of Ipswich, north to the A1152 at Woods Lane, and a new dual carriageway section replacing the existing single carriageway bottleneck at Seckford Hall between the B1438 and B1079.” Up to £54m has been pledged, with a further £10m funded by local development contributions, including from Sizewell C and Brightwell Lakes.
There will also be huge rail improvements at the Haughley Junction near Stowmarket and the complete reconstruction of Ely North Junction. Details are still to be announced from Network Rail as to the implementation and development of the improvements, but this is likely to create significant traffic restrictions.
There are still huge complications relating to the confirmed Sizewell C development. Although the plans were approved by Kwasi Kwarteng in July 2022, a new legal hearing at the Court of Appeal is now being held by campaigners over whether a desalination plant will be needed.
We’ll keep you updated on the progress of Sizewell C as more information emerges.
CJC Transports can help you to navigate a tricky 2024
While there’s no way of knowing what we can expect from the next 12 months, we do know that contingency planning for every eventuality is the best thing you can do to protect your business.
With our support and help, we can aid your 2024 preparations, whether it’s through delivering in-depth training programmes, negotiating and reviewing your contracts or helping you to find more efficient ways of working.
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.