We’ve seen the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit on supply chains, the knock-on effect of the driver shortage, followed by sharp hikes in the cost of labour, materials and fuel, all in a very short space of time. There’s no denying that these events have had a huge impact on the haulage industry.
At Suttons, there have been some notable changes in behaviour that we have seen recently from our customers. The first is that customers are less inclined to put their business out to tender when they usually would. It appears that unless their current incumbent is providing them with unacceptable levels of service or safety, staying with them is seen as taking less risk. The ‘fear of the unknown’ which has surrounded us by recent events has caused customers in the bulk logistics industry to be far more risk averse.
Secondly, we have seen customers being forced to find alternative logistics support at short notice when their incumbent has been unable to move products for them altogether. This has often been seen due to an inability to recruit and retain drivers or the lack of fleet capacity to support growing contracts.
Over the last 12 months, Suttons Tankers have been able to increase its fleet by 7.5%, putting an additional 40 trucks on the road to support customers when they needed it most. Our implementation team have been able to get contracts up and running, and products moving across the UK, at a rapid rate, without compromising on safety and service.
We have proved that we are able to adapt in an agile market, and at a time where it has been a challenge to keep drivers. We have been able to recruit and retain drivers by providing them with opportunities for progression, a positive work environment, and arguably most importantly, an attractive salary and benefits package.
Having an excellent reputation in the industry for leading levels of service and safety was undoubtedly a contributing factor to our recent success, but it cannot be denied that there were three fundamental pillars that enabled us to win additional business. These include our fleet policy, which is centred around continuous investment, our ability to produce bespoke commercials for each customer, and finally our recruitment strategy. Each of these areas of the business have skilled functional heads who form part of our agile implementation team who have led us to success.
Achieving incremental new business wins over the last 12 months would not have been physically possible without a growing fleet. At Suttons Tankers, we have an enabling approach to growth which is backed up by our fleet policy and replacement programme.
“We have very good relationships with our suppliers which have enabled us to source and introduce additional units and trailers to our existing large fleet” says Steve Egglestone, Fleet Engineer. Having the capital investment to do so has been fundamental to our success in providing customers with the equipment they have needed, where others haven’t been able to provide.
Our commercial team understand that each customer is unique and has their own individual operations and requirements. With a combined total of over 60 years’ experience as a team and our ability to take the time to listen to each customer, we ensure that we can meet these requirements, tailoring the solution operationally, commercially, and financially.
Nigel Gilhooley, Commercial Manager, explains, “The past couple of years have been tough on all businesses, but with a strategic view and a personal approach, we have ensured our customers, both existing and new, are receiving the service we pride ourselves on and we are adding value through our bespoke propositions.”
Tim Gibbons, Managing Director at Sparkford, praised Suttons for its ability to implement a contract at short notice which delivered real benefits to their business. “The contract [Suttons] came up with for us, back in September, was quite simply, a life-saver. We’re indebted to [the team at Suttons] for that. Indeed, the flexibility and willing exhibited by the transport offices at Suttons has been nothing short of exemplary.”
The driver shortage has dominated the news headlines recently. To address this, Suttons came up with a compelling recruitment package for new drivers, which included succession planning, the opportunity for training, as well as an attractive salary and work/home balance, which we know is so important.
With the incremental new business wins we have recently achieved our implementation team have had to work hard to ensure that we have drivers who are appropriately trained to work on specific contracts with specific products. Andy Miller, Driver Training Manager, tells us that “Suttons have always had a strong focus on cross training drivers to ensure that we can redeploy resource where it’s needed most. This allows us to meet customer demand, especially when volumes are seasonal or has fluctuations.”
From smaller contracts with a couple of trucks, to much larger contracts involving TUPE transfers and the procurement of fleet, our experienced implementation team understand that each customer and each contract is unique. This is why we follow such a rigorous process for implementation. It is crucial that each implementation is planned meticulously, with every detail thought out in a methodical way. The breadth of preparation prior to go-live can differ significantly, but for all contracts we follow the same process to ensure our implementation goes as smoothly as possible.
It is thanks to our cross functional team who put our customers at the forefront of every decision made that has enabled us to implement a significant number of new contracts during a turbulent time in the industry. Their agile nature and ability to come up with innovative solutions has led Suttons Tankers to success and ensured the continuous supply of product for its customers.