We already find ourselves at 17th January so not many days left to ensure your monthly top and bottom lines are on target. Good luck with that if your business (& body!) is only just shaking off the holiday excesses. What is top of mind? The sagging month to date sales rate? The slow return to normal of the S&OP meeting schedule? The upcoming corporate audit? No. Top of mind is where to go on your summer holidays and to get this booked as soon as possible.
Get your holiday slot booked at the office and make sure you sync with school holidays and soon you will be surfing the internet checking out all the best deals. Flight only or hotel included? What about airport transfers? Do we go with full service airlines or suffer the middle of the night, cattle-class treatment on a low-cost flyer? Long term car parking at the airport? Oh, look at the kids go free offers – no I don’t believe it either; nobody gets a holiday for free, well except possibly Mrs Queen and free-loading MPs.
You may even create a dreaded Excel spreadsheet listing potential destinations and a matrix of all the travel options and applicable costs. Carefully you will fine tune the list until you really have found the best deal with the most convenient and least expensive travel. After the briefest of discussions with the rest of the family the bookings will be done and dusted well before the end of January. What a personal masterclass in forward planning!
Yet you still have no idea on your FMCG acivity plans for the next 6 months let alone a much longer horizon. If you left your holiday plans to the last minute you would probably struggle to find something decent. Yes, if you are single or a couple minus mini debt creators then you can just turn up at the airport and see what seats are available and take it from there. You may well be sleeping on a beach or in a hostel where there are more joints than an orthopaedic ward and the only pillows are inflated wine box bladders but so what, you will cope. However, with small people in tow that last minute gambling option will rarely be entirely appropriate.
Back to your activity planning or lack of it. Some of your major in-market initiatives will be annual events around Spring Cleaning or Easter or a seasonal weather peak so being late with those is unforgiveable as they should be fixtures in your rolling plan. Other promotions will be tactical or at short notice due to market dynamics such as competitor activity or price increases (prices rarely drop do they?). Nevertheless, most of your activity planning for the next 12 months should be firm with a further 12 months of tentative plans which firm up as the S&OP process passes through each month.
Short notice opportunities are ok if you can manage the same without affecting those that have been carefully planned. Marketeers may demand a special promotion to take account of some topical and usually scandalous news or about the latest air-head to emerge from the Big Brother house. If you can, so be it but let these impact on the ones that really matter at your peril. Topical opportunistic activities will probably be sexy and raise a guffaw, but seldom do they contribute much to your top and bottom lines and they don’t impress the suits at HQ.
People outside of supply chain somehow think that promotions and special offers magically appear outside of all the usual planning processes. They don’t. If you stick in a last-minute giggle promotion, then be very sure you are disrupting regular day to day activities about which you will no doubt complain.
You should try inflated wine box bladders; great for camping!
Image courtesy of recyclethis.co.uk