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Achieve Work/Life Balance During the Holidays!

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Holidays are special times of year when we gather with loved ones to remember the past, show gratitude for the present, and to hope for the future. They can also be tremendously stressful for all the same reasons: the past can be painful, the present full of demands, and the future disturbingly uncertain. Layer on top family dynamics and cultural demands such as gifting or the gendered performance of traditions, and it’s no wonder that many people approach holidays with a mix of joy and dread. Through it all, managers must keep managing and deadlines must continue to be met. Workplace strategies for surviving – and thriving despite – holiday stress begin long before the first gift is wrapped or the first candle is lit. Here’s how.

Carve out designated time during the holidays.

Whether you want to finish up your last-minute Christmas shopping, spend time with your grandmother, or finish up a work project before the New Year, here are some tips to achieve a better work-life balance near the end of the year:

  • Designate blocks of time to spend with loved ones.

If you can’t afford the time to spend an entire day (or trip) with friends and family, create dedicated spaces in your schedule to be with them–even if for just a few hours. Treat those times just like you would an important meeting or investor pitch so that no excuses can lead to canceling or interrupting your time together. This dedicated “block time” will also help you to fully immerse and enjoy your time together, rather than being distracted and not “totally there.” At the end of this quality time, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to re-focus on your projects or tasks at hand.

  • Choose moments for downtime amidst hectic activities.

With so many activities pulling us in a million different directions during the holidays, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose steam altogether. Because of this, I take short breaks away from the hustle and bustle to re-group and clear my mind. It doesn’t matter where I am–in a hotel powder room, a dressing room, or a quiet café–taking five to ten minutes always helps me to refresh and go back to my activities with better focus and a renewed sense of purpose.

  • Plan your work

 

As much as working in advance is necessary, planning your work in detail over holidays is very important for your work-life balance. Set priorities and plan specific tasks and things you want to work on, and when. To do so, make sure you talk about it with your relatives so they can also give you their expectations on when you can and cannot work.Make an agreement with them and tell them when you’ll work so they don’t hold a grudge against you for not caring about family time! This is a good way for them to also realize that you value your work-life balance, that way you won’t get all those questions on how much you’re working or neglecting them.

  • Be satisfied with “good enough” during the holidays (80-20 rule).

And now that you’re done with your work, be happy with it. Most passionate people are perfectionists; and if you’re passionate about your job, there’s a good chance you’re a perfectionist at work. But being a perfectionist usually makes you put in a lot of extra efforts in a task, which causes additional stress. Even if it’s a trait you might not want to work on in the rest of the year, you might want to give “good enough” a try when you’re on holiday. After all, if you’re working over the holidays, you have no obligation to be perfect. Finally, as the 80-20 rule suggests – 80% of your results will be produced by 20% of your efforts – holiday time seems to be a good moment to be happy with those 80%!

 

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Delivery Service

Prepare for the 2017 Shipping Season!

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As we enter the height of peak shipping season, it’s a good time to start preparing your game plan.   Whether you’re a business owner of an e-commerce or brick and mortar store – or even a warehouse operations manager – the tips and tricks listed below can help you grasp a better understanding of what you should be doing to assemble your team and plan of action for peak season.

Peak season should be at the top of your mind year-round. 

In the months leading up to peak season, you should be making great strides each day to ensure that peak season goes off without a hitch – not something that you simply just “get through”. When thinking about how far in advance you should plan your logistics – just know that consumers are thinking about and researching their potential purchases months before they actually purchase anything in the peak buying month of November.

Understand when each customer’s “peak season” is.  

Each of your customer’s peak season may differ depending on what commodity they sell. It wouldn’t be wise to take on all customers who share the same peak season. The more spaced out your customer’s peak seasons are, the less stretched you’ll be for available freight options.

Plan to use insurance.  

During peak season, theft increases due to freight being unattended during long holiday weekends. In October, theft surges to an all-time high. Insurance is not something you ever want to skimp on, but especially not during peak season.

The reality of shipping costs, time, and demand. 

When the demand for freight shipping goes up, so do the prices. It’s the reality of the situation, but the sooner you educate your customers about this, the less shocked they’ll be about it when peak season rolls around.

Be transparent. 

Customers want transparent and generous return policies. Don’t try to hide anything in the fine print, especially during the upcoming holiday season when tensions are high. Be upfront and honest with customers about how you handle returns if they’re not satisfied with your product or service. If you’re an eCommerce retailer, know that over 50% of customers back out of a purchase if there is no offer for free return shipping.

Provide convenience. 

By now it comes as no shock that consumers want instant gratification. The moment you make a purchase or interaction difficult for a consumer, they back down and move onto your competitor who provided a much more pleasant and seamless experience. By offering little incentives such as in-store pick-ups, limited time sales and promotions, and free shipping, your customer is much more convinced they are making the right purchase.

Test your customer experience.

Try walking through the customer’s experience when making a purchase at your store or online website. Was it a fluid and guided process? Are you providing customers with all the information they need to make a purchase? Is there room to provide a more customized experience? These are the questions you should be asking yourself in the months leading up to peak season.

Although patterns will change and certain events simply cannot be anticipated for, it’s important for industries and companies alike, to learn from past years and analyze what works, what doesn’t, and what you could be doing even more of.

Be efficient in crunch times.

With events like Cyber Monday, companies see a huge spike in orders. Those who make it successfully through these specific sales days are those who have quick turnaround, a report by Kurt Salmon, a global management consultancy firm, stated. Researchers in the report found that Cyber Monday (the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend) is the largest online shopping day, which puts more pressure on getting items out of the warehouse faster.

Automate simple processes.

In the packaging industry, some facilities still spend several man hours taping, assembling boxes, void-filling boxes, packing, labeling and moving products out the warehouse door. With the peak season quickly approaching, look for automation opportunities that reduce package handling. This will increase throughput, reduce labor costs for temporary employees and allow you to focus more on customer satisfaction.

Contact UDS for more information: http://www.uniteddeliveryservice.com.

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Business Tips, Delivery Service, Holiday Season

Be Prepared For 4th Quarter with these Ecommerce Tips!

The fourth quarter represents the holiday season. It includes some of the biggest holidays of the year – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Buyers are looking to host the best parties, give the best gifts, eat the best food and will dig deep into their wallets to do so. Many retailers report that they do as much as 50% of their annual sales in the last 3 months of the year.

The fourth quarter is a crazy time of year for retailers, holiday shoppers, and travelers. It affects all aspects of business operations from managing inventory stock levels, to shipping lead times and customer experience.

Be Prepared

Why are people talking about Q4 now? In order to do 50% of your annual sales in the last quarter of the year a seller, large or small, needs to have inventory in stock, have a plan for getting items to buyers in a timely manner, along with providing quality products among others. Time is money, and the sooner you start to prepare for Q4 the better your sales will be.

1. Know your Ecommerce calendar

“In the US, the Christmas season usually tips off after Thanksgiving, but as retailers grow more aggressive in taking on e-commerce, they are introducing holiday promotions and advertising for the holiday season as early as September—a phenomenon the industry pegs the Christmas creep.” – Bisnow reports.

Q4 Ecommerce sales holidays calendar:

  • Halloween – Oct 31 (4th largest online sales holiday)
  • Thanks Giving – Nov 23 (average online spending of $400 per user)
  • Black Friday – Nov 24
  • Cyber Monday – Nov 27
  • Green Monday – Dec 11
  • Free Shipping Day – Dec 16 (largest online sales day in Dec)

You probably should be preparing for those dates weeks ago! It’s not only about discounts and promotions. It’s also about making the most of the season and avoiding any spectacular crashes or customer care failures.

2. Give Your Website a Holiday Makeover

Even small changes can make a difference to your customers. A temporary seasonal makeover will add holiday cheer and encourage your customers to shop more. Try adding some snowflakes, holly, or other festive decorations. While you’re at it, add a banner announcing holidays deals or specials.

3. Optimize for Mobile Customers

People now spend more time on the internet on a mobile device than on a desktop computer (51 percent versus 42 percent), so if you’re not optimizing for mobile users, you’re just driving potential customers to your competitors. In fact, not having a mobile-optimized site is like closing your store for one full day every week. How are you going to capitalize on those limited offerings if you can’t reach the on-the-move crowd?

4. Run Limited Time Offers

Holiday selling is a great time for flash sales. Limited time offers create urgency and encourage customers to buy. Try using this tactic on slow-moving items as well as some from your best-seller list. By following these holiday selling tips you’ll likely increase your items sold, and you may be able to keep those slow-moving products from gathering dust.

5. Offer Special Promos to Loyal Customers

The holiday season is the perfect time to reward your loyal customers with deals that you’re not offering everyone. The gift of discount codes or free shipping is a great reward, and an enticement to shop more. Your social media channels are a good place to find your loyal customers. If they follow you on social media, you can reasonably assume they’re a fan of your brand. Post an exclusive promo code to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to let your most loyal customers know you appreciate their support.

6. Highlight Deals on Social Media

Speaking of social media, make sure that your followers know what you are offering this holiday season by highlighting your new products across your channels. It’s a way to advertise your gift guides, limited-time offers, and shipping discounts as well!

7. Ecommerce Marketing Automation

Traffic peak is coming. Surely not every user will complete their shopping experience. Automate abandoned cart recovery. Sign those users up for a newsletter or an automated product recommendation. Dig that traffic gold to maximize your returns on Ecommerce investments. Or loose out on over 90% of traffic which does not convert into sales.

United Delivery Service makes deliveries happen faster for businesses and consumers. We’ve developed a Midwest network positioned to enhance the speed and flexibility of last-mile delivery. We help consumers get products more quickly while lowering the cost of distribution for the businesses they buy from. Contact us today 630-930-5201. http://www.uniteddeliveryservice.com/index.html 

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Delivery Service, tradeshows

The UDS Team Will Attend Parcel Forum 2017!

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PARCEL Forum has been hitting all the right notes for the past 15 years! From day one, they’ve been steadfast in their mission to serve the unique and ever-changing needs of professionals who are responsible for the shipping, distribution and delivery of parcel-sized (<70lbs) packages. This unwavering commitment has helped thousands of small-package professionals learn how to ship more packages, more frequently, more efficiently, and more cost-effectively. Whether you are new to the industry or a veteran, attending PARCEL Forum will be music to your ears!

One of the regional carriers that has had tremendous success and growth is United Delivery Service. Started in 1972 and based in Chicago, UDS provides next day and same day delivery solutions for retail, ecommerce, payroll, pharmaceutical and office supply companies.  Their success is a total team effort as their staff is committed to helping create the best delivery experience for your customers.

United Delivery Service will be at this years Parcel Forum 2017 event at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, September 18-20.  UDS will be at booth#338

The First Choice…In Last Mile Delivery

 

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Business Tips

Communicate Better with Your Coworkers at the Office.

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You’d think we’d all be master communicators. All we do all day long is communicate. Talking, chatting, texting, emailing. Yet despite how often we do it, there’s always room for improvement.

Effectively communicating with coworkers is something you cannot afford to overlook. There are many things which can make or break the success of a company, and communication is certainly one of them. Despite the important role clear communication plays in the workplace, there are many employees that have not been trained in effectively communicating with coworkers.

7 Ways to Communicate Better with Your Coworkers:

1. Don’t bury the lede

Whatever your main point is, start there. If you need something, ask for it clearly. Be direct. Be concise.

2. Be a better listener

Effective communication, by definition, is a two-way street. Start out by making sure you’re hearing the message others are trying to deliver to you.

Don’t try to multi-task while someone’s trying to get information into your brain. Stop thinking about how you’re going to respond. Just listen, or slow down and really read the entire email, don’t skim it.

You can only respond effectively if you understand clearly what they’re trying to say. If they’re not being clear, ask them.

3. Understand your personal communication style

We all have our own communication preferences regarding the words and media we use. We’re also communicating nonverbal information through our tone and body language. Are you an eye-roller? Do you insist on including emojis in every thread? Do you speak in acronyms or corporate jargon? Do you ramble on about your pet peeves or memories of past times before getting to the point?

Take a good look at your own communication style preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. Don’t just listen to others. Listen to yourself. We all have pet phrases we get into the habit of using. Do those phrases help or hurt our message? Do they help people listen to us more attentively or tune us out?

Does your language build bridges? Encourage conversations? Inspire ideas? Or do people shut down? Ignore you? Talk over / past / around you? These are all clues as to whether or not your coworkers value you and what you have to say.

When you see that your message isn’t getting across, don’t automatically assume the recipient is the communication obstacle. It might be you. If it keeps happening, figure out how you can connect better with this person or in the specific setting. And that’s the key: create a connection, find a common thread you can both relate to authentically.

4. Respect people’s preferred communication methods/tools

We have so many communication options now. Almost too many. Everyone has their preferred medium. Respect that. If someone is notorious for not digging through long email threads, don’t expect them to find the question you asked of them if it’s buried inside your latest tome.

Do you have a coworker who never answers their phone? Stop calling. She’s probably communicating to you through some other tool. Use it.

5. Pick your moments

This one is so important. Sometimes it’s not how you’re saying it – the problem is when it’s being said.

If you’re concerned someone isn’t pulling their weight or making some mistake, raise it directly with them, not in public at the team meeting. Don’t assume the urgent issue you need to resolve right now is someone else’s priority. They have their own urgent issues, so don’t charge at them or send all-CAPS messages demanding a response right now.

Other bad moments? How about the all-hours emails and calls? An “always open” work environment wears people down.

Last, have some empathy for someone who’s stressed out. We all go there. Make some allowances when someone is obviously having a bad day. Even for those who are master communicators – stress can make idiots of us all. So learn when to give someone a break. Give it a rest. Your urgency doesn’t make it their urgency. Let the stressful time pass, and then make your request. You may discover it will happen all that much faster, and with less drama.

6. Build relationships, but stay professional

Of course there’s room to talk about non-work stuff with coworkers. We want to. We want to get along with and find common ground with the people we work with Everyone wants to feel connected to their coworkers to some degree. Getting personal at the right times helps us see coworkers as individuals, as real people with feelings.

But there’s personal and there’s personal. Don’t cross professional lines. A team chat channel isn’t Sunday brunch. No one wants to hear about your love life. TMI. It’s easy to cross this line with our business digital tools, since they feel and act like our social digital spaces. We need to remember they’re not appropriate for personal communication.

7. Stay constructive

When you do have to deliver a difficult message, stay constructive. The goal in communicating this message is to get a better result. Embarrassing someone or getting aggressive with them isn’t going to lead to a better result. No one shows up wanting to do a bad job.

8. Address mistakes

Whenever there’s a miscommunication that’s in the way of progress, address it quickly. Letting it fester doesn’t make future communications any easier.

Always be the first to admit whenever you’ve made a mistake. Apologize sincerely. Fix the mistake as best you can. By the same token, if someone else makes a mistake, don’t rub it in. Be gracious. Learn to forgive. Because holding on to anger only hurts you — not them.

As you work to improve your own communication skills, keep one guiding principle in mind: treat others with respect and consideration (aka “don’t be a jerk”). If you can master that, people will definitely be more open to what you’re saying.

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Business Tips, Delivery Service

Real Time Visibility with VPOD

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Real Time Package Visibility through the use of our own proprietary technology such as geocodes, GPS, mapping API’s and other technologies, UDS can offer total visibility into the delivery process.  The importance of proof of delivery in the shipping business cannot be understated.  As an owner or operator of a small business, the benefits of proof of delivery are invaluable.  UDS offers innovative technology,  seamless integration proprietary software with real time tracking barcode scanning VPOD / VPOA GPS / GEO Coded Load Balance & Optimization.  Real-Time Tracking (imported, received, out for delivery, delivered) exception tracking (i.e.: damaged, short, delayed) electronic signatures, VPOD, VPOA (visual proof of attempt) GPS reading.

United Delivery Service provides expertise that can deliver competitive advantages for your company through our proprietary software technology.

Visual Proof Of Delivery (VPOD) & Visual Proof Of Attempt (VPOA) With online ordering growing by record numbers, UDS continues to be an innovator in technology and providing delivery assurance to its customers. Company drivers take photos of the packages when they are delivered to residences and are viewable by your customer service team. Visual Proof Of Delivery (VPOD) or Visual Proof Of Attempt (VPOA) technology is a unique advantage for both the shipper and recipient.     Call Customer Service: 630-930-5201

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Delivery Service

Shipping tips to save time and money

Achieve long-term success by simplifying your supply chain.

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Choosing the right shipping company can be a tough decision.  With a focus on being more than just a shipping company, UDS can help with plenty of useful value-added services.  If you’ve been thinking about making improvements to your supply chain, here are some simple ways to get started. These tips can help put your business on the path to reaching your goals and ensuring long-term success.

Here are five ways value-added services from a shipping company can save you both time and money:

  • Well-Rounded Partner: When it comes to your shipping company, it’s important to find a well-rounded partner who sees the big picture and understands your business from top to bottom. When you work with a shipping company like Commonwealth Inc. that also offers value-added services like inspections and labeling, you can rest easy knowing your partner is skilled in more than just one practice. A well-rounded partner can provide helpful suggestions to help you streamline your business and save money.
  • Better Understanding Of Your Business:  A shipping company that believes in offering value-added services is more likely to understand the intricacies of your business as well as how to stay profitable. Instead of having to use a labeling company, shipping company, and storage facility, look for a company that will keep your bottom line in check. You’ll save money and you’ll avoid longer turnaround times as you try to plan third-party logistics with multiple partners.
  • Real Time Package Visibility:

    Through the use of our own proprietary technology such as geocodes, GPS, mapping API’s and other technologies, UDS can offer total visibility into the delivery process. Innovative Technology Seamless Integration Proprietary Software Real Time Tracking Barcode Scanning VPOD / VPOA GPS / GEO Coded Load Balance & Optimization.Real-Time Tracking (imported, received, out for delivery, delivered) exception tracking (i.e.: damaged, short, delayed) electronic signatures, VPOD, VPOA (visual proof of attempt) GPS reading.

  • Develop Incredible Customer Service. A superior customer experience can lead to valuable repeat business, so provide your customers with shipping and delivery information up-front.  One way to do this is to implement shipping technology that enables you to provide tracking information and proactive status updates on your customers’ in-transit orders.  This will help cut down on “where is my order?” inquiries and allow your customer service department to handle more important tasks.
  • Increase Sales with Convenient Returns. With more and more shoppers buying online and through mobile devices, it’s essential to offer an efficient, web-based returns option. A recent Forrester Consulting study found that retailers who make it convenient and inexpensive for their customers to return products are likely to see increases in sales, customer loyalty, and incremental revenue.

Take some time to review your shipping processes to ensure you have the tools and technology in place to withstand whatever comes your way. Contact UDS for more information: http://www.uniteddeliveryservice.com.

 

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