Review of the year 2020 with Benjamin Gonzalez, President of Transports Goëvia

17 Dec, 2020

After several months spent with his head in the handlebars, Benjamin Gonzalez draws up a first assessment of this unprecedented year 2020. With an activity strongly disrupted by the pandemic, he looks back on the way Goëvia transport managed the crisis. He recalls these moments that marked the daily life of all the employees but also the lessons that the SME was able to learn from them. Finally he gives us his philosophy for 2021.

1- At the beginning of March 2020, no one expected a lockdown. How did Goëvia receive this decision, adapt and prepare for the application of the health instructions?

This announcement came in a very particular context. We had just announced our re-branding, and had worked hard with the Steering Committee (a think tank and action body made up of the company’s middle management) to organize an open house that would represent the beginning of a new era for the company and its entire community. More than 300 people (employees, families, customers, suppliers, partners, institutions) had confirmed their presence. The announcement of the first containment came in the first week of integration of our new Director of Operations (Mickael Gonçalves). Not ideal to discover yourself…

My first feeling was, quite frankly, frustration. The government, with these first restrictions, has wiped out weeks of work.

Then between Saturday March 14 and Sunday March 15, my phone kept ringing. All our clients announced to me, one after the other, their closure or reduced plans which would require, beyond the implementation of a sanitary protocol, considerable technical and economic adjustments. It is on Sunday, March 15, 2020, that I sincerely take the measure of what is happening and the many consequences that this microscopic particle will have in all our lives.

On Monday 16th, the Executive Committee (a decision-making body made up of the company’s top management) was placed in a crisis unit to implement a completely new business continuity plan. Partial work, telecommuting, and the handling of the health protocol by Channelle Pelz, our HR-QHSE manager, were our very first initiatives. In the space of 48 hours, Channelle was able to implement all the recommendations that this situation imposed on us, and was on the lookout to anticipate the many changes in the sanitary protocol (Hydro Gel, Displays, Direction of circulation, Masks, Modification of the Safety Protocol, Plexiglas walls, Disinfectant …)

2- What were the objectives set during the first containment, the most scrutinized indicators?

The Management Committee was immediately put into a crisis cell and I divided up the roles of each person. Antoine Gariteau, Sales Manager, Mickael, Operations Manager, and I stayed on site to cover the scope and implementation needs. Channelle devoted herself to the health protocol, and to the organization of partial activity, the identification of polyvalence binomials, of people at risk, Pascal Lambert, Administrative and Financial Director, set up new dashboards of profitability follow-up at the day. All our indicators had moved and we needed to build a whole new field of visibility and management. In the first few days of the containment, we lost more than 60% of our turnover… Maxime Gonzalez, Agency Director, devoted himself to closing his unit in Cestas and managing our subcontracting. Joel and Victor Gonzalez worked on the transportation plan who also had to react in an unprecedented way to this context (tolls, empty kilometers, counter-flow…) Mickael immediately put himself in the middle of the teams to accompany the constant evolution of operationsAntoine tracked the daily turnover by client and remained the point of entry for all our clients during this period. Revenues were the main indicator monitored because they are directly related to the activity.

3- Last spring, the transport industry, and in particular the driver’s profession, was particularly in the spotlight. How did the management and the teams on the ground feel about it? What was left of it all ?

The drivers all felt engaged and concerned about the essential nature of our business and the role we have to play in this crisis. I felt a lot of solidarity and a common will to be courageous and exemplary. Our business is much more transverse than it seems and our drivers were the worthy ambassadors of this collective commitment (Dock operators, Operators, Sales, Administrative, Technical Service…). We have distributed to all our employees a T-Shirt designed in collaboration with our client MONSIEUR TSHIRT, # BEAUTIFUL AS A TRUCK. We still have technical, human and organizational lessons to learn from this period, as well as new clients… Most of the clients who started with us during the containment have remained loyal to us. And this is not nothing…

4- What were the lessons learned from the first containment? What was the guide for the second part of the year and in particular the 2nd containment?

We have made enormous progress in terms of responsiveness and adaptability in all departments. This period has seen our organization go from -60% volumes to +30% during the summer period to -15% with this new confinement in November. It is obviously very demanding in terms of energy and resilience, but the gains made over this period are much stronger.

From the beginning of our discussions in the crisis unit, we targeted September as the deadline for prioritizing quality. I am very pleased and proud to see that our commitments are being met overall in this area of the customer promise. We’ve received a few nice testimonials from customers in the last few weeks that will be shared with everyone soon. The whole team bears the credit for these recognition effects.

Thissecond containment has this additional requirement in relation to the first. We are certainly forced to adapt our organization to this 15% drop in volume, but we must imperatively keep all of our quality commitments, particularly that of Hour H deliveries.

5- What consequences has this health and economic crisis had for Goëvia: economic, managerial?

At the economic level, the consequences are major and represent more than 2 million euros of uncollected sales. In addition to this, the economic environment is under pressure with a crisis that is slowly taking hold. The calls for tender of many shippers at the end of the summer, or even during the containment and its tensioning of rates are reactions to be expected from the market. The crisis affects us all, small and large companies and all sectors of activity. Fiscal year 2020 will therefore be economically complicated. We did not expect thissecond confinement, which undermines part of the efforts made in the first 10 months. But let’s look at the glass as half full, we will have learned a lot and we will have laid the foundations of a solid model and organization for 2021:

– Integration of Mickael Goncalves as Director of Operations

– Implementation of satisfactory operational arrangements

– Implementation of new management indicators

Quality rate in clear progression

– Obtaining the Volulots platform (Evolutrans network), which gives us the opportunity to diversify our offer and increase our national groupage solutions

IT developments (Proxymobility, Hubspot CRM, new Memor 10 PDAs…

– Appointment of Channelle Pelz as Human Resources Manager

– Integration of 5 work-study students

– The launch of our new website and its platform Goevia Online

Brand name change from GLS to Goëvia

Consolidation of the collaboration with our main customers

– An ambitious commercial acquisition plan supported by a new 2021 offer and our digital solutions

6- How does the year 2020 conclude for Goëvia? And how does it look towards 2021?

The year concludes with a new confinement and its share of restrictions on the economic and human level. However, we remain true to our values and both the Steering Committee and the Executive Committee are committed to bringing a smile to the end of the year.

From a more strategic point of view, we will make a very significant commitment in 2021 to our ecological footprint. 100% of our fleet was already EURO 6, but we will go even further in 2021 for the sake of responsibility, exemplarity and commercial differentiation. 8 “clean” tractors are currently on order from RENAULT and SCANIA. In 2021, we are bringing in this renowned brand, SCANIA, to support us in this ecological challenge. 15% of our fleet will be “clean” by 2021…

On the commercial side, our website and its application Goevia Online will be strong markers of our ambition. In particular, we plan to “re-dress our offer” on the anagram of sizes (XS/S/M/L/XL) to highlight the diversity of our offer.

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