Why choose Safestore? A perfect place to pilot a delivery consolidation centre

Safestore Leeds Central is in a 1930’s building just 2 minutes from Vicar Lane – a perfect location for a delivery consolidation centre

We are only too aware that basing our business in a Safestore doesn’t necessarily give an impression of permanence. The nature of self-storage businesses is such that they are particularly attractive to those who want ‘space’ for an indefinite period, with no strings attached. In actual fact Safestore offers much more and there are good reasons why we expect to stay there for some time to come.

As we have begun to consider the possibility of offering Leeds retailers a delivery consolidation service, the location and manual handling equipment which seemed unnecessary when we first moved in are now looking like vital pieces of equipment the cost of which could have been severely prohibitive. Their presence makes such a project possible and could allow us to pilot the idea with very little additional preparation and next to no additional expense.

When Last Mile Leeds began operations the 4 weeks’ notice required to vacate was indeed a significant reason why we chose the  Safestore Leeds Central as our base. It was cheap and in a great location. If all went according to plan, we wouldn’t be there long.

Over the past few months of operating from there on a daily basis, I now have some real experience upon which to evaluate what has proven to be an extremely good business decision, and I suspect I will continue to operate from there for some time to come.

Safestore Leeds Central has a large off-street loading bay

Let me list some of  benefits:

  • Secure storage space for 3 cargo bikes and additional equipment
  • room to grow should we take on a larger cargo trike – likely if we do open a delivery consolidation centre
  • A location literally across the road from the planned Eastgate development and about 3 minutes from Kirkgate Market or the Victoria Quarter
  • Reception manned 8am-6pm, able to receive goods when all Last Mile staff are out
  • 24 hour access
  • Pallet trucks and goods trolleys
  • Fork-lift truck (and four licensed drivers) –able to receive palletized deliveries (all as part of the service)
  • Off-street loading and unloading bay able to accommodate up to 4 Luton vans
  • Off-street secure parking in Leeds city centre
  • High level of security, with 24hr CCTV etc
  • Insurance against loss of £6,000
  • massive flexibility to expand or contract the amount of storage space we use
  • huge goods lift with 2.5 tonne capacity, easily able to accommodate the large cargo-trikes which we are looking to purchase (should we ever take additional space above the ground floor)

And all this for about £30.00 week, with no additional bills, or rates to pay.

There are of course a few disadvantages, the main one being that office facilities are limited, though the staff are very helpful if you need to send an odd email or Fax. We don’t have electricity in the lock-up, or a telephone line. Nevertheless, so far we have been able to handle everything by mobile, and should we reach a point where this is holding back the business then I have found that Safestore are very accommodating and seem always willing to negotiate.

Overall this has proven an ideal base to grow the business and one which could see us grow significantly larger before we would ever need to move.

The Role of the UK Cyclelogistics Federation

On 14th July 2012, Last Mile Leeds attended the inaugural meeting of the European Cyclelogistics Federation. Their website describes the federation thus:

The European Cycle Logistics Federation is a professional body which represents and supports the needs of cycle logistics companies across Europe.

The Federation is a membership organisation for:

  1. Established cycle logistics businesses (eg. delivery companies, couriers, pedicab operators, tradespeople, organisations which use cycles as part of their business operations, etc)
  2. Start-up businesses considering using cycles as part of their business operations
  3. Manufacturers and suppliers of cycle logistics equipment.
  4. Associates who have an interest in promoting the further use of cycles

The Federation is supported by CYCLElogistics, an EU funded project which promotes the delivery of freight by cycles and trikes.

 

But what should be the role of such an organisation in the UK? Here are few of my thoughts;

  • UK specific. Firstly, there is a need to establish within the organisation, a space for UK cyclelogistics companies. Although it is great to be part of a Europe wide initiative, and we can certainly learn from our colleagues overseas, at least some of the issues we face in overcoming national attitudes to cycle use are specific to our own context. If we are only concerned with ‘big-picture’ policy then we will risk being irrelevant to small cargo bike operations. We could consider UK, and perhaps even regional meetings, though these need not be face to face and could take the form of conference calls etc.
  • Sharing Experience. As is to be expected in a young industry, we are all learning. We could each gain much by learning from the experiences of others. At this stage in our industry’s growth, I feel that most of us recognise that anything that promotes the use of cycle logistics anywhere in the country is generally ‘good for business’.
  • Partnership broking. Each of us have worked hard to develop business relationships and partnerships with our customers, but few of us have the reach to extend these partnerships nationwide. Either we can sit on them until we have grown our respective businesses into national carriers, or we can share them.
  • Combined Representation. In the same way that Kissinger once asked, “If I want to call Europe, who do I call?”, if a multinational courier or nationwide retailer want to begin to include cyclelogistics in their delivery chain then where would they start? Either they have to hold multiple discussions with multiple different operators, potentially agreeing numerous different sets of terms and conditions or we can present them with a united front, and consistent standards of service.
  • Marketing and Promotion. Fairly obvious this, but to what extent might we consider raising national awareness relevant to individual operations…and would we pay for it? There is however free marketing to be had by mutually promoting each others businesses and achievements through our own websites and social media.
  • Quality standards. Each of us knows the strength of our own operation, but would probably not want to risk our reputation on that of others. Yet we can all gain from increased credibility of the industry as a whole. Rather than instigate a complicated system of regulation we might benefit from a simple system of either self (or perhaps peer) assessment. This might include such things as security, redundancy (can we operate if a rider falls ill ), longetivity, financial stability, whether we have the relevant insurances etc. Even having a set of external standards which members could assess themselves against could be useful in declaring our respective competancies to deliver what we say we can to potential partners.
  • Managing competition. The elephant in the room here is competition. Even though, on the whole, we are not competing directly as we are operating in different cities, might we be in the future? How many of us would like to expand our operations, and what would happen when two members overlap? Overall competition is good, and it would be a mark of a maturing industry when most towns or cities had at least two cyclelogistics operations. I don’t know exactly what the role of the Federation would be, but I would hope it would help avoid turf wars and price wars.

I have posted a link to this on the Cyclelogistics forum, and although I will leave comments open below, I suspect discussion there will be more fruitful.

Delivery Consolidation to Leeds city centre

What do Bristol, Göteborg, Ljubljana, Ravenna and Riga all have in common?

They were the five European cities involved in the START (Short Term Actions to Reorganize Transport of goods) project which ran from 2006-2009.

From their site:

Acknowledging that the current system of goods distribution is rich in emissions and not necessarily energy efficient, the five cities of START has implemented a mixture of complementary long-term planning actions, for the reduction of the need of transport, with short term initiatives, such as access restrictions, consolidation centres and incentives. The approach of the project is based on the close collaboration between city governments, transport companies and local businesses formalised in local freight networks, which have been established in each START city.

The idea is simple. By having delivery hubs on the outskirts of these cities, which can receive goods on behalf of city centre retailers and businesses, and can then consolidate these into fewer vehicles, there is a saving of delivery costs, as well as reduction in traffic and CO2 emissions. The scheme was promoted through additional delivery restrictions and incentives for those using the scheme.

Would such a scheme be effective in Leeds? And what sort of role could cycle couriers have? There are clearly numerous empty buildings within a short distance of the city which could act as a delivery hub. The majority of retailers are within a pedestrianized precinct which is restricted to vehicles between 10.30am and 4.30pm, and although many of these are large enough to have staff able to receive deliveries outside normal business hours, for the small independant retailer, such restrictions can be problematic.

Cargo bikes can offer an effective solution to this problem. Should Leeds ever consider such an initiative, Last Mile Leeds are already perfectly positioned to take advantage.

Last Mile logo

So, the first step with the website was to come up with a logo. I don’t quite know where this came from, but I had this sort of image in my mind from the start. So, returning to CorelDraw after a long break I managed to take myself through the process in the space of a few hours.

I do think that it has captured the essence of who we are –  or at least who we aim to be. I’m quite please with it, and especially like the fact that I can break apart the different elements (city, bike, name etc) to use them as icons or in different shaped spaces. I’d welcome your comments dear reader…

 

Last Mile, First Post

Is it a bad idea to blog about your business start-up?

Can one be too open?

Nowadays it seems to be the case that blogging is where it’s at and I’ve never really had much to blog about. Setting up and running Last Mile Delivery in Leeds might just be a worthy topic, so here goes…