The coronavirus pandemic has closed many borders in the world and made operations more difficult for companies in nearly every field. We talked to Vladimir Milenkovic of the External Sales Sector at Gebrüder Weiss about how this affected the organization of the sales sector’s operations at GW.
– Since to our company the employees’ health and safe work come first, at the very beginning of the first wave of the pandemic, it was decided for the employees whose work description allowed for it to be sent to work from home. The necessary infrastructure was provided so that the work would go smoothly in the new conditions as well; live meetings were replaced by virtual ones. The entire communication with the clients and the operating departments was carried out by phone or mail, or through an online platform, such as Teams or Skype. Constant dedication and care of the entire sales team when it comes to clients made them trust us and enabled us to achieve successful business results, regardless of the fact that transport organization was a real challenge in the new circumstances.
During the second wave of the pandemic, the trend of online communication continued, but the employees were divided into teams and would come to the office at different times, so as to avoid the potential danger of the spreading of COVID-19. Although the pandemic is ongoing, the impression is that the number of companies which want to meet their business partners in real life is gradually increasing, considering that people have learned how to behave and that the prevention measures have largely been adopted as part of everyday life. A positive outcome of the changes brought about by the pandemic is the adaptation to the possibility of doing everyday tasks outside the workspace. We expect that, due to this situation and with securing modern technology systems, modernized work systems will be considered in the future as well.
There’s talk about the organization of services everywhere. Have you had to implement any new features as well?
– We have. In order to keep up with modern trends and digitization, we dedicated ourselves to market research and launched a new product in 2020 – My GW Portal. The aim of this project is to facilitate and accelerate everyday operating communication, while maintaining regular contact with the clients, as before.
This enables the purchasers to follow their shipments at a single click, quickly, simply and transparently, from the moment they order the transport service to the delivery of the goods to the address. Thanks to this portal, the possibility of miscommunication is reduced to a minimum, considering that the purchasers issue orders to our companies directly through online platforms. Another important advantage is that clients can successfully run a register of their stock, getting all the documents necessary for the previous services at a single click.
My GW Portal is currently meant for certain European states, and the necessary testing for our market is planned for 2021. Based on the results of the polit project, we should see how Serbia reacts to this kind of a service, which has proven to be very successful in Europe already.
Of course, this way, we want to reduce only the operating part of the communication to a minimum, whereas our regular contact with our clients remains a priority, in line with our company’s policy.
Has the pandemic affected the economy of Serbia and is that impact recognized in the sector of transport and logistics?
– The COVID-19 pandemic has inevitably had an impact on the economy of Serbia, as is the case with all the countries of the world anyway. Some of the leading industries have faced a decreased demand for certain kinds of products, while others have had problems with an excessive demand and the inability to respond to it. For example, the need and the demand for medical products and food has increased considerably, whereas the automotive industry has suffered considerable losses.
As for the transport itself, we faced great challenges, primarily when it comes to delivery deadlines, which, in line with the clients’ demands, kept getting shorter, and then, also, there was a lack of drivers. Still, I can say with confidence that we have coped with this in the best way possible and that we ended last year we successful business results. Of course, none of this would be possible without the remarkable team work we fostered, the dedication of our employees, who overcame all the difficulties heroically and who were ready to risk their health and the health of their families so that the logistics process would continue uninterrupted.
The advantage of this situation is reflected in people’s increased awareness of transport and logistics as an activity which is important for the existence of the entire population.
What are your goals for 2021?
– Our company is recognized in the world not just for its long-standing history and tradition, but also for the quality of the services it provides. Accordingly, the main goal of GW in the upcoming period, as before, will be to achieve maximum client satisfaction. In the past few years, Gebrüder Weiss has focused on expanding the operations in the form of transport of FMCG brands, which require a special approach and treatment due to the sensitivity of the goods and the importance of delivery deadlines. Due to this, one of the priorities in the upcoming period will be to increase the share of the transport of this type of goods.
We take care for our staff to be professional and motivated, so as to respond to all the demands and challenges that are part of our work, so one of the goals is certainly to expand our orange team with hard-working, valuable young people. Our employees’ team is a true reflection of a successful blend of youth and experience, as shown by the fact that more and more satisfied clients recommend our services to their business partners.