arrowxl charlie shiels

From the outset of this pandemic the government made it clear that home delivery was vital to the fight against COVID-19 and that company’s like ours were doing essential work. It made sense – home delivery enables people to get the items they need while self-isolating or following the government’s guidelines to stay at home.

So, with the decision as to whether to continue to operate having been to a certain extent taken out of our hands, it was time to channel our Dunkirk spirit and get on with it.

There is no instruction manual for leading a business during a pandemic of this magnitude and the total disruption to everything that we have taken for granted. Yet some of the lessons I have learned during my 30-year career in the sector are proving useful.

Probably the most important is that having the right people around you is key. My executive and leadership team have all been carefully chosen to bring something different to the party both in terms of skills, experience and approach.

Early on it became clear that the way forward is to ensure that every decision is made with integrity and guided by our moral compass. This makes some of the decisions easy and for example the board was unanimous in its decision to immediately send all staff who would count as shielded (due to underlying medical conditions) home on full pay until further notice.

Home working for everyone else, who could possibly work from home, was also straightforward. This included a large contact centre population that required IT and technology solutions designing and implementing almost overnight.

However not everything is that simple. There is a small group of people who believe that we should not be delivering ‘non- essential’ items to households and that we are risking the health of our staff. They are pushing for us to close our doors regardless of the strong health and safety processes we have put in place based on the latest guidance from Public Health England.

For example, we are no longer delivering into homes but to the doorstep or a nominated safe place on the property instead. Our crews are advising consumers to remain at a distance of over 2m and there will be no signature needed. We have also stopped wet connecting and disconnecting appliances and all product collections.

Our vehicles and hand-held technology are cleaned and sanitised every night and we are talking and listening to our people on a daily basis. Other steps including 2m spacing is marked out on all our warehouse walkways and communal areas and every room has a person limit clearly marked out.

We very early on staggered start, finish and break times to ensure we limited the opportunity for clusters of colleagues to gather. It was clear that during these extraordinary times our priority was the well-being of our colleagues, clients and consumers.

But we had to keep trading even though we will not make any profit during this period.

The thing is, I get it to a certain extent. We are all frightened for ourselves and our loved ones but at the end of the day I agree with the government that home delivery is a critical service and I know that the safety measures we have put in place are robust and support the fact that the safety of our staff and customers is a priority.

I am so proud of every single colleague in ArrowXL, who have pulled together in such a demanding and challenging time. It’s been awesome to be a part of a great team and watch great people deliver great service.

For millions of people isolated at home, two-man delivery companies like ArrowXL are their only option if they need something delivered, and the same applies to other key workers that need to shop online. We were also proud to deliver directly to the new Nightingale Hospital in London and look forward to delivering to the other NHS facilities as required or requested by our client base in other to support our NHS.

My belief that we are doing the right thing is supported by the numerous positive reviews we are receiving about crews delivering for people ‘trapped at home’ and the gratitude they have.

For example, last week we received over 3,700 4* and 5* CSAT customer satisfaction reviews and some brilliant feedback. This one that was sent to one of our delivery crews sums it up for me: “You two are heroes! Thank you for delivering our freezer. We are self-isolating as we both have underlying health issues. We live on our boat on the canal and have limited storage space. Your delivery means we can reduce our shopping trips - or the people shopping for us can. So, what you're doing isn't just delivering stuff. You're helping us stop the spread of the virus.”

Charlie Shiels, CEO, ArrowXL