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Best Practices of Top Performing Warehouses

Best Practices of Top Performing Warehouses

Assess the Situation

It’s easy to become complacent with operational procedures and company culture, to reach a place where tasks are done a certain way simply because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” That type of mindset frequently sets companies on a fast track to stagnated growth or, worse, reduced productivity. In order to keep top performing warehouses and distribution centers thriving and growing, managers must consistently reassess processes and implement necessary changes.

It’s important to know the areas to look at when assessing your operation’s performance. After all, it isn’t all just about output. There are also factors such as pick accuracy and labor turnover to consider. DC Velocity (July 2017) outlines four key areas to evaluate when measuring overall operational performance: safety, customer service, productivity, and employees. You can take a quick look at the status of these areas by answering a few questions.

  1. Has your company experienced an increase in on-the-job injuries?
  2. Do your customers receive the product they ordered in a timely fashion?
  3. Are you decreasing, increasing, or maintaining output?
  4. Are your employees happy to work for your company or are you seeing an increase in labor turnover?

The answers to these questions will give you a quick pulse on your warehouse or distribution center’s overall performance.

Knowing where your operation stands is vital to keeping a company on track and prospering, but it’s only the first step. Company leadership must be committed to implementing the changes needed to resolve the problems these questions may illuminate.

9 Practices of Top Performers

A great place to start is by implementing what DC Velocity alongside ARC Advisory Group discovered are the nine best practices of top performing warehouses. These characteristics actions were present in all operations that scored above average in the areas of safety, customer service, productivity, and employees in DCV and ARC’s study exploring warehouse management best practices.

  • Maintain a Well Lit Warehouse

  • Maintain a Clean Warehouse

  • Pay at Least 50% More than Minimum Wage

  • Offer Non-Financial Reward (food, payed time off, etc.) for High Performance

  • Utilize High Speed Conveyor and Sortation Equipment

  • Have Managers Frequently Monitor Employees as They Work and Offer On-the-spot Positive Reinforcement

  • Conduct Manager Reviews with Feedback from Supervisors, Peers, and Subordinates Alike

  • Train Managers to Provide Effective Feedback

  • Monitor Workers Regularly (at least once a month) to Make Sure All Standards and Best Practices are Being Followed

Every operation may be different, but best practices remain consistent across the board. Follow the above 9 recommendations to see your warehouse or distribution center’s performance dramatically improve.

As these items show, performance begins with management. A management team that is accountable and that respects and encourages the labor force is a management team that inspires growth. Safety is maximized when management implements and upholds safety standards in the workplace; customer service is at its best when management teaches employees by example that every client is important; Productivity increases when management encourages and rewards hard work and utilizes technology to assist employees in the process; and employees are retained when management values each individual and what he/she brings to the table.


So, if you’re looking to improve overall performance in your warehouse or distribution center, take a step back. Consider the four questions on safety, customer service, productivity, and employees. What area(s) need improvement? And consider, has your operation implemented all of the 9 proven best practices to become a top performer in the industry? If not, start with your management team. Get them on board with the vision, and get to work.