As Santa prepares his reindeer and his sleigh for the Big Night in a week’s time, ready to deliver presents to all the good boys and girls throughout the world in one night, you wonder whether he could seek to reduce his stress levels by simply outsourcing the entire operation to a third party.

Whilst the contract would be high profile and a feather in any logistics company’s hat, would there be many bidders for the contract? There would be a number of key obstacles to consider including:

  • Technology refresh – Santa (apparently) works from handwritten lists and books, receiving hundreds of millions of wishlists from boys and girls across the world. To deliver this in the modern world, a huge investment in IT systems would surely be needed?
  • Staff transfer – any bidder would have to untangle employee matters with Santa’s Elves – are they employed, what terms are they on and would legislation transfer their employment to the new operator?
  • Service levels – delivery on time every time is absolutely crucial, so Santa would surely be asking for demanding service levels. Would he allow a supplier to build in contingencies especially given that the service is to be carried out at a notoriously snowy time of the year?
  • Service spikes – to say that demand for the service is seasonal is an understatement – the provider would have one night in the year to provide the service with a very short lead time – surely any new provider would look to smooth this out and deliver over a much longer period?
  • Litigation risk – one of the key roles in the build-up to the big day is assessment of the Good List and Naughty List – any provider would be expected to take on board the risk of disappointed people suing if they felt they’d been placed on the wrong list.
  • Assets – what state is the sleigh in and will Santa give any assurances over its maintenance records. What investment is required by the supplier to ensure consistent performance year on year?
  • IP – Would Santa allow an operator to use his IP? Would this cover all his brands such as “Santa”, “Old Saint Nick” and “Father Christmas”? He’d surely want control over how the supplier used this going forward to ensure that his brand wasn’t used for other, less prestigious delivery services. 
  • Property – is Santa’s warehouse & distribution hub fit for purpose – does he even have one? Who is to pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the depot?
  • Payment – with such a massive operation required (not to mention the investment that would be needed) surely a premium price would be charged? This is perhaps the biggest hurdle for a bidder to overcome, as any successful bidder would be expected to provide the service free of charge. 

Thinking about it further, there are some really good reasons why Santa can’t outsource his role and why generations of children for years to come will continue to enjoy the magic of Father Christmas.