There will be life after COVID-19. How we approach our fleet decisions now and how we adapt to potential changes will likely make a major difference in future growth or decline.
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in all aspects of our business and personal lives. For many of us, balancing work and home life was a challenge before COVID-19 but now it’s even more stressful. Whether we have become home school teachers, are trying to maintain balance and focus while working from home; or just serving as our own bar tenders on Friday night, we have all had to adjust. Hopefully, if not at the end, we are at least approaching a workaround to this pandemic, and that may well mean that in the near future, the product and the trucks will be on the way to their destination. So now is the perfect time to assess how to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic. And, by addressing these issues now, we may be well armed to handle any future disruptions. Here are five tips to help ensure business continuity in a time of disruption:
- Ensure your spot rates
The spot market is soft, but it is not here to stay. When looking at your carriers, it is smart to also look at your network in order to ensure the rates they have contracted with you are going to hold firm in the next year. Looking down the road and into the “crystal balls” that all logistics professionals have on their desks, potential interrupters in the rates are worth taking into consideration now to avoid surprises later this year.
- Evaluate how your company is doing
Is your company producing and shipping at the same levels it was prior to COVID-19? If not, plan a meeting with the supply chain side of your company and get a ramp-up plan laid out. If your company’s volumes have dropped but are due to ramp up week over week, get your carrier involved in the plan. Let them know the anticipated ramp-up schedule. Keeping your carrier involved in this discussion sets them at ease and, in most cases, the carrier will be happy to work with your company, acting as a partner on the ramp-up predictions.
- Decide if your transportation network will be changing
If change is in your future, maybe it’s time to think about different modes. Perhaps dedicated contract carriage would be a better fit now or maybe you should consider converting from LTL to multi-stop truckload deliveries. Because of the pandemic, consumers have changed how they are purchasing and it may be time to take a step back and really look at your transportation network to ensure your carriers are going to be the right fit for your company moving forward.
- Have a conversation with your carriers’ salespeople
Interrupters and disruptions are often a good time to learn about additional services your carriers may offer, so take this opportunity to speak with them. Alternative modes may be a better option on certain lanes; or perhaps the carriers offer different ways to deliver your product. Having these discussions could also give you a different perspective of the market conditions or technologies that could make your company’s customers have a better experience. Lean into these conversations and glean the knowledge these professionals have with the current transportation landscape.
- Get out from behind the screen
Relying on the digital world has become essential when so many of us are working at home on our laptops or mobile devices. For many of us, this has become the logical extension of the way we work in the office as well. Utilizing load boards is definitely a cost saver; but have we become lazy and complacent with just clicking through the screens and picking the easy option to get freight moving? Is it really cheaper? Is it really the best way? Now is the time to take a hard look at what our practices are costing us, in time, money, and customer satisfaction.
COVID-19 may be the disrupter that is going to make or break many companies moving forward. But with some planning and, in some cases, some hard conversations, these tips may help keep your company moving forward and surviving this crisis.