Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, more trucks than ever will be on the road for the holiday season, delivering packages to cooped-up Americans looking to salvage some sense of normalcy for the Christmas season.
Recently, more Americans shopped online for Black Friday and Cyber Monday than they have in recent memory. Granted, this has been a trend that has been ongoing for a while now. Ever since the rise of Amazon and e-commerce, Americans have come to embrace the perk of shopping from their couch and having their package delivered to them, spending over $1 billion in online shopping alone on Cyber Monday.
The rise of e-commerce has also brought about a rise in delivery services, which requires a massive truck fleet to get those packaged to the doors of waiting consumers. While the business is brisk and it also puts on added wear-and-tear on your truck fleet, which as to be maintained to maintain the high delivery standards you have set out for your company.
With that in mind, here are some ways you can get your truck fleet ready for the peak of the holiday season.
Maintain Your Fleet and Make Sure Repairs Are Done
The worse possible thing for a delivery company is to have a fleet of trucks that is riddled with maintaining issues.
Having an unreliable truck fleet is not only dangerous to the drivers of the trucks but can also seriously hamper delivery schedules, resulting in more late deliveries that you could be on the hook for (more on that later). So before a truck tire hits the road, make sure that those tires are pressured and is showing little signs of wear-and-tear. Auto tire services< can come in and make sure the tires on your truck fleet are ready for the grind of the holiday season.
Also, make sure that the engine is maintained and that any issues are repaired. You can contract auto services to come in and inspect your trucks, or if you have an in-house maintenance operation, you can do it yourself. Make sure that a contractor that specializes in auto glass services can come in and make any repairs to your fleet’s windows. Another crucial item that you will need for your fleet is cable seals, which holds the goods that you will be transporting from being tampered with, stole, and protected from contamination.
Based on the number of orders that will be coming in during the holiday season, you are going to need a lot of cable seals.
Make Sure Your Fleet Is Insured
Once your fleet is checked out and certified ready to go, you are going to want to make sure that one basic, but important item is checked off the list: insurance. Basic law, a truck can’t legally operate on the road if it’s not insured, so make sure that your truck fleet has the insurance so that it can get on the road to making deliveries.
You will also check your transportation insurance to ensure that your fleet is covered under the right kind of insurance. You never know what’s going to happen on the road, so make sure the insurance is there to protect your drivers and the packages in your care.
Review Your Shipping Contracts
Now that the maintenance and insurance are covered, now it’s time to review your shipping contracts. Most delivery companies have contracts with such stalwarts as UPS and FedEx that forge a sort of “middle-man” relationship between the customer and the delivery contractor. Reviewing these contracts will ensure that there won’t be any sneaky surprises that pop up while your truck fleet is out making deliveries.
One big issue that sort of acts as a tug of war between delivery and shipping companies is refunded. For example, if damage occurs while a package is in transit, you will want a UPS refund because the damage occurred while it was in UPS’ care.
Make sure that you spell out in your shipping contract who is responsible for refunds and damages to the products, and nail down a rate that will be beneficial for both the shipping company and your company that does long haul trucking services.
Keep Up To Speed With Road Conditions
Now that your truck fleet is on the road, your drivers will have to react to the ever-changing road conditions that will present themselves over the holiday season. If your trucks are making deliveries to temperate places such as Florida and Texas, this won’t be too much of an issue (minus the notoriously bad drivers that will be on the road in those states). The problem comes, however, in northern states, where snow, wind, and cold are a common fact for road conditions.
This year will more-than-likely be an El Nino year, which brings a higher chance of precipitation during the winter months, making driving conditions even more challenging. Thanks to the advance in technology, it’s easier to check weather and traffic conditions on the fly. Some companies have weather overlay features with their maps that will allow drivers to check both traffic and weather conditions at the same time, increasing the likelihood that packages will be delivered on time for the holiday season.
Check Those Routes Twice
A big part of ensuring on-time delivery is the routes your trucks take to get packages to their destination. Traffic and weather will already pose a challenge to trucking routes all over the country, so you don’t want to have routes that will take longer for your drivers to reach their destinations.
Route evaluations are key to ensuring that the routes your trucks take are efficient and maximizes productivity. Also, while you’re overlaying your routes, factor in the drive time, especially if that route takes them through unsavory weather conditions or a nearby package distribution center that will cause your truck to run into traffic. All of these things should be factored in while you’re evaluating your routes. A good route will always lead to on-time deliveries, which equals happy customers!
Ditch All the Paperwork
The downside to any delivery company is the amount of paperwork that is involved with the business. Route manifests, order sheets, you name it, there is probably a paperwork sheet for that item. While it’s great to have a physical copy of your work and deliveries, it may be best to cut down on all the paperwork. These stacks of paper, from rule receipts to proof of delivery, can be a drag on your company’s productivity.
Besides, most of those same documents that used to require a dead tree and some ink can now be checked on your smartphone or computer. Even better, some companies have sprouted up around delivery companies that can provide an assist to that mountain of paperwork. Management programs can track, electronically, how much gas your trucks are using, the timing of deliveries, and other solutions that can easily be done paperless.
So, you’re asking yourself what does this have to do with maintaining your truck fleet? Well, by outsourcing these tasks to an outside company and cutting down on paperwork, that will save your company money, which can then be reinvested into maintaining your truck fleet.
Beware Of Distracted Driving
Here’s the thing: It can be easy to be distracted from the road, but it can be downright dangerous if you’re in a truck. Ensure that your drivers are given proper education on the dangers of distracted driving during the holidays. According to the CDC, nine deaths and over 1,000 injures occur every day on the highways-and-byways of America. Add in the holidays, and the risk elevated.
There are three types of distracted driving: visual, manual, and cognitive, and all three can pose a safety risk not only to your drivers but to your truck fleet as well. So make sure that your drivers are aware of the road that surrounds them so that they, your truck fleet, and the packages can reach their destinations safely.
Make Sure Your Drivers Have Emergency Parts in Hand
You’re driving down the highway, and all of a sudden, something seriously goes wrong with your truck. Even though you have checked your rig from top-to-bottom, inside-and-out, to make sure that there are no problems with the truck, something went wrong. That’s just the nature of machines. Even when you check them twice, something can always happen. This is why you should make sure your drivers have emergency parts available so that, if anything goes wrong, they can easily repair it.
Keep recycled truck parts on deck just in case a driver or one of your repairmen have to go out and make an emergency repair on the road. There will also be times when there is nothing your driver can do to repair the truck. That is where having tow truck assistance comes in very handy. Having a tow truck on dispatch comes in handy when you need your truck hauled back to the garage for repairs. Even though it may ensure in packaged being late, safety trumps everything.
Make Sure Your Fleet Is Secure
The holidays are a special time of year where people gather to be jolly and nice. However, there are some people out there who won’t be so nice and are instead looking for the opportunity to be the Grinch for Christmas.
Holiday thieves see the holiday as a grand opportunity to help themselves, and they’re shameless about who they steal it from. This is also the time of year where they will target delivery truck fleets, looking to run off with a bounty of packages. Make sure that your fleet is secure so that it won’t be marked as an easy target by thieves. Contact a car locksmith to outfit your trucks with low jacks that will keep the holiday Grinches away and ensure that the holidays stay joyful.
Have a Piece of Mind for the Holidays
All of the preparation that you put into getting your truck fleet ready for the holidays comes with an added amount of stress.
The holidays can be a stressful time for truckers, as not only do they have to deal with the hazardous conditions that come with driving during the holidays, but also with the added weight of being away from home. That is a reason why you should start early to make sure your trick fleet is ready to go for the winter. Has everything checked twice to ensure that there are no added worries for your drivers on the road?
Not only will lead to greater peace of mind on the road for the drivers, knowing that they won’t have to deal with an assortment of problems with their trucks while navigating the highways of America, trying to get packages to destinations on time, and it will bring you peace of mind knowing that you have a fleet that will be ready to go and will perform up to the standards that you set out.
In conclusion, driving during the holidays is not for the faint of heart. Several hazards increase in danger during the holidays. Not only that, but there is an increased pressure on delivery and shipping companies to get packages to customers. All of this can add up to stress that is beyond measure. Stress that not everyone can handle.
But you can handle the pressure. Your drivers can handle the pressure. Why? Because this is what a year’s worth of preparation leads up to. Having your truck fleet ready for the holidays is a year-round process. It means fine-tuning routes to ensure that divers have an easy and efficient time getting from point A to point B. It means making sure your fleet is repaired and maintained to handle the rigors of winter weather. It means making sure that the packages your truckers are transporting are kept safe from damage and the Grinch.
That means making sure your insurance is up-to-date so that your trucks have the right kind of coverage. That means reviewing your shipping contracts so that you and the shipper are on the same page.
That is what doing all of this leads up to, making customers happy once they see their packages have made it to their home. Happy holidays and be safe out there.