Commentary: Three tips for carriers ramping up for peak season

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As the holiday season approaches, it is critical for carriers to prepare for the upcoming peak season. In order to meet demand and provide great customer service, transport companies must consider historic industry trends and analyze the new economic landscape as a result of the global pandemic.

Roy Rosell is the product marketing manager for NEXT TruckingRoy Rosell is the product marketing manager for NEXT Trucking

In past holiday seasons, ships brimming with cargo would be gearing up for Pacific-bound journeys to ensure goods arrive at our shores in time for the stretch of gift-giving months. Today, variables scaling from small local nuances to immensely vast global changes are being taken into account to help prepare carriers for this year’s holiday season.

COVID-19 has changed buying behaviors over the last seven months, resulting in a massive increase in e-commerce and BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store). Adobe’s digital economy index details online sales increased 55% to $66.3 billion in July 2020, compared to July 2019. This report illustrates the unprecedented shift to online goods, which analysts say would have taken four to six years to reach on the trajectory prior to the pandemic hitting.

A clear upward trend in online consumption is continuing this summer due to the impact of the pandemic and the external structures that have shifted the economy. Transport companies across the country are also beginning to see an uptick in volumes, as many shippers start to resume some semblance of normalcy. This is resulting in an increasingly active marketplace that allows the focus to be placed on identifying and executing best practices to anticipate buoyant holiday provisions.

Now is the perfect time to ensure a successful peak season. Here are three tips to ensure you’re ready to hit the ground driving this peak:

1. Diversify Sources of Freight

The pandemic hit drivers hard. Nearly 100,000 drivers lost their jobs in a single month. With a wide variety of social, economic, political and environmental factors always in play, consider diversifying sources of freight with mobile apps and load boards. The integration of mobile apps provides the essential elasticity the supply chain requires to move as a well-oiled machine, and while also providing real-time updates, insights and flexibility. It’s critical to establish a routine that lets you maximize earning potential while aligning with work-life balance goals.

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2. Proactive Preventative Maintenance

In order to anticipate and fulfill capacity needs, preventative maintenance on your vehicles is paramount. Like many individuals who lost their jobs over the course of COVID-19, your truck may have been sitting idle for some time now. As more jobs become available, now is not the time to drop loads or get stuck on the road. Get your rig right before something goes wrong. Be proactive and create a checklist that includes checking out the following: engine oil and filter, transmission fluid, drive shafts or CV joints, drive belt, serpentine belt, hoses, fuel system, cooling system and transmission mounts. Not only will this ensure a seamless and efficient supply chain during peak season for all parties, but it will provide physical safety and peace of mind for drivers.

3. Revisit Your Insurance Relationships

In life, insurance is always a good idea and reduces expenses in the long run. Commercial trucking insurance delivers sensible security to carriers, protecting them against potential loss or damage. And because trucks are very expensive vehicles, this holds especially true for avoiding serious financial setbacks for drivers. Requirements around insurance are going to change, as there is a bill in Congress that would increase the mandatory minimums. Right now is a great time to connect with your insurance provider to see what these changes might mean for your business. The high cost of insurance remains one of the biggest reasons trucking companies are forced to close their doors. By being proactive now, you can build the increased costs into your budget.

While COVID-19 has and continues to wreak havoc on the logistics industry, the silver-lining here is that reports are showing positive trends as Fall approaches and carriers can use the next few months to get ahead of the anticipated increase in volume by mitigating potential risks now.

Roy Rosell is the product marketing manager for NEXT Trucking