It can be tough to be a business in winter — unless you’re selling fire logs or cold-weather clothes.
As the holiday season comes to a close, many shoppers try to play catch-up with their finances by tightening up the purse strings and reducing their spending wherever they can. That shopping lull can certainly be felt in the trucking and transportation industry, which profoundly relies on consumer spending patterns.
In the fleet world, customers with less business equate to a decrease in loads. Luckily, the right business-centric strategies can prepare you for even the frostiest slowdowns this winter. Read on for a few of our top suggestions.
Up your eCommerce game
With the COVID-19 pandemic, eCommerce has skyrocketed as a preferred shopping method. In October 2020, eCommerce sales reached a level not previously expected until at least 2022. Customers are far less likely to catch germs, no pesky shoppers are breathing down anyone’s neck, and —other than the occasional return — it’s uber convenient. No long lines, no driving to any stores, and you can sit on your sofa in your sweatpants. Conclusively, eCommerce is a convenient haven for many shoppers.
In addition to the pandemic and budgeting finances, cold weather also plays a role in how likely customers are to frequent stores in person — especially given the growing abundance of businesses with online shops. Fleets can increase business by prioritizing suppliers who provide these online services, as that will likely signify these suppliers are able to secure a more considerable customer base.
Bring life to work-life balance
Transportation workers often work around the clock during the holidays — figuratively speaking, since Hours of Service regulations don’t typically allow for that.
Just like all hard workers, truckers need time to rest and recharge. In 2019, the U.S. National Library of Medicine published a comprehensive research article on the significance of work-life balance for over-the-road and less-than-truckload truckers. In their research, the authors concluded that low work-life balance amongst these truckers and other American workers leads to growing health disparities, significantly impacting life outside the workplace. An increasing driver shortage also points to this issue, as truckers have been communicating that they place increasing value on work-life balance.
Incentivizing drivers with more days off during slower periods — as long as it doesn’t disrupt their financial and job security — is a way to reward drivers for working so hard during the holidays. It also allows you to maintain some flexibility in your budget.
Just as you can prepare for seasonal spikes with the right territory and route planning application, you can plan for seasonal slowdowns.
An intuitive strategic planning solution is one that forecasts your seasonal fluctuations so you’re not left in the dark, scrambling your budget around, and disrupting your operation in real time. With historical customer and delivery data, you can plan far in advance. An example of this would be reviewing your historical delivery patterns during the slow season and matching your business needs with the number of drivers you have, along with your planned budget and customer delivery times. Then, should you get busier, you could actively recruit temporary drivers and plan your trips accordingly.
Slow business is not the only thing to keep in mind these next few months. Check out our recent blog post on ways to keep drivers and trucks safe in sleet and snow. Here’s to a warm and prosperous winter