It’s time to shine a new light on something that’s too often portrayed as a crisis. As I’m sure you know, the haulage industry has been experiencing a drivers’ shortage in recent years. Of course, this shortage is heightened around Christmas as demand increases and drivers are off on holiday, but rather than seeing it as something stressful and negative, I want you to look at it as an opportunity. Just think about it: if other freight forwarders are struggling to meet demands, your company can pick up the slack and get more delivery work.
I know that this may be easier said than done, but with these top tips for combating driver shortages, you’ll breeze through the pressure-filled Christmas period.
Tip #1: Own Your Haulage Fleet
By having your own fleet, you’ll be much better equipped to tackle the sudden surge of delivery work. You won’t have to anticipate the number of drivers you’ll need to subcontract for these peak times and risk having too few to respond to demand, or worse, risk having too many who then just sit idly by. You can control how much delivery work you take on based on the size of your fleet and the availability of your drivers.
Tip #2: Try ‘Drop and Swap’
In case you haven’t heard of this strategy, allow me to explain. The idea behind the ‘drop and swap’ is to make the most of limited resources by using driver and vehicle ‘tractor units’ as efficiently as possible. When drivers deliver a container, rather than just unloading it at a distribution centre, the hauliers automatically swap their container for an empty one. They then take it to the terminal and back to port. This puts an end to empty runs and uses drivers more effectively.
Tip #3: Use Rail Transport
If you make use of rail transport to complete some of your delivery work, you won’t have drivers wasting their time queuing at major ports, or using up fuel unnecessarily because they’re stuck in traffic. By transporting containers to a closer and less crowded port than the one at which the shipment first arrives, your haulage company will be much more time- and cost-effective.
Tip #4: Collaborate Via an Online Exchange Platform
Collaboration is at the heart of competent and well-organised delivery work. By coordinating delivery and pick-up times and building long-lasting partnerships with customers, the supply chain can run smoothly.
With an online exchange platform like Haulage Exchange, which easily integrates with any software that you may use, your freight forwarding company can tackle its driver shortage head-on. You’ll also be able to post about any unused capacity to avoid empty runs, find companies to whom you can outsource your excess workload or take on extra deliveries that other companies don’t have the capacity to fulfil.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching delivery work with available drivers. Over 4,800 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.