The most wonderful time of the year is always hectic for the transportation industry, and this season is shaping up to be even busier than usual. Retail sales are projected to grow up to 4.8% year over year, including an expected whopping 15% growth in e-commerce. As online retailers like Amazon and Target up the ante and broaden their free shipping offers, postal services like UPS predict record-breaking delivery numbers, as high as 800 million.
This upswell of activity, along with worsening weather and traffic conditions, busier delivery docks, and a heightened risk of cargo theft, makes it critical to have a plan to maintain fleet safety and efficiency through the winter months. Here are 5 tips to help your fleet survive the holiday season.
1. React to Changing Road Conditions
An El Niño weather event is likely to bring higher precipitation levels this winter, exacerbating already poor road and traffic conditions. Leverage real-time fleet visibility tools, like our latest weather overlay features, to navigate drivers away from dangerous conditions or unforseen roadblocks caused by inclement weather. Overcome holiday backups with live traffic data to warn drivers of major delays and improve on-time delivery.
2. Make Sure Your Fleet Is Storm Ready
The absolute worst time for a driver to discover their brake pads are worn or their tire pressure is low is when they’re navigating wet leaves or icy roads. Keep your fleet safe and on-time by having a comprehensive and effective maintenance plan in place before winter weather strikes. Consider upping maintenance check-ins for trucks traversing difficult routes, and confirm all drivers—in particular less veteran ones—are fully comfortable identifying and communicating maintenance problems. For more maintenance tips, check out our keys for successful fleet maintenance.
3. Take a Closer Look at Your Routes
The hectic holidays can delay even the most carefully planned routes as competition for delivery docks increases, traffic trends change, and the pressure for on-time delivery rises. Even if your team routinely reviews route performance, it’s worth assessing if short-term adjustments are necessary. Have a route that passes near a package distribution center? Consider re-routing until the retail influx dies down. Consult time-on-site reports to confirm if certain delivery stops should be moved later in the route because unloading now takes longer. Looking to become a routing expert? Read our routing power-user guide for tips and best practices.
4. Cut the Paperwork
A blitz of deliveries invariably means an influx of paperwork, taking valuable time away from drivers and blanketing back offices with physical stacks of paper. From fuel receipts to proof of delivery documents, bills of lading to scale tickets, the heap of documents drivers need to complete grows in step with the number of deliveries they make. Simplify your processes with a paperless solution, like our Document Management feature. Instead of manually filling out forms or collecting receipts, drivers can use custom digital forms, attach photos, and instantly submit them for review. No more paper, pencils, or stamps required.
5. Thwart Thieves
The mass transportation of valuable merchandise makes the holiday season a tempting opportunity for cargo thieves. To make your fleet harder to target, avoid leaving trailers unattended and train drivers on finding safe overnight parking spots. Gain peace of mind by setting up geofences for unauthorized vehicle movement and alerts for unexpected activity, like open doors. And if the worst should happen, leverage live GPS tracking to share location data with police and recover stolen assets. Check out our theft prevention and asset recovery guide for more ways to safeguard your fleet.
Interested in finding out more? Check out how Samsara can help you and your business navigate the holiday season and beyond. Contact us for a demo or free trial.