Weather has and will always be a factor in the world of transportation.
While the North American winter forecast can be unpredictable, its effects are not. Year after year we see trucks stuck on congested, unplowed highways and snow-covered railroads unable to let trains through. We see ice making it impossible for planes to safely land and take off. As one delay piles onto the next, the supply chain gets stopped in its tracks… literally.
Developing a short-term strategy to prepare your company for seasonal fluctuations isn’t as daunting as you may think. Here are some tips to help you tackle the upcoming winter season.
- Understand market fluctuations.
While trying to make sense of market and freight capacity cycles, take advantage of your Account Executive’s expertise. A trusted 3PL has watched the trends for years and thoroughly understands how to help your specific business prepare for these common fluctuations.
- Communicate internally.
Communication is vital to manage situations that are beyond your control. Educate your company on the effects of weather, particularly your Customer Service and Sales teams, as they are the front lines of communication and can help avoid unmet expectations. Communicate with upper management to keep them informed of additional costs and changes due to weather-related conditions. Giving everyone the proper insight will help to prevent some potentially grueling conversations when the bills come in.
- Communicate externally.
Communicate with your vendors and clients to assist their understanding of why shipments are delayed, and to make sure you are both on the same page. Just because the weather is sunny in your area, does not mean there aren’t blizzards happening throughout the rest of the continent. Communicate with your 3PL regarding your company’s specific deadlines. They may have alternative solutions that might not normally be proposed due to cost or risk.
- Be flexible.
Are you prepared to adopt alternate modes of transportation? Get ready to think outside the box depending on what you’re shipping. Is your product needed for production all at once or could you split the shipment across multiple modes? While set appointments reduce confusion and workload, they aren’t always the most efficient use of time. Keep in mind that short term issues require agility and once the winter crunch has passed, operations will return to normal.
- Build a strong relationship with your 3PL throughout the year.
Loyalty matters year-round, but especially when capacity is tight. We receive calls from new clients during seasonal fluctuations giving us the “opportunity” to quote their business, but we don’t take the bait. For us, it’s not just about getting your products from A to B. Our dedicated team is invested in all aspects of your company’s success.
Thoroughly understanding the risks and options, and creating a proactive strategy is key to successfully managing this season’s supply chain challenges. With these tips, you can certainly improve your preparedness for the harsh winter conditions.
Interested in learning more about how our team of experts can help your business this winter? Contact us today!