While the full effects of the the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are yet to be revealed, there have been some important lessons for fleet managers to hearl how to improve fleet deliveries.
The main long-term (and positive) impact on fleets is clearly the need for a razor-sharp focus on delivery procedures, especially aspects such as last-mile deliveries. In what have been and continue to be unprecedented times, entire countries have implemented stay-at-home lockdowns with people also following social distancing guidelines. This has led to a huge increase in the demand of delivery services on a global scale.
As you may or may not know, the phrase ‘last-mile’ refers to the final stage in the delivery of products, goods or services. This is usually from a local distribution center to customers. The word ‘mile’ is used rather liberally, however, as that last leg of the journey can vary from a few blocks or several actual miles.
The sheer increase in volume for delivery services orders has forced many to rethink and/or redefine how to improve fleet deliveries. This post attempts to address the key lessons learned on how to improve fleet deliveries.
How to improve fleet deliveries: introduction
Understandably, with people stuck at home during the lockdown, there has been unprecedented activity in terms of online orders. While the delivery fleet business was already one of the fastest growing market segments, COVID-19 effect has accelerated the trend curve even more.
Additionally, restaurant, pharmacy and grocery home deliveries are continuing to see huge spikes in demand. In this environment, which is set to be around for a while – at least in fits and starts – means that the delivery of products and goods to those who are unable or unwilling to leave their homes, will be as important as ever.
The situation has brought to light one very important point, that fleets must be more agile, flexible and responsive. It has caused many companies, who are actually managing their fleets from home, to re-examine their operating procedures with a razor-sharp focus. That’s in order to get things right and maximize their efficiency.
Measures on how to improve fleet deliveries
Any increase in demand, on already-tight delivery windows, for most market segments mean that any fleet manager or small business owner needs to take certain steps to keep customers happy; as well as maximize their efficiency and profits. We’ve highlighted a few key areas to focus on.
Use a fleet management solution
You’re probably thinking about the first logical step, which would be how you schedule your fleet each day. But, if you’re not using a fleet management solution then you’re doing it wrong. Use the technology available, as it will help you on all fronts; from scheduling and tracking to route planning and safety.
And so we come to the next point: fleet scheduling. Each and every day brings new challenges with it . While you may have found the magic recipe for managing your fleet schedule, you have probably also discovered that it has needed more flexibility in changes during the last few months. In dealing with increased demands, you need to make sure you focus on these three areas:
- Keeping an eye on routes driven (past events). So you can plan around your ‘regular’ routes and adapt your planning accordingly for speed purposes
- Monitor your vehicles’ departures and arrivals. So you know which vehicles are where at any given time in the case that you need to react to a sudden need quicker
- Proactively adapt your fleet’s schedule on the go. So you can cope with increased demands at certain points during the day as required
Make deliveries contactless
Another way to improve fleet deliveries is to make them contactless. And not just by the use of contactless credit or debit cards. In these times of COVID-19, all drivers should use gloves, sanitizers, and masks to keep them and your customers safe. No handshakes, fist-bumps or even elbow-bumps. Along with such protocols that are related to deliveries, you should also inform your customers beforehand about their order’s impending arrival. This is to reduce your driver’s waiting time at the delivery point. And also for the driver to wait at a safe distance until the customer comes to collect their delivery.
Expand your fleet
In searching for ways on how to improve fleet deliveries, a lot of companies have had to expand their fleets, to cope with demand. Try to make sure you do have extra vehicles in any case. This can be done in many ways. For example, you can rent third party vehicles, or keep some older fleet vehicles in an ‘emergency’ pool in the garage for when they are needed, instead of replacing them. Alternatively, you can also ask drivers to also use their own vehicles if need be.
Drivers on duty
As well as extra fleet vehicles, you may also need extra drivers on duty. Or there may be scope to give more driving time to your existing pool of fleet drivers. Here of course, safety must be paramount. So, instead of existing drivers working more hours in the day, perhaps they would just be given the option to work on their days off, for a short period, during peak busy times. That is, as long as there is ample time for them to get rest.
Good fleet drivers are hard to find, so you want to make sure you do your best to retain them. Alternatively, you can hire new drivers on part-time or as third-party contractors. This way, you can ensure you are able to meet any new spikes in demand. Any new drivers that come in have to follow all the proper hygiene guidelines for COVID-19. So, you have to factor in some training if they are newbies.
Fine-tune your deliveries
There are plenty of lessons to be learned then on how to improve fleet deliveries in the time to COVID-19. With a fleet management solution like our very own Veturilo, however, there’s even more fine-tuning which can be done to help. With always-on tracking, route planning, driver behavior data and more, you can truly be the king of the road. Or perhaps master of your fleet is a better expression. We’ve got a post dedicated to the ways a fleet management app makes your fleet more efficient. Check it out and see if there’s something you may be missing.
The need to have all of your vehicles ready to deliver on time has never been more important.Unexpected breakdowns are simply ‘not allowed’. You need to be prepared well in advance to deal with such issues and act on time. A fleet management solution helps with all of these things. So, make sure you are using yours to its full capabilities.