If you are a business owner, you are fully aware of the concerns raised by the pandemic. When everything started, we did not know what was waiting for humanity in general, not to mention the business sphere. During that time, even the world's giants like Mcdonald's had to close their locations because of the lack of resources. Not all businesses managed to survive. However, if you take logistics, the situation is quite different.
The statistics shows that, indeed, logistics has suffered a lot. Now, however, it's gradually restoring its power, and you can see it from the figures. Take the USA as an example. The highest drop in monthly rail freight traffic in the U.S. due to coronavirus 2020 was seen in May (more than 20%). Meantime, in December, the fall was only around 5%. As you might guess, the logistics business has an advantage over other spheres. Because of the increasing demand for online purchases, there’s much more you can get than you can lose.
Your Rescue Plan
As we found out, logistics has great potential nowadays. But how to catch the opportunities and turn them into your personal advantage? Take a look at the plan below — these universally applicable tips will resonate with each business owner. Make these steps a part of your growth strategy, and you will see how the pandemic period can become a very suitable time for your business to prosper.
1. Take a proactive position
Let's start with a global and long-term goal. No doubt, you should change your approach from reactive to proactive. What's the difference between these two? The proactive approach makes you think in advance, while the reactive one makes you face the outcomes.
Yes, proactive fleet management solutions require more effort. You should organize online meetings with your managers. You should analyze a lot. Maybe it is better to conduct fleet maintenance more often today to reduce risks tomorrow? And what about your advantages in front of competitors? How to stand out from the noise and keep your business on the same level as before the pandemic or take it even higher? Collaboration with your colleagues helps to find clues to these questions.
2. Consider online promotion. What about new markets?
If you have never dealt with online promotion, it's the best time to start. Just think of the following: a lot of us changed our purchasing habits because of the pandemic. While most people used to do shopping in malls, now, we would rather order things online than go outside and increase the risks of infection.
The more people order online, the broader opportunities for the business you get. So, why don't you expand your client base? If you already have a website, consider Google Ads adapted to the searches of local users. If you have no web representation yet, create an ad campaign with Facebook Advertising. You can use this tool to adjust your campaign to any format, be it a video or text announcements.
Another thing is analyzing new markets. Logistics business comprises a number of subfields. If you see that you get fewer orders because of the coronavirus, just think about some new, more relevant niches. Suppose you deal with clothes delivery. Why don't you consider fitness equipment delivery, for example? After all, people today prefer doing their workout at home and buy weights and treadmills online.
3. Make your workers feel safe
If you still see money as your number-one priority, reconsider your approach. New circumstances require us to elaborate on new solutions for fleet management. Our health status becomes a top concern today. Preventative and safety measures become a necessity.
Ensure cleanliness of your fleet via introducing sanitizing protocols. Provide your drivers with protective wear, which basically should include masks and gloves. Instruct them on safety measures while interacting with other people. And, most importantly, turn risk prevention into their habit!
Based on the recommendations of WHO or your local healthcare workers, develop an inspection checklist. Ask your drivers to perform safety inspections daily. Doing so, you will not only increase your workers' performance but also reduce health risks for both employees and the public. You should keep in mind that people form the core of each company. So, make people working in your company feel safe in these turbulent times.
4. Minimize face-to-face contact
Apply step 4 both to the work setting and to the informal setting. The pandemic has made us doubly care about our health, and as an employer, you bear responsibility for the safety of your workers. In fleet management, a great volume of communication can be transferred to an online mode. For instance, instead of informing your clients about the delivery at the place, use phone calls or messengers to ensure social distancing. Also, use Zoom, Google Meet, or other video communication software to organize online meetings with employees and discuss the agenda.
5. Perform expenses audit
Collaboration and effective budget planning are key to the proper functioning of your company. Coronavirus adversely affects both aspects, requiring you to pay more attention to employees' motivation and expenses. When it comes to the latter, you should get a clear understanding of your budget.
If the method of delivery you use has become too costly during the pandemic, consider others. Or maybe you noticed that your clients want some particular orders promptly, while others can be delivered later. In this case, you can combine different delivery methods and save money.
6. Get fleet management software
One more step on your way to ensuring the effectiveness of fleet management is getting fleet management software. Step 6 reduces all of the following: risks, costs, and your employees' workload.
First, risks. Having all information stored in one space ensures data protection. The delivery process, communication effectiveness and speed, order tracking — analyze all of these to understand how you can increase your profit.
Second, costs. How much does your company spend on fuel? Maybe you should consider route optimization to make fleet management more efficient.
And finally, employees' workload. Requesting updates manually takes time. And what if some unexpected situation occurs to one of your drivers and you should find a replacement? Asking your managers to call each driver separately to check whether they can replace their colleague is not the best decision. It's much more convenient to open a fleet management system and check the information about all your drivers in one place.
Below, there are some other powers that go with fleet management solutions.
Powers you gain with fleet management software
Automated route planning
With fleet management software, you schedule and plan your drivers' routes so that orders are delivered on time. This benefit becomes doubly vital when you deal with international shipping. Coronavirus pandemic restrictions lead to changes in routes. While some of them might be overloaded, other routes can be closed at all. Knowing the best way to deliver goods increases the chances that clients will prefer your services over competitors'.
Multi-drop delivery planning
It frequently happens that the destinations of several orders are located close to each other. There is no need for two separate drivers to carry out two separate deliveries simultaneously if the same can be done only by one. You need software that will ensure multi-drop delivery in this case. Using such software, you save one vehicle, receive additional orders, and, consequently, earn extra money.
Real-time tracking of your fleet
Depending on the custom web development services you choose, the software can be adjusted to your company's needs. Real-time driver tracking, for example, is implemented on the basis of GPS technology. It can replace traditional ways of getting updates, such as face-to-face meetings or excessive paperwork.
With real-time driver tracking, you improve control over the whole system. Just take your phone/tablet/smartphone and check the location of your trucks. Besides, you can give your clients the chance to do the same. There will be no need for them to calculate the approximate delivery time and wait for a driver. During the pandemic, it's much better to use fleet management software and avoid personal interactions.
What is your approach to performing proof of delivery? And what about gathering statistics to check your company's progress? If you do everything through paper-shuffling, the pandemic is a perfect time to update your strategy. Making use of mobile app development services, you get a ready-made iOS or Android solution for proof of delivery. Get instant notifications and gather statistics. Analyze bottlenecks and elaborate on an improvement plan. Make your fleet management doubly powerful!
Effective communication with clients and employees
Do you want your clients to stay with you during and after the coronavirus pandemic? Then make their voices heard — integrate effective mobile solutions into your daily business routine. Provide your clients with a platform where they can not only track the vehicles that are delivering their orders but also leave comments and communicate with managers. Give them the chance to solve issues promptly instead of redirecting their phone calls from managers to drivers and vice versa.
7. Stay flexible
The situation with coronavirus has taught us a lot. For fleet managers and the owners of the logistics businesses, the main lesson is to stay flexible. No one knows what will happen tomorrow, and the only way to ensure safe "tomorrow" is to care about your "today". Analyze what your competitors do and what strategies they use, create a Plan B, develop an approach that will allow you to adapt to severe lockdown restrictions as quickly as to lockdown cancellation.
Recently, we conducted an interview with Henri Nyakarundi, the representative of the Tech4Good movement in Africa. I remember Henri saying, "When there's a big challenge, there is also a huge opportunity". This thought perfectly illustrates the conclusion I want to share.
I encourage you to view the pandemic not as a hazard for your business but as a chance to become stronger and more flexible. Try to turn the pandemic situation into an opportunity. Provide your clients with high-quality service to stand out from the competition. And, most importantly, take care of yourself and of people who trust you.
Looking for a fleet management software solution?
Our professionals would gladly help you choose what's the best for your business. Learn more about the logistics software development services that we offer.