Shipping managers understand the complexity of LTL shipping when weather conditions are terrible. Whether it’s a blizzard, hurricane or even a sand storm, there is a definite risk of shipping delays over land and this causes many companies to immediately plan for secondary supply avenues, thereby raising costs.
However, it’s not all companies that go through losses during winter, some have managed to overcome the difficult shipping schedules and delivery timelines thereby ensuring their customers remain satisfied. Shipping managers have to be flexible enough to respond to the last-minute changes that usually arise in harsh weather conditions.
Here are five tips most successful shipping managers use to ensure timely delivery using their service.
- Utilizing brokers to strengthen supply chain networks
Companies with longer distances to cover can use brokers to traverse new areas and since brokers are extremely efficient at finding the easiest, and fastest supply channels in their distribution networks, they are relied upon by even larger shipping lines to ensure the goods arrive at their destination in the time intended.
Using brokers may seem like a no-brainer, but it requires extensive planning and resource allocation. In most instances, some brokers have exclusivity arrangements with larger shipping lines and LTL shipping companies and therefore it is important to reach out and create the necessary networks when the need is still slim. Brokers have better linkages in some situations than larger shipping companies and in emergency situations tend to also possess better information channels. Utilizing brokers is one of the smartest moves during harsh winters.
- Cater for extra days for time-sensitive shipments.
Though this might seem rather obvious, there are many cases where shipping managers insist on rigid shipping timelines without factoring in the probability of delays. Some types of delays are unforeseen, and even in the most difficult weather, some companies are confident in their capacity to deliver.
However, good managers take into account the likelihood that anything can happen and there is nothing wrong with delivering time-sensitive shipments earlier than the client expected. However, to be able to do so, a shipping manager must inform the client of the new schedule and the likelihood that good might arrive earlier than expected. Once the client is aware of the new shipping schedules, they can make the necessary plans either for storage or transport to other outlets.
- Budget for different services and increased rates.
It is winter season and suppliers, transporters and most other service providers are likely to increase their rates or even remove some normal services from their usual systems. These changes would be okay if these service providers communicated earlier but the fact is that you are less likely to get timely communication from all your suppliers and asking them about it might not always yield the required answers. There are contractual obligations to factor in and most suppliers shy away from giving sensitive details regarding their projected costs.
The winter season also features a lot more shopping for the holidays. Retailers are on tight delivery schedules to ensure buyers get the season’s best items. Shipping companies are on a tighter schedule than usual as they have to deliver on time before companies and retailers close for the holidays.
Apart from increased rates, expect several cancellations which will inevitably force you to use more expensive shipping companies. Basically, in order to ensure timely delivery for your goods this winter, expect to spend a little bit more, and luckily your clients will understand.
- Communicate and manage your clients’ expectations.
Everyone will be trying to ensure their goods arrive earlier than expected and communication will be key in ensuring clients understand tracking orders and the possibility of delays. Prudent shipping managers will ensure that they heighten and increase their communication with their clients by opening up more communication channels beyond simple email.
This strategy has worked for many companies irrespective of size and it further improves customer service because clients will feel part of the problem-solving process and are less likely to feel disappointed.
Any problems that cause delays should not appear unprecedented and the shipping company must ensure clients understand the likelihood of delays by detailing probable causes, and the ways the companies intend to mitigate against them.
Managing client expectations is not as easy as it sounds because it means the company will have to show its clients that it has certain weaknesses, and some clients might want to know whether other companies also face the same problems. Ensure you communicate your commitment to retaining the highest standards and your resolve to improvise in order to deliver as per schedule.
- Utilize advanced warehouses if shipping to a tradeshow
Trade shows are very complicated during winter, and a prudent shipping manager will understand the likelihood and near-certain probability of further delays and disappointments across the supply chain. An advanced warehouse are crucial when planning for tradeshows because they allow for different suppliers to simply send goods at a moment of their convenience in advance to when there could be a supply crunch.
Shipping directly to a tradeshow is a risky endeavor as it leaves one vulnerable to expensive delays. It is important to bring a few merchandise samples in advance to ensure that even if some supplies delay, then you can still conduct the trade show with some success.
Overall, winter presents very many challenges for shipping managers. There are many unforeseeable delays occasioned by road closures and this cascading effect affects many other suppliers down the road to a point that many simply decide to close operations and wait until winter passes. There is no country that is immune to the crunching effects of harsh weather conditions, and this leaves the sole responsibility of planning for contingencies on the shipping managers.
Some managers have however managed to create impactful networks amongst themselves making them almost immune to the vulnerability occasioned by bad weather. These networks help them to receive crucial service alerts from carriers and navigate through different supply chain obstacles that arise due to bad weather.