Outmaneuver freight challenges in 2021
Yes, there will be freight hangover well into 2021. But to be honest, our team isn't too concerned about navigating the challenges ahead. Why? Susan Krieg, the Area Sales Specialist here at Colorbiotics, is a key reason we can be so confident in the future of our freight. So, we picked her brain about what happened in 2020 – and most importantly, why she thinks we can be even better moving forward.
What, exactly, happened?
You have to diagnose what’s gone wrong before you can start to solve the problem. These were the three issues that Krieg identified, in real-time, as the hurdles we needed to work around in 2020:
• Not enough drivers. The pandemic forced driving schools to shut down, which caused a shortage of new drivers. There were also drivers who would’ve usually been on the road but wanted to wait until the world learned more.
• Total lack of trucks. Extreme weather placed an even higher demand on the vehicles used to haul construction items during events like tornadoes and hurricanes. That meant flatbed trucks were especially difficult to find.
• Too much demand. There was also a logjam of demand for product when the world opened back up towards the latter half to the year. Outbound volumes were reportedly up as much as 40% while everybody played catch-up.
How we shipped around the challenges.
No easy answers were to be found in 2020, but our team adapted on the fly to keep product on the move. According to Krieg, these were the big game-changers for our business:
• Worked with whatever we could. For the first time, we pivoted to intermodal transport rather than over-the-road trucks. So we could skip the wait and ship orders on whatever vehicles were available.
• Leaned on existing relationships. Our team had no choice but to accept the challenges and use absolutely any resources to negotiate the best rates. Among the most important of those resources were the relationships Krieg had built with carriers over the years.
Put those solutions to good use in 2021.
You never know what might go wrong in a given month – or even in a given year. Krieg offered up four different takeaways that every business should bring into 2021 and beyond:
• Review, review, review. Go over your existing carrier base and confirm that they’ll be ready to handle the issues that could become factors again.
• Think ahead. Don’t wait to identify other potential carriers and freight options in your area. You’ll want to find your backup plan before you need it.
• Lock in costs. Get started on confirming and negotiating freight costs now. In some cases, our team has seen distribution costs increase as much as 30%.
• Make it personal. Do whatever you can to keep drivers comfortable. When drivers want to drive for you, good things will happen for your business. We have a dedicated lounge for drivers that includes a beverage station, bathroom and overnight parking. Trust us, welcoming and clean can go a long way.