I hear this from busy trucking executives all the time. Sometimes it’s the owner/CEO who wants to work less. Sometimes it’s a spouse or family member in the company who wants a different proportion of work time to non-work time. Regardless, a trend seems to be developing: working all the time is not necessarily the life that people want, even for owners.
Where does the time-suck come from in trucking? There are several, but my customers and prospects in local P&D and related fields tell me of one particular demand that has mushroomed over the past few years. Customers want proof of delivery as close to real-time as possible. Customers will even sometimes leave carriers over this one issue.
We shouldn’t be surprised by this, really. Society in general has seen an acceleration of the speed at which people are able to retrieve information of all sorts (on smartphones, tablets, and so on). In the local P&D world, this acceleration takes the form of an expectation by shippers that the trucking carrier should also be able to provide “on-demand POD.”
- “Dude, am I on hold again while you chase down that POD? That is so 20th-century. You are so lame. ”
So let’s assume you’ve said “okay” to this new demand. Who is going to do it? You? Everyone in the office?
One difficulty is this: Trucking companies are experts in hauling freight. You excel at getting the freight to its destination on time, accurately and damage-free, with special services as needed. You make appointments. Local P&D companies bring a liftgate or 2-man crew if needed, handle inside deliveries or tight urban dock locations, and so on. We might call this “core service.” Superior core service like this is a justifiable point of pride for many carriers. It can take 12 or 14 hours a day from many employees just to give great core service.
- “So, Jonathan, are you telling me that this is not enough? I need to give my customer instant, on-demand POD too?”
No, I’m not telling you this…. your customers are. That is, they probably are, if you’re listening.
At some point we all have to ask: What is best for my trucking company, right now? What is best for me, for my spouse, for my people, for my customers, for their customers?
Looking just at the POD requests, there are a number of ways to address the issue.
- Add 2-3 hours to each work day. (This gets tiresome pretty quickly.)
- Hire more people. (This gets expensive pretty quickly.)
- Ignore your customers.
(We don’t recommend this.)
There are other choices too. One is to find technology that can do all this POD work for you, much more cheaply and reliably than a new hire. Depending on your situation, you may be able to satisfy most or all of your POD requests with a self-service web portal, where your customers log in and download whatever they need. In other situations, you may be able to satisfy several key accounts this way, providing some other communication mechanisms for other customers. In any case, given the trends, it’s worth devoting some serious time to thinking this through.
If you’d like to get down to that mythical 12-hour day, you can harness technology to get this done for you. Some effort is required to set it up. Of course, it also takes effort to do nothing and remain stuck in the same situation.
Finally: If POD isn’t the Great Time Suck for your business, what is? For some carriers it’s billing. Please leave comments below, or anywhere else you’ve seen this post, so that we can continue the conversation together. I look forward to hearing what you think.