“Did you get the turkey? You know the Andersons will be here about 4 pm...”
“That game the kids want is out of stock at the store. I wonder if it can get here in time if we order online...”
It’s a snapshot of the American family come November and December: holidays and celebrations, friends and family gatherings. Whether laid out on the dining room table or wrapped up neatly under the tree, hopes are pinned on everything being delivered on time.
Of course, as a fleet manager, on-time delivery is your daily focus. But this time of year brings heightened expectations and public awareness that the food, toys, and all the fixings and trimmings probably travel somewhere out there on a truck. This time of year also brings winter weather and distracted motorists scurrying to make their own appointed rounds.
What to do? Follow three P’s: Planning, preparation, and patience.
Planning: Look back at previous winter seasons and identify routes often impacted by snow and ice. Equip your dispatchers and drivers with alternate routes and alternate parking locations before the drivers venture out. Add time to delivery schedules to account for slower speeds, winter weather, snowplows, and traffic accidents.
Preparation: Remind drivers to carry winter clothing, food, and water in case of closed roads, accidents, and other interruptions. Remind maintenance to winterize all equipment. Remind sales staff to stay in contact with customers as schedules change or snowfall threatens to block access roads and docks.
Patience: On-time deliveries remain the goal, but there is always time for safety. Tell your drivers to expect the unexpected, be it slippery roads or harried motorists. Just slow down and allow more room behind the car ahead. After all, the truck driver’s own families want them back safely, too.
Competition, efficiency, societal expectations... they all tell us to work faster. Delivered on time first means delivered safely. That’s true any time of year but especially during winter and the holiday season. With a little planning, preparation, and patience, it can all work out.
Steve Vaughn is senior vice president of field operations at PrePass Safety Alliance, the provider of PrePass weigh station bypass and electronic toll payment and management services. Vaughn served nearly three decades with the California Highway Patrol and is a past president of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.