Winter weather isn’t easy on American businesses — particularly in the northernmost portions of our country.
Extreme temperatures, slippery roads, howling winds and unpredictable snowstorms halt many supply chains in their tracks, making it difficult to meet deadlines and hold to budgets.
Without proper planning and an understanding of what to do when things go awry, many shippers run into trouble from November to April.
Instead of maintaining a steady stream of inbound and outbound freight movement, these companies simply stall — overwhelmed by the intricacies of winter freight movement.
Just because transporting your products will get a little more difficult as winter creeps in, though, doesn’t make this process impossible.
Your business doesn’t need to sacrifice productivity and profit this winter. In fact, with a little bit of planning and adjustment, you’ll find success is right around the corner.
Here at ATS, we’ve been helping shippers, just like you, get their products where they need to go for more than 65 winters now. During this time we’ve found that, aside from a well-knit sweater, five things make winter feel a bit warmer for shippers around our nation.
The five best ways to avoid transportation mishaps this winter are:
- Be wary of low-cost providers.
- Find a provider experienced in northern climates.
- Make sure to give lead time to your providers.
- Plan around winter weather patterns.
- Have realistic pick-up and delivery times.
By doing these five things, and working with competent transportation providers, you’ll become a true master of your supply chain for many winters to come.
1. Be Wary of Low-Cost Providers
Making the most of your transportation dollars can be difficult. And, since many businesses see moving their freight as nothing more than an expense, settling on a company that will do it for the least amount of money can be tempting.
Don’t do this in the winter.
In the best of conditions, tendering freight to whoever gives you the lowest price isn’t a good idea. This reality is only compounded in the winter months. As things get more difficult and moving products becomes more challenging, you need to pay for quality service. Plain and simple.
In the end, that cheap rate either won’t be enough to get the job done or will result in shoddy service. And, when winter weather patterns make moving freight and securing truck capacity more challenging than during other seasons, the service you receive matters.
You deserve a transportation provider that respects you enough to outline how your rate was calculated compared to others. Choosing a rate that’s calculated to execute your shipment over those that are designed to simply win your business, will help you maximize your budget in the long haul.
Other companies have made the mistake of cutting corners on their shipping dollars and, more often than not, are left in the lurch. Learn from their mistakes by avoiding the cheapest rates this year.
Find a rate quoted with intention and expertise behind it. When things get colder and finding a truck gets harder, the price you pay will matter more than ever. Make sure it’s the right one.
2. Find a Provider Experienced in Northern Climates
Winter weather can be particularly challenging in northern states as issues crop up unexpectedly and rules and regulations change. After years of experiencing and working through these challenges, some companies are simply better at managing them than the field.
If you’re worried about the impact winter weather — particularly across northern states — will have on your transportation supply chain, choose your provider wisely.
Selecting a company with experience navigating the unique complications that winter in these regions presents. Doing so will help you avoid potential mishaps by leaning on the expertise of these companies.
A seasoned provider will know exactly how to handle delays, what to expect when winter makes things difficult and how to put your driver in the best position for prompt loading and deliveries as winter weather allows.
3. Make Sure To Give Lead Time to Your Providers
When winter weather rolls around, some of the trucks that were running lanes in these areas previously relocate, taking with them a large chunk of available truck space.
In turn, this decreased supply of transportation solutions will make it difficult — in northern regions — to find yours. As such, make sure to give your provider ample lead time when moving freight to, from and around our nation’s coldest areas. Doing so will help them find you a reliable truck at competitive price points.
24-72 hours of notice, before the moment your freight needs to load, will be enough lead time for your providers and help you avoid the unnecessary price hikes that stem from urgency.
4. Plan Around Winter Weather Patterns
As a business with customers, you understand how important these relationships are. Maintaining them takes transparent communication, a good amount of planning and, sometimes, a bit of compromise.
Moving freight during the winter months, a time of year that makes this process more unpredictable than others will take all three.
Just because freight movement takes on a different hue through the coldest days of the year — becoming more difficult by the hour — doesn’t make successful deliveries any less important.
In the interest of holding to the standard of service excellence you’ve developed in the minds of customers, you’ll need to come through when it matters. And come through you shall.
Be sure to take into account the varying weather patterns in each load’s pick-up and drop-off locations — which may vary substantially between them. Doing so will help your company and customers avoid delays at either end.
And, by adjusting to avoid outcroppings of winter storms that could reak havoc on your customer’s supply chain, you’ll take a new place in their minds; becoming a heroic provider that will do what’s needed to keep their business on track, everyone safe and goods in one piece.
5. Have Realistic Pick-Up And Delivery Timeframes
Things will shift this winter. Timelines won’t hold steady and your transit times will lengthen. For this reason, it’s important that you’re realistic with your requirements — particularly when sourcing for capacity.
Our best advice where this is concerned is to widen your pick-up and drop-off windows. Allow a bit more leeway and be understanding with your providers. With so many added variables delays are often out of your provider's control.
Having realistic requirements will help you to plan better and make your freight more attractive to truckers who will need some flexibility these winters. The more convenient you make it for them, the less you’re likely to pay.
Sure, It’s Winter But There’s No Need to Hibernate
Now that you have some tactics for avoiding unnecessary price hikes, you're better prepared for a fruitful winter. Beyond anything else, understanding how the transportation world functions will help you take your budget, relationships and supply chain further.
This industry is home to several intricacies that extend well beyond a single season of the year. To give you the tools you need to maximize your shipping dollars and supply chain, not only this winter but into the future, we produce a lot of content here at ATS. Like a lot.
We invite you to check out these additional tools that many other shippers have found helpful, we bet they’ll make your job easier too.
- Moving Freight Around a Holiday: 3 Critical Planning Tips
- The 5 Biggest Time Wasters For Logistics Managers (and how to avoid them)
- 4 Factors That Raise Your Freight Rates (and how to avoid paying more)
- Peak Season Shipping: 5 Ways to Prepare For Your Next Busy Season
Finally, if you have any questions or concerns about moving your goods this winter, please reach out to us. We would be happy to assist you in any way you need.