We all know it’s coming, yet shipping companies seem to be always caught by surprise. Bad weather in general, and winter in particular, often disrupts shipping services, interferes with logistics, and inherently affects your business as well. Preparing for it and finding ways to avoid disruptions and minimize their impact has become an important phase in supply chain development.
Some extremely low temperatures here, heavy or unexpected snowfalls there, and strong winds somewhere across the state – before you know it, trucks get stranded on unplowed highways, planes can no longer land due to the ice and snow, and trains experience huge delays due to railroad companies’ inability to clear the snow from the tracks on time.
As if this were not enough, shipping rates tend to skyrocket in bad weather. Why? Because shipping companies managers developed their budget starting from negotiated rates. These rates no longer apply when service failures occur, and managers have to cover the gap somehow.
Since the demand for shipping services is high, and all shipping companies experience the same problems, the company you work with will get by one way or another. Your company will be the one to actually put up with the consequences. That is why you shouldn’t leave anything to chance, and prepare for the upcoming winter in advance. Here is what you can do:
8 Tips to Mitigate the Effects of Bad Weather on Your Business Logistics
- Timing the market won’t work. It is good to check out competitive rates periodically, but do not expect to be able to time the truck market. You should conduct your procurement exercise in the same period every year. If you do it every 12 months, you will have the chance to better align your shippers and suppliers, and ensure long-term, steady pricing.
- Maintain a balance when it comes to your service providers from one year to the other.You may need to add a new service provider or give up another one, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. However, monitor the freight each carrier hauls compared to their promise, and check out how this impacts your shipping costs. Your costs could go up without you realizing it, and you surely don’t want that.
- Investigate the causes of any market fluctuations.By monitoring the relationship between supply and demand, fuel prices, and capacity shifts, you can anticipate fluctuations in shipping rates and prepare for them.
- Ensure a close relationship with your shippers and/or receivers, and don’t let your carrier get caught in the middle. You and your shippers and/or receivers should solve any issues on your own, without involving the shipping company. If you don’t, and the carrier gets caught in the middle, their engagement and satisfaction will be negatively affected, impacting your relationship with them in the long run.
- Hire flexible shipping services. They should be able to handle higher freight volumes, provide express LTL shipping, and work in bad weather as well, even if you’ll never need them to. You can never know what the future holds. Just the fact that they are willing to help out and accommodate your needs is a sign they treasure you as a customer and will go the extra mile to ensure your satisfaction.
- Try to link your inbound and outbound shipping strategies.Perhaps one of your inbound shippers can cover your outbound shipping needs in winter, or the other way around.
- Be flexible.We all want promptitude, but unforeseen issues always appear, trucks break down, roads close, drivers get held up, etc. Instead of rushing your shipper and complaining about a couple of hours of delay, book your shipping in advance to avoid disruptions in your business. Most shipping companies offer online booking options, so it should be easy.
- Communicate with your team and take measures to avoid service failures. When your team knows what to expect and acts in advance, service disruptions can be avoided. You can ship earlier, order more raw materials, announce your customers that deliveries will take a little longer. Don’t leave anything to chance and hope it will work out for the best. It is better to be prepared than sorry.
Of course, not all shipping companies get caught off-guard by the bad weather, so you still have chances of finding one that will meet milestones and not charge you extra in winter. At FreightorGator, we connect businesses like yours with the most reliable shipping companies in the country, cutting out middlemen, preventing delays, and ensuring fair pricing throughout the year. Request a quote now and see which shipping company is more likely to meet your needs and not affect your logistics throughout the cold season!