When it comes to business planning, it’s never too early to think about the holidays. If you have a trucking company, the holiday season is likely an important part of your year. Depending on what you generally haul and what industries you serve, November through January could represent a significant portion of your profits.
According to Statista, a leading statistical and research organization, holiday retail sales can represent as much as a 30 percent of a retailer’s annual sales. And as we all know, it’s up to the trucking industry to ensure that retail outlets are full of gifts and grocery stores are full of food.
Despite the added business of the holiday season, you need to work with your employees and over-the-road truckers to accommodate holiday plans, family gatherings, and travel. You probably want to host a company holiday party of some kind, and it never hurts company moral to offer a generous holiday bonus, assuming, of course, that you can afford it.
So how can your trucking company make it through the hustle and bustle of the holidays and come out the other side as a stronger organization? There’s a few simple steps you can take, and it all comes down to early planning…
To make sure all of your routes are covered and all of your clients are properly served, create a system for time-off requests well in advance of the holidays. Inform all of your drivers that the time-off system, whether it’s a digital spreadsheet or a paper in the office, has been created. Do this well in advance (if football is on TV, you’re running late) so your team has time to make plans for their busy holiday schedules.
To make sure your company can keep running through the holiday season, make a request for people to work on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and other important holidays. Ask your staff for drivers who would be willing to work through these times and offer bonuses for people who step up. While the holidays are important for some people, you may be surprised to learn how many of your over-the-road drivers don’t mind being away during the holidays. Being away, after all, is the nature of the trucking business and many drivers have come to accept, and even appreciate, this reality.
To properly plan for the holidays, you need to know what your customers will be expecting. How many shipments will they need through January? Will there be a significant increase in orders? By discussing the upcoming season with your clients, you can plan ahead and make the right decisions to accommodate their needs. Keeping your operations running smoothly throughout the season is essential, and knowing exactly what your clients expect allows you to make informed, confident decisions.
Depending on the nature of your business and the clients you serve, you may want to start contacting drivers to help you handle the potential increase in holiday-season routes. You could bring in temporary drivers or even contract owner-operators to help take the load off your full-time employees.
While certain benefits don’t apply to temporary employees, you should make sure your trucking company is properly aligned to stay in regulation with hiring laws. According to the Small Business Administration, temporary employees may have a right to workers’ compensation, Social Security, Medicaid, and unemployment benefits. Be sure you understand the laws for temp hires in your state, region, and city.
Your truckers can only handle so much driving in a day. Besides the obvious safety and fatigue issues, there are legal regulations dictating how much time a driver can spend behind the wheel. This usually means that the truck (and your freight) is sitting idle for a given time frame. However, with team driving, you can send out two drivers who alternate shifts, keeping the shipment moving at a consistent pace.
Team driving has it’s advantages and disadvantages for both the drivers and your company, but it could be a viable option for dealing with a holiday-related increase in shipments.