Just like the vehicles that power it, a transport business is only as good as the parts that make up its supply chain.
Supply chain management is a crucial part of making a transport business work, whether you’re delivering precious packages, helping people move house or getting commuters to work on time.
No matter how efficient you think you are, there are always new ways to cut down on negative customer feedback, improve your delivery time and stand out amongst your competition. Here’s a guide to strengthening your supply chain and improving efficiency;
Trust your suppliers
Some parts of your supply chain will be outside of your control — no matter how on-it you are as a manager. One of those, in particular, will be your suppliers.
You can’t control how your supplier works, but you can control who you work with.
Finding the right supplier is how you get your transport business off to a good start. If you start noticing frequent complications, its time to consider whether or not they’re the right people to work with. Don’t be concerned about this, it’s a common part of growing as a transport business. (For a great guide to recognising the best kind of supplier, check out this guide from blockchain consultants Chainyard).
You should never choose a supplier based entirely on cost. As anyone involved in business knows: you get what you pay for. The last thing you want is equipment or vehicles you can’t rely on. Find a supplier known for reliability that fits within your budget. If you trust your supplier you’re more likely to provide services that consumers and clients can get behind.
If you’re starting doubting your suppliers consider doing some reputational research and see if there is a partner who would be better placed to work with. Important factors to consider are their overall quality of work, focus on customer satisfaction and how they package their goods.
Cover the ‘less-obvious’ details
A poorly managed transport supply chain is defined not only by the elements everyone can see, but what’s happening in the background.
People are the most valuable asset your business has. New vehicles will come and go with updated models, but in the big picture of your business, what’s going on behind the scenes actually strengthens the key links of your supply chain.
With that in mind, you need to consider how you can improve the smaller aspects of key workers in the supply chain’s role. The little things that create speedbumps not just on the road, but in the boardrooms, warehouses and offices.
The introduction of something as simple as a fuel card can help streamline the payment and invoicing process out on the road and back in the office, with branded options such as the Allstar Fuel Card (here’s a helpful iCompario review for those unfamiliar with how they work) making buying fuel a one motion purchase that funnels into one central account.
Likewise, using cloud technology such as Softeon to streamline the systems of your warehouses or the ones you work with can massively iron out kinks in the process and notice actionable changes you can make to your supply chain. This sort of tool investment brings your business into 2020 and makes it both more efficient and competitive towards consumer needs.
Stuck for ideas? Don’t be afraid to copy what’s working for competitors or talk to your team about changes they want to see. Supply chains aren’t just built on seamless, efficient systems but happy ones.
Your business only looks as good on the outside as it operates on the inside.
On top of making life as comfortable and productive for your employees in their day to day, you should aim to give them the necessary training to expand their knowledge and become more valuable assets to the business.
After all, each member of the business is like a small link in the supply chain, and that chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Giving your team the opportunity to enrol in academic studies to improve their skills and outlook on the role is important – but it’s equally important that they have opportunities on the job where they can apply these skills practically. Coaching and mentoring is essential, especially when you and other superiors in the team have a greater knowledge of the ins and outs of managing specific vehicle types.
This is a crucial step for creating a business where workers understand more than what is directly in front of their nose and on their ‘to do’ list that day. It’s great that they know how to load up the vehicle at 10 every morning – but wouldn’t it be better if they were able to stop potential roadblocks in the process?
Don’t be afraid of new technologies
The transportation industry has come a huge way in the last decade, and that’s down in no small part to the development and adaptations of new technologies.
To keep up with this growth and find new ways to strengthen your supply chains, you must embrace new technologies and find appropriate uses for them.
Don’t fear the unknown. As recently as 2017 tech trends such as remote diagnostics and vehicle-to-vehicle communication seemed like far off realities, whereas in 2020 they feel closer than ever before with many of the top tech companies in the world dedicating themselves to their development. The last thing you want for your supply chain is for it to become outdated by the widespread adoption of key technologies.
Something as simple as a good warehouse management system can significantly improve your supply chain, giving perhaps the most crucial link a much stronger foundation.
It would help if you looked for technologies that not only streamline processes within your supply chain but allow for the fastest way of fixing issues. For example, making sure you have the best on-board communication between drivers and logistics managers is crucial for keeping vehicles moving smoothly on the road. Much of this can be managed through simple mobile apps (particular pens taking driver compliance seriously such as Motorwaybuddy), minimising investment cost.
Technology helps transport companies notice potentially significant faults, cut out laborious tasks and ultimately save time. Without them, you risk giving up a competitive advantage and providing a less-superior product.
Transport businesses are a unique beast. Small tweaks instead of significant changes make a big difference.