Tax returns. Mother’s Day. Valentine’s Day. Outside of our regular peak season in the fourth quarter, there are other volume spikes that put a strain on our operations. Some may even pop up unexpectedly, such as the recent increase in residential demand due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Peak season is extremely challenging in itself, and these “mini peaks” can be easy to overlook after such a busy season. This can lead to contractors being underprepared for these huge spikes in volume during other times of the year.
Here are six ways to stay prepared for periods of increased volume:
Project incoming volume
The first step contractors should take is estimating what the approximate increase in volume will be. To do so, look back at previous years, but be aware that the average volume year after year is increasing.
For instance, this year’s volume for Mother’s Day is bound to be more than last year’s. From this point, it will be easier to know how many additional drivers, jumpers and vehicles will be needed.
Proactive recruiting plan
Finding the right candidates, getting drivers on board and training properly takes time, so it is a good idea to start this process as early as possible. Throughout the year, LRG is always actively recruiting. This way, we will have qualified employees on hand no matter what comes up.
During especially busy times, we always hire driver helpers for our team. We can send out these helpers on route with drivers in dense areas to get more stops off per hour. In times of extreme need, we have even recruited our own package handlers to ensure trucks are loaded properly and depart on time.
Whether they will be driving large step vans or Promasters is up to the contractor, but it is of the utmost importance that they are all trained properly. Keep in mind that an incident is an incident, whether they are a seasonal driver or not.
Contingency plan for vehicles
Having spare vehicles on hand in case one breaks down can often be the difference between failing and succeeding. Typically, we recommend having about 1 spare vehicle for every 12 vehicles you have on hand.
Being able to rent a vehicle at a moment’s notice is also an indispensable tool to have at a contractor’s disposal – so start a relationship with a rental company now.
If you have a strong relationship with a rental company, it’s easier to call on them at a moment’s notice to fill an immediate need. In a lot of cases, you can even pick up a same day rental.
Engaging employees early
Keeping employees in the loop is essential. Drivers and managers must be prepared for the incoming volume spike in order to get the job done safely and effectively.
Let them know ahead of time what is coming their way and the steps being taken to make their jobs easier. They want to be informed and will perform better when they are.
Bonuses/incentives for employees
A part of keeping employees engaged is rewarding them for excellent performance during these often-chaotic periods of the year.
Paycheck bonuses, providing packed breakfast or lunches, and giving away company merchandise are some ways to go about this. It is important that these rewards are made public to the company, so that employees know their hard work isn’t being overlooked.
The unpredictability of these mini peaks will keep many contractors on their toes. Managers, drivers, and vehicles are all under more stress than usual and as a result, call offs and vehicle malfunctions are more common. It is essential to be able to correct any issue in a timely manner, which means having jumpers or extra drivers on hand, as well as replacement or rental vehicles.
Stay proactive with this – training drivers takes time and knowing where to find a rental vehicle ahead of time makes the transition much easier than scrambling to find anything or anyone to put on the road.
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