Three time-tested strategies to help you weather the spring surge

The drab days of winter are behind us, and soon your schedule will be filled with summer staples: picnics, bike rides, backyard games, the ritualistic Saturday morning lawn mowing, water sports, and yes, the requisite summer cookout.

All those parties, get-togethers, and home improvement projects combine to create an annual spring shipping surge in anticipation of summer. And this one is shaping up to be a doozy: The National Retail Federation is predicting near-record import levels heading into summer. Shippers are working overtime to make sure the shelves are stocked before consumers rush to clean them out.

The spring surge, like other seasonal demand cycles, puts a strain on the entire supply chain. Regardless of your role, we all feel the squeeze. Flexibility becomes the name of the game for shippers. Here are three time-tested strategies to help you navigate the strains of the season.

Pick off-time load and unload schedules

Sometimes being flexible is as simple as the old “be where they ain’t” strategy. Carriers have more demand than they can feasibly service, so temporarily shifting load and unload times to unconventional hours gives carriers a larger window to work with. If the typical working hours are filled, try offering load and unload times when carriers won’t be covered by fulfilling spring demand.

Use a daily load and unload plan to support your operation

How prepared are you for incoming trailers? Many professional drivers pull in to find shippers unprepared to receive their load, leaving them stranded and losing money. For drop-and-hook loads, is the empty trailer ready? Or will drivers need to spend hours chasing a trailer? Conversely, if you don’t have empty trailers available, have you communicated this to the carrier? Surprising a professional driver when they arrive can cause delays, making them to be late to their next load. Preparation and planning are strong buoys during demanding shipping seasons.  

Consider using brokerage to meet surge capacity needs

Modern brokerage is embracing new technology solutions that give shippers unparalleled extended capacity. All the freight acceptance, revenue management, and fleet management are in one place, creating a more transparent environment for both shippers and carriers. When you need capacity at a moment’s notice, brokerage is often a shipper’s best friend.

Conclusion

Like other demand cycles, we’re all affected — no link in the supply chain is left untouched. Shippers need their goods moved, and carriers are trying to service as many loads of those goods as possible. With a bit of flexibility, creative solutions like brokerage, and proper planning, we’ll all be relaxing around a fired-up grill in no time.