Technology has changed the way we live our lives, so it only makes sense that it has also revolutionised how we work. Solutions that streamline or automate more monotonous or difficult processes are no longer a luxury, but instead a necessity.
One sector that is still struggling to adapt digitally, however, is the haulage and logistics sector. A Mandata survey found that the biggest priority for hauliers in 2021 was reducing manual processes and increasing the adoption of digital technologies, but many experienced difficulties with staff training and adoption.
Technology is now essential to not only keeping up with the sector but putting your business on the front foot. Growth outperformers in the sector invest in developing digital technologies to increase productivity and efficiency and inevitably see improved profits.
Here, we’ll discuss five key ways technology can fuel growth in your haulage business.
Effective collaboration is essential in all businesses but can be challenging for hauliers, especially when it comes to back-office staff communicating with in-transit drivers. A lack of transparency or slow communication can make operations difficult.
Traditionally, planners often communicate with drivers via WhatsApp messages or give them their list of jobs on paper. These unstructured forms of communication and job handling can result in confusion and the inability to communicate important messages. Now, businesses can implement digital solutions that come with driver apps, making it easy to manage schedules, communicate important updates, and make real-time changes to journeys.
These solutions are designed to visually replicate previous ways of working, like WhatsApp messages, for easy adoption. This mitigates the risks of employees struggling to adapt to new technology. As a result of improved communication, businesses can achieve greater efficiency, which results in higher profit margins.
Speed up order-to-cash cycle
A lot of hauliers struggle with the order-to-cash cycle. Proof of deliveries (PODs) are an especially troublesome process. If your business uses paper PODs and they get lost, there’s very little you can do about it. This can potentially result in lost revenue, impacting your business’ bottom line.
By switching to electronic proof of deliveries (ePOD), you can ensure you never lose them ever again. They also allow drivers to update the orders in real time – the ePOD will automatically be associated to the customer’s invoice in your transport management system. This can further protect your income and revenue.
Create and execute the perfect plan
Planning is essential to the success of your operations. You need to juggle multiple vehicles, drivers, and deliveries, all while making sure your plans are optimised for maximum efficiency. If your cost-per-mile isn’t perfected, that equates to money down the drain. Manual planning just won’t cut it any more.
Digital planning solutions allow you to visualise your plans and make changes to increase efficiency. You can then track your drivers and deliveries in real time and foresee any challenges, making in-transit changes if needs be. You can also identify any drivers who may be running empty, allowing you to allocate jobs more efficiently.
Deliver your promises
We all want to give our customers exactly what they want when they want it. Late deliveries are one of the key issues impacting customer satisfaction, so it’s important that hauliers deliver on their promises.
With digital planning solutions, you can improve your timeliness and ensure your drivers can reach each customer as expected. But we know that sometimes, things get in the way that are unavoidable. In this instance, it’s important to keep your customers up to date. Creating a customer portal that’s connected to your transport management system will feed through automatic updates, ensuring your customers are in the loop.
This also has the added benefits of reducing inbound calls from customers asking where their deliveries are, which can throttle your back-office staff. Without frequent calls from customers looking for updates taking up their time, staff can focus on adding real value.
Improve work-life balance
A key frustration for workers in the haulage sector is outdated and ineffective technology, which creates more work for them. This either results in them being inefficient or working out of hours. The same goes for manual, repetitive processes.
Digitising these processes and replacing the clunky technology can give your people back hours in their day. Not only is this important for their productivity, but it’s also important for their satisfaction and their work-life balance. A Randstad survey found that a good work-life balance is more important than salary for two-thirds of UK workers.
Meeting the needs of your people creates happy employees who are more likely to be committed and loyal to your business. What’s more, businesses with satisfied employees can even increase their productivity, profits, and sales.
Moving away from established practices can be daunting. Fujitsu’s Mastering Modernisation survey showed that 60% of business leaders are nervous about the future after struggling to keep up with digital transformation, but 91% felt confident about technology driving change for their business. This is definitely the case in the haulage sector, which is behind other industries in terms of digital adoption. But by saying goodbye to clunky legacy technology and manual, prone-to-error processes, your business can improve productivity and efficiency and, as a result, drive growth in profits.
Author: Richard Bird, Mandata