5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Making a Delivery
If pickups are the most stressful times in the freight journey, deliveries are a close number two. Heck, they might be more stressful than the pickups. As a freight coordinator, deliveries can make or break you.
The worst experience I ever had with a delivery involved a giant pharmacy chain that you’ve probably heard of. I had a 53 footer delivering toilet paper to a distribution center in Alabama. If you’re familiar with behemoth organizations and monster distribution centers, you know that deliveries need to be precise.
In this particular case, my driver hit some traffic West of Chattanooga. I had already scheduled the delivery with the distribution center, which is a herculean task on its own. The window for delivery was only about 20 minutes, if memory serves. Basically, if the truck isn’t there in that 20 minute window, it doesn’t get delivered. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. That jam in Tennessee meant my driver swung into the warehouse about an hour late and they turned him away. The next available delivery window wasn’t for another 3 weeks, which meant I had to pay a warehouse to store the 53’ of skids until a new driver could pick up the load and take it to the warehouse almost a month later.
We’ll just say that my commission check was not lustrous that month.
Deliveries are challenging, because almost every warehouse has different policies, procedures, and general oddities. Alvys has tracking and tracing tools to help alleviate the stress of deliveries.
That pharmacy company ran their schedule like the German train system, and if you missed out, too bad so sad. Other companies are more chill. That’s why I’ve come up with 5 questions that helped me navigate the delivery process to make it a little less stressful. These questions apply to the delivery location, the pickup location, and the driver/dispatcher. Figure out the answers to these questions before you even think of committing to a load.
1. Do You Require a Delivery Appointment?
This should be question number 1 when scheduling any delivery. Some companies have automated delivery scheduling systems, others are just a dude smoking by a dock door. Making sure there’s a way to get the freight off the truck when your driver arrives is your number one concern. Do not forget to ask this question.
2. Do You Have Any Other Deliveries Scheduled for the Day?
This question is for the driver and/or dispatcher on LTL loads. If you’re booking a portion of a trailer, make sure that your driver has his deliveries all hammered out. If your freight needs to be the first thing off the truck, but it’s in the front of the trailer, that won’t work. You need to make sure you’re setting up the driver and yourself for success, not frustration.
3. Is This Delivery Guaranteed?
This is the million dollar question. If you have a piece of freight that needs to get from A to B, and it has to be there by a certain time, you’ve got to cover all your bases. That means getting a guarantee if needed. Without a guaranteed delivery, you might be left holding the bag on an entire load because the driver found a better deal somewhere else and bailed on you. If you’re moving an important piece of freight, getting a guaranteed shipment could save you a world of hurt if something goes wrong.
4. What Does the Driver Need to Know About Your Building?
Here’s the reality: some warehouses are just freaking weird. You basically have to pass through the land of Oz, follow the yellow brick road through the Stargate, jump through a flaming hoop, and get towed in by a DeLorian. These are all things your driver should know in advance. Some buildings can’t accommodate box trucks. Some don’t have a dock door at all and require a lift gate. Make sure you know what the delivery needs before the truck shows up. Surprises are not good in this industry.
5. What Happens if We’re Late (Or Early)?
The funny thing is that basically nobody is ever happy in logistics. It’s truly a Goldilocks industry. People get upset when freight arrives too early. They get upset when freight arrives late. Heck, sometimes they get upset when the freight shows up just on time. Knowing the needs of the shipper and receiver will help you navigate your deliveries better. Will the driver be able to offload if he shows up 5 hours earlier than expected? What if he hits a snag in Marietta traffic and rolls in 5 minutes before closing time? These are things worth knowing before the driver gets to the building, not at the time they arrive.
Ultimately, deliveries are all about communication. Knowing the right questions to ask on the front end will save you a world of pain on the back end. Keeping an open line of communication with your driver and dispatcher is key. If things go off the rails – and let’s face it, we work in logistics, things always go off the rails – we have to know how to respond. The only way to do that is to be armed with knowledge and a great transportation management system.
These 5 questions should be the minimum you ask on every single delivery.
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