The normal mode of operation at Transervice Logistics is pure dedicated carriage, where we assign equipment and resources to each individual customer we service. In essence, we become the company’s private fleet and we don’t normally share drivers between accounts on a regular basis. However, COVID-19 took the word “regular” out of our vocabularies, and we, like many other carriers, made some changes to accommodate the needs of our customers.
For example, one of the nation’s largest grocery retailers by revenue is also a Transervice customer at multiple locations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it saw shipping volumes setting records, so we had to employ additional resources.
On the other hand, a combination of COVID-19 and a very mild winter had a serious impact on another client. Normally when a customer’s freight volume slows down, we go out on the spot market to find loads to keep our drivers on the road. We would use Transervice Integrated Solutions, our own brokerage division, and other brokers to keep our drivers busy.
It happens that one of this customer’s routes takes our drivers through one of the key markets of the grocery account. So we repositioned the fleet to help our customer. Once we agreed on a rate for the additional work, our fleet manager was able to find loads that would get the drivers routed through the required markets. At any one time we had five to 10 drivers from the account with the slowdown working for our other account, hauling groceries rather than commodities.
We rotated drivers in and out over the course of four weeks based on their needs to be home on certain days. We were able to do this because we have regular loads between the two affected markets all the time.
The management of the drivers did not present any real challenges. The managers at both locations worked together to coordinate which drivers were going to be in which place on any given day. If a driver needed to get back home, the managers would rotate in someone else. We set a few ground rules covering what we wanted to do during this period, including making accommodations for drivers. We controlled and dispatched all the freight ourselves out of one main location.
This was a win for everyone involved. The grocery client got its goods delivered at a lower rate than it would have had to pay another carrier. Transervice got a rate that was higher than what was available on the spot market. And the drivers were able to keep driving.
We are pleased with the results and are considering doing the same thing with a customer that hauls hardware. Spring and summer are traditionally a busy time for them, and given the stay-in-place orders being enforced in many states, that market has heated up more than usual as people turn to home-improvement projects instead of vacations.
While we maintain our focus on dedicated carriage, this flexibility of redeploying drivers and power units allowed us to help out a customer in very chaotic times while still maintaining our own profitability.
John Walker is senior vice president of logistics for Transervice Logistics. He has 36 years’ experience with dedicated contract carriage, 20 of those at Transervice. Transervice Logistics, Lake Success, New York, provides customized transportation solutions, including logistics, dedicated contract carriage, fleet leasing, contract maintenance, and material handling equipment leasing and maintenance. The company maintains more than 120 facilities and manages over 24,500 pieces of equipment. This article was authored and edited according to HDT editorial standards and style to provide useful information to our readers.
If you're interested in sharing your fleet's COVID-19 story or other insights in our Guest Voices blog, contact Editor in Chief Deborah Lockridge at firstname.lastname@example.org.