Real Issues. Real Answers: Optimizing Deliveries

By / 2 weeks ago

Optimizing Deliveries

For LBM dealers, nothing happens until a sale is made. For our builder customers, nothing happens until the material arrives on the jobsite. Deliveries are an important and fundamental service that, when done effectively, can give dealers a competitive edge. With the cost of equipment and fuel, combined with the scarcity of CDL drivers, deliveries can also be a major expense. The challenge is determining what combination of technology, equipment, drivers and other personnel makes the most sense for each individual dealer.

This month’s question came from a dealer in one of the red-hot Texas markets, who opted to remain anonymous. He wrote: “Business is picking up in our market, so we find ourselves doing far more deliveries than we used to. Our challenge is determining how to make the most of our delivery drivers’ time, and how to route as many deliveries as possible, in the least amount of time. What are other dealers doing to optimize the efficiency of their deliveries?”

As we do each month, we emailed that question to readers who’ve opted in to receive our email communications. A big thank you to the nearly 200 readers who took time to respond to this month’s survey. If you’d like to participate in future Real Issues surveys, please drop me a note at Rick@LBMJournal.com, and I’ll make sure you’re added to our list.

The Question
What advice would you have for the dealer who asked this question: “Business is picking up in our market, so we find ourselves doing far more deliveries than we used to. Our challenge is determining how to make the most of our delivery drivers’ time, and how to route as many deliveries as possible, in the least amount of time. What are other dealers doing to optimize the efficiency of their deliveries?”

The Responses
“We route many of our deliveries using larger trucks with piggy back lifts. We will do as many stops as possible. If necessary, we will send two trucks and one lift and schedule the trucks as to offload and get one of them coming back right away and let the other finish the run.”

“I’m making every delivery we can, as quickly as possible, with bill-out accounts the priority. From experience, I know that if we can’t fill the orders, the customer might go somewhere else. We try to combine deliveries that happen to be in the same area on certain days, if possible.”

“Our salesmen do small deliveries themselves or encourage customers to pickup pieces/parts.”

“Consider the type of equipment (i.e.: truck with a boom) that allows the driver to unload on site without additional assistance.”

“Make sure your drivers are driving and not waiting for a load or helping to load their next delivery.”

“We try our darnedest to combine loads going in the same direction, but it all comes down to timing sometimes. Not a lot of contractors plan anymore. The salesman has to be the one who is on top of things and be able to plan it out for them. Stay one or two steps ahead of the game, anticipating when they’re going to need their next delivery, and things will run smoother.”

“Need to follow UPS and make multiple stops to conserve time and fuel. Drivers don’t seem to like it, but doesn’t make sense to make multiple trips to the same area.”

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Rick Schumacher

Rick Schumacher is the editor and publisher of LBM Journal, and has more than 24 years experience covering the industry. Rick@LBMJournal.com