Keeping up with record backlogs and the traditional gift buying season will make this Holiday Rush one for the books. That’s the consensus of two industry veterans, one, the owner of a logistics company and the other a supply chain service provider.
Steve Howard is president of the Customized Logistics & Delivery Association (CLDA) and the president of Esquire Logistics, Inc in Florida. Chris Kane is the CEO of Drivv powered by Courierboard & CBDriver also based in Florida.
Both men acknowledge that the unique challenges facing carriers this holiday season make preparing for it a challenge. “It's a big unknown,” said Howard. “We have been extremely busy all year with peak numbers every day. There are so many unidentified variables that could impact this year’s Holiday Rush. People are already buying on-line in record numbers, so there’s every reason to expect they’ll do the same with holiday gifts. And let’s not forget the last few Holiday Seasons when the big three, UPS, Fed-EX and USPS, struggled with volume. I have every reason to believe that they will be hard-pressed again in handling this holiday season’s volume. That will most likely mean more work for our members, who are mostly regional providers.”
Kane confirmed his expectations of increased volume this year. “I believe we are going to continue to see a huge increase in on-demand deliveries this holiday season from companies, retailers and individuals,” he said. “Everything is being delivered today as people shy away from in-person shopping. There are also backlogs and shortages of building materials that need to be delivered ASAP as they become available. This will be another drain on capacity. There’s also pent-up demand because everyone has been home for over a year. Add those together with holiday gift buying and we'll see a tidal wave of delivery demand in November and December.”
There are also lingering issues from the pandemic that will have an impact on the 2021 Holiday Delivery Season. The most significant will be getting a large enough workforce. “There is a real challenge at the moment when it comes to hiring drivers and employees,” points out Howard. “We typically ramp up our hiring in October, but we have not stopped hiring all year. It appears that things are starting to normalize again, but with COVID raging in South Florida at the moment there is still a lot of concern about the effects it will have on the available work force.”
Kane has a front row seat on the driver shortage. His company, Drivv, is an online driver recruiting platform for courier companies to engage new drivers. They also have a driver contract website where independent contractors can search driver contract ads from courier companies called CBDriver. “Driver availability is the critical factor that will impact the 2021 holiday season,” he says. “The extended pandemic unemployment benefits have negatively affected the driver population. There are more companies advertising for drivers than ever before on our platform. The competition for professional drivers is intense with an increase in driver ads featuring incentives and sign on bonuses. To respond to these issues, Drivv has added new recruiting features including a search for Master Contractors, so companies can search our database for Master Contractors and see how many drivers and vehicle types they oversee.”
Both men expect to ramp up the search for drivers. “We are planning on a hiring blitz a month earlier than normal,” says Howard. “Our goal is to have an excellent team in place well before the historic beginning of peak which is usually around Black Friday.” The CBDriver platform will be rolling out a new online driver community forum, DriverTalk, which will help drivers connect, find new driving opportunities and share information with other drivers.
This escalating race to find, train and get more drivers up to speed will put tremendous pressure on logistics companies for the holiday season. “Bringing on staff early can be a challenge because of the cost of adding them well before you need them. The reality is that the company that has the delivery staff will most likely win!” says Howard. Drivv and CBDriver is already seeing that trend. “Demand is up for courier delivery services and drivers,” says Kane. “The volume of driver ads posted on Drivv /CBDriver is up by over 300% versus last year.”
Flexibility and early recruitment will be the keys to surviving Holiday Rush 2021, according to these two industry pros. “Start recruiting now!” advises Kane. “Drivers are essential to handle the anticipated high demand this Holiday Season and companies should use as many different resources as possible to recruit them.” Howard adds: “My advice is to be ready to adjust quickly. None of us knows what this season will look like but being prepared is critical to your survival.”https://clda.org/