Jump Start 2021, which takes place January 25-27, as a free virtual event, will address the timely topics you need to know about heading into 2021. One of those is making final-mile a strength, and not a weakness. Ellen Voie, president and CEO of Women in Trucking Association, will be joined by YRC Chief Customer Officer and President of HNRY Logistics Jason Bergman; Esquire Express and Esquire Logistics President and Owner Steve Howard; and Cardinal Health’s Director of Final Mile Logistics Casey Sattler to discuss what’s often referred to as the most challenging and costly, but also underappreciated component of the supply chain. Voie took some time to speak with SMC³ about strengthening file-mile delivery and how Women in Trucking is adapting during a pandemic.
How did 2020 impact file-mile?
The onset of the pandemic created new challenges for the final mile sector. First, the concern for driver safety during COVID-19 was paramount so they wouldn’t become ill during the course of their job. Providing personal protection gear as well as obtaining cleaning and sanitizing supplies was also a challenge. Secondly, since final mile drivers enter people’s homes, the safety of the customer was also vital. Not only did the driver need protection from transmitting the virus, but the customer also needs to feel safe while the delivery is being made. Finally, the transportation industry was seen in a new light by the non-trucking sector of the public as they realized that the products they needed and used on a daily basis were brought on a truck. A newfound appreciation for supply chain has been a positive outcome of the past year’s challenges.
What factors make the final-mile stage one of the more important in the supply chain?
The final mile stage is the one the customer is most concerned about. It’s the most visible in the supply chain. If the driver is courteous, safe and professional, the receiver will rate the entire delivery in a positive way.
How can businesses improve their file-mile deliveries?
Since a majority of home deliveries are made during the day and it’s often more typical for a female to receive the shipment, having more female drivers would increase the comfort level for the final mile delivery. Unfortunately, final mile delivery includes the need for a physical component which often precludes attracting more women to the role. However, the use of technology to address this issue can be a solution, as well as the expectation that the role does require heavy lifting on occasion which many women will welcome as a challenge.
How has Women in Trucking Association contributed to the fortification of final-mile delivery?
We have worked with organizations and companies who have final mile delivery to help them better understand how to attract and retain female drivers. For example, more technology means less heavy lifting and if that’s a solution to recruiting more women (and men!), then it should be a priority for carriers to implement, or at least to consider.
How has Women in Trucking stayed connected with its members during the pandemic?
We make sure to have a strong communication network with our members. Not only do we have a weekly e-newsletter, we also have a strong social media presence. In addition, our publication, Redefining the Road goes out to all of our members as well. Finally, the Women In Trucking Association weekly radio show on SiriusXM’s “Road Dog Trucking Channel 146” provides a way for us to get our message out as well as to hear from our members and potential members.