When products have long journeys from origin to destination, it’s hard to imagine that the last mile of the trek is important. In fact, many people would consider that stretch unimportant. After all, the shipment is almost there.

However, last-mile logistics play a critical role in the success of deliveries—both from the customer’s perspective and the point of view of the company shipping the products.

A Simple Change in Last-Mile Practices Saves Millions of Gallons of Fuel

To prove that last-mile logistics positively influence deliveries, consider the case of UPS. It’s been reported that years ago, the company identified a simple way to save fuel and, as a result, drive more profit to its bottom line. By having its drivers avoid left turns (and waiting for traffic to clear so they can make those turns), UPS saves millions of gallons of fuel annually. And the cost savings are just the beginning.

Less time waiting to turn left means more minutes for making deliveries. Consequently, one driver can reach more businesses or homes per day. Even if it’s just a few added stops, the benefit across the company’s massive delivery operation is huge.

Then, of course, there are the environmental benefits of less time idling and emitting pollutants while making left turns. Here again, the difference in one vehicle’s daily emissions may be small, but the benefit across tens of thousands of vehicles is significant. And being able to tout the advantages can earn UPS praise from environmentalists.

So, while that’s just one real-world example, the fact is that last-mile logistics are extremely important.

The Origin of Last-Mile Awareness

While last-mile logistics are critical for companies delivering materials and products, the awareness of the importance of the “homestretch” didn’t originate in the transportation industry. The concept was first recognized in the telecommunications industry.

Companies became aware that getting a line from its point of origin to within a mile of the consumer was relatively easy. The challenge was the final 5,280 feet to the customer’s doorstep, which often involves snaking around city infrastructure, obtaining easements, etc.

And you’ll see the same types of challenges in other scenarios, even if a company isn’t responsible for the last mile. For example, flying hundreds of passengers from New York to Denver is pretty straightforward. The fact that each of those passengers continues their journey seamlessly (generally speaking) to their final destination is nothing short of a last-mile (give or take) miracle!

Leased/Rented Semi Trailers and Last-Mile Logistics

Last-mile logistics in commercial transportation and delivery involve several factors. Perhaps the most important is flexibility. The final stretch of a journey can change at a moment’s notice. Consequently, successful companies must be able to adapt quickly—particularly in their carrying capacity. Many find that having a trusted provider of leased and rented semi trailers is essential to that flexibility.

Another vital aspect of effective last-mile logistics is transparency. Businesses and consumers today expect to be kept informed about the deliveries they’re anticipating. Consequently, GPS tracking in semi trailers can be very useful.

Providing customers with real-time information is more than just a courtesy. That capability can reduce customer service inquiries, leaving team members more time to handle other tasks. It can also support a more positive customer experience, which leads to powerful word-of-mouth marketing and increased business opportunities.

Effective route planning is also an important piece in the last-mile logistics puzzle. Determining the best routes and deftly handling any necessary changes in advance helps companies avoid delays and ensure smooth, friction-free deliveries. GPS tracking can play a critical role here, as well.

Tips for Transforming Your Last-Mile Logistics

In providing leased and rented semi trailers to countless clients through the years, we’ve observed some organizations that struggle with last-mile logistics, many that really “nail it” and still others who make the successful transition from the first group to the second.

Those that are or become highly effective in this area have certain things in common, including that they:

  • Understand their customers. These organizations do their homework to understand what’s important to each company they serve.
  • Establish and monitor meaningful metrics. Excellent last-mile performance is about more than saving fuel or getting shipments to recipients quickly. There are many ways to measure success, and it’s crucial to be tracking the right things.
  • Standardize their processes. While every customer is unique, it’s easiest to address their specific requirements from a foundation of common practices and services.
  • Leverage technology and automation. Yes, you can contact a driver on their mobile device throughout their trip, including in the last mile. But it’s much more effective to use GPS tracking in the semi trailer to handle that task.
  • Support their drivers. When the person hauling a semi trailer has fast access to assistance when needed, problems affecting a journey’s last mile (or any mile) get resolved more quickly.
  • Manage customer expectations. Being proactive in contacting delivery recipients with status updates makes them much happier than if they learn of issues only after contacting you.
  • Expect the unexpected. The phrase “expect the best, prepare for the worst” is good advice for anyone involved in logistics. This isn’t to say that you should constantly worry about logistics in general or over the last mile in particular. Instead, acknowledging that problems can arise prompts you to think through how you’ll deal with them if they occur.
  • Continually review results and revise their strategies. There is much to learn from successful deliveries and those that weren’t so successful. The key is to make it part of your process to review each trip and provide your team with valuable takeaways.
  • Have strong relationships with third-party providers. It’s good for business and reassuring to logistics professionals to know that a company like Boxwheel Trailer Leasing will “have their back” should they have a need—urgent or otherwise—for equipment, services, etc.

Connect With Boxwheel

If you have a current or anticipated need for leased or rented flatbed, dry van, reefer or other trailers in Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Utah or Nevada, getting to know Boxwheel is a wise business decision. We have an extensive inventory from trusted manufacturers like Wabash, Utility and Great Dane that you can leverage to meet your transportation requirements and streamline shipments—up to and including the last mile! Contact Boxwheel Trailer Leasing today.

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