One of the most profitable delivery businesses you can engage in is a FedEx Line Haul route. The margins are excellent, and the risks are relatively low. However, your initial investment may be greater than other delivery businesses, and managing cash flow properly is essential.
Whether you are just considering purchasing a FedEx Line Haul Route, optimizing your business is about more than just truck management or trying to determine the best roads to travel. There are several aspects of making your business run the most efficiently it can and many ways to implement them.
Here is a comprehensive guide to optimizing your FedEx Line Haul route.
Fleet and Driver Management
The first and most obvious thing to optimize is your fleet and your drivers. There are two aspects to this: the vehicles in your fleet and the drivers who operate them.
First, getting and retaining new drivers can be a challenge in today’s employment market. CDL-qualified employees have a lot of choices when it comes to where and when they work, and offering competitive pay, benefits, and time at home are all things drivers look for in a new position. Fortunately, FedEx Line Haul routes come in two types that can meet the needs of nearly any driver or team of drivers:
- Dedicated runs these routes have the same destination and departure station on each trip. For example, on a Boise to Salt Lake City dedicated run, the truck will depart from Boise, travel to Salt Lake, and return to Boise on each run.
- Unassigned runs start at the same FedEx station but do not have a regularly assigned destination. Your driver might start in Boise every time but may travel to Portland, Los Angeles, or a destination even further away based on the needs of FedEx.
- Spot runs are shorter runs that are local, within a designated area, and drivers travel out of their home base daily. But they drive semi-trucks and carry larger packages or even pallets. Sometimes an entire trailer will go to a single business like a Walmart or an industrial complex. While these routes can be somewhat consistent and predictable, a regular volume is not guaranteed.
Fortunately, there are drivers who like the variety of spot runs and their local nature or the challenge of unassigned runs. While many drivers desire a dedicated run and the stability that schedule provides, some employees will find that dull and almost too predictable.
The key is to know them and what they want from a line haul route. Spot runs often pay more, but are inconsistent, meaning overall pay could be either less or more than a dedicated run. The same is true for unassigned runs. You will have to determine the best way to manage these different runs for your business.
The fleet for your business is also vital. Newer trucks have a larger upfront cost, but operation and maintenance costs will be greater. Many FedEx Line Haul route owners will cycle older trucks to local routes and keep newer, more efficient vehicles on longer runs. However, depending on the frequency and type of spot runs, this may not be practical for you.
The principle is to have a system where your fleet serves you the best regardless of the age of the vehicle and that you have a plan for rotating older equipment when you make additional purchases.
Optimizing your fleet and drivers to keep employees happy and trucks rolling efficiently can be a challenge, but it is worth the effort.
Secondly, and almost a subset of fleet management, is tracking both vehicles and personnel to track progress and effectively deal with any issues that might arise along the way. There are several ways to deal with GPS tracking.
First, there are GPS tracking units that also include dashcams and other technology that help you not only see the location of your drivers and trucks but can help you analyze driver behavior, capture footage of accidents or other issues, and more. These vehicle management systems can offer valuable insights that can make your route much more efficient.
There are dual-facing dashcams that can capture driver behaviors like distracted driving so they can be addressed and corrected, along with those that show the road ahead and can be used to determine what actually happened in an accident and support or refute witness testimony.
Your insurance company may even offer discounts if you use and share the information from this type of technology. You’ll breathe easier, and your business will be more efficient as a result.
The key is to find the balance between using this technology effectively and maintaining the privacy of your drivers and staff. This technology may even be available through your cell phone provider or another company.
FedEx Line Haul Route Optimization
Third is the optimization of your route itself. This relates to how you get from point A to point B and hit all the stops along the way by traveling the shortest distance and using the least amount of fuel. This is much more complicated than just using Google Maps and adding a destination, not to mention how long that would take to set up. You need something more accurate.
This can sometimes be accomplished using fleet management software, but most often you will need a separate program. Thankfully FedEx is working on improving systems that are already a part of pickup and delivery (P & D) route software and adapting them for FedEx Line Haul routes.
These programs are already useful for managing spot loads, and continued improvement will help make even dedicated and unassigned runs more efficient.
Avoiding Accidents and Delays
Delays are common, from construction to accidents to other delays, and the impact on line haul routes can range from annoying to devastating. While it is impossible to avoid all of these issues, you can mitigate them.
Use your state’s 511 or road conditions app regularly. These usually have the most up-to-date information and, in some cases, may offer camera coverage of key roads and mountain passes. While this can be the most up-to-date information on construction delays, the reporting of accidents can be a little further behind, depending on how your state runs its system.
This is where apps like Apple and Google Maps and others can come in handy, where users report accidents or delays they encounter in real time. Sometimes alternate routing is difficult or even impossible, but knowing what is ahead can help manage station expectations and even show drivers where they can potentially make up time. While these programs are not ideal for route optimization overall, they can help drivers avoid potential problems.
One of those potential issues is one every FedEx Line Haul route owner and driver faces, and one they must be prepared for.
Dealing with the Weather
The weather cannot be controlled, and even accurate forecasts are hard to come by, but there are things you can do to be prepared.
- Check local forecasts for the entire route, choosing key locations where issues might arise, like mountain passes or flat areas where wind can be a factor. Get to know your route and learn the weather patterns.
- Carry the right equipment and know how to use it. Carry snow chains in climates where snow is possible, and make sure you and your drivers know how to install and use them.
- Prepare your vehicles. Winterize each properly in cold seasons and do the same for the summer months. Maintenance is key to preventing delays that come with breakdowns, especially ones that are weather or temperature-related.
- Make sure drivers are trained and prepared. Offer refresher courses in winter driving as needed and make sure they have what they need to deal with either colder or warmer temps.
You can’t control the weather, but you can control your reaction and preparedness for it. It’s a constant part of optimizing your FedEx Line Haul route.
Fuel Use Management in a FedEx Line Haul Route
Fuel use is also a huge topic and can have a large impact on profit margins. Gas varies in price from week to week and region to region. Here are some things you can do to be more efficient.
- Use Gas Buddy or other similar apps to check prices in the area you are traveling through. You can often save money by simply traveling a few more miles or waiting until you cross a state line to fill up.
- Get to know your route and where the truck stops and stations with the best prices are.
- Join rewards programs. From gasoline credit cards to standard rewards cards, you can earn points and even cash that will save you money on fuel and can even result in other rewards.
Other things you can do include training your drivers to drive more efficiently. Your fleet management system can help you track things like excessive acceleration, hard braking, and other behaviors that impact both safety and fuel usage.
Some FedEx Line Haul owners have experimented with and are contemplating a shift to electric vehicles, and this is an area that can potentially increase efficiency. Many believe they are the future of the trucking industry. This may be a game changer for FedEx Line Haul routes and is a trend worth watching.
Route efficiency and optimization are a vital part of your success as a line haul route owner. From Fleet and Driver management to GPS tracking and other fleet software to fuel efficiency, making your business the most efficient it can be will result in greater profits, less stress, and a better return on your investment.
No matter where you are in your FedEx Line Haul route ownership journey, we are here to help. At route advisors, we can help you find the right route for you at the best price and the ideal time.
Contact us today. We want to be your route broker, and we will be with you through every step of the process.