Over the river and through the woods makes for great poetry, but this time of year, it evokes feelings of dread from many FedEx Ground Route owners and drivers. Winter is coming, and in many parts of the country that means facing snow. Even where snow is not common, unexpected winter storms can arrive, and it is good practice to be prepared. Whether you are a new route owner or just considering purchasing a route, these tips are for you.
Here are some tips and tricks regarding snow and your FedEx Ground Delivery Vehicle.
Make a Plan
First and foremost, you need to have a snow plan. The rest of this article will speak to the elements of that plan. However, you need to do more than think about contingencies and what you might do in case of a major snow event. A plan should be written down, actionable, and you should take appropriate steps to ensure you can execute it as needed.
A plan is only as good as the follow-through you put into it. As winter approaches, be sure you not only have a plan, but that it is written, and you have shared it with your drivers if you employ more than one. Ensure that your entire team is on the same page.
Making Sure you are Tired Properly
While we have talked before about tires when it comes to being prepared for peak season, it bears repeating here: if you are in an area where snow is common, make sure you have made the switch from summer to winter tires. There are a variety of choices from simple mud and snow tires to studs.
Also, check your local laws. In some areas, studded tires can only be used at certain times of year, and the types of studs for your type of vehicle may also be regulated. Not only is it important to have the right tires to navigate the snow, but also that your timing fits in with local regulations.
Navigating Snow and Your FedEx Ground Delivery Vehicle
No matter what type of vehicle you operate, there are some common sense driving tips you need to follow in case of snow. If you have four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles available, that is ideal. But even if not, here are some things to keep in mind.
- Slow Down. Everything in snow should be done slower, including acceleration, braking, and turning.
- Keep it Smooth. Rapid, darting movements, lane changes, and turns can easily result in skids even if you are not using your brakes. Smooth movements reduce that risk.
- Give Yourself More Room. Allow more room for turns, lane changes, and braking just in case there is ice present or something happens with the vehicles in front of or around you.
- Steer Into a Skid. This can seem counter-intuitive at first, but steering in the direction of a skid is the easiest way to pull out of it.
- Practice in the Snow. Take yourself and your drivers to a large, empty parking lot or similar area, and practice acceleration, braking, and turns in snow and ice. Practice until you are comfortable with each maneuver.
- Be Prepared for Being Stuck. Carry shovels, sand, cardboard, and even kitty litter, all of which can help you get unstuck if you do get stuck in snow and ice.
- Have a Towing Company on Speed Dial. If you do get stuck, you will want to get moving again quickly. Know the towing companies in your area and have them programmed into your phone ahead of time.
These things should be a part of your overall snow plan. It always pays to be prepared ahead of time and practice scenarios when possible. Some areas even offer winter driving courses, and you may want to consider taking one if you are not used to driving in ice and snow.
As with any route, some areas of your route will be different from others. Some may receive more snow than others due to micro-climates. Other streets may be cleared sooner than others by the county or city they are in. Usually, school bus routes and main streets are first, and the others are secondary.
Know your route and what the local snow-clearing plan is. Schedule earlier deliveries on roads you know will be clear and come back for more challenging deliveries. The warmth of the day or a secondary plowing effort may clear those streets later and can save you a lot of trouble in the long run even if you have to retrace your steps.
Deliver or Delay
If the weather is especially bad or you cannot get to a certain area, you can delay a package. While this is not ideal, it is better than getting stuck and delaying many more stops on your route. This is a safety and judgment call.
Sometimes those who live in areas that receive heavy snow will offer a central drop-off location where they will retrieve packages. This can save you a lot of trouble as a driver, and also ensures customers still get their packages. Be sure to ask other drivers and your customers if this is something they have set up or would consider.
Alternate Driver Options
Often during peak, drivers will pool and hire a temporary driver or your station may hire one. These drivers take hard-to-reach stops in a four-wheel drive vehicle and deliver them for you. They are often paid hourly, as they generally can reach fewer stops on any given day.
Consider these options, especially if you experience a lot of snow during peak season, as this can enable you to make the rest of your route more efficient.
Planning for Snow and Your FedEx Ground Delivery Vehicle
For most FedEx Ground vehicles, snow is not ideal. However, it is something that you must deal with. How you do so will determine its impact on your route. Follow these best practices to handle snow and your FedEx Ground vehicle.
And if you are considering buying or selling a FedEx Ground route, contact us here at Route Advisors. We can help you find the right route at the right time, no matter what the season. We’ll be with you every step of the way. Get in touch today.