Updated: Oct 20, 2020
All over the country, retail, food service, and other industries have had to adapt to COVID-19
social distancing guidelines. For many, this meant incorporating new infrastructure, from
expanding delivery fleets to building online ordering systems on the fly and more. These quick adjustments allowed many businesses to continue on despite social distancing restrictions.
As these restrictions loosen and things begin to return to normal, however, many companies are facing a question. How do you recover costs spent on infrastructure you may no longer need? Here are some tips to help businesses navigate this transition as cost-effectively as possible:
Embrace the Change
Some companies may benefit most from simply taking the change with them into the future.
Customers want delivery services, now more than ever. Even though many cities and states are opening back up, the general advice to avoid unnecessary errands remains. As a result, being able to offer a stay-at-home option for customers could be a huge advantage for some
If you go this route, it’s important to make sure you’re working as efficiently as possible. Delivery services need extra thought and planning to work well. If your company hastily put something together to adjust to the pandemic, take some time to audit your system and make sure it will serve you well going forward. For example, you should evaluate your supply chain to make sure there aren’t any kinks in the system holding you back. Everything from the inventory tracking process to the routes your drivers take can wind up harming your bottom line.
You should also continuously evaluate whether you’re spending more than you make by offering delivery services. The cost of fleet maintenance, delivery drivers, and gas can easily drain your profits. If you’re coming out in the red, see if you can reduce the size of your fleet or increase your delivery efficiency to move the balance in your favor. Ultimately, however, you may learn that delivery services don’t make sense for your business.
If it’s not feasible to continue to offer delivery once restrictions are lifted, you should focus on
recovering costs from the added infrastructure. If you can, offer delivery drivers different
positions along your company’s workflow. Contact other businesses in the area to see if they’re interested in purchasing your delivery fleet.
Another option which may benefit you in the long run is to lease your fleet to other companies. Offering delivery rental can allow other businesses to expand their services with slightly lower risk, allowing your local economy to flourish. Even short-term rentals can give you a financial boost. For example, florists may need extra delivery vans during high-business times such as Valentine’s or Mothers’ Day. Secure relationships with several of these companies, and you’ll have regular additional income throughout the year.
If you go this route, invest in fleet tracking devices. Establish clear guidelines in the lease for
what area the fleet should be used in, and enact a charge for any unapproved long-distance
deliveries. This may seem harsh, but the simple fact is that long journeys put additional strain on the vehicle that you have to pay for in repairs and replacements. Make sure any business you work with understands these restrictions, and offer the option to expand the delivery area at different rates.
Adapting to COVID-19 restrictions got your business through the last few months. You must
continue to use that flexibility going forward. A market full of unknowns can make it feel like you never truly have your footing. Continue to adjust as necessary, however, and your business can thrive, whatever normal looks like.