With freight looking down in the dumps as of recent, most would consider parking their truck, not excluding myself. So, when the drop-in rates and subsequent freight slowdown occurred, I decided to park my truck, but my usual dedicated work as a strategic measure didn’t stop. Instead of sitting at home worrying about freight rates while staring at load boards, I decided this time would be better spent taking care of some much needed catching up. After all, we just finished up with a rush of freight for all my trucks, and being that busy had led me to put off a few things, enabling me to continue running hard, and keeping up with restocking our nation’s critical supplies.
First things first, office spring-cleaning. No better way to catch up on business items than to reorganize the mess being created by being busy. In my business office, I needed to archive all the old items I wouldn’t need, decluttering space for the remainder of the operating year. With piles of 2019 fourth-quarter invoices still sitting out, and an equally large pile of shred items still not run through the shredder, the clutter had become overwhelming! In no time at all, I was able to whip this office of mine back into shape and, even clean up my computer desktop, and organize all the files I had not got around to sorting into folders from the main screen as well.
Next on my downtime agenda would be my truck itself. With no single more important item to care for than the beautiful Freightliner Cascadia, I drive day in, and day out, to get the goods delivered. It was obvious that postponed maintenance would be an excellent way to utilize this unplanned slowdown. Not that I went past factory recommended service intervals, as I am usually more proactive than even, they suggest, but I was slightly overdue according to my own shortened cycles, and now had plenty of time to get the truck in. It was nice to drop the truck off and let them take their time, instead of the usual “having to wait in the lobby” while the service was done. They were able to take care of my PM items, as well as find a leaking seal I might not have otherwise had the time to take care of if I were running during busier times.
Taking a “lemon” of a scenario, like slow freight and low rates and turning it into “lemonade” by properly utilizing unplanned downtime, helps any business to be better prepared for the coming times when things pick back up. If rates don’t quite agree with your operating limits and you are out grinding at a rate below your operating floor, you not only risk running your business into the negative but also you might also find yourself running your equipment into the ground doing so as well. When stuck in a situation where you are better off using downtime productively to catch up in other areas of your business, look at it from the perspective of “there’s no time like the present!”