The top 4 challenges transport and logistics companies are facing in South Africa

Change is one of the only constants in life. With change, there are multiple challenges that you could face as a business owner. Just as you think you’ve got the hang of all the latest technology, you’ve improved on your administrative processes, and you’ve calculated the costs involved in all the segments of your business – everything changes. This is also true for transport and logistics companies in South Africa, who often face changes and challenges as they go about their business.

Here are the top 4 challenges the transport and logistics industry face in South Africa:

Fluctuating fuel costs

There are two main factors that determine the fuel price in South Africa – the price of oil, and the value of the Rand compared to the U.S. Dollar. With these two factors continuously fluctuating, the price of fuel is unstable and is easily changed.

As a business owner in the transport and logistics industry, sudden changes in the fuel price could mean a possible loss in profit. If a trip was budgeted for using a specific petrol price, and the price suddenly changes, the amount budgeted for would be inaccurate.

In some instances, where the price for fuel drops, you could score a bit or adjust your prices to better satisfy your customers, but with the fuel increases lately it wouldn’t have been the case for most businesses.

Rigorous business processes

A business will only thrive if the internal processes run smoothly.

With technology being ever evolving, the need for new business processes increase daily. Technology has given businesses various opportunities and applications to use to go from a manual administration process to a seamless, paperless process. It has made the administrative processes in businesses less taxing and more organised, which improves the flow of things within the business.

It has become an increasing challenge for the transport and logistics industry to keep up with all the latest technology that could improve their processes. And even if businesses did remain up to date on the latest procedures, how much is it going to cost the company, and who is going to ensure that it’s implemented successfully? Evolution is good and necessary, however it can also be challenging and costly if not approached and implemented properly.

Evolving customer service

If you heard that there’s a post about your company on Hello Peter, would you start jumping for joy?

Working with customers is always difficult. With such a variety of people in the world, trying to find the right way to please everyone is nearly impossible.

Customer service is one of the biggest factors in any business. Reviews – especially negative – spread like wildfire on all social media platforms. There is no way to prevent someone from posting something on their social media accounts, or prevent people from sharing or reacting to it, so the only thing a business can do is constantly improve their customer service and ensure that it’s always up to scratch.

People’s expectations change as frequently as their Facebook statuses, and so the level of service that was “good enough” a year or so ago, won’t be as satisfying now. Improving on the quality of customer service is a big challenge that has the ability to keep businesses on their toes, especially in the transport and logistics industry where competition is aplenty.

Stringent government regulations

Carriers face significant compliance regulations, and here in South Africa, larger fleet sizes are the norm, making the management of those fleets more complexed.

For example, transport and logistics businesses in South Africa need to ensure that their vehicles are roadworthy, that they do not exceed the permissible axle masses, that drivers are trained and in possession of all applicable permits and that they receive regular medical examinations – just to name a few.

These businesses therefore need to ensure that their internal processes are in place to stay up-to-date with regulations and the implementation thereof. Staying compliant to all regulations can be costly and time-consuming, but non-compliance could result in fines and even shutting the business down for long periods of time.

Transport and logistics companies in South Africa face many challenges that are hidden to the consumer’s eye, and the way that they respond to these challenges often determines the level of service you can expect. However, knowing that you’re opting to partner with or make use of a company that understands and faces these challenges head on goes a long way in reassuring you that you’ve made the right choice.

5 things to ask a transport and logistics company before hiring them

Knowing exactly which company to make use of for the transport and logistics needs of your business can be tricky. You may even spend a lot of time weighing up the many options. And no one blames you. If you’re going to put your trust in a company to securely transport your goods to and from where they need to be, without a scratch, you’d want to know you made the right decision.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of goods being stolen while in transit or the transport vehicles being attacked and damaged while on the road. As a business owner, you want to know how to prevent this from happening to you – and if it does, what do you do?

Here are the top 5 things you should ask a transport and logistics company before hiring them:

1. What sort of insurance do they have?

If you’re going to trust a company to transport your goods, insurance should be the first thing on your mind. As much as we want to believe that things will go smoothly, we also know that anything could happen.

There are usually multiple insurance options to choose from, depending on the parcel or load that needs to be delivered and the business’s unique requirements. To ensure a peaceful night’s sleep, rather opt for a transport and logistics company that can offer you the type of insurance that will best suit your specific needs.

2. How will you be updated on the location of your goods?

Technology has made the tracking of your parcel or load’s location so much easier. Due to stringent security measures employed by good transport and logistic companies, you might not be able to get the exact, live location of your parcel. Your logistics company should, however, give you an update at certain points throughout the journey.

Whether it’s via email, SMS or phone call, a good transport and logistics company will let you know, without you having to nag them, when your parcel or load has passed a certain location and at least provide you with an estimate of its arrival.

Receiving regular updates at key points of the journey of your goods will give you peace of mind and help make communication with your own potential customer a lot easier.

3. Can you contact them after hours in case of an emergency?

Okay, maybe not an emergency. But let’s say the location of the delivery suddenly changed, or you need an urgent update on the whereabouts of your parcel, can you contact the transport and logistics company after hours?

Knowing that you’re able to contact your service provider whenever you need to says a lot about the personal relationship and customer centricity of the company. This is another advantage of using a smaller business instead of your large, well-known brands. To read more about this, go check out this article: Why hiring a more personal logistics company is better for business.

4. How often do they travel the route you require?

Let’s say your parcel or load needs to go to a location that not everyone is familiar with traveling, like Zimbabwe. Does this logistics company travel this route often, or not at all?

If the driver of the cargo is familiar with the route your parcel or load needs to take to arrive at their destination, your goods will be much safer—as the driver will have an idea of all the twists and turns that may come about. This lessens the possibility of surprise obstacles or unknowns that could hinder the delivery process, ensuring a smooth, timely and efficient journey.

5. What additional services are offered?

Except for just transporting your goods from A to B, what other services can the company provide? There are many transport companies out there, but not all of them offer a full-stack service that completely takes care of the entire end-to-end logistics process.

If your parcel needs to be delivered somewhere that crosses the country’s borders, do they help with customs and clearing to get your goods into the country, or is that completely up to you to handle? Can they provide additional advice or recommendations on the transportation of your goods, to ensure a smoother transit?

By asking these questions to the transport and logistics company you want to hire, you’ll be better equipped to make the best decisions for your business and ultimately ensure the successful transport and delivery of your goods.

If you have any other questions you think would be worth asking a transport and logistics company you may want to hire, feel free to comment them below!