The World's Longest Delivery

July 08, 2013 BY Charles Fallon

20130708 - longest delivery

There's a greasy spoon on the Maine coast that serves the best Irish Benny (picture eggs Benedict with cornbeef hash in lieu of ham).  We were there when a beer truck pulled up to an adjacent convenient store to make a delivery.  We had time to order, eat and pay before that delivery truck was done.   Watching the driver and his helper do their work, I had to sneak a picture to share with you what seemed to be the longest delivery in the world.

The driver rolled up the side panels to reveal stacks of beer cases - each stack was a SKU and several stacks sat on any given pallet.  My guess is that at the warehouse, pickers are picking pallets based on the combined demand on a truck route.  They load the pallets onto the trucks and, as the picture shows, the process of sorting the product into what the delivery actually required is the driver's job.  Maybe the warehouse isn't working with store orders.  Maybe they forecast demand for a particular route and the actual needs of any given delivery are only known when the driver shows up to the store.  At day's end, the driver returns to the warehouse with a balance of inventory in the truck.

The point I am making with this picture isn't about beer distribution.  It is a reminder to all of us in the warehousing industry that our jobs don't end when the trucks pull out of the shipping dock.  The rubber hits the road when the truck shows up to make the delivery.  The quality of the delivery experience is a competitive advantage or, for some, disadvantage.  Foremost, that means a reliable, pleasant, trustworthy driver.  It means error and damage free product delivery.  And, it means a delivery that is fast and unobtrusive.  This beer truck sat in a parking lot reserved for paying customers for 45 minutes.  Maybe some folks decided to skip on down to the next convenience store rather than negotiate stacks of beer in the middle of the parking lot.  And this is a 45 minute distraction for the store clerks to boot.

How do your operations enable or handicap your drivers?  Do your customers look forward to your deliveries?  Or do you suffer from the comparison to your competition?  These questions should be top of mind, regardless of your industry.