11 Tips for Profitable Haulage and Reducing Transport Expenses


11 Tips for Profitable Haulage and Reducing Transport Expenses

Paul Forden, Managing Director of TEPS in Hull, stood in front of a TEPS haulage vehicle

As business owners, finding ways to trim expenses and improve profitability within your operations is an ongoing mission. With transportation logistics costs being a significant part of your budget, it is vital to strategise and find efficient ways to reduce these expenses.

In the wake of rising fuel costs and market pressures, it’s essential to keep your haulage operations lean and cost-effective.

Types of Transport Costs

Understanding the different types of transport costs is crucial for any business aiming to optimise its supply chain and logistics operations.

Here’s a brief overview of the main types of transport costs that businesses typically encounter:

1. Direct Transportation Costs

Direct transportation costs are the most apparent and straightforward expenses, they include:

  • Fuel Costs: These are the costs associated with the fuel used by your vehicles. It’s important to note that fuel costs can fluctuate based on factors like global oil prices and the fuel efficiency of your vehicles.
  • Labour Costs: These are the expenses associated with employing drivers for your transport vehicles. This can also include expenses related to training, benefits, and overtime.
  • Vehicle Maintenance Costs: These are the costs associated with the regular servicing and repair of your vehicles to keep them in optimal condition. Regular preventive maintenance can help to reduce unexpected breakdowns and associated costs.

Effectively managing these direct transportation costs through tactics like regular maintenance and efficient workforce management can lead to substantial savings in your overall logistics budget.

2. Indirect Transportation Costs

Indirect costs are not as apparent as direct costs but can significantly impact your bottom line if not properly managed. They include:

  • Administrative Costs: These are the expenses related to managing your transport operations, such as staff salaries, office expenses, and any costs associated with compliance and regulatory paperwork.
  • Insurance Costs: These are the costs associated with insuring your vehicles and drivers. Insurance costs can be influenced by factors such as the type of goods being transported, the driving records of your drivers, and the regions in which your vehicles operate.
  • Depreciation Costs: These are the costs associated with the depreciation of your transport vehicles over time. It’s crucial to account for depreciation when calculating the total cost of owning and operating your vehicles.

By proactively managing these indirect costs, such as strategically planning for depreciation and optimising administrative operations, businesses can achieve long-term profitability.

3. Hidden Costs

Hidden costs are often overlooked but can add up significantly over time. These can vary from business to business, but some examples of these are:

  • Downtime Costs: These are the costs associated with delays or downtime in your transport operations due to vehicle breakdowns, traffic congestion, or unforeseen circumstances. Downtime not only increases direct costs but can also lead to missed delivery deadlines and reduced customer satisfaction.
  • Opportunity Costs: These are the costs related to missed opportunities due to inefficient transport operations. For instance, if your vehicles are not fully utilised, you may be missing out on potential revenue.

Understanding these different types of transport costs can help businesses make informed decisions about their logistics operations, identify potential areas for cost savings, and implement effective cost-reduction strategies.

How to Reduce Transport Expenses

Birdseye view of TEPS, Hull’s  Warehousing,
Storage and National
Haulage Partner

Now we have covered what transport expenses there are, let’s take a look at ways that these costs can be reduced. Here are nine practical strategies to help reduce your transportation logistics costs:

1. Be Adaptable – Don’t Rely on Single Modes

Being adaptable in your mode of transport goes beyond simply picking the cheapest option available. It requires understanding the trade-offs between cost, speed, and reliability for each mode of transport and choosing the one that best aligns with your business needs.

For instance, while sea freight may be cheaper, the longer transit time could result in missed sales opportunities. Therefore, a mixed-modal approach, combining different types of transport like road, rail, and sea freight, can provide the optimal balance between cost and efficiency. This flexibility enables you to adapt quickly to changing business needs and customer expectations.

2. Consolidate Shipments

Consolidating shipments isn’t only about saving on haulage costs, but also about reducing your carbon footprint.

Less, larger shipments mean fewer journeys, which translates into lower fuel consumption and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, consolidated shipments can lead to fewer instances of loss or damage to goods, improving customer satisfaction and reducing associated costs.

3. Utilise Warehousing Services

Utilising warehousing services to store products closer to your customers can offer additional benefits beyond transport cost reduction. It can help reduce lead times, allowing for faster delivery and better service levels.

Another benefit of this is an enhanced customer experience.

Warehousing provides you with the flexibility to store goods in anticipation of demand, thereby ensuring a steady supply to your customers, enhancing customer satisfaction, and improving your business reputation.

Warehousing costs, although an additional expense, can help reduces unnecessary costs elsewhere. For more information on choosing the right warehouse for your business, check out our guide to warehousing facilities.

4. Automate Your Operations to Reduce Labour Costs

Automation can significantly transform your operations, from loading and unloading goods to inventory management.

Advanced technologies like robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) can help streamline operations, reduce manual errors, and increase operational efficiency.

In addition to lowering labour costs, automation can also improve worker safety by reducing the need for manual lifting and moving of goods.

5. Implement Preventive Maintenance

A proactive approach to maintenance goes beyond merely fixing problems as they occur. It involves regularly scheduled checks and updates, prolonging equipment lifespan, and preventing breakdowns before they happen.

This not only saves costs related to repairs and replacement but also ensures that your operations run smoothly with minimal downtime, thereby increasing productivity and customer satisfaction.

6. Collaborate with Suppliers for Cost Reduction

Collaboration with suppliers extends beyond price negotiations. It involves working closely with them to find innovative ways to reduce costs, such as jointly developing more efficient processes, improving product design to simplify manufacturing, or even collaborating on marketing initiatives to increase sales.

Through such collaborative relationships, suppliers become partners in their quest to reduce costs and improve profitability.

7. Keep Your Customers Happy

Providing excellent customer service extends beyond merely delivering goods on time. It means understanding your customers’ needs and exceeding their expectations at every touchpoint.

This could involve providing real-time tracking information, flexible delivery options, or responsive customer service. Happy customers are likely to become repeat customers, providing steady business and reducing the need to constantly acquire new customers, which can be costly.

8. Maximise Storage Space

Maximising storage space is not only about optimising the use of available space but also about efficient warehouse management. It involves implementing efficient picking and packing processes, proper stock rotation, and effective inventory management.

In addition, maximising storage space reduces the chances of overstocking or understocking, both of which can lead to additional costs.

9. Understand and Control Hidden Costs

Understanding and controlling hidden costs involves looking beyond the obvious expenses and delving deeper into your operations. This might include costs related to regulatory compliance, insurance premiums, or even opportunity costs related to underutilised resources.

Once these hidden costs are identified, proactive measures can be taken to control them, resulting in substantial cost savings.

For example, implementing safety protocols can reduce the frequency of accidents, saving costs on insurance premiums and lost productivity.

10. Invest in Efficient Vehicles and Technologies

The type of vehicles you use in your operations and the technology they incorporate can make a substantial difference in your overall transportation costs.

Consider investing in more fuel-efficient vehicles. These may have higher upfront costs but can significantly reduce your fuel expenses in the long run.

In addition, technologies such as GPS and telematics systems can help optimise routes, provide real-time feedback about vehicle performance, and even monitor driver behaviour. All these can contribute to lower operating costs, improved safety, and greater overall efficiency.

However, this can be a large expense for your business and it comes with a lot of extra costs. We recommend working with a trusted and established haulage partner.

11. Outsource to External Businesses

It is important to take a look at your business model, and determine where your business is most profitable and which areas it makes sense to outsource to external partners.

Haulage and transport is usually one of those areas.

With the everchanging landscape and more demanding customer expectations, haulage is an area that can end up costing your business more by keeping it in-house. TEPS has helped many businesses find the most effective and environmentally-friendly way to get their load from A to B.

TEPS Haulage Vehicle

Remember, reducing costs and improving profitability in your haulage operations doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By implementing these strategies, you can optimise your logistics costs and direct more resources towards growing your business.

As you embark on this journey, keep in mind that continuous improvement is key – so consistently monitor your operations, measure your performance, and adjust your strategies as necessary. 

Key Takeaways

  • Adaptability in the mode of transport can help in cost reduction.
  • Consolidating shipments can significantly cut down shipping costs.
  • Utilising warehousing services can reduce long-distance freight costs.
  • Automation can minimise labour costs.
  • Preventive maintenance can lower repair costs and increase equipment lifespan.
  • Collaboration with suppliers can result in shared cost savings.
  • Excellent customer service can lower per-order logistics costs.
  • Maximising storage space can lower warehouse costs.
  • Understanding and controlling hidden costs is key to overall cost reduction.

What’s Next?

At TEPS, we understand the significance of cost-effective haulage solutions for your business. Our expert team, equipped with the latest technology and deep industry knowledge, can help you optimise your logistics costs and improve profitability.

Contact us today to learn how we can support your business goals.