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Transport Industry Challenges

We have heard your concerns regarding the challenges facing timely pickup and/or delivery of your vehicles. Having to wait for the pickup or delivery of a delayed fleet vehicle is a frustration that we understand. While it is an industry-wide issue, we are holding ourselves accountable to take any actions within our abilities. We will address each problem as expeditiously as possible and uncover potential solutions.

To help understand the full scope of the situation, we’ve outlined the current state of the industry and provided a summary of the issues involved including Wheels Donlen actions taken so far.

How it Started: The Perfect Storm

So many industries have suffered through a “perfect storm” of supply chain problems in the past couple of years, and the automotive industry is no exception. Many of the problems cascade across multiple supply chains. For the transport industry, these challenges include driver shortages & constraints, inflationary pressures, parts & labor shortages impacting repair shops, DMV closures & delays and rental vehicle shortages. 

Everyone in the fleet community depends on our transport partners who are, in turn, struggling to perform up to their previous standards.  Vehicle transport relies on dependability throughout the entire supply chain. When a vehicle manufacturer has the need to shift production schedules, transporters need to shift their own schedules and staffing—often on very short notice. For an industry that has always relied on predictability, that lack of predictability impacts efficiency.

Currently, the extremely high demand for transport services creates challenges which result in unavoidable delays. When delays occur, timely communication with the drivers tend to help alleviate concerns related to those delays; but lack of communication tends to amplify our customer and driver frustrations. The transportation end-to-end process is lengthy, complex and dependent upon many parties to execute the process well. 

Challenges and Impacts

Transport companies currently face a number of challenges:

  • Driver Shortages. The well-known driver shortage significantly impacts the transportation industry. Transporters are struggling to find Over-the Road (OTR) drivers for multi-state moves or moves that are greater than 300 miles.
  • Training Curves. Hiring new drivers requires training. Our transportation partners are working to accelerate the training process for new employees. One of our suppliers’ biggest challenges is training all drivers to consistently follow their standard procedures—training and driver learning curves simply take time.
  • Dealership Ordering Limitations. Dealership new vehicle orders are placed without timelines which requires additional follow-up.
  • Unavoidable Repair Bottlenecks. Many of the same problems occurring in new vehicle manufacturing, exist for vehicle repairs—parts delays, a competitive labor market, and raw materials scarcities. Because of this, we are seeing extended time frames to secure appointments for repairs due to these longer lead times. This results in shops requesting that transporters take vehicles back to storage until a repair date can be scheduled. Adding more moves requires additional equipment and more drivers in an already stressed system. 

These transport problems impact Wheels Donlen through:

  • Processing Delays – The challenges that our suppliers face limits our ability to meet client profiles, provide reliable and timely services, and process T&R orders timely and effectively. 
  • Sourcing New Suppliers – Part of our standard procurement process is to continually monitor our existing supplier performance and understand the full landscape of each category. This includes learning about new suppliers that may be able to help us support our clients in a more effective and efficient manner.  We will continue to vet potential additional suppliers.
  • Transportation Performance – We are seeing an average cycle time across our suppliers of approximately 23 days from order to delivery of vehicles, which has grown from 15 days due to the multiple challenges described above. DMV cycle time did peak over 20 days at one point, but has since come down to 11 to 12 business days to complete transactions, which are approaching pre-COVID levels.  Through the client lens, we are seeing an average of about 93 percent customer satisfaction, which is slightly below our target of 95 percent, for those clients who complete our supplier surveys.

Wheels Donlen Actions

Our partner agreements with our transport providers include comprehensive SLA metrics including average days to deliver, customer satisfaction, average cycle time and more. Wheels Donlen Procurement monitors our supplier performance on a weekly/monthly basis and challenges them when they fail to meet our SLA’s. We communicate our expectations for performance to drive improvements to enhance our driver experiences.

If a client is not satisfied when a supplier’s performance fails to meet our SLAs, Wheels Donlen will put that supplier on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). Throughout the PIP period, performance is monitored regularly. If a client continues to be unhappy, Wheels Donlen will work with that client to transition them over to another partner. 

In addition, the Wheels Donlen procurement team continues to evaluate adding partners to expand our network and looking at our internal processes and systems with their cross-functional partners for improvement opportunities.

We are continuously and proactively monitoring this situation. There are action plans in place, and we are working to find solutions to any controllable circumstances. And know that our supplier partners are working hard to drive process improvements and implement creative solutions to address these challenges.

If you have any issues, please raise them directly to your account managers so they can work with the appropriate parties to address the current problems.  The account managers work directly with their respective supplier account managers to solve any issues.  If they cannot get resolution, they will escalate the matter upward through the management chain until the concern gets resolved.  If the management teams cannot resolve the issues, they escalate them to our procurement team.  Please do not reach out directly to our procurement team, as we don’t want to duplicate work efforts that can lead to further confusion.  We know that this is not a complete resolution, and so for the short term, we greatly appreciate your understanding and patience.