Transportation Unloaded (2 of 2)

Your transportation department could be the greatest untapped opportunity for your thrift operation. So, how do we maximize it to support your non-profit?

Focus on Timing

In evaluating the current state of a transportation operation, two questions need to be asked.

  1. What is your pick up request volume?
  2. How far out is your promised pick up time?

Both metrics are critical as it relates to the efficiencies of your transportation department. And they influence each other. High request volume will almost always produce a long wait time for pick ups. Conversely, shorter wait times often lead to a higher request volume.

Let’s dig down a little and look at some details.

  • How many donations are you losing because the wait time is too long?
  • How many requests are coming from zip codes where the best items are? And how many zip codes produce the best stuff?
  • What is the difference in donation value between the best zip codes and worst zip codes you serve?

These metrics set you up for action. What if you discovered you were losing 30% of great pick up zone request because of delays, how would you respond? 

It’s important to note there is a direct relationship between the number of days before a donation can be picked up and the loss of that pick up opportunity.

With this information in mind, use the following strategies to provide actionable intelligence for your transportation department.

  1. If the wait time in high value pick up zones are resulting in lost pick up opportunities, then limit pick ups in the low value zones to accommodate the higher value zones.
  2. The organization must anticipate pick up requests based on historical data. If you received an average of 20 calls per week for the last 6 weeks and 50% percent were from high value zones, it is likely you will have 10 pick up opportunities next week in a high value zone. 
  3. Clustering pick ups in almost exclusively high value zones the organization accomplishes several key goals.
    • More pick ups per day due to smaller radius
    • Higher value pick ups
    • Lower fuel cost and miles on trucks (less maintenance)

The goal is to execute pick ups within a 3 to 4 day window. The result is a dramatic reduction in the rejection rate due to timeliness and an increase in the number of high value pick ups.

Vet the Donation

What if, by vetting your donor’s call appropriately, you could increase your value per pick up by 50% to 100%? The questions you ask the donor and how you ask them can save the organization time and money, including disposal fees. Consider the following items when determining if you want to fulfill a donation request.

  1. Smoke smell – Has your furniture been in a smoking environment?
  2. Animals – Has your furniture been in a pet friendly environment?
  3. Wear and tear – How would you describe the general condition of your furniture donation?
    • Like new
    • Gently used
    • In need of some repair, as in holes, tears or broken legs or arms
  4. Location – Is your donation easily accessible (e.g., first floor)?
  5. Are there any unique circumstances we need to consider in picking up this donation (e.g., driveway, neighborhood, turnaround)?

These questions help insure three things.

  1. We get a return on the investment of the pick up.
  2. We show respect to our transportation team by doing everything we can to value their health and time.
  3. We illustrate to the donor a level of professionalism in the way we express the questions about the donation. Even if the donation is turned down, we have communicated in a way that the donor would understand and might call back for future donation opportunities.

As stated in Transportation Unloaded (1 of 2), metrics seem to be ignored in the transportation area. With a small investment in tracking, a huge return can be realized.

If you would like to discuss this issue or any others relating to thrift management, please contact us to start a conversation.


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