How to Become a Shipper of Choice
Several conditions are conspiring to make it more expensive and more difficult for shippers to get their goods delivered. A distinct shortage of trucking capacity in North America is being provoked by a growing economy, declining numbers of qualified drivers, and increasingly stringent regulations limiting the hours that drivers can work.
All of this has led to capacity being choked to the point where shippers sometimes cannot get loads moved.
The solution, according to a new white paper from C3 Solutions, a provider of yard management and dock scheduling software, is for shippers to transform themselves into carrier-friendly shippers of choice.
“In this seller’s market,” the report say, “shippers are being forced to compete for carriers’ services. This may feel like business turned on its head, and for many it is a novel situation, but it is one that shippers need to understand and manage if they want to sustain and grow their bottom line.”
Among the report’s recommendations:
Maintain good relationships. Carriers are more loyal to longstanding customers who have shown flexibility. Those shippers have a leg up on a company that has hopped around seeking the best spot market deal.
Be a good corporate citizen. A majority of carriers in a survey said 30 days for paying invoices was acceptable. Seventy percent of the carrier’s expenses are due inside of eight days, so paying fast will make a shipper stand out.
Be predictable. Having consistent, regular demand for capacity will make you much more attractive to carriers.
Adopt planning protocols. Spacing loads predictably, with consistent volumes, allows carriers to plan as well, and good planning leads to more efficient operations.
Treat drivers well. Trucking companies care about how their drivers are treated. This means being polite, helpful, courteous and offering truck drivers the amenities they need to get their job done. Driver productivity is a critical factor in gaining favored shipper status.
Use technology to your advantage. Electronic data interchange (EDI) allows the communication of load tendering, status updates and payments between customer and service provider. Streamlining information makes it much easier for shipper and carrier to work together. Some carriers are even mandating that their customers have EDI.
“Being a true partner with your carrier means that they will understand your business, and be more flexible and ready to accommodate changes when you need them,” said Gregory Braun, senior vice president for sales and marketing at C3 Solutions. “Taking the steps to become a shipper of choice will not only provide the benefit of stability in your transportation contracts, it will also streamline your own operations and make your company better able to meet the changing demands of the marketplace.”
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