Wheeling And Dealing
Selecting the Right Dedicated Contract Carriage Provider
When shippers seek to turn over a substantial portion of their transportation to a dedicated contract carriage provider, there are vital questions that need to be asked to ensure they possess the necessary components for success.
Do they have experience in the customer’s marketplace? The dedicated carrier needs to have first-hand experience in the shipper’s marketplace or demonstrate they have transferrable skills that can adapt to the shipper’s requirements. (Think of inbound auto manufacturing and inbound appliance manufacturing—there are many similarities.)
Is the carrier financially stable? It is important that the carrier have the ability to invest in new and replacement trucks. Also, they must possess the necessary technology to be a stable provider. Does the carrier have the scale to meet the shipper’s needs? Are they able to add extra resources for peak seasonal needs, promotions and holiday surges?
Can they customize? Today, most shippers require a degree of customization. The right dedicated carrier needs to demonstrate experience with that type of customization. For example, what is the shipper’s version of white glove delivery? What are the important parts of the delivery for the shipper? What are the expectations for the customer experience of the shipper’s customer?
What is the carrier’s model for driver turnover? Recruiting and retaining quality CDL (commercial drivers license) drivers are big challenges for any carrier. Can the dedicated provider demonstrate they are an employer of choice?
How do they leverage technology? This will help the shipper understand the level of information they will be able to receive from the dedicated carrier. Do they provide delivery notifications? Will you have visibility of goods while they are en route? Can they give you projected delivery times? What IT resources are available for start-up, and can they exchange data electronically? What does their standard set of reports and dashboards look like? Do you need custom reports and can the carrier provide those? Can the provider offer modeling? Does the carrier have the tools to simulate a baseline, project resources and costs for two, three and four years out?
Does the carrier run a safe operation? The provider should continuously train their drivers and have resources to promote safe operations on a daily basis. Check that the company has a strong set of CSA scores. For the drivers, see if the carrier provides the tools they need to be successful and safe. Does the company invest in state-of-the-art safety componentry for their vehicles: items like adaptive cruise control, collision avoidance, disc brakes, LED headlights? Are they continuously evaluating new safety products?
Are they dedicated to reducing their carbon footprint and minimizing fuel consumption?
Good luck with your search for the right dedicated contract carriage provider. Successful, world-class carriers make the investments in their businesses to be highly efficient low-cost operators to ensure that deliveries are made intact, on time, every time. n
Tom Scollard is vice president of Dedicated Contract Carriage for Penske Logistics. He is responsible for developing and implementing product line growth and profit strategy.
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