What can you do as a shipper to level the playing field, lessen the impact, and mitigate the high cost of getting your goods to market, while having a positive impact across the full spectrum of the supply chain? It may be as simple as becoming a shipper of choice.
In logistics circles, the phrase, “shipper of choice” is appearing in blogs and web articles across the industry. This new buzz phrase carries some significant weight so it may be worthwhile to know exactly what it means and why it is important. The concept is being promoted by many industry associations as a way to help ensure capacity when times get tough.
Being a shipper of choice refers to ways in which a shipper can attract and keep capacity. Getting carriers and drivers in and out of the loading dock quickly and efficiently is one of the key components to earning the moniker, shipper of choice. In addition, booking loads in advance provides a built-in buffer if a truck breaks down, a tire goes flat, or a driver gets sick. These best practices can help maintain capacity for a shipper when trucks are scarce.
Keeping track of on-time deliveries and rewarding carriers for excellent service is another positive way to forge solid relationships with those you rely on in the supply chain.
Some shippers have recently announced extended shipping and receiving hours. If your company has the flexibility to add weekend hours, it can significantly improve efficiency and solidify good relationships with those making deliveries. If weekend hours are out of the question, offering greater flexibility during your regular work week’s receiving hours can be very helpful, especially with the ELD and HOS restrictions limiting the window of time a carrier can make deliveries. In addition, offering simple and fast ways to reschedule a missed delivery is a big plus.
Shippers that utilize technology to help customers are able to enhance communication between all parties, making the process more efficient while providing greater visibility into shipments. For example, if a facility offers a way for drivers to check in upon arrival on their smartphones (with an app) and then track their location on the yard, it can speed up things significantly at the loading dock. 5 tips for getting drivers through your yard faster.
Shippers who provide driver lounges and other amenities can make a significant difference as to whether or not a carrier thinks of that facility as a shipper of choice.
Most importantly, maintaining reasonable expectations on all sides … shippers, carriers, 3PLs and receivers, will produce the best working relationships in the industry. Ultimately, those who try to make other’s lives and jobs easier will be more likely to hold on to capacity when the shortage worsens. Does your company score high on the ship-ability scale?
Ask your providers where they rank in the top ten of the following ...
- Assessorial fee schedule
- Loading/unloading wait time
- Fuel surcharge scale
- Days to pay
- Bi-lateral contracts
- Late fees matching your detention approval pay
- Adequate parking
- Being respectful to drivers
Adversity may be the mother of invention, but it also can be the gateway to opportunity. The fact is, in tight capacity markets, shippers of choice will own the power of selection.