I am constantly amazed at what we can accomplish in the face of adversity, and last week’s DOT roadcheck exercise was a perfect example. The yearly drill brought the nation’s transportation industry to a grinding slow down – for two reasons.
Last year’s three-day inspections put 11,910 commercial vehicles out of service, which is why many carriers now decide every year to take a vacation during this week. With a deficit of trucks on the road, the soft market we felt over the last few months became a tight capacity market, instantly. In situations like this, 3PLs reap the benefits of nurturing good relationships with the carriers they hire.
For some freight brokers, this would be enough to send their business spiraling, but the 350 team members at Choptank anticipated the interruption to business as usual and worked together like a well-oiled machine to keep things running as normally as possible.
“Tuesday's capacity wasn’t too bad ,” explained Keith Ludwig, Senior Account Executive at Choptank Transport. “Wednesday and Thursday, as predicted, were challenging with the road checks, and Friday… well, we saw a significant backlog of loads that weren’t picked up from earlier in the week. Capacity was very tight. It’s a blessing that we have a solid base of carriers we can reach out to when times get tough.”
The general manager of Choptank’s Denver office, Chris Perkins, said it was a busy week for them as well. The following situation arose for him the Friday before DOT week.
“One of our customers sent over an order late in the day to be covered for Saturday morning’s loading,” said Perkins. “We had explained that DOT week starts early in that part of the country, and it is disruptive to business. We expressed concern that we could not guarantee coverage at the normal price, so they went to a different broker who immediately committed to the load.”
“The next morning,” Perkins continued, “I received a call from that company’s warehouse manager. The competitor who took the load was unable to supply any capacity regardless of price, and they were forced to push it out to ship Monday. The shipment was delivered two days late.”
“At the same time, we had a truck give a load back for the same customer. Choptank found capacity at a significant loss but made sure that the load was picked and delivered on time. The customer had always known our commitment to their business,” said Perkins. “They were happy when we told them how we had solved their problem.”
Choptank and other reputable 3PLs prepare for DOT week every year by making sure they:
- Alert customers two-four weeks before the road check week
- Keep good relations with all for-hire carriers
- Proactively ask shippers to schedule earlier or later than usually planned
- Be prepared with rating for that week so customers are not caught off-guard with potentially higher pricing
We’d love to hear how you fared during DOT week. Leave us a comment below.