Capacity is tighter than ever; the rates are at an all-time high and steadily climbing up – this is no surprise to anyone connected to the transportation industry. When working with carriers, they often grade freight on various metrics. Since this is the case, knowing how to make your shipment more attractive is essential.
Some freight lanes tend to be more difficult than others to book carriers. Here are some ways to make your freight more attractive to carriers to overcome this difficulty.
Nothing influences driver productivity more than quick loads, unloads, and releases from dwells. To be a carrier-friendly shipper, provide fast and efficient loads to keep the driver moving. Carriers also prefer 24/7 facilities and drop-trailer programs. Drop-trailer programs enable drivers to drop trailers at the shipper’s yard and take off, leaving the shipper responsible for loading and unloading. This program helps drivers spend more time on revenue-generating activity – hauling – and frees them from long waiting times.
Fair rates are a crucial component for carriers when selecting shippers. Accessorial fees and fuel surcharges also affect the selection. Developing a market fuel program, with the help of a qualified 3PL partner, could help shippers attract carriers. In addition to prices and surcharges, payment delays could further a carrier’s reluctance to a partnership. Preferred shippers do all they can to provide payment within eight days (most carrier expenses’ term) or 30 days (industry standard).
Don’t be surprised if a carrier chooses a lower-paying shipper over you because they provide drivers’ restrooms and coffee. Driver-friendly facilities can include vending machines, convenient parking spaces, equipment to refill tires, comfortable bathrooms, and even complimentary beverages. When a driver must spend several hours waiting for a load, they need a place to take a break. It can be a real challenge for the driver if there isn’t parking or a place to relax. If a driver enjoys their experience at the shipper’s facility, it can have lasting effects.
A proper transportation management system (TMS) provides an efficient procedure for transportation options and offers capabilities valued by carriers. For example, integrated with yard management, a TMS can define dwell time and help reduce it. Using such technology allows shippers to automate and standardize communication and business processes with carriers, which reduces labor time and possible data errors. A TMS is an excellent repository of all shipping data for shippers and carriers. Embracing technology will lead to seamless, integrated management, making it easier for a carrier to work with you.
Carriers won’t be excited to work with shippers dependent on seasonal shipping volumes. Year-round consistency is an advantage for shippers. Shippers should work with carriers to find their empty miles and help use them with maximum efficiency. For example, ordering longer hauls at the end of the work week will create more driving time during the weekend. Shippers also contribute to driver retention by creating predictable schedules and reliable payment terms.
Carrier-friendly shippers use flexible and fair contracts to support their and the carrier’s business. There is no such thing as too much communication in a partnership. First, shippers must share long-term strategies, plans, and supply chain initiatives with the carrier to achieve its target. Good shippers ask about the carrier’s best practices, geography, and hours. Asking questions provides the shipper flexibility and knowledge of a carrier’s capacity, plus where and when they are available to take loads. Communication leads to mutual trust and an effective partnership.
How can you make carriers more interested in your load? Of course, a lot revolves around the rate, but there are a few things that can contribute as well:
Although it’s understandable why shippers prefer strict appointments, in times of tight capacity, this will limit your options even more. Some drivers might not be able to meet your appointment requirement, and others will prefer a different load, giving them more flexibility with pick-up/delivery and less anxiety over potentially missing the appointment.
We have discussed in more detail how shippers can help increase truck capacity, which is a significant factor. Make sure your loading/unloading procedures are efficient and avoid detention. First, it will help streamline the process and keep the drivers on the road rather than at your dock. Moreover, the word travels fast: if your facility is notorious for holding drivers up for an unreasonable amount of time, carriers might not be willing to load at your facility, even if offered a reasonable rate.
Try to ship your loads consistently over the month and schedule them in advance. Planning will give you more truck options and help you negotiate better rates with your consistent carriers, as they can plan their operations better. Trying to push all the loads out last minute and at once will be stressful and expensive – and you will most likely not meet the delivery requirements.
Sticking to the rules is extremely important for the proper operation of any business. However, be open-minded in times of capacity crisis. Sometimes, being flexible and maybe even bending a rule to accommodate your regular carrier’s needs might be worth keeping them on your freight in the future. Carriers will often stay loyal and move your loads for lower rates than offered elsewhere if they feel their cooperation is valued.
In the end, it’s not just about money. The tips above will help you market your freight better, give you more truck options and help you keep your supply chain operations uninterrupted.
PLS is proud to work with over 55,000 carriers. If you’re looking for a consistent carrier base, then PLS is for you. Get a freight quote with us to get started. Also, you can contact us with any questions about freight or carriers!