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What Carriers Look for in Shippers


Starting last year, demand for shipping outpaced capacity, making it easier for carriers to find quality shippers. Carriers are working hard to operate more efficiently and cope with the driver shortage. Even with substantial demand growth, most asset-based trucking companies are not ready to add capacity; they are concerned about regulations, recruiting new drivers and rising trailer costs. With these tough circumstances, how can shippers change their business processes to be carrier-friendly and get their freight hauled?

1) Promote Driver Productivity and Reduce Dwells
Nothing influences driver productivity more than quick loads, unloads and release from dwells. To be a carrier-friendly shipper, provide quick 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.

2) Fair Rates and Payment Terms
Fair rates are a crucial component for carriers when selecting shippers. Accessorial fees and fuel surcharge 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).

3) Driver Treatment
Don’t be surprised if a carrier chooses a lower-paying shipper over you, just because they provide restrooms and coffee for drivers. Driver-friendly facilities could include vending machines, convenient parking spaces, equipment to refill tires, comfortable restrooms, and even free beverages. When a driver has to spend several hours waiting for a load, he/she needs a place to take a break, and it’s a real challenge for the driver if there isn’t parking or a place to relax. If a driver enjoys his/her experience at the shipper’s facility, it can have lasting effects.

4) Technology
A proper 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 helps shippers automate and standardize communication and business processes with carriers, which reduces labor time and possible data errors. TMS serves as a great repository of all shipping data, available both for shipper and carrier. Embracing technology will lead to seamless, integrated management, making it easier for a carrier to work with you.

5) Consistent and Predictable Schedules
Carriers won’t be excited to work with shippers who are 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.

6) Flexible Contracts and Communication
Carrier-friendly shippers use flexible and fair contracts, to support its business and the carrier’s business. There is no such thing as too much communication in a partnership. First, shippers need to share long-term strategies, plans, and supply chain initiatives with the carrier to achieve its target. Good shippers ask questions to understand the carrier’s best practices, geography and hours. This provides the shipper flexibility and knowledge on a carrier’s capacity plus where and when they are available to take loads. Communication leads to mutual trust and an effective partnership.

Even if it’s not possible for shippers to guarantee year-round shipping volumes or popular destinations, these 6 factors could give shipper undeniable advantages. If you’re looking for the best carriers and rates, contact PLS Logistics experts.

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