Smart shipping involves preparation, coordination, and accommodation
The shipping industry continues to evolve away from the days when shippers called all the shots and carriers danced to their tunes. Today even shippers with high volumes, who used to throw their weight around, now need to adhere to some of the parameters set out by the freight carriers. In the shipping world of 2021 shippers can gain competitive advantages by standing out and being attractive to the carriers who are dealing with stressed capacity in this period of limited containers, and high demand for international and domestic freight shipping resources.
Here are 7 insider tips that can help a business ship smarter and reduce costs:
Know Your Business: Have a good understanding of your business so that you can explain your specific shipping needs to your potential carrier. Provide the carrier with detailed and accurate data. They’ll typically agree to sign a non-disclosure agreement if you desire one. The carrier needs to attain an understanding of your business and your shipping needs. With knowledge of your business and shipping needs, they are able to fit your shipping requirements into their established network. Their experience as a carrier servicing other shippers in your industry will be utilized in crafting the right solution for your parameters, with an eye on keeping your freight costs in a targeted cost range.
Eschew Delays: Carriers consider delaying drivers one the cardinal sins in the shipping industry. It is not a good reputation to have as a shipper. To keep drivers and carriers happy, load or unload your shipments within a reasonable time, typically not more than two hours. Delays cost drivers time and money because the law and regulations allow them only so many work hours before they are legally mandated to be off the clock. Hours of Service (HOS), and Electronic Logging Device (ELD) regulations have made manipulating logbooks a thing of the past. Have loading or unloading staff on standby so that there is no delay as soon as the carrier’s driver arrives. Make sure to have all the documents the driver needs to sign ready before the driver’s arrival.
Packaging: Utilize packaging that makes the pick-up or delivery of shipments easy and less prone to damages whenever possible. Although weight is a major factor in shipping costs, it is better and cheaper in the long run to use pallets and other sturdy packaging for your goods. Goods that arrive at their destination damaged will result in an unhappy customer, and may lead to penalties, and even lawsuits for breach of contract. There is the added possibility of losing that customer entirely.
Flexibility: Do not be a stickler with regards to pick up or delivery times. Try to be flexible. Do not limit your pick-up or delivery times to Monday through Friday, and/or during your working hours. Those are usually when traffic is hectic and it will adversely affect the arrival of drivers. Give a wider window for pick up or delivery and include Saturdays and Sundays as shipping day options. Carriers will more happily work with you and it may result in lower freight costs.
Parking Options: Drivers and carriers will greatly appreciate a shipper who provides convenient parking facilities. This makes pick-ups and deliveries much more of a breeze, and carriers will almost always prioritize your shipping needs because they know that the driver will be in and out of your facility within a brief time and be gratefully back on the road to their next destination. Giving access to restrooms and lunch or break areas to drivers will be greatly appreciated. This provision allows drivers to unwind and relax before hitting the road again. Adhere to the proven business philosophy of People Do Business With People They Like.
Communication: Strive to have an open communication with your carriers, and immediately update them of any changes. Try to give the carrier plenty of lead time whenever possible. This will allow them to adjust to the changes, thereby creating a positive relationship. Everyone understands that things don’t always go as planned but waiting until the last minute to disclose a change will not endear you with the carrier. Trust is vital in a relationship, and a carrier desires a shipper whose commitment is their bond.
Automation: Try to automate your in-house operations to help eliminate errors. Errors lead to delays, and delays cost money in the form of surcharges, penalties, and fines. There are various software solutions available that will help you integrate and manage all your carriers. These software products are capable of generating all needed shipping documents.
This is a lot for a shipper to absorb in addition to dealing with their primary operating business. It can seem overwhelming to a shipper to have to factor in what is good for their carrier vendor and its drivers, especially if it involves adjusting one’s own workflow. Selecting the appropriate carrier partner(s) and smartly earning their confidence in how you accommodate their needs will make a profound difference in helping a business succeed and thrive. Therefore, it is important to seek the services of an experienced logistics consultant to help navigate through the process and select the right carrier or carriers for your business. CPC Consultants are here to help you make that smart decision.