As driver retention, hours of service, and driver shortage continue to be some of the most prevalent issues facing the transportation industry throughout the coming years, it will become important now, more than ever, to stand out as a shipper of choice. Becoming a shipper of choice will ultimately help you to secure better rates and to develop carrier relationships that are the best fit for your supply chain. Here’s a few of the most important attributes to achieving this status from both a driver and broker’s perspective:
A Driver’s Perspective
- Use the “golden rule.” Treating drivers how you would want to be treated is easy. Having staff members at your locations that respect and are educated on common driver issues will make all the difference. When drivers check in, it’s always nice to be greeted with a positive, personable demeanor.
- Have access to basic amenities. Adding a driver lounge or break area with restrooms and Wi-Fi or vending machines goes a long way. Drivers spend hours upon hours on the road, and allowing them to take a quick, relaxing break is something they won’t forget about your facility.
- Provide options for parking. Overnight parking is a consistent pain point with drivers as they often have minimal options when they’re close to their HOS limit. This is especially relevant if they hit their hours while at your dock because driving to a rest stop after leaving your location would be a major risk for them to take.
- Keep detention to a minimum. Time is money for drivers. The more time they are forced to spend loading/unloading, the less time they are able to spend on the road earning their living. Making it easy for drivers to load/unload within a 2 hour window is preferred. Similarly, open communication with drivers about their estimated wait time would be extremely helpful. Having an online portal and/or ensuring that your facility is updated on Dock411 will allow drivers to check location information ahead of time, resulting in a more streamlined process.
A Broker’s Perspective
- Communication is key. A clear line of communication between the shipper, broker, and driver can eradicate many issues before they occur. Having an on-site point of contact at your location would make things more efficient, especially when needing to advise on delays or any check-in problems that may arise.
- Offer flexible scheduling. Shippers with predictable load schedules, flexible appointment windows, first-come-first-serve availability, and 24/7 and/or weekend operations allows for drivers to maximize their time behind the wheel. It’s much easier for brokers to secure capacity and plan an efficient route with the driver when a shipper avoids strict appointment times. Offering online appointment scheduling and same-day appointment updates are also ideal in order to avoid an excessive amount of over communication.
- Be transparent with what “on–time” means. All shippers measure on-time delivery differently. For some, on-time means within a 30-minute window while for others it could mean same day. There are numerous factors that can delay a driver, such as traffic or weather, so it’s important for all parties to understand the true on-time measure, specifically for determining key performance indicators (KPI’s).
Becoming a shipper of choice isn’t something that can happen in a few weeks. It takes planning, consistency, and working with your carrier partners to better understand what combination of the above factors are most pivotal to improving your transportation operations. Logistics is a relationship-driven industry, therefore taking these actions will ultimately lead to better access to capacity and the ability to more easily control costs.