In the wake of the new CSA regulations, the entire logistics industry is hunkering down for the predicted fall out, monster sized capacity issues. We're hearing driver shortage estimates from 150,000 to upward of 500,000 or more! The regulations are coming at the worst possible timing, economically speaking, according to Stifel Nicolaus, conditions in our economy will be a significant improvement over the recent past, supporting transportation growth of 3%+. Everyone's quickly putting together the math, who's going to haul all of this freight? We're used to demand exceeding supply at the tail end of the first quarter, give or take, depending on the beginning of produce season. However, what shippers aren't truly prepared for are the changes they need to implement now into their transportation processes to fight for capacity in the freight market of 2011. I'm already seeing an alarming rate of discussion in one of my LinkedIn Groups about turning away freight because folks can't find the trucks to haul it, and we're only halfway into the first quarter!
As your trusted source for logistics solutions, we are working to educate our shipping customers, working side by side with them to secure the equipment that will keep their product on the roads and in the hands of their consumers rather than clogging up their dock space, warehouse inventory, and manufacturing lines. Here are some answers to the question everyone is asking…
How To Win the Fight for Capacity
Be Carrier Friendly
It is a carrier's market, friends, and that means you need to become the most carrier friendly shipper possible. Are you doing everything possible to make certain yours is the freight the truckers want to haul? Have you committed your shipping and receiving staff to load and unload trailers as quickly as possible? Are you offering drop trailer programs to the carriers that are able to drop and hook? Another great tactic is to extend your dock hours to become more flexible around peak travel hours, accommodating for traffic patterns and accepting trucks after their last receiver held them up too long. These are three methods to show your appreciation for their valuable time. The less time they spend with you, the more time they can be driving, making money, and accepting more loads (from you!).What about lead time, do you give plenty of advance notice to your carrier/broker for upcoming shipments? You've got to educate your customers about purchasing with a flexible window of delivery, allowing you ample notice to give a heads up to your providers. The more notice everyone has, the better chance you'll have at securing a truck to deliver on time to the end customer.
It's Time To Commit
Are you committing to your transportation providers, making sure that you're providing them with the volume it takes to become a “VIP” in their eyes? Maybe you're one of those that still believe price shopping is the best way to save your company a dollar, dividing your freight among a long list of providers, and patting yourself on the back for finding “savings”. What do you suppose will happen when your list of providers begin to focus their attention on giving capacity to their bread and butter customers? Unless you become valuable in the eyes of your providers, you could very well be left with a jam-packed dock of freight and no one left to help you win the fight for trucks that's predicted.
Partner With Your 3PL
Third Party Logistics companies like ours are going to be your primary resource in the capacity crunch of 2011. Thanks to our annual volume with carriers across the country, we're able to leverage our relationships with truckers to help fulfill your needs. Additionally, we can use our nationwide network of offices and loads to reposition trucks into the areas in which you need capacity. With the economy improving, no doubt you'll be gaining new clients with new shipping lanes in which you currently don't have an existing provider. That's when we can assist you in arranging the provider based on our vast database of approved motor carriers.
Make sure you're on our email list. Every week, we send out pertinent industry news, often touching on information like the CSA regs, capacity predictions, fuel surcharges, and other legislation that can affect your company's ability to serve your customers' delivery requirements. Remember, you're not alone in this fight for capacity. Invite us to your facility to speak with your management team or even your customer base, we'll work hand in hand with you to keep these groups informed about the industry. When the sales reps are having a difficult time understanding why their customer's freight isn't delivering, we can come in and provide the education needed to help them prepare their clients and resolve service complaints.
Taking the steps we've outlined, not only will you be poised for success in the 2011 capacity crunch, but your entire logistics team will reap the benefits of enhanced customer relationships. With this proactive approach, your company will outpace your competitors, who are no doubt staring at the freight on their docks, wondering, “Where did all the trucks go?”