The Covid-19 pandemic triggered a storm of demand for goods that seems like it will never end. The overwhelming demand plus all the disruptions faced equals no chances for supply chains to catch up. As a result, capacity remains tight, and freight rates continue to increase. With logistics experts estimating that high freight rates will remain through 2022, maybe even 2023, now is not the time to stress over transportation costs. Instead, it would be beneficial if you focused on gaining capacity to keep your goods moving, customer service to keep your buyers satisfied and loyal, and good communication from your transportation providers to stay ahead of any issues.
Freight rates have jumped 26.6 percent year-over-year (YOY), being the sharpest increase seen since February 2006, based on the latest figures from Cass Information Systems. In August 2021, truckload volumes surged, and freight rates hit new highs according to a DAT Freight & Analytics report. However, with the holiday season right around the corner, things may get worse before they get better. Shippers could be facing their most challenging peak season yet.
While it seems we will be facing these supply chain challenges for a while, and freight rates remain out of your control, there are things you can still focus on.
Due to the over-demand of freight, load boards don’t move shipments the way they once did. Strong relationships will get you the coverage you need, better pricing options, and often better service. If building a large enough network for you seems daunting, you can always partner with a third-party logistics company (3PL), whose primary role is their relationships among shippers and carriers.
An excellent way to build strong relationships among carriers is by looking at what you can offer them to make their job easier. For one, being cognizant of driver hours and keeping them from sitting too long goes a long way. Drivers want to make the most of their time and keep moving as that’s how they earn their salary. Driver detention is a top concern for truckers finds a 2020 Workhound survey. The more you control your docks and how freight moves through them in a way that respects drivers’ time, the more carriers will want to work with you, gaining you capacity and negotiation in the price.
Another option is to be more flexible. Instead of giving specific dock times to load and unload, provide windows of time. Or be flexible with your pickup day. This kind of flexibility helps carriers better plan their routes and schedules. The ability to exercise flexibility could be the difference among your competitors, making your shipment easier to cover.
Simply put, take care of your truck drivers. It sounds simple enough but can be an effort that often gets overlooked. Make sure your facility is appealing to your carriers. Offer clean restrooms and waiting areas, have WiFi available, and offer enough parking. Make it easy and accessible for truck drivers to be able to enter your facility quickly and efficiently.
In the current environment, carriers have the opportunity to be selective about who they work with, so it’s important to build a good reputation and have strong relationships.
Communication can be a dying art form with all the new technology and easily accessible data that it offers. Yet, in difficult times like these, communication can be something that gives your company a competitive edge. Effective logistics communication is needed now more than ever. It’s a vital aspect of successful businesses, and it helps build trust and strong relationships.
Communicating both good and bad news will help build trust with your providers and customers, as even when the bad news is shared, you can prove that you can weather through anything. And working with a provider that communicates, in the same manner, can help your business go far.
Lags in communication can cause a cascade of problems in your supply chain, so make sure you have the right tools and technology to communicate timely and effectively. Another huge aspect of communication (and data) is making sure that your internal communications are safe. Logistics can deal with sensitive information at times, so make sure you select secure technology to protect your company’s (and customer’s) data and information.
Today, it only takes is a simple Google search for a customer to find a new provider. Unfortunately, one negative customer review can cause a missed opportunity.
When things like delays and bottlenecks are out of your hands, great customer service will keep your current customers and gain you new ones. While you can’t increase the speed limit for trucks hauling freight or reduce the wait times at the overwhelmed ports, you can still impact your customer’s experience through your service.
Customer service has become one of the biggest differentiators for companies.
One way to keep your customer service high is noting the previous section in keeping open and transparent communication. Keeping your customers in the loop of everything not only builds trust but shows that you care. Having quick communication is also a factor in good customer service. As shown in a recent report, almost half of the respondents surveyed that it takes an hour to four hours to respond to a new customer inquiry. Imagine if you were faster than that and the kind of impression it would make on your new customers.
Another way to improve customer service is by being transparent and honest. Honesty builds trust. Even if you don’t know the answer to a question, stating that you will do everything it takes to find the right answer or a solution to a problem leaves an impact.
Lastly, never stop learning and finding ways to improve your customer service. Again, it builds trust, strong relationships, and shows that you care. Having exceptional customer service is not only a great way to keep your current customers, but those loyal customers will often become your best advocates, generating referrals.
You hear about companies that provide excellent customer service and those companies that don’t. While this supply chain chaos won’t last forever, your reputation will so make sure yours is good, if not great.
One thing you can do that will help you with all the above is find a logistics provider who can offer you all the above. Working with a good 3PL will offer you an extensive carrier network for the capacity you’re looking for, communicate effectively and consistently, and help you improve your customer service concerning your logistics. Even better, an expert 3PL will keep an eye on the market and help you pick up on early warning signs on disruptions or delays, finding ways to help you prepare for potential constraints. Your provider should treat your shipments and freight as their own and offer you alternative solutions when needed. They should be dedicated and not stop until they can help resolve any challenges you face.
Here at Trinity, our Team Members are true experts in logistics. We do more than arrange your freight. When working with Trinity, we become your logistics partners in your business and our only goal is to help YOU succeed and grow. We’ll help streamline your logistics procedures and give you insight into the freight market.
“Under the current market circumstances, it is imperative that shippers are partnering with the most efficient and organized transportation providers possible,” says Mo Shearer, Senior Sales Executive at Trinity Logistics. “The days of logistics being perceived as an after-thought or “necessary evil” with regards to managing a proficient supply chain are in the rear-view mirror. The amount of freight, coupled with the continuous demands for capacity, are making transportation one of the key components of an overall business strategy to keep an organization in the black. The more investment, both financial and intellectual, the better postured a company will be for long-term success.”
Our Team works very hard to follow through on our efforts. When issues arise, we work until they are resolved and keep open communication every step of the way.
The freight market is tough right now and always susceptible to quick changes and challenges. No matter the market, having a solid relationship with experts like Trinity will prove to be your largest asset.
When given the chance to prove our People-Centric service, you’ll soon find that our communication and service levels set the bar high. Hear from one of our customers, Primary Flow Signal. Their logistics manager, Mike Choquette says,
“Primary Flow Signal began working with Trinity because our products were too large to ship via LTL and we needed help arranging flatbed and hotshot shipments. What we really love about working with Trinity is that all we need to do is send one email to Lyn with our needs and she quickly responds. When needing a freight quote, Lyn gets right on it and responds in a timely fashion, whereas other providers will take up to two to three days to get back to us. With Lyn, we never have to follow up or wonder what’s going on because she consistently communicates and takes care of everything. It’s been such a pleasure working with Lyn at Trinity Logistics. She’s very reliable, no matter how tricky a shipment can be or if any issues get in the way, Lyn is on top of communicating every step of the way. She is phenomenal at getting things done and keeping us updated on all of our shipments.”
Our people and excellent service are what makes our company stand out. Start building your relationship with Trinity Logistics today and begin seeing the Trinity difference in your logistics.
Author: Christine Morris
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