Tips for How to Become a Preferred Shipper
In today’s crowded freight market, building a relationship between shippers and carriers is more important than ever. The more freight a carrier can deliver in a day and the more efficient they can be with their time and assets—especially when capacity is stretched thin—the better and more profitable it is for carriers. Because of this, shippers that make a shipment easier to complete are naturally preferred by carriers and therefore enjoy preferential treatment. Shippers that consistently tender loads at the last minute, make it difficult to schedule pickups and deliveries, or miss appointments and force carriers to reschedule will eventually find themselves struggling to find carriers willing to work with them. However, shippers that plan ahead, practice good communication, and are flexible and efficient will typically enjoy priority treatment, faster service, and lower rates. Here are a few tips to help build your relationship with a carrier and establish your business as a preferred shipper.
The more time you can give your carrier to accommodate your freight, the better. When possible, tendering shipments in advance gives carriers the maximum time to plan for your shipment accordingly. Clearly communicate any special instructions or requirements to your carrier ahead of time to avoid unnecessary delays or disruptions to your transit time.
Providing flexible appointment times for pickups and deliveries and being willing to accept trucks during “off” hours such as evenings and weekends will allow carriers to better utilize their resources and accommodate more shipments in a given day. If you work to meet the needs of your carrier, they will work to meet yours.
The driver is the face of the company for carriers, so anything you can do to make the shipping process more manageable for drivers will reflect back on the carrier. Easily accessible facilities, plenty of parking, available bathrooms, and break rooms all rank highly with drivers. Setting reasonable loading and unloading times, providing drivers with accurate and timely paperwork, and supplying equipment in good condition are also good ways to ingratiate your business with drivers and show carriers you are easy to work with.
If there is a change to your shipment, communicate it to your carrier in a timely fashion. Any change on your end may require carriers to adjust staffing, timing, or scheduling to accommodate you. The more time you provide them with to accomplish the necessary changes, the happier they will be.
Load and Unload Efficiently
Loading and unloading efficiently allows your business logistics to run more smoothly and helps the carrier utilize their assets more effectively, creating a win-win situation. Being ready for drivers when they arrive, preparing shipments ahead of time, and providing easy in-and-out access to a dock can all help the loading/unloading process move quicker. When possible, organize your shipment onto pallets to simplify loading and allow carriers to maximize trailer space capacity.
Prepare Your Shipment
Beyond making freight easier to load and unload, shippers can also work to ensure their shipments are secured effectively onto pallets with shrink wrap, tape, bands, cords, or a combination. Stacking cargo evenly and carefully securing it can protect both your shipment, the other shipments on the trailer, and the trailer itself from getting damaged, which disrupts service and can cost money to repair, fix, or replace items or equipment.
Using EDI and pre-PRO labeling can also speed up paperwork and freight processing. If you do not have access to these tools, contact a third-party logistics provider like Koho that can provide them and help manage your freight for you.
If you follow these tips and work with your carrier to build a relationship based on trust and communication, you will reap the benefits of being known as a preferred shipper. The freight market is overwhelmed with demand right now, so establishing your business’s status as a shipper that will accommodate carriers and help them get the most out of their time and resources is critical to ensure your supply lines remain uninterrupted.