All That's Trucking

Carriers in the Driver's Seat for Shippers Looking for Preferred Status

July 22, 2014

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Here is a sure sign that there's a capacity crunch -- a survey designed to help shippers know what they need to do to get "preferred shipper" status at motor carriers. Driver productivity, not surprisingly, is one of the keys.

Transplace, a third-party logistics company, announced the results of its Preferred Shipper Program Survey. The purpose? To gain insight into best practices for companies to achieve “preferred shipper” status with their carrier partners.

The study included data from more than 75 transportation carriers. Nearly half of the carriers keep official shipper scorecards, and you can bet that those who don't still take these factors into consideration.

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“Shippers are looking for ways to improve their transportation operations, and a significant way to do so is by aligning efforts with their carrier partners to improve efficiency and overall benefits to all parties,” explained Ben Cubitt, senior vice president, consulting and engineering for Transplace. “The survey responses consistently ranked economics and driver productivity as the keys to ‘preferred shipper’ status.”

Economics remain the most important factor in how carriers evaluate and rate shippers – with nearly all respondents indicating market competitive rates and fair fuel surcharges as “critical” or “important” factors.

Payment terms and average length of time until payment was also a key area for many carriers with 63% ranking it as a “major factor” and 36% considering it “important but not critical.” Of the carriers surveyed, 30 day payment terms are considered acceptable by the majority of carriers and paying in less than 30 days would really differentiate a shipper. Volume potential and positive credit rating were also consistently rated as a major factor.

Driver productivity is continuing to be a focus for carriers and one of the most critical factors in shipper freight profiles or practices. Of those surveyed, 97% considered dwell time as an “important” or “critical” factor in determining the preference status of a shipper. In-transit delays was second with 65% considering it a “major” factor and 32% considering it “important.” The ability to use drop trailers, shipper load count and type of freight were also key factors.

Carriers ranked driver-friendly practices highest based on those that enhanced driver productivity, such as onsite parking and available bathrooms for drivers. Regular updates on loading and unloading status and a guard shack for drivers to receive instructions were also high on the list. Break rooms for drivers rounded out the top five.

The scope of the relationship and the level of partnership can also affect the preference status of a shipper. The effort of a shipper to understand a carrier’s costs with relationship to equipment and recruiting drivers and willingness to discuss its issues were ranked as the two largest factors in impacting the shipper/carrier relationship.

In addition, treating drivers with respect and as a valuable network asset can impact the way the shipper is viewed by an entire carrier organization.

“Network efficiency and driver productivity are becoming the foremost concern and focus for many carriers, and they will reward efficient shippers that help keep their trucks and drivers with capacity," said Cubitt. "However, it’s not just about efficient deliveries. Carriers want shippers to be partners at every level and work together to drive productivity and efficiency.”

Below you'll find a video of a panel discussing “Survey Insights: Becoming the Shipper of Choice for Carriers” from Transplace’s 12th annual Shipper Symposium.

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Author Bio

Deborah Lockridge

Editor in Chief

All That's Trucking blog is just that – the editor's take on anything and everything related to trucking, with the help of guest posts from other HDT editors. Author Deborah Lockridge's career as an award-winning trucking journalist started in 1990.

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