September 2014 | Commentary | Checking In

Build Your Driver-Friendly Brand

Tags: Trucking, Partnership

Keith Biondo is the publisher of Inbound Logistics magazine.

Companies spend tons of money building brand equity, but sometimes risk having it washed away in a flood of bad reviews on social media sites such as Yelp. The same thing can happen to shippers when they are evaluated by drivers serving their facilities.

Drivers have always shared their experiences; some may even have reviewed your company on an unofficial network of truck driver communication channels, similar to Yelp. Through the power of the Web, a thumbs up or thumbs down is out there for all to see. And it's hard to un-see or remove.

Why should you care what drivers think of your operation? You pay your money down, and they move the freight. Driver retention is the carriers' or brokers' problem, right?

But what goes around comes around. If drivers face long dwell times, are reluctant to serve your facilities, or if driver turnover rates on your lanes are out of the norm, that information eventually will come back to bite you (cost? capacity?). And it won't be long before someone creates a national online database of shipper rankings, where your driver friendliness brand will be available to anyone who wants to see it.

Before that happens, there's plenty you can do to build your brand with drivers. Add extra shifts, including weekends, for more flexible pickups and dropoffs. Install a guard shack for 24-hour access to your yard. Maintain a driver break room with WiFi, clean facilities, and vending and coffee machines. Install on-site scales, and offer adequate parking. Prevent blowouts and breakdowns by maintaining yards so that they don't look like moonscapes. Seal your loads. Provide your carriers forward vendor/customer visibility to minimize delays caused by customers. Grant multimodal permissions where applicable. Offer drop and hook loads. Work with carriers to flatten volume spikes by scheduling loads on off-peak days. These actions will boost your driver-friendly brand.

Most truck drivers are solid citizens, and deserve respect for their skill, commitment, and hard work. Even if you lack the resources and bandwidth for some of the big-ticket items above, encourage your team to communicate, work with, and show drivers the respect their profession deserves. Brand considerations aside, shippers of any size can train staff to understand and communicate that respect, and demonstrate that they are ready and willing to help drivers get the job done as efficiently as possible.

 






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