April 2015 | Sponsored | Thought Leaders

Choosing to Be a Shipper of Choice

Tags: Supply Chain Management, Legislation, Public Policy, and Regulations, Transportation, Logistics

Rick Erickson is Global Director of Freight Payment Solutions, U.S. Bank, 866-274-5898

Q: In the face of increasing capacity issues, rising equipment costs, and new regulations, carriers prefer to work with shippers that will support their business needs. How can companies become "Shippers of Choice"?

A: In a word, it's about partnerships.

Q: Are there best practices for achieving this goal?

A: Yes. Pre-planning helps carriers anticipate load volume and frequency, and give drivers more predictable and profitable schedules—imperative for driver recruitment and retention. Keeping changes and cancellations to a minimum and reducing last-minute load requests also help. Having plans in place to notify carriers promptly when exceptions do occur builds trust. And honoring established bid commitments and schedules and paying quickly are essential. Preferred shippers do all they can to make billing and payment simple for the carrier—like using integrated freight payment tools for visibility, online exception resolution, and collaboration.

Q: Becoming a "Shipper of Choice" is about more than creating efficiencies. How important is understanding and appreciating drivers?

A: With ongoing driver shortages contributing to capacity issues throughout the industry, it's more important than ever for shippers to maintain a driver-friendly environment. Some of the things I mentioned earlier play a big part in that—such as maintaining consistent load volumes and frequencies, minimizing cancellations, and reducing last-minute loads. Efficient loading and unloading processes on site can limit wait times and get drivers back on the road quickly. But sometimes it's the small things that can make a big difference: a clean, comfortable waiting area, access to decent restrooms, a friendly greeting, and a quick cup of coffee or a snack.

Q: You've talked about techniques. What about technologies?

A: Using an electronic freight management solution can help streamline every aspect of the process. U.S. Bank Freight Payment, for example, can improve automated invoice processing with 100 percent pre-payment audit and real-time invoice status updates. Shippers and carriers benefit from a collaborative, online solution that allows them to quickly resolve disputes and put powerful business intelligence at their fingertips.

Ultimately, any successful business relationship is about collaborative partnerships. Strengthening those relationships can help you become a Shipper of Choice for your carrier partners.