Transportation and Logistics – Looking For Success in Growing Your Business? Shipping Basics!

May 7th, 2021 by dayat No comments »

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with many small to medium size companies in my 20 plus years of working in the Transportation Industry. Many of these companies I witnessed starting from the ground up. From trying to come up with an effective slogan, to grasping to understand the way Logistics works, and finally struggling to become efficient in shipping out their products. The freight industry is very dynamic, and in order for a company to thrive and overcome the various obstacles, there are some basic procedures that need to be put in place in the area of shipping. Sure, a company can shun using these procedures, but the consequences can become a tremendous setback to the growth of their company.

The following are 7 processes that a good business establishes for their shipping department at a minimum. Without these, increased expenses, damages, and unhappy customers are sure to follow:

Product- In order for a company to thrive in their logistics department they have to have a full grasp of what their product offers and the need it fills in the marketplace. Now let’s think for a moment… Why would a Shipping department need to know the advantage their product brings to the market? In this day and age it is very important to understand one’s competition, and where they are located in relationship to your company. If your product is manufactured on the west coast, and your customer is located on the East coast it could be considered business as usual. However, add this to the mix- your biggest competitor is 25 miles away from that client. You have already established value with this client with a wonderful sales staff, but now you need to make sure the product gets across country expeditiously, economically and without damage.

Understanding the value and the location of your nearest competitors will help to add to understanding the proper mode of transportation that is needed to secure a smooth delivery. On a separate note, this is why many companies are turning to a 3PL to establish a presence through the use of warehousing in a central location. I have known customers who really didn’t have to worry about being expeditious to beat the competition because there was none. There product stood no competition and their clients had to buy from them, chances are most companies aren’t that lucky, and your competitors grow each day.

Mode of Transportation- This brings us to the second point. Understanding the proper mode of transportation to get your product to your customer in an efficient and timely manner is another vital factor to shipping. Nowadays, it’s a known fact that many customers are electing to use Freight services to move their product across the country. This method is definitely the most cost efficient; however, there may be times wherein your product might benefit more from using an Expedited Service. Perhaps expedited may not be the most cost efficient, but understanding the transit time that your customer needs, as well as understanding whether the product is prone to damage, moving it via the air might provide less damage risks and a faster transit time.

Packaging- This is an aspect of shipping that many customers, especially the smaller shippers, tend to overlook. The main reason people skimp on proper packaging is because of price. Typically, to establish a reliable packaging concept one needs to hire a consultant to perform drop tests. In this day and time customers know there business, and especially their products and often times can determine, with great success, how their product should be packaged to avoid excess beating. It is very important in the event of damage, for the shipper to learn from this and to exercise stronger precautions on the next shipment- no matter who caused the damage.

UYCN- Otherwise known as “understanding your customer’s needs”- this is vitally important in the Transportation Industry for a few reasons. No one knows what works best as far as delivering a product to a customer then the customer themselves. Whether it be that they need a liftgate (because of no dock), inside delivery (because of lack of personnel), or a smaller truck (because of lack of space) the customer will know this information. And many times they will fail to communicate this to you the shipper. It is your job to ask them. Don’t expect for your carrier to know, and if they deliver without receiving this information, please believe that you will be charged. A great habit that many of my clients do is to keep each of their clients details in an excel spreadsheet so that the information can be updated as need be.

CCNC-” Communicate your customer needs to the carrier.” This is pretty common sense, but you’d be surprised how many customers take it for granted that the carrier will have certain resources at their disposal. For example, in Freight it is thought that ALL carriers have Air-Ride vehicles and liftgates. That’s not the case!!! So make sure you don’t assume this. You need to make sure that you ask for what you want. There may be an extra charge depending on who you use, but you want to make sure you get the order right the first time.

Liability Requirements- Nobody wants to have damages, but when you ship via Freight carrier things happen. Make sure you understand the liability process, and communicate it to your customer- especially if you ship a product that you know is prone to damage. When you’re up front with your client it shows the added value that you can offer as a vendor and gives them a reason to do business with you, and maybe not the guy next door.

Method of Payment- When you establish your business it is necessary to make sure that you establish how you want your customer’s to pay. Or if you prefer to give your customers options: Some typical options are: Prepaid (Shipper bills their customer); COD (Freight company collects from shippers customer); 3rd Party Bill (Billing a source other than your customer)

On Line Tracking- Last but not least, you want to,, YOU need to make sure that you have a resource/tool that allows you to have full up-to-date tracking and tracing capabilities. Of course for the obvious reason of letting your customer know what’s going on, but in the event that your customer’s product becomes damaged during transit if you are aware of this you can now issue a replacement before too much damage is done- in this scenario customer loyalty is number 1. If a customer that you ship to has to hold on to a damaged piece of equipment that they need, and wait for you to ship another one they might decide to seek another vendor out of pure frustration.

Earl White is a National Account Manager, with One Stop Logistics a Third Party Logistics company based out of Watsonville, Ca. He has been in Sales for over 15 years and works with many sales reps to help them gain better footing when it comes to the elusive practice of working with clients. He enjoys being able to pass on many of the skills he has learned from Top Salesman in the Industry.

Transportation and Logistics – 10 Things Shippers Want to Look For When Selecting a Freight Carrier

April 7th, 2021 by dayat No comments »

The current economy has provided the Transportation Industry with an influx of new companies that are looking to try to break into Shipping Freight. These companies are smart, because they are not looking to compete with the Big Boys, like the Fedex, UPS, and Conway’s of the world, but they are looking to fulfill a niche market.

They hire a cousin to be the driver, and a friend to work the books. They acquire all necessary licenses and pay the fees that need to be paid and their in business. From this point on many of them proceed to the market place to offer, not value, but cheap rates, thus dropping the Industry market value down considerably. So with this in mind, a typical shipper probably has, at the least, 15 knocks on their door from potential new shipping vendors who say they want an opportunity to bid on their Freight.

Most customers at this point take the rate sheet, or at the least, take the sales reps card to perhaps give them a quote opportunity. The issue that faces a warehouse Manager is that every sales rep that enters the door is talking about 1 thing, and one thing only- cheap rates. It’s not a wonder why Warehouse Manager’s are at their wits end with Sales Calls. This article consists of some general guidelines that a shipper should consider when looking to hire a freight carrier. This list is compiled from consulting with many clients in the industry, as well as several Operation Managers.

10 Areas That a Shipper Wants To Examine Prior To Hiring a Freight Company:

1) Service Commitment- Make sure to ask questions directly concerning the destinations that you ship. Often times carriers will list transit times and destinations that they might not serve directly, but may have agents working for them their. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with an Agent relationship, but this is something that you want to make sure you ask the carrier.

2) Accountability- If a carrier promises you something make sure you hold them to it…Freight is not an exact science, so many things can come into play with regards to shipping- weather, load factor, mechanical issues, the list goes on and on… Make sure carriers take ownership of their promises and guarantees.

3) Price- I list this 3rd on the list because, believe it or not, price is not as big as people want to play it out to be. You see, if your product doesn’t make it’s destination safely and in good transit time, it won’t matter if you received a dirt cheap rate because you will have a very unhappy customer. At times customers can live with a long transit time, but those times are, few and far between, in today’s market.

4) Follow Up- If the Carrier doesn’t get back to you in a timely fashion, or forgets altogether, then you definitely want to reevaluate your choice of vendors. Whether it be your sales rep, or your customer service agent, poor follow up runs through the company typically.

5) Operations- Grumpy operations personnel make for poor service all around. If you ever feel as if “you are bothering your operations representatives” then you definitely need a new company. In freight you might be dealing with employees who have been in the business for over 30 years, and really don’t like their jobs- they often take it out on the customer. Don’t fall into this trap!

6) Technology- We are in Y2K!!! If a company is not able to provide you with online capabilities and up to date information on your shipments then this might be a sign to look for another company. Please understand, there are many shippers that prefer to have a live person than use online technology, and that’s fine, but the Freight carrier needs to be able to back that up with online technology for quick reports and a more efficient Distribution system.

7) Customer Service- We’ve all had those bad service experiences going out to dinner with our spouse, a rude customer service operator, so I’m sure you can relate to this topic. Never settle for rudeness because of cheap rates, you’ll end up regretting it in the long run-guaranteed.

8) Ease of Engagement- This speaks for itself, because it should always be easy to get a hold of your Sales Person or the Operations Team. Companies that are good in this category do things like, answer the phone within 3 rings; follow up with emails/phone calls the same day; take a proactive approach to service rather than reactive.

9) Recoverability- I coined this term a few years back. When something bad happens, the good companies get right on it and maintain solid communications with the Shipper and all necessary parties. We all know that things happen, but it’s how Carriers respond and recover that make them GREAT.Often times mishaps are what help solidify a Customer-Carrier relationship- ironic.

10) Gut- More important than all of the other topics combined is to make sure you use your gut instinct. If you don’t feel right about the carrier, or if you can’t seem to find anything good about them other than price then you might need to take a mental note and look deep at their company because the GUT is usually right on the money.

Earl White is a National Account Manager, with One Stop Logistics a Third Party Logistics company based out of Watsonville, Ca. He has been in Sales for over 15 years and works with many sales reps to help them gain better footing when it comes to the elusive practice of working with clients. He enjoys being able to pass on many of the skills he has learned from Top Salesman in the Industry.