It also eliminates all the emotion, speculation and hype of the industry when you read about capacity constraints, driver shortages and other macro economic issues. Here are the basics:
- Break down your suppliers costs into the big driving buckets. For transportation it is clearly fuel, driver wages and equipment.
- Make sure you have calculated in offsets to costs. For example, the industry is very prone to discuss how much more the acquisition cost of equipment is with new emissions requirements and other adds. However, they very rarely (unless you conduct deep research) discuss the vast reduction in operating costs due to better maintenance and fuel consumption. Each element has to be accounted for.
- Ask what is really going on with driver wages (not what "could" happen). Many will say the driver shortages will lead to higher driver wages however this has not really panned out. So, find out what is really going on with the driver wages.
This does not mean you are trying to ensure the supplier does not make a profit. What it does ensure is you fully understand the true costs driving the pricing, it ensures you understand what the reasonable profit margin is and it ensures you understand what the market is for the products you are buying.
This process has been used by direct procurement people for years. Also, I can assure you this is the process your transportation suppliers are using to decide how much to pay for a truck, trailer or container. There are different components to measure but the process of "should cost" modeling is exactly the process they follow. You should not be afraid of it nor should you be ashamed of using it.