- The carriers themselves speak as a commodity. They always talk about the fact that if demand is greater than supply - prices will go up. This is the text book description of a commodity. I have never met a carrier who, in a time of rate increases, tell you "We will take less price because you are some magical "shipper of choice.
- It takes all the requirements for continuous improvement off of the carrier's shoulders and puts them on the customer. I have never seen an industry (except for maybe the airlines) where the supplier's strategy is to essentially go to war with their customer. This is the new trucking industry. The icons of the industry (Don Schneider, JB Hunt - the man) would never do this. They would compete for customers by providing a higher level of efficiency and better service. Not try to put fear in the customer.
- This is a race to the bottom for shippers. Imagine if everyone followed the checklist of "Shipper of choice". Now, all shippers are equal and who is actually the shipper of choice? Well, what happens is the carriers ratchet up what they want out of you. This is a perverse way to run an industry.
To help with carrier management and to help shippers navigate this craziness some hire a 3PL. But, what happens when the 3PL is in the tank for the carrier? Well, we know what happens - the 3PL tells the customer they have to pay "higher rates" to ensure capacity (any third grader could have figured that out - no need to pay a 3PL). But, of course, the 3PL makes more money off of these higher rates so on and on it goes.
So, here is my checklist for how a CARRIER can be the CARRIER of choice:
- Provide great value - service for price. Overdue the service.
- Understand your customer's business so you can understand why they are asking for what they are asking for.
- Do what you commit to do - don't over commit.
- Don't complain about stupid stuff. I love it when a carrier complains that we should level load our freight volume. Great request. What is a person to do, tell the consumer (who is the only one in this entire chain who is actually injecting money into this supply chain) they can't buy more product on the weekends? They have to buy as much on Monday - Thursday?
- Communicate, communicate, communicate.
- Use technology to everyone's benefit.
The Transplace checklist for shipper of choice is one example where a 3PL is no longer working for their customer. They are working for the carrier.