Q4 is upon us, which means the supply chain is about to start feeling the effects of a tight capacity market. With an increasing driver shortage, rising equipment costs, and new regulations, shippers will be fiercely competing with one another to gain carriers’ business. It’s becoming a carrier’s market, and transportation companies have the luxury of choosing the business that best fits their needs. More than ever, it’s important for shippers to find creative ways to attract and retain carriers by adopting a “Shipper of Choice” mentality.

Earlier this year, we shared 6 steps shippers can take to attract carriers.  Below are additional ways to become a Shipper of Choice in the upcoming months.

1. Focus on partnerships.  Carriers are making load acceptance decisions based not only on price, but also on the strengths of partnerships they have.  Remember, a partnership is a two-way street.  It’s no longer just about finding carriers to support your business; it’s about communicating how you can also support theirs. What are your common goals, and how can you ensure alignment?  Where can you help carriers eliminate empty miles and maximize efficiency? Do you have regular touch-points in place to discuss these questions?  Frequent and open lines of communication help build trust, which is an essential component of securing the carriers you want to work with.

2. Pre-plan as much as possible.  Short lead times, frequent changes, and regular cancellations are red flags for carriers. When a carrier can anticipate load volume and frequency, they can give drivers more predictable and profitable schedules. This is imperative for driver recruitment and retention.  Shippers can help with this by pre-planning loads and avoiding last-minute changes and cancellations whenever possible.  When exceptions do occur, it’s important for shippers to have a solid notification process in place to keep things moving and avoid losing a carrier’s trust (Inbound Logistics).

3. Allow for flexible shipping hours.  Minimizing dwell time is of utmost importance to carriers.  If a shipper has restrictive appointment times, drivers may get stuck waiting for gates to open.  As one way to avoid this, shippers can consider adjusting appointment times to nights or weekends when more drivers are available. If a facility can ship 24/7, that’s a huge benefit to a carrier (Telogis).

4. Provide attractive payment terms.  A Shipper of Choice will make billing and payment quick and painless for the carrier.  Any delays in payment may cause carriers to raise their rates or lose interest in working with a shipper altogether.  Using integrated freight payment tools can make this easier, as they allow for increased visibility, online exception resolution, and better collaboration.

5. Make safety a priority.  Implementing safe traffic patterns, streamlined gate check-in procedures, and a dedicated yard jockey for moving trailers in and out of a facility are a few steps shippers can take to increase driver safety. It’s also important to provide areas for drivers to rest, such as a parking lot or lounge (Lean Logistics).

6. Value service over price.  The lowest-cost option is not always the best option. Shippers need to look at a carrier’s level of service, performance track-record, and additional solutions offered to understand the total cost of transportation. Shippers of Choice look at carrier procurement as a commitment. It’s important to understand that to attract and retain the best carriers and control costs over time, shippers need to think long-term.

Taking steps to become a carrier’s Shipper of Choice will benefit your organization in numerous ways. As the capacity market continues to tighten, you’re ability to secure carriers will have a large impact on your rates, your ability to serve customers, and the scalability of your business. By working to build strong relationships with your network now, you’ll be better prepared when your supply chain is strained with heightened or unforeseen demand in the coming months.

We realized that building trust with partners takes time. While it’s important to work toward becoming a Shipper of Choice, Capstone can help you fill in the gaps if you’re not there yet. We’ve already earned the trust of national customers and carriers, ranging from Fortune 100 companies to small distribution networks. We solve the industry’s most challenging problems through innovative technology, hyper-specialized services, and an agile team that’s motivated to adapt our services to customers’ evolving needs.

Let us be your “Carrier of Choice.”  Contact us to learn more.