It’s not often that you have to persuade a service provider to work with you. For years, carriers have competed with one another to get new business from shippers. With economic conditions improving and capacity becoming tighter, that balance of power is shifting back to carriers. Shippers now have to think of ways they can make themselves more attractive to their service providers. Below are six steps shippers can take to secure capacity.

1. Pay fair prices. First and foremost, carriers want to work with shippers that pay fair rates. They also look at things like accessorials and fuel surcharge to gauge attractiveness. Benchmarking to find out how rates stack up against others in the industry can help. For example, if a shipper has an aggressive accessorial that’s counter to what the market is doing, they could lose a carrier’s business. In addition to fair prices, carriers want to be paid on time. About 70 percent of carrier expenses are due within eight days, so providing quick payments can offset rate increases (Logistically Speaking).

2. Avoid dwell time. Driver productivity is extremely important to carriers. When a driver reaches a shipper’s facility, he or she wants to get in and out quickly. Shippers should make sure live loads and unloads are conducted efficiently, and drop trailers are ready for pick-up when the driver arrives. Another important benefit to carriers is offering a 24/7 facility. Being able to pick up a load late on a Friday, rather than having to wait for the facility to reopen on Monday, is a huge time and money saver (SupplyChainBrain).

3. Understand the network. Shippers and 3PLs can help maximize carrier efficiency by looking at how they tender freight and which carriers they match up with. For example, a shipper can offer carriers longer hauls later in the week to allow for maximum driving time over the weekend. Finding out where carriers have empty miles and thinking about how to help them drive more efficiently will put shippers at an advantage.

4. Embrace technology. EDI automation tools can help shippers and 3PLs expedite load tendering, provide status updates, and resolve payment issues in a timely matter. Embracing technology can lead to a more streamlined process, making it easier for shippers and carriers to work together.

5. Offer driver-friendly facilities. It’s important for drivers to have a positive experience at a shipper’s facility. Amenities like restrooms, vending machines, and equipment to refill tires or perform simple repairs can have a lasting impact. Offering parking and a place for drivers to take a break can help alleviate the challenge of searching for a nearby truck stop when a driver arrives at a facility early and their load won’t be ready for several hours.

6. Provide additional opportunities. In addition to having over-the-road capabilities, many carriers offer intermodal and dedicated fleet services. Shippers that bring carriers more than just OTR opportunities will add value for carriers (Talking Logistics).

If shippers take these steps into consideration, they will be more likely to build positive relationships with carriers and secure more shipments. It may require some investment, but the reality is that carriers have the luxury of choosing the accounts that will be most profitable to them. Shippers and carriers have a shared responsibility to make the supply-chain network efficient, and shippers can’t afford to ignore the carrier.