Shipper Attributes: A Trucking Company’s Perspective
Being the owner of a trucking company is not a nine to five kind of job. I work around the clock every day. The things I keep top of mind for my business are being profitable as well as keeping my drivers and my customers happy. I would say most—if not all—trucking companies can relate to this balancing act. In order to succeed at these areas of my business, I consider and evaluate what I perceive are the top attributes of a shipper.
Pickup and Delivery Process
The pickup and delivery process is the most crucial shipper attribute we consider. It allows not only us—the carrier—but shippers and receivers to strategically plan. It is important to my company to have proper in and out times at the shipper and receiver locations. This allows drivers to regulate their drive times within hours of service (HOS) regulations. Shippers and receivers that provide proper pickup and delivery times allow my drivers to have a successful turnaround, which in return leads to satisfied drivers and customers.
Lead time is another important shipper attribute—a key factor for successful planning. Having an adequate lead time of 24-48 hours improves the driver’s productivity and reliability. We have the ability to better plan if something unexpected comes up—like equipment failure. With appropriate lead times, we have flexibility with driver schedules, proper maintenance on all trucks and trailers, and any secondary planning if needed. By planning ahead, we can provide more fluid and consistent performance for customers, which helps promote better relationships between carriers and shippers.
Predictable volume is the third shipper attribute that I think is extremely important because we can allocate our assets accordingly. We can plan and implement a well guided and detailed business plan to better inform drivers where they will be and how often. Our drivers can then plan their lives with consistency. Having a predictable volume also gives us the ability to better service customers and provides an opportunity to develop a strategic plan to reposition our trucks to get home.
These three attributes contribute greatly to the balancing act, and all three tie closely to our ability to plan ahead. Having a plan in place streamlines the process for everyone—drivers, shippers, and receivers—so everyone is satisfied and making a profit. Even when all three of these attributes are ideal, we still have many challenges to overcome—especially when it comes to regulations. I would love to hear from other trucking companies on what you look for in a shipper. Share your comments below.