Homemade Ceramic BowlMother’s Day is just around the corner.

For those select few of you who are planning ahead: you’ve already made dinner reservations, visited Hallmark while Mother’s Day cards are still fully in stock, and placed a bouquet order with 1-800-Flowers .

For the remaining 95% of you who fall in the same boat I do around this time every year, you’ll find yourself thanking the hostess on the other end of the phone for agreeing to squeeze in a dinner reservation at 4:15 PM, weighing which of the two remaining cards at the grocery store—Garfield holding a heart-shaped pizza, or that villain in Indiana Jones Temple of Doom holding an actual heart—would best express your gratitude for Mom, and swinging by a corner gas station to peruse their fine floral selection.

Interestingly enough, I used to be a lot better at planning ahead for this time of year when I was in elementary school, crafting special trinkets only a mother could love. Do you remember that “mug?” It was the half-done ceramic that was fairly lopsided and close to falling over. And, how about the flower bouquet made out of plastic straws, construction paper and a little too much glue. Thank goodness for teachers. Otherwise mothers may never get gifts.

Of course, planning for and reminiscing about this time of year only brings about fond feelings if you have a significant other, or mother, that you enjoy spending time with.

Maintaining a Good Shipper Carrier Relationship

Those same feelings can, and should, apply to shippers’ relationships with their carriers. Okay, okay—we understand shippers and carriers are a business relationship and aren’t headed for holy matrimony. However, the best relationships between shippers and carriers exist when (1) a carrier truly understands and meets the needs of its shipper and (2) the shipper understands and satisfies the needs of its carrier.

Shippers’ Needs & Expectations:

AFS_Building Shipping Carrier RelationshipsWhile every shipper’s needs are unique, some of their common needs include:

  • Service Performance: Are shipments delivered on time, nearly every time(early or late deliveries can be a nuisance to your customer)?
  • Price: Are shippers paying the correct amount based upon the commodity shipped, shipment size, and services provided?
  • Claims Ratio:  Are the carrier’s loss and damage claims ratios minimal?   It’s important to know the pulse of your claims ratio with a given carrier. Not only do claims cause customer frustration but additional rework and cost to you.
  • GRI: How many General Rate Increases were taken last year and how did they affect the shipper?
  • Customer Service: Does the carrier provide the shipper with a dedicated customer service contact, or does the shipper simply fall into a general customer service pool?

Carriers’ Needs and Expectations:

Some of the common carrier needs include:

  • Pricing:  Does the shipper try constantly to renegotiate costs and terms?
    • A shipper that continuously negotiates won’t receive the best pricing because the carrier will hold back discounts in order to have something to give the shipper in the next round of negotiations.
  • Volumes: Does the shipper honor volume commitments?
  • Access: How accessible are the shipper’s facilities?
  • Wait Times: Does the shipper cause driver delays at pickup or destination?
  • Shipper Desirability: Does the shipper have adequate packaging and expectations?
    • The industry buzz is that there is no such thing as bad freight — Just poorly priced freight. Carriers are moving more and more freight to cube-based (dimensional) pricing, makinglarge, light freight less desirable and more difficult for the carrier to move at its historical low cost. Some carriers and 3PLs are actually purging bad freight from their network by severing ties with shipping clients.


When it’s Time to Talk

If you’re company wants to ensure the maximum relationship with its carrier(s), there are a few great tools you can use: 1) Freight and Parcel Audits (using an industry-leading 45-point freight audit system), Transportation Management Systems, and Transportation Analytics Or, you can sit down with your carrier and evaluate whether each of you are meeting each other’s needs. If they’re not being fully met, consider a third party consultant that places an emphasis on maximizing and maintaining shippers relationships with their carriers.

So Happy Mother’s Day to you. Keep those relationships alive and well.


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