As predicted, the 2018 shipping market has faced capacity issues due to a blend of a booming economy, e-commerce growth, a driver shortage and the full implementation of the ELD mandate. While we saw a decrease in trucking jobs in the month of April, the same month the ELD mandate went into effect, we’ve seen the opposite trend the rest of the year, with over 20 thousand jobs being added. This growth is also reflected in a surprising increase of new truck orders throughout the summer, which is typically a slow period. But that growth will take time to alleviate some of the capacity issues, so now, more than ever it’s important to focus on being a good shipper.

It pays to be a preferred shipper. It’s common practice for shippers to measure carrier performance, but now that more loads need to be moved than there are drivers to move them, measuring internal performance is a key business practice that should be adopted. Carriers will move more attractive loads, and be willing to work with those who ship consistently. Being a preferred shipper can also help protect you from the volatile rates of the spot market and keep your loads moving despite the capacity crunch.

So how do you make yourself more attractive to carriers?

It starts with your shipping dock. Ensure it’s being effectively managed so loading and unloading delays don’t happen, which can quickly sour your relationship with carriers on top of costing you detention fees. It’s a carrier’s market, so the days of a driver sitting on a dock for hours waiting for their truck to be unloaded is a thing of the past. Having an efficient dock and warehouse is key to minimizing loading and unloading times and keeping the carriers happy.

Embrace technology. Adapting to change isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but it’s been an essential part of the Truckload market for over a year. Relying on phone calls and faxes to rate shop and book carriers is becoming outdated, which can be costing you time and money. A TMS allows you to rate shop and book loads quickly and efficiently. Many also offer extra capabilities such as load tracking and advanced reporting and is quickly becoming an essential for companies with any volume of shipping. Investing in a TMS is expensive and can be unnecessary since partnering with a 3PL will give you access to the latest TMS technology.

Be Flexible. We’ve already discussed how it’s a carrier’s market, which means you should be willing to be flexible on pickup and delivery times, carriers, lanes and scheduling. It may be worth your time to see if LTL is a better option for some of your shipments.

Be Consistent. Having consistent loads move in consistent lanes is a huge factor for preferred shippers. If you have the luxury of moving a product that’s easy to load, move and deliver and can consistently guarantee the schedule, carriers will be attracted to your loads, which can be a huge step forward into combating the volatility of the market.

The best advice we can offer is to partner with a 3PL. AFS can offer expert advice on the state of your supply chain and shipping processes, can give you access to the latest TMS technology. Our industry experts bring years of experience in the shipping market as well as a pool of already established carrier relationships to take advantage of. If you’re feeling the effects of this carrier’s market, give us a call at 877-242-3383.