Blocking and Tackling
What do football terms have to do with freight? Not a whole lot when taken literally but they are representative of the core competencies all championship teams have in football. Taking care of the fundamentals will take care of you and your business. But just what are the fundamentals or things each part of the transportation process should ensure they’re covered?
Time and information are key to ensuring your partners can execute for you with a high level of success. Transportation isn’t like shopping in a store. You don’t just say “I want a truck”, put it in the cart and go about your day. There’s a lot of work that’s involved in sourcing that truck to arrive when you need it to at a price that’s agreeable. The more time you give your carrier, broker or 3PL to source that solution, the better that solution is likely to be. The time doesn’t have to be excessive either but 2 to 4 days sure is helpful versus 30 to 90 minutes.
Information. This can not be stressed enough. When you as a shipper give ALL the information to your service provider at the start of move, it helps everyone be effective and efficient. Sending emails like they’re morse code with little bits here and there doesn’t get anything done. Your carrier or broker isn’t going to do anything until they have it all. They need pick up location, date/time, appointment information, lumper needs and point of contact. Delivery location, date/time, appointment information and point of contact. They also need weight, pallet count, commodity, and everything associated with what is going into or onto that trailer. Any pickup or delivery numbers or PO numbers that need to be associated with the load as well. Put all of that together into one email or 1 tender to your carrier or broker along with rate. (Contract or to start negotiations for spot)
These are the fundamental blocking and tackling items that need to happen before things get more complex like multi-stops, partials or crane and other vendor appointments. Do this stuff well and do it on EVERY load and the rest gets easier.
What applies for the shippers applies for you as well when dealing with the carrier that is going to move this. That’s the minimum. You also need to make sure you’re letting the carrier know all of this, plus how that carrier will get paid, their rates, the process for lumper reimbursement etc. Everything that carrier needs to know to do the job – you need to tell them. It’s your job to know it too. Every load, every time. And you need to be honest. If it’s an “at” appointment, tell them. Don’t say “they’ll unload early” without checking. Brokers thrive and operating on information and capacity – share it with all involved. These fundamentals of sharing the whole story about the load and the location with the carriers is fundamental and needs to be done on every load, every time.
You need to communicate with the shipper on everything that’s happening too. Full transparency and honestly. Truck broke down – tell that. Truck made a mistake – own it. BE AVAILABLE to your customers – carriers and shippers. That’s fundamental as well. No “ignore this and make 2nd shift handle it”. That’s not 2nd shifts job.
The fundamentals of showing up on time, delivering on time and arriving with the hours available and equipment needed to do the job will never go away. The blocking and tackling that carriers can do and need to do to help this entire moving project to conclusion are basically that. Information and honest and transparent communication. Going to be late – let someone know. The worst spot for a broker to be in is when his shipper calls him to say the truck is late – why? That should never be a surprise to the broker. It should never be a surprise to the shipper. Ensure you’re providing excellent service to the broker means you become the preferred carrier to that broker. You’re the one that the broker is going to call first with good freight and going to protect rates with when the market is poor. The hope is you also protect them with rates on the other side. The fundamentals of a being on time, communicate and showing up ready to work goes a long way towards being that carrier of choice. The bar really isn’t that high for a lot of carriers to meet and exceed to stand out. Block and tackle well and everyone will move freight and do good business with good people.