3 ways to improve shipper carrier relationships

David Weakly

By David Weakly Business Development at King Solutions

When it comes to logistics, the importance of customer relationships is a given. In any business, really, the vendor-client relationship is something that’s continuously emphasized and worked on. After all, customers are the reason you’re in business in the first place.

As crucial as it is to have good customer relationships, it’s important to dedicate time and effort into improving your internal B2B relationship as well.

For shippers, that means your carrier relationships.

If it weren’t for carriers, shippers wouldn’t be able to meet the needs of their customers. But, carriers aren’t just a tool or machine used to get part of the job done. They’re people with needs and goals and strengths and faults.

The best way to get the most out of your carriers is to establish a healthy relationship with them. So, how can shippers improve their relationships with carriers? Here are three simple, but effective ways:

It’s not all about the price
Rate costs and negotiating for the lowest price are where many shippers start. But, carriers won’t simply bow to your demands and give the exact rate you’re looking for. Not the good ones, at least.

Though it’s easy to go for cheapest price, that’s a terrible way to start a relationship. It’s basically the equivalent of becoming friends with someone because they’re rich or they give you free things. That’s not a real friendship.

In the same way, a partnership based solely on the lowest cost is not a true (or healthy) partnership.

While negotiating fair rates is important, it’s not the only part. Values and expectations are incredibly important to any relationship. Do you know your carrier’s expectations? Do they know what you value?

If there seems to be a disconnect in what you’re expecting and what they’re delivering, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to reestablish these items. If it’s going to cost a little more for them to step up to where you need them to be, you need to be prepared to make that work.

Be long-term minded
When it comes to your shipper-carrier relationships, are you thinking about the future? It can be hard to come to a compromise and workout conflict when you’re only focusing on the moment. If you’re considering the future projects, you have more to work with.

It allows you to say all right, we’ll do things your way now as long as we’re promised something else next time.

The longer you work together, the more trust you’ll have in each other. And you’ll also better know what to expect in the workflow. It can be a lot of work to establish that kind of relationship, but it’s completely worth it.

You can work with just about anyone during the good times, but only healthy relationships last through the bad times.

Shipper-carrier negotiations can take a lot of man-hours just to set up, often stretching on for months. Constantly re-negotiating and finding new carriers can add up to be a serious expense.

Help them out
Setting a carrier up for success will do wonders for your relationship. Providing them with accurate documentation and billing is a good start. Carriers can spend a lot of time correcting incorrect document that they shouldn’t have had to worry about in the first place. Almost 80% of carriers loads have to be reweighed by the carrier. That’s something that simply shouldn’t be happening.

Similarly, making sure freight is properly packed and ready to go. Carriers shouldn’t have to rewrap pallets and boxes after they pick it up. Also, if it’s not properly secured when a carrier picks it up, and they don’t correct it, your freight is likely to get damaged.

Ensuring that a carrier is being provided with the right documentation, accurate weights, and secure freight is a fantastic way to improve your relationship. Not to mention it’ll save you both time and money.

Healthy shipper-carrier relationships are worth the work they take to establish. And as an added bonus, they’ll almost certainly improve your customer relationships too.

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