In an ideal setting, shippers and carriers would understand their symbiotic relationship and work together to keep supply chains running efficiently. However, this past year showed that driver availability and the demand for capacity caused confusion and tension. Trucks were carrying a small percentage of their capacity simply because they were available, which caused productivity to drop.
However, there are a few things shippers could do to improve relationships with carriers.
Stop Viewing Truckers as the Enemy
Trucking companies definitely had the upper hand in negotiations last year. For at least two years prior, shipping companies had the upper hand. Regardless, trucking companies are a necessity, and treating them as “the enemy” doesn’t help anyone. More trucking companies are taking the stance that if a shipper is being antagonistic, they are dropped. Both parties need to work together to keep supply chains moving and to keep our economy strong.
Trucking companies generate revenue by being efficient and productive. Shippers make profits when loads are delivered. To reduce tension and increase productivity, shippers should invite their carriers to audit the loading and unloading process, so they can figure out how to decrease or eliminate wasted steps and time, to improve supply chains. Everyone benefits.
Provide Forecasts to Carriers
A lack of communication causes the biggest strain between shippers and carriers. If shippers provided forecasts to trucking companies well in advance, we can avoid situations like last year, where shippers were desperately in need of capacity trucks and just grabbing any available driver, regardless of load size. The trucking industry knows logistics. Having forecasts can help carriers ensure that the demands and needs of shippers are met, without causing a breakdown in communication and strained professional relationships.
Apply Critical Thinking
Some shippers tend to think every shipment is of the utmost importance. They need to work with trucking companies to discern the difference between “urgent” and “important.” Prioritizing shipments helps to stagger the supply chains to make them more efficient, instead of creating a large bottleneck because “everything needs to be done yesterday.”
Moving forward, it would help everyone from manufacturers to consumers, and everyone in between if shippers would reach out and work with trucking companies, instead of against them.