It's important for shippers to leverage the strengths of their carrier base. To help shippers understand its needs, for example, Roadrunner holds frank conversations with customers about its costs, lane requirements, and how their freight fits into the LTL carrier's network.
experience,” notes Jessica Kim, head of marketing at Pitstop, a Toronto, Canada-based predictive eet maintenance tool. Instead, carriers that use predictive intelligence can get ahead of shortages and guarantee a better uptime, Kim adds.
capacity at any cost. Shippers now have some breathing room to reevaluate and diversify their carrier base. To capitalize on the opportunity, shippers should strive to understand the strengths, and the needs, of their providers. “Everyone has different advantages in different lanes,” says Frank Hurst, president of Roadrunner, an LTL carrier based in Downers Grove, Illinois. “We sit down with our customers and have very open conversations about cost, our lane needs, and how their freight ts in our network. “That way, we can be a cost advantage in those long haul lanes,” he adds. 11 If you’re in the market for a new carrier, look for one who collects eet performance data and uses it to improve their service. Take vehicle upkeep. Asset maintenance has gotten more costly since 2020. Parts shortages have culminated in more trucks being down, leading to an increase in expedited shipping for some carriers. Shippers should not assume they aren’t impacted by issues like these. “Untracked vehicle maintenance will eventually lead to an issue that compromises the end-customer
more per mile than it did in 2021, Croke estimates. “Shippers should be aware that the cost of diesel, tires, wages, and food at truck stops has raised base expenditures substantially," he says. “Carriers have also had to hike driver pay, and they can’t take back those increases.” For that reason, 2022 rates might look a little different than last year’s prices. “Everyone’s expenses have gone up substantially over the past six months, probably more than ever before,” explains Croke. “So don’t expect last year’s rates to be a good guide to follow.” 9 When setting goals for an organization, executives should weigh transportation prices against the service levels they expect to receive. That equation differs from company to company. Some shippers operate in a competitive market, where savings take priority. Others place a greater emphasis on service. The key for shippers is to nd a provider whose level of value matches their own. “You can nd a $58 hotel room on Travelocity,” says Parry. “You save money, but is that the room you want to stay in?” 10 One welcome change in the current market is a break from trying to secure
12 Tom Nightingale, CEO of AFS
Logistics, headquartered in Shreveport, Louisiana, recommends shippers who use a 3PL to source transportation nd one that is non-asset-based. “I say this because there are great 3PLs out in the market that are asset-based and even asset-biased,” Nightingale notes. “They have to ll their own trucks rst.” A non-asset-based 3PL, in contrast, isn’t interested in which carrier gets a load. Their only mandate is to help the customer. “It can be a true asset for a shipper,” Nightingale explains. “There’s no factoring in where the closest facility is that the 3PL owns, because they don’t own the facility.” 13 Driver shortages pose a perennial challenge for carriers. The industry
42 Inbound Logistics • September 2022
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