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How to Become a Preferred Shipper

To be a preferred shipper, shippers will have to ensure the shipment and shipper characteristics are aligned to a driver’s interests, while hoping the shipment receiver also maintains the status quo.

What’s in this article:

  • How to become a shipper of choice

  • Ideal shipment characteristics

  • The importance of staying on schedule

Pandemic-driven increase in demand has pushed supply chains in to overdrive. Today, it has become vital for shippers to ensure they stay in the good standings of carrier partners to continue moving freight in this tight capacity market.

For a shipper to become a ‘shipper of choice’ — a term that denotes being a preferred shipper to a carrier — there is a lot that needs to be done right. Becoming favorably aligned to a driver/carrier contracted to their business, the shipper characteristics need to be on point. This includes but not limited to being flexible and adaptable to the needs of a driver.

Simple steps towards making a driver/carrier feel as they are an extension of their company, could be about providing the driver refreshment, an on-site bathroom break, and a place to wait while the loading and unloading process is completed. Being friendly to the driver is critical, as that would make the driver want to haul for the shipper, making the business an automatic shipper of choice.

Smooth Operations to Be A Preferred Shipper

The next important metric is the shipment characteristic. When capacity is tight and elasticity in supply chains are at breaking points, shippers are a critical part of making sure the shipment operations are kept running on schedule, helping drivers to maximize their hours of service. But shipment characteristics go beyond maintaining a schedule. For instance, even if a truck picks up the load on time, if the delivery is a midnight drop, the driver might be forced to idle at the destination—wasting precious hours of service (HoS) which in the carriers/driver’s eyes is lost revenues. Drivers have fixed HoS available every day, with idling at the destination cuts into those hours’ which then adds to current North America capacity problems and becomes a domino effect on tight capacity constraints. A common issue in a tight market that adds costs to the shipment because the driver/carrier will need to be compensated for the waiting time, which in turn, increases freight costs.

For shippers, straying out of schedule would lead them to pay for wasted driver hours, considering drivers earn by the mile. This would also be hard to budget in for shippers, bloating freight costs during times of delays in executing the shipment schedule.

For a driver, delays in the schedule will be more than just a minor inconvenience.

For a driver, delays in the schedule will be more than just a minor inconvenience. While they may be compensated, delays mean they would be late for their following appointments, which dent their reputation.  All this adds to current tight capacity constraints which increases freight costs.

While shipper and shipment characteristics are in the control of shippers, several other factors fall out of their grasp, one of which is the receiver characteristics. In some cases, the receiver might not provide a great delivery experience for the driver, prompting him to reconsider and avoid doing business with the shipper. For companies to secure a preferred shipper tag, it takes both the shipper and the receiver to stay committed to ensuring the driver has a good overall experience with hauling freight.

That said, multiple factors impact shipment movement, which lies beyond the scope of any individual stakeholder. This includes traffic bottlenecks on the route, the driver falling sick, personal issues between the driver and the receiver, equipment breakdown, and more.

Shippers Staying on Schedule

Shippers should also look to accommodate carrier/drivers in schedules that would make hauling easier, especially in the context of time windows. Providing a time window that allows drivers to head home every night or at least once every week is critical. Drivers who get home more frequently have a more favorable opinion of their shippers and tend to continue hauling for them.

In the end, shippers must understand that freight prices for the shipment could oscillate based on market conditions, the shipping environment, and pickup and delivery schedules to name a few characteristics carriers/drivers investigate when they are hauling a load. For instance, a shipment delivered in the evening will be significantly pricier than the same shipment delivered in the morning.

Ultimately, to hold on to the shipper of choice tag, shippers need to stay receptive to the needs of drivers.

Ultimately, to hold on to the shipper of choice tag, shippers need to stay receptive to the needs of drivers. Anything that helps the driver have a seamless hauling experience, minimizes waiting time, and keeps the truck continuously moving will help the shipper’s cause in being a preferred business.