What Carriers Must Do to Be Poised for Success in 2017

Trucking companies will see higher rates in 2017. This may look good on the surface, but the challenges of balancing capacity against demand will likely become even steeper and more difficult to navigate. These tips will help you plan the right route to success.

Focus on Customer Relationships

At a time when rates are rising, some carriers will try to improve profits by reducing capacity. This may have the intended result to a limited extent, but in the end, it’s a formula for failure. If carriers can’t respond to their customers’ changing requirements, they’ll damage their relationships.
It’s important to be extremely fair with your customers. Just because you have an existing relationship with a customer doesn’t mean he won’t go elsewhere if he believes you’re taking advantage of him. In addition, remember that collaboration is a two-way street. Don’t hesitate to approach your customers with innovative ways to work together for your mutual benefit.
In our previously published article “Four Indicators It’s Time to Fire Your Carrier,” we spoke of the value of relationships. We noted:
“Shippers and carriers actually share many of the same major challenges today – cutting transportation costs, improving business processes and bolstering customer service are all common priorities. With a bit of creativity and collaboration, shippers and carriers can often find mutually beneficial solutions that both reduce costs and improve service.”
Such a sentiment applies as much or more in 2017 than ever, and it’s as true for carriers as it is for shippers.

Focus on Best Practices

Rising rates give you an opportunity to grow your business, and there are many things you need to do right in order to make that happen. Two of the most important issues to address are employee retention and technology utilization.


Retaining Your Truck Drivers During Changing Times

Change is difficult for everyone. As 2017 brings changes to the industry, it’s critical that you retain your drivers to avoid the costs of hiring and training new employees. Relationships are as important here as they are with your customers.
Develop trust with your drivers to give them a stake in the company’s success. The safety, productivity and profitability of the entire fleet will benefit. Establish open communications, recognition programs and pay drivers on time.

Embracing Technology

Carriers who fail to keep up with technological advancements will fall behind in the marketplace. Logistics Management’s 25th Annual Masters of Logistics argues:
Technology must enable an integrated supply chain strategy. Future competitive advantage will belong to those companies that move from static reports with stale information to real-time, granular data with prescriptive analytics that enables them to determine the best course of action.”
The good news is that there is a growing range of technology that is available to carriers.
GPS tracking is one excellent example. With GPS tracking, a carrier can track where each truck is, what its status is and how it’s behaving. Automated systems can provide almost real-time data in one centralized dashboard. This technology can help to increase productivity and reduce labor and fuel costs. The result will be improved customer service.
Route mapping is another excellent technology that can help carriers set routes and define new routes as road conditions change.
In short, those transportation organizations that successfully incorporate current and next-generation technology into their operations will be poised to become masters of logistics.
The outlook for 2017 in the trucking industry forecasts change, and smart carriers will do whatever is necessary to achieve success. That success will come to carriers that find mutually beneficial ways to deepen customer relationships and focus on employing operational best practices to reduce costs and increase profitability and customer satisfaction.
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