Expedite Freight: What you need to know when selecting a service provider.
Updated: Sep 17, 2020
With only one percent of all transportation being expedited in an industry how does a company compete? We see the mode exploding from current and new companies stepping into the space offering expedite solutions. Large box brokerage firms stepping across the line of standard truckloads and LTL to offering final mile and white glove services. Many new companies are also entering the space due to DOT regulations of electronic logbook requirements. Even with the piece of the expedite pie holding only 1% that is still very large for a $796.6 billion dollar industry meaning companies want to capitalize on that additional revenue.
What does this mean to the mode of expedite? It means confusion and distrust to shippers. How do they know who to select as their choice as an expedited service provider? What are the signs to look for when selecting a broker or carrier to handle your niche, critical shipments?
How many services do they provide?
Many companies want to be able to step into a space and grab a little piece of the pie. Why not? They see it as they already have the relationship with the shipper so why not push all modes and capitalize on every dollar possible with a customer. It makes sense. Does it though? When you visit a buffet restaurant are you expecting your steak to be perfect? When you are searching for a custom made gift for a loved one are you heading to Walmart? Typically, the answer is no. You will seek a steak house that is known for their prime rib or sign on to Etsy for your custom made gift. There should be no difference when working with service providers. How can one expect a service provider to execute at the best ability when all of their listed services are not their core strengths.
What industry spaces is the service provider currently working in?
With the amounts of commodities being transported, it is important to investigate where your service provider is strong. With federal regulations and requirements in foods, tobacco, alcohol, batteries, and electronics many commodities need to be handled very differently. Do not be afraid to ask the service provider where they are within the industry on commodities. Ask for references of other customers they are working with along with data on how many shipments they have handled within your commodity.
A service provider with a customer base that is handling 90% mail is not going to be a good selection with a store fixture delivery requiring white glove services. A true transportation provider would be elated to provide this information as they will see that you are serious about creating relationships with carriers/brokerages within their core commodity space.
What is their ratio of tech vs human?
Let's face it, this is a world of evolve or die. We are seeing this with manufacturers, retailers, and service providers. This is an important part of partner selection as time and ease of use is valuable to an organization. It needs to be known on what the service provider brings to the table with efficiencies for a shipper. Yet, on the other side when an answer is needed or a solution is to be crafted how can the service provider take charge and execute and communicate.
Technology can only go so far with solution providing, it can enhance a customer service experience and also hinder one. It is important to recognize that there needs to be a balance within tech vs human interaction. Capacity being available immediately by clicking a "go" button to have a truck dispatched means nothing when you cannot get a resolution on a broken down unit at 3 am. Ask your service provider what value adds they are bringing to the table with technology efficiencies and how they offer solid customer service and conflict resolution.
What are their procedures with niche shipments?
Unfortunately, dishonesty is a common occurrence in the transportation field. It is a leading factor for shippers to have to select a new service provider, yet it can be very difficult for shippers entrust a new provider with critical shipments! How can a shipper give a new provider a "shot" with a product that can potentially shut down a production line? With a lot of companies selling every service, how does one honestly know if niche service shipments are really the provider's specialty?
Ask the provider to supply their written procedures of how they handle their niche service offering. If a provider is true to their field and their mode, they will have written detailed operational procedures that they can share immediately. What a documented process does is show the values of a corporation. It gives a small insight to the leadership and management of the organization and how they value the operations of moving a niche product/service.
What are the company leaders' backgrounds and time of experience within the expedited field?
There is a notion that there is an ability to make larger margins with expedite shipments. It makes it very enticing for newcomers to want to flock to this mode. If you are in this field, you will see that this appears to be true when look at a net profit of an order. If you dig deeper you will quickly see that is not true when you drop down to the bottom of a P&L. The gross profits are the same as a standard operating company in any mode due to increased staffing to handle the influx of quotes, 24-7 coverage and required higher levels of experience in the field. Strong expedite providers typically have higher insurance premiums for coverage on high-value shipments. Strong providers will spend company dollars to ensure that their customer is satisfied as best they can to create a solution for a service issue, they put their customer first. Newcomers tend to get in over their heads and have challenges offering the services they professed they could trusted with.
We all have heard the term, "things start at the top". The leadership and executive teams experience is critical in the selection process. If the leaders do not have the experience or knowledge needed to be a strong value provider, how will their employees? Look at the company owners or the management teams experience levels, this information is very accessible with tools such as LinkedIn. When hosting an in house meeting with the provider invite the management or company leaders to attend and ask questions on their background within the field. It does start at the top.
To learn more about the author please visit www.candorexp.com or to schedule a consultation for your company on evaluating your expedited needs please contact Candor Expedite, Inc. 630.480.6798. Candor Expedite is a woman owned and operated expedite service provider specializing in hotshot ground shipments as well as white glove services nationwide.Focused on service and communication to ensure satisfaction on every shipment handled.