May 02, 2018

Care and Feeding of Truckers

Becoming a ‘shipper of choice’ leads to preferred treatment from carriers. 

The balance of power at the loading dock is shifting, or rather has shifted. Shippers long accustomed to calling the shots with motor carriers, and sometimes treating drivers as second class citizens, are now in the position of competing against one another to book an available truck at a reasonable rate. Supply, in the form of tractor trailers and truck drivers, has become scarce, and is not nearly enough to quickly haul all the freight on the market.

In this new environment, savvy shippers are doing what they can to be a “shipper of choice,” a term that reflects the reality that carriers do have choices, in what has largely become a trucker’s market, reported the Journal of Commerce. So what steps should you take to keep your friendly truck driver happy?

Perhaps the most important is to keep them moving. In the new ELD, or electronic logging device era, every minute counts for a trucker. With ELDs, carriers can easily determine how much time a driver was idle at the dock. Shippers that regularly detain drivers may find it difficult to reliably schedule pickups or deliveries. Industry veterans suggest shippers consider capital expenditures on their dock operations. Ease of access, with facilities designed for big trucks’ turning radius and dockage, parking, and clear signage help drivers get in and out.

Providing basic amenities to drivers goes a long way to being a preferred shipper. No access to bathrooms is a major complaint of truckers. A break room and refreshments, which can be vending machines, help alleviate the necessity of waiting for loading or unloading. Just as with Uber, drivers now have apps to rate shippers, and check on their next stop’s policies, facilities, hazards and restrictions.

Advance notice lets carriers plan their operations, and results in a better shipping experience for all parties. Flexible hours, allowing drivers to avoid rush hour traffic, allow them to maximize the allowable 660 minutes being tracked by their ELD. Avoiding surprises, and paying bills promptly, will cause your carriers to hang on tightly to you as a customer.

Kirk Shearer
President & COO
(973) 726-2103

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