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Opinion: How to Choose the Right Carrier

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2/18/2011 8:00:00 AM

By Ronald Marx
Vice President
Skyline Freight

This Opinion piece appears in the Feb. 14 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

The recession that began in 2008 was the deepest since the Great Depression of the 1930s. As that recession continues to abate, the trucking industry faces rapid changes and a shortage of qualified drivers. During this transition time, trucking customers must be proactive, rather than passive spectators. For them, selecting the right trucker to move their freight is a critical imperative.

The carrier responsible for a shipment, whether it’s a full truckload or less-than-truckload haul, has an enormous responsibility. How that company moves a shipper’s freight not only means the difference between a satisfied customer and an unhappy one, but also between effective distribution of products or careless, wasteful handling of them.

For shippers, ultimately, their choice of carrier will be translated either into greater company profitability — or a balance sheet splattered with red ink.

I speak from experience as a trucker who for many years has sat across the table from many shippers, ranging in size from large, multinational companies to small, local businesses. I have found there are distinct parameters in negotiations that, if adhered to, will benefit both the shipper and the carrier.

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If you are a shipper, the following guidelines are for you. If you sit on the other side of the table and run a trucking operation, use them to acquaint you and your employees with what your customers want from a carrier, making sure that, when you negotiate with a shipper, all the important points are covered.

As a shipper entering negotiations with a trucking firm, begin by analyzing your own transportation procedures and determining your requirements. Ask yourself these questions:

• I’ve used trucking in the past. What was the rationale for using these road warriors, and are those reasons still pertinent?

• How many shipments will the carrier be handling?

• Will these shipments be full truckload or less-than-truckload?

• Do my shipments primarily move short distances or across the continent?

• Does my freight consist of high-density or lightweight cargo?

© 2010, Transport Topics Publishing Group. All rights reserved.


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