How to Become a Shipper of Choice

Mar 31, 2021


When capacity gets tight, shippers get religion about becoming a “shipper of choice”. After all, it’s axiomatic: Shippers of choice get more capacity!

So it is not too surprising that in several conversations with shippers I’ve noticed two questions which keep popping up. What does it mean to be a "shipper of choice" and how can a company become a shipper of choice?

With respect to the first question, I encourage you to listen to this interview we conducted a couple of years ago with Dave Venberg, who at the time was the Director of Transportation and Logistics at Ardent Mills. In the interview Dave highlights the journey to how Ardent Mills became a shipper of choice.

With respect to the second question, Dave shares some things that really are best practices for companies who want to be shippers of choice. With that thought in mind, if you want your company to be a shipper of choice, here are three things you need to know and start doing today…or ideally yesterday!

Know How Carriers View Your Business

First, you need to understand how your carriers see your business. One great way to do that is to send them our Carrier Yield Test worksheet and ask them to complete it. At the end of this process you’ll have a better idea of the conditions you’re asking your carriers to operate under.

Be a Good Steward of Carrier Assets and Know What’s Happening at Your Docks

I’ve interviewed the CEOs of several major LTL and truckload carriers and every one of them agree: Shippers need to be a better steward of the carriers' assets, namely their equipment and their drivers. What happens at your docks is extremely important. Do you know how much time it takes to load/unload trucks and also, how well the driver is being treated? Also, it is very important to recognize that the carriers are not just considering what happens at your docks, but also what happens at your customers’ or suppliers’ docks.

After you find out what’s happening, make the changes necessary to be a better steward. As you do this, recognize that COVID has caused lots of changes over the last year. If you’re not spending more time than before finding out what’s really happening in this critical, but often overlooked part of the supply chain, start now!

Know the Impact of Your Internal Operations

The relationship you have with your carriers starts with how you source capacity. While concentrating volumes with certain carriers may have paid off in the past, not all carriers view that favorably now. As Greg Orr, the CEO of CFI, shared on our panel discussion at the Journal of Commerce’s TPM Conference, every major carrier is assessing how well your freight fits in their network. It is also important to recognize that carriers can serve you better by having you provide a longer lead time in tendering freight to them. Take the time to learn what your carriers care about now and source accordingly.

If you need help identifying areas where you can become a better shipper of choice, we encourage you to take advantage of our Rapid Assessment process.