Solidifying Your Carrier Network

Manufacturers no doubt deeply understand the value of a trusted carrier network that provides a predictable and reliable means of transporting shipments to the customer. Shippers have become more selective in designing their network due to the events of the past two years, but a lingering question remains: how do manufacturers solidify their carrier networks? It is a great challenge to hire these carriers on your own, so here are some strategies businesses can utilize to solidify their carrier network.

There Are Too Many Carriers

One of the most common issues for shippers is: which carrier is the right one? There is no doubt that finding a carrier to help solidify your network will not be an easy task. This is not a step that is to be taken lightly or simply pushed off to a freight broker. Performing due diligence by reviewing carrier websites, talking to their customers and conducting research will go a long way in ensuring that you partner with the carrier that is right for your business. Pay attention to word of mouth as well since many of the best business relationships are created when great companies are paired with other great companies.

Too Much to Manage

When building a carrier network there’s always a chance that you may never encounter some carriers again and with the paperwork involved in contracts, insurance and other variables it can be too much to manage at times. While it may be tempting to use a broker to negotiate with these carriers, developing a long term relationship will be far more advantageous for your business since you won’t have to constantly ‘reevaluate’ the carriers your broker brings you. You will also develop an understanding of the nuances each carrier offers your business as well as determine the predictability these relationships offer your business. When you only work with a broker, you are at the mercy of market forces rather than being proactive in the development and optimization of your supply chain. Companies that have taken the time to solidify their carrier network have proven to be more resilient and can rely on that network no matter what happens.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the value of solidifying your carrier network. The value we provide to our customers is the insulation from uncertainties during times of duress as well as providing options to our customers at a time when they need them most. We specialize in unique freight that must be treated with care and optimizing these shipments on behalf of our customers, creating an experience unlike any other. We pride ourselves in creating a vibrant experience for our customers, which is why we maintain a 99% satisfaction rating with the businesses we partner with. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

The Value of Carriers

Over the past few years, carriers have been at the forefront of solving every logistics issue imaginable for their customers. Since spot market rates on freight load boards have increased, it has been proven that the search for cut rate service and hopping to the lowest priced carrier is a losing strategy. Focusing too much on cost cutting has become a death sentence for many companies that have attempted to navigate the current supply chain environment, since carriers have been forced to increase their prices due to capacity, lack of drivers, fuel and even issues relating to the unavailability of trailers and trucks. 

While in theory logistics possesses relatively few barriers to entry, many trucking companies were started with one individual, a truck and a CDL license. The resulting oversupply from the previous decade has caused many companies to in essence neglect their extremely crucial supply chain responsibilities because they believe that somebody else will be able to ‘handle the deliveries.’ However, with our current situation, logistics is becoming a more specialized field with its own challenges and expertise. Expecting bottom rates at the expense of the carrier will only result in a lack of a business relationship in a field that is quickly becoming more specialized.

It is important to see that this issue will not be solved on the carrier side alone. While it is becoming easier to acquire a CDL license, driving a truck is still not a field overflowing with new entrants at the current time. The lack of available trucks and trailers also tightens the supply chain, which means the best option to consider is the optimization of freight. Optimizing freight allows for carriers to work together in getting shipments to their destination on time. Many carriers are willing to work together in this endeavor, but we also need shippers to consider this as an option when developing their supply chain strategy.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of providing value to every member of the supply chain. We’re also the pioneers in developing optimization strategies for all of our customer’s freight, ensuring that every shipment will arrive undamaged and on time. We coordinate pickup and delivery times for shippers and customers, at a time that works best for everyone. We’ll work with you to solve all of your shipping challenges and no matter what challenge you’re facing, we have a custom carrier solution that will meet your needs, getting the shipment to the customer on time and undamaged. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Supply Chain Resilience by Expecting the Unexpected

Expecting the unexpected has become a cornerstone of the logistics and supply chain playbook over the past few years. There’s good reason to believe this since there have been so many curve balls thrown into the American supply chain. The cumulative effect of these curveballs has resulted in congestion, backups, increased costs (material and shipping) and an assortment of challenges manufacturers face related to production. While nobody could have predicted the challenges we face, we can all agree that learning to expect the unexpected will create a more resilient supply chain and help build stronger companies.

The question becomes: how do we expect the unexpected? One of the key ways manufacturers can prepare for the unexpected is by working with a localized carrier that specializes in the regions where they primarily conduct business. Localized carriers with a regional focus will understand the variables that can delay a shipment such as weather patterns, highway construction and a myriad of others that can prevent getting your shipment to its destination on time. By asking these carriers “what happens when…?” will give you an idea of how prepared they are as well as providing you with the basic ideas for your own contingency plans.

Speaking of which, another way of expecting the unexpected is by developing contingency plans with every member of your supply chain. Opening all communication channels and utilizing the spirit of cooperation with every member of the supply chain allows for innovative solutions to come to the surface. When ideas are being shared, discoveries will inevitably arise. For example, your carrier may know a business that can manufacture a part your company needs or you discover a process that you want incorporated into your own organization. Keeping communication channels open at all times helps keep the supply chain running smoothly and ensures supply chain resilience.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand what it means to expect the unexpected. Our team is always in constant communication with every member of the supply chain because we schedule pickup and drop off for every shipment we handle. If anything changes we notify customers with a phone call so you always know what is happening with your shipments while they’re in our care. Our understanding of the regional market that we serve combined with our cooperative problem solving spirit offers you a vast array of options that will solve all of your logistical needs through our custom carrier solutions. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Load Boards & Supply Chain Constriction

Every carrier relies on what are called ‘load boards’ (sometimes called freight boards) which is an online marketplace where carriers, certain shippers and brokers can post and search for loads in order to keep freight moving. However due to the economic forces we’re witnessing, these rate boards are accelerating a critical trend that could cause severe ramifications to shippers and carriers alike.

What the industry is seeing is the continual rise in rates due to a high demand for shipping goods constricted by a limited number of carriers able to fulfill the demand. If for whatever reason a carrier is unable to get to a shipment, then the shipper will need to pay more to entice a carrier to pick their shipment up. This in turn creates a vicious cycle of rates ‘never going down’ and in some cases, have caused rates to double from what they were a year ago.

On the one hand, it’s great to see how valuable carriers have become. However the rate boards are creating a ‘free for all’ mentality in an effort to get the best rate on any given shipment. It is understandable why carriers behave this way, but in the end everyone will get hurt. Carriers will be hurt because these rate boards are causing logistics providers to be perceived as a commodity service, with no intrinsic value. Shippers are forced to pay higher prices (sometimes double!) to guarantee a shipment, which erases their margins and makes it difficult for them to create more products in the long run. Finally, this situation hurts the customer, who is forced to wait for shipments to arrive, creating artificial delays and their dissatisfaction with everyone involved.

So how is this problem solved? The answer lies in shipment optimization. Many if not most of the shipments on these rate boards are marked as ‘full truckload’ when in truth they’re actually ‘partial truckload.’ This is an industry-created problem, one that carriers can work together to solve. Many carriers have proven ready and willing to optimize shipments since it can be done in every company’s best interest. As we become more effective in optimizing shipments, we’ll manage to create a win-win situation for every member of the supply chain. 

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of collaboration. Our goal is to create a win-win solution for every member of the supply chain while ensuring that every shipment arrives undamaged and on time. We’re here to create a more sustainable supply chain and we need the help of other carriers in order to do it. Together we can create a better supply chain and present solutions to our customers during a time when they need it most. If shippers would like to see these solutions for themselves, start today with Zip Xpress!

Optimized Shipments & Carrier Collaboration

The driver shortage is one of the critical factors carriers face today. Many licensed CDL drivers are nearing retirement and there are not enough replacement drivers as of yet. By the age of 21 when individuals can train for their CDL, many of them have already ‘started’ their career and likely wouldn’t consider truck driving as a replacement. This has been one of the great ongoing struggles these past few years and it’s difficult to tell just how short of drivers the sector is experiencing. Yet shipping prices continue to rise as truckloads are being filled at a record pace. Customers want their shipments to continue, but there are only so many drivers available to deliver them. Reform will have to come to alleviate the driver situation, but for the time being, there is a short-term solution available to carriers who are willing to collaborate with other carriers in search of a win-win proposition.

This solution lies in shipment optimization. One of the startling trends we’ve seen in our 20 years in operation is the number of shipments where a customer orders a ‘full truckload’ but the shipment takes up only a small portion of the trailer. Now the reason this occurs is understandable. Customers want to ensure their products don’t get damaged or they want to secure their place with a carrier and get the product to the customer. However, we are reaching a point where shipments are becoming very expensive and the race to secure space within a trailer is tightening faster than ever. A willingness to have shipments optimized will help ease the congestion everyone is facing before customers begin to see their orders delayed.

It has been our experience that optimization like this is very easy to implement among carriers. Every logistics company in the sector understands the driver shortage and many are willing to work together in a collaborative effort of optimizing shipments. It’s rare that a carrier will turn down satisfying a customer, even if that customer is another logistics company. Everyone is working hard to ensure deliveries are made on time, but the more we can bring awareness to optimizing shipments, the easier it will be to get through the capacity crunch we’re facing and bring a win-win for everyone involved in the supply chain.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of optimizing shipments. Our entire business model has been built around this philosophy, on reducing the empty space of our trailers. Our customers are delighted that we have found such methods and time and time again we’ve worked with carriers who feel the same way we do. These methods are our custom carrier solutions and we’re doing everything we can to ensure our customers’ shipments arrive on time and undamaged. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

West Michigan Shipping

6 Reasons to Select a Custom Carrier Instead of a 3PL Provider

Your company’s reputation and prosperity hinge upon your ability to deliver your products swiftly and accurately. With the expertise of an accomplished custom carrier, you will increase your percentage of timely deliveries while conserving costs and resources. Below are six strategies to help you find the right custom carrier for your business.

1) Seek a well-connected carrier that can add value to your business. Choosing a custom carrier that can offer innovative solutions is vital to helping your company grow. As you compare potential partners, ask them about the technology they use to increase delivery efficiency and accuracy while controlling costs for clients. Top custom carriers will be eager to share their strategies for efficiency.

2) Ask potential providers how they can help you consolidate your shipments. This strategy will help your company maximize time, resources, and profit margin. In addition to preventing loading dock congestion, you can save on fuel charges and other shipping costs.

3) Select a custom carrier with a desirable location. Before committing to a carrier, take a look at your customer base to determine whether your customers are concentrated in a particular area of the country. Also, if you have customers in Canada or other countries, you should ensure that you choose a carrier with a location in the northern region of the United States to facilitate shipments.

4) Choose a carrier who will listen to your goals and objectives. Selecting a partner who is interested in helping you achieve your goals is critical. The custom carrier you seek should be readily accessible and responsive to your requests.

5) Be sure to provide sufficient information when requesting an estimate. This measure helps to ensure that you are comparing apples to apples when evaluating carriers. For instance, if a customer requires lift-gate and inside delivery before 3:00 P.M., be sure to note this on your request.

6) Ensure that your custom carrier has the scalability to handle future growth. As you evaluate potential carriers, be sure to outline your plans for future growth and confirm that prospective partners have the resources to grow alongside your company.

The Bottom Line

Finding a trusted custom carrier for your business is the key to minimizing delivery errors and optimizing customer satisfaction. At Zip Xpress, we think that every customer deserves to receive their orders safely, securely, and ahead of schedule. In addition to offering scalability, freight consolidation, and personalized service, Zip Xpress offers a plethora of solutions designed to facilitate delivery of your orders quickly and efficiently. We encourage you to contact our team of industry experts to learn why Zip Xpress is Michigan’s top provider of custom carrier solutions.

zip xpress

You Can Have Your 3PL and Good Service, Too

For Companies Opting for a Broker, Zip Xpress Has a Solution

We have seen the best and worst of it when it comes to brokered shipping relationships.

In recent years, lots of companies out there have stopped trying to be their own shippers and have turned over the entire process to a Third Party Logistics provider.

All fine and dandy when it works well.

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