Shifting Into Agility for West Michigan Businesses

For years the focus of many businesses has been on keeping costs down and staying as lean as possible with small work forces, minimal suppliers, low inventories and a responsive supply chain strategy. While this may have worked in the past and has had its merits, we’re quickly approaching a time where cut-rate service isn’t going to work anymore. American supply chains have proven that they need to become more resilient in the face of snarls on multiple fronts. It’s time to put our focus on developing a more agile supply chain that can handle the challenges ahead of us.

One of the areas businesses have focused on is ordering more inventory and storing it within their warehouses. This allows the business to have more control over their inventory levels and ship when needed, but unless they have a specific production plan in place, it’s hard for companies to find that ‘just right’ inventory level. Becoming lean is more of a focus on flexibility as well as agility. It is not about keeping costs low to the ground, but working with supply chain partners that can provide information and the solutions you need to get your products to the customer on time and undamaged.

Another area to work on in becoming more agile is constant communication across the supply chain. Agility is built on quick and efficient communication. The faster (and more often) companies communicate with each other, the more flexibility both bring to the table when it comes to getting shipments to their destination on time and undamaged. Communication through phone calls offers real time adjustments – whether those for changing pickup/delivery times or production schedules. Communication helps build trust because a customer knows that setbacks can and will happen with their shipments. However customers grow frustrated when they’re left in the dark and face a setback without knowing what’s really happening to their shipments. They paid for them, they want to know when they’ll receive them. Developing an agile supply chain will help businesses stay competitive across West Michigan, keeping us at the cutting edge of what’s to come.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of bringing agility to the West Michigan supply chain. We help all of our customers in developing means and methods of improving their supply chains, growing their business through consistent and reliable shipment practices. We keep communication lines open all the time. Here at Zip Xpress, if you give us a call you will speak with a person, never an answering machine. We provide constant updates on where shipments are and when to expect them with your customers and our friendly drivers will also greet them with a smile. We help businesses by providing the right custom carrier solutions which help companies overcome whatever challenges they’re facing. All of these put together explain why we maintain a 99% satisfaction rating with all of our customers. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Planning and Patience Are Key

There are no shortage of challenges when it comes to making and shipping your products to your customers. While capacity challenges are lifting, there are still many other challenges to overcome such as labor, prices of materials, fuel prices and other costs associated with doing business. Yet as we all know, there will always be challenges when it comes to shipping, but the keys to navigating those challenges will always be the same: planning and patience.

One of the best places to start in overcoming these shipping challenges is by developing a production plan for your products. While it is not an easy process, the ability to map out your production, your materials, suppliers, costs, etc. allows you to have a full understanding of what you need when you need it. Developing this production plan allows you to prepare and be proactive when placing orders for materials, and can help hedge against rising costs. This ability to plan is also relevant with your shipping strategy because when goods are consistent in their arrival, it becomes that much easier to develop this production plan.

By working closely with a trusted carrier in the development and execution of your production plan, you can create more predictability with sales and deliveries of your products, which will help create trust with your customers. As you work with your stakeholders to develop this production plan and learn what their challenges are, you’ll build trust with them as well where you can lean on them when you need them most. Taking this measured approach, remaining calm and creating a production plan that you can stick to will help you take control of your business and prepare you for any challenge, regardless of the circumstances. 

Here at Zip Xpress, we are committed to planning and patience when it comes to customer success. We develop a number of options for all of our customers that helps enhance their production plan and keeps their customers happy with deliveries on time and undamaged. It doesn’t matter what obstacles you’re facing, we’re here to help succeed and we have a custom carrier solution that will help you. It’s why we have a 99% retention rate with our delightful customers. Want to see for yourself? Then start today with Zip Xpress!

Staying Sustainable

While sustainability was not likely at the top of everyone’s mind over the past few years, it is still a vitally important focus for many businesses. As companies work to retool their supply chains, sustainability is more important than ever since keeping control of costs is vital, along with reducing and reusing materials used to create finished products. Our goal remains to be one of the most sustainable carriers in the nation and we accomplish this through two primary strategies: reduction in the amount of packaging each customer uses and reduction in fuel consumption & emissions through shipment optimization.

Reduced Packaging

While many inroads have been made in developing sustainable packaging and recycled cardboard technologies show a lot of promise, we believe that the most sustainable packaging is: none. While it may seem counterintuitive, we’re one of the only carriers that actually discourages their customers from using packaging when shipping their products. While on the surface it may also seem as though it would be too difficult to ship without packaging, we’re willing and able to show customers how they can ship without unnecessary packaging. This minimal approach reduces waste in ways many wouldn’t believe, and while it may seem like not everything can be shipped without packaging, we’re always willing to try.

Reduced Fuel Consumption

When shipments are optimized, there is a reduction in the number of trucks hauling empty trailers on the road. As a result, there is less fuel consumption as well as a reduction in the needed repairs on our nation’s highways from extra wear and tear. At a time when diesel prices are reaching all-time highs, reduced fuel consumption is a great relief and we’ll likely see a rise in optimized shipments in the near future. As of this writing, too many shipments marked ‘full trailer’ don’t occupy a full trailer and our process in reducing the amount of wasted space in a trailer is one of the most sustainable practices in the logistics industry.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of staying sustainable. Sustainability has always been and will continue to be one of our core values as a company. We advise and assist all of our customers in how they can make their supply chain more sustainable, while also leading by example. We provide proof to every one of our customers of these sustainability efforts with a carbon summary report which shows the reduction in CO2 emissions by selecting Zip Xpress as their carrier for their shipments. Not many other carriers can say the same. To see how you can become more sustainable, start today with Zip Xpress!

A Carrier that Cares

One of the values that we have worked our hardest to cultivate here at Zip Xpress is caring. Our aspiration is that every one of our stakeholders knows that we care for them and will do whatever it takes to make them successful. We know that there are few other companies doing the same thing. With everyone rushing to fulfill orders, it can take a toll. Customers and employees become treated as dispensable and that is unacceptable to us. Our goal is to create a higher standard, first for ourselves and then for the industry as a whole. 

When it comes to our customers, we show we care by providing a remarkable shipping experience. We want all of our customers to feel like their shipments were handled with proper care and attention. We go the extra mile with our blanket wrap and headload solutions, providing additional protection and minimizing the handling of every shipment. We also ensure that every customer can get a hold of us through the phone. Here at Zip Xpress, you will always speak with a person, never an answering machine and everyone is willing to pitch in with whatever you need. We schedule pickups and deliveries with both you and your customers, working on a schedule that works for you. This takes a lot of guesswork out of the process, and makes shipping simpler for you. Finally, no matter what problems you’re facing, we’ll find a custom carrier solution that works for you and your business. We will get your shipment to its destination on time and undamaged. Period.

For our staff, we strive to meet all of their needs by creating a supportive, welcoming environment where everyone is treated with the utmost respect. Everyone within Zip Xpress plays an important role and you will be greeted with warmth every time you come to work. All ideas are welcome when it comes to solving problems, because we know that everyone has a great idea to contribute. Our systems and processes were designed with our associates in mind, to make their lives easier, more efficient and help them become more effective supply chain specialists. We also maintain a very clean campus, one that associates can take pride in because they all pitch in to keep it clean. Nobody should be forced to work around clutter and we believe our associates deserve a work environment that is efficient, clean and precise. Finally our dedication to service will leave you feeling that everyone cares about you, as much as we care about the customers we serve.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of caring. Whether it’s for our employees or our customers, we care deeply about all of our stakeholders. We don’t do this for accolades or recognition, we do this because it’s the right thing to do. When you strive for excellence, you must dedicate yourself to those who make it all possible. Whether you’re looking for a dynamic place to work in a field that holds limitless opportunities, or you’re looking to make sure your next shipment arrives on time and undamaged, Zip Xpress can help you. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

How a Trusted Carrier Help Can Grow Your Business

As manufacturers secure more inventory and prepare for the coming months of production, they are no doubt preparing for new seasons of growth for their business. The past few years have also proven that a trusted carrier is not simply a support function for the business, but a true partner that can help grow the company and has a vested interest in your success. 

One way carriers help grow a shipper’s business is by ensuring that shipments arrive on time and undamaged. This helps build trust with customers since they will receive their shipments when they’re expecting them, which helps build trust. Reliability and predictability is at a premium right now and customers who receive their orders on time are far more likely to order from the same company again.

Another way carriers can create growth is by helping their customers understand and assist with procurement & demand forecasting for production. All of these activities hit hard on the bottom line and a lack of preparation in these areas can cause costs to spin out of control very quickly. On top of that, there is a vast amount of ‘form management’ that it’s best to let supply chain specialists handle, especially in regional logistics. Working with a trusted carrier will reduce costs and the time spent from your team trying to ‘figure out’ those forms and forecasts. 

The final area a carrier can help with growth is to assist in developing your sourcing strategies  which can also have a primary benefit to your business by finding better quality materials for your products. Different suppliers may even develop an innovative design that makes your products function better. Both of these activities lead to real growth, something that you would never have found anywhere else. These relationships are crucial in helping your business grow, no matter what the circumstances may be.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of helping our customers grow their business. We establish a dynamic relationship with our customers and their customers, scheduling pickup and delivery on a timetable that works for everyone involved. Our friendly drivers are also key in creating that crucial interaction that builds trust with our customers. We also dedicate ourselves to solving all of your complex problems and no matter the circumstances, we have a custom carrier solution that will help grow your business. Want to see for yourself? Then start today with Zip Xpress!

Supply Chain Professional Development

If there was ever a field that offers remarkable opportunities for a successful and rewarding career, that would be a career in the logistics field. As supply chain management becomes more and more specialized, professionals of all ages will find a plethora of opportunities available to them when it comes to developing their career. Here we offer a few key skills that are crucial for success in this field – no matter your position in the field.

Problem Solving

Whether a customer’s problems involve how to get a shipment to its destination on time and undamaged, how to pack a trailer effectively, or assisting with a localized sourcing plan, there is no shortage of problem solving opportunities available. The best problem solvers approach this with the customer in mind, providing them with the best possible solutions to their problems. Collaboration is also an invaluable skill involved in problem solving since multiple ideas can help find the best solution. 

Communication

Communication skills are vital to success in the logistics field. Being able to communicate with customers about successes, delays, and difficulties is crucial in building a relationship with every member of the supply chain. Logistics is a field that is built upon relationships and honesty is a central component to those relationships. If companies cannot trust one another, then the supply chain can fall apart. It is never worth covering up with a white lie. Trust is far too valuable when it comes to managing a customer’s shipments.

Innovation

While some say that innovation cannot be taught, we believe otherwise. Innovation is not always about technological improvements. Sometimes innovation involves developing ways of helping the customer, creating more efficient processes or ways to keep the campus clean. Technology helps, but it’s not the only means of improving a company. Focusing on helping customers, drivers and other members of the organization is just as, if not more valuable in the long run. Innovation is about making things better for an organization and creating a dynamic work environment for everyone.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of professional development. While the outlined skills above may seem cliche, their importance cannot be overstated. These are all skills that can be learned and developed by every member of the organization, showing that everyone can contribute to our value as a company. These skills are an ongoing process of development here at Zip Xpress and it’s why we’re able to maintain a 99% satisfaction rate with all of our customers and focus on creating an exceptional company culture. If you know someone who wants to further their career in the logistics industry, please let us know. To see how our incredible employees can create a custom carrier solution that is right for your business, start today with Zip Xpress!

Headload Optimization: The Ideal Shipping Solution

As rejection rates begin shifting in favor of shippers, these businesses will find themselves having a surplus of options when it comes to selecting their carrier of choice for future shipments. Yet for all of these options, shippers will still have to navigate a field of fuel prices, individual carrier capacity and driver capacity. Businesses will need to continue evaluating their shipping solutions to determine the best fit for them.

While on the face, it would seem that hiring a carrier for a full truckload shipment is the best option for a lot of companies, there is the hidden cost of wasted fuel and at a time with record high fuel prices, this is a strategy with diminishing returns. Companies will be forced to raise prices just to keep buying fuel if they wish to stay in business. Procuring a full truckload when you don’t need a full truckload of freight also contributes to tightening capacity, which has made load board prices skyrocket over the past few years. It’s difficult to exactly how much availability exists for full truckloads for the foreseeable future.

Less than truckload (LTL) is an alternative strategy for shipping your goods, however this strategy can be very expensive since this can oftentimes cost as much (if not more) than a full truckload depending on the carrier. There are also numerous other nuances associated with LTL, such as tariffs that can make managing a shipment difficult for a shipper. For most other carriers, there is excessive handling involved, which increases the chance of damaging shipments. Fortunately, there is a solution we’ve created that has always proven to be one of the best options in getting shipments to their destination on time and undamaged.

We here at Zip Xpress utilize the Headload Optimization Solution. With this solution companies only pay for the space they use in the trailer. We’re also able to coordinate your shipments with your customer and develop a shipping schedule that works for your business. Our shipment delivery schedules can also tell you exactly when your shipment will be delivered so you will always know when to expect delivery. Finally, our model reduces the handling of all shipments by 75% or more, which dramatically reduces any chance of your shipments being damaged under our care. Taken together, this offers shippers the best of all worlds as they navigate capacity challenges to get their shipments to their destination.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of creating solutions for all of the shippers we have the privilege of working with. Our headload solution is one of our primary solutions, however we can provide blanket wrap, expedited services or any number of other solutions as well. No matter what problems you’re facing, we have a custom carrier solution that will work for your business. Our experience in optimizing shipments spans over 20 years and has earned us a 99% satisfaction rating from all of our customers. Want to see for yourself? Then start today with Zip Xpress!

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!

Strengthening West Michigan’s Supply Chain

The past few years have shown all of us how one impact in our supply chains can have a domino effect, even here in West Michigan. Everyone is working hard to put the pieces of their supply chains back together, whether that’s working with suppliers to find new sources of raw materials, or developing new inventory management systems. West Michigan businesses will face many challenges, but here are a few areas businesses can review when working to strengthen their supply chains.

Identify Weak Spots to Improve Workflows

If you have not done so already, it is vital to review your supply chain and any weak spots in an effort to improve workflows. Investing time and resources into updating (or sometimes creating) processes to make your business more effective pays dividends in the long run. You can also determine which inventory strategies work best for your business as well as reviewing suppliers of crucial parts and materials. These efforts in taking steps to limit disruptions will make your business more resilient in an environment where reliability is now a competitive advantage.

Multiple Contingency Plans

Every business leader knows the value of a good contingency plan, however there are times when you don’t need just a Plan B, but also a Plan C & D. Working with your supply chain partners to develop these contingency plans will help you and your stakeholders feel more secure in your decisions and ability to move forward. It’s also vital to recognize that such contingency plans are developed on an ongoing basis since there are so many variables that can change on a dime. As you assess your sourcing strategy and develop plans based on customer demands, you can become proactive by determining what you need, when you need it and place your orders accordingly.

Closer Collaboration

The last area that deserves attention in overcoming supply chain fragility in West Michigan is communication and collaboration. Since there are so many links in the supply chain, it is important to develop a communication plan with everyone involved as well as developing a vision that everyone can share. Making phone calls and discussing how companies can work together in the long run will also reduce the ‘reactive’ state that so many businesses hate being in. Collaboration across the supply chain is a proven strategy in building supply chain resilience, because when you know your supply chain is there for you, you can proceed with confidence.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of overcoming supply chain fragility here in West Michigan. We work alongside all of our customers, developing the custom carrier solutions that solve any problem they’re up against. Our dedication to servicing you and your customers is unparalleled, since we call everyone to determine pickup and delivery times that work for both sides. Our careful handling of your shipments means that they will arrive on time and undamaged no matter what. Our dedication to our customers is the reason why we have a 99% customer satisfaction rating with our customers and have provided 20 years of custom carrier solutions. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Deepening the Carrier and Shipper Relationship

When it comes to carrier and shipper relationships, in all too many circumstances, there is none. At least this was the case years ago before capacity tightened, which has caused shippers to search for a carrier partner of choice. However in many instances, for shippers without a carrier attempting to build a relationship in these current circumstances is likely too little too late. Companies have long memories of who was and wasn’t there for them, especially when times were tough. Yet shippers need to get their goods to customers too, so here are a few steps for shippers in need of deepening their relationship with their carrier.

One of the areas in determining a carrier that can help you is to evaluate their predictability and reliability rather than price. Getting your goods delivered to customers is top priority right now. Carriers who maintain agility and responsiveness by communicating with their customers, informing them about their orders every step of the way win the loyalty of their customers. Once you’ve found a carrier of choice that can handle your shipments, there are additional ways to deepen your relationship with them.

One area to improve relationships with carriers is by making life as easy as possible for their drivers. Respecting the driver’s time and treating them as people will speak volumes about a company, because drivers talk to one another and word gets around. If your company is disrespectful to drivers by making them wait a really long time in order to unload their shipment, word will spread and you will inevitably be in a capacity crunch. Drivers often rate companies on Google based on their wait times. The better you can treat a company’s driver, the more you’ll be appreciated.

Opening all lines of communication with your carrier is another vital means of building the relationship. Setbacks can and do occur, and when one side informs the other of such setbacks, trust is built. Open communication also signals that you’re both doing the best you can, which is all companies can ask for when dealing with one another. Open communication is also a signal of honesty with one another since neither side is trying to hide information and such honesty inevitably leads to trust in one another and a dynamic relationship. Such a relationship will help both companies flourish and happy customers that will keep wanting your business.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand what it means to be the carrier that will work with you, no matter what. We have a long history of helping customers overcome their logistical challenges and partnering with our shippers to ensure their shipments will arrive on time and undamaged, no matter what. Relationships matter more to us than anything else, as we treat every customer’s problem as one of our own. No matter what the situation is, we have a custom carrier solution that will work for your business. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!