How to Show a Truck Driver You Care

This week we show our appreciation to a working class of Americans who have seen us through thick and thin, keeping the shelves of our stores and businesses filled with every necessity we can possibly imagine. The American economy is built upon trucking as our primary logistical network. The importance of drivers and their contribution to keeping our economy running cannot be overstated. While many have had multiple supply chain situations to navigate, our drivers have been the bridge in getting these goods to the consumers. Let’s review some of the ways we can show our appreciation to these hard working professionals.

One way to show drivers your appreciation is to give a shoutout on social media. The logistics provider C. H. Robinson has published the hashtag #ThanksForEverythingLiterally as a way people can thank truck drivers who keep our lifestyles possible. You can also thank a driver in person if you come across one in your daily routine. Giving thanks to drivers lets them feel valued for what they have done because if you take a moment and look at all of the items around you and realize that a driver delivered them to the store or warehouse you got them from, you realize just how much drivers do for us.

Another way to show your appreciation is if you see a driver at a rest stop or a restaurant, consider paying for their food & drinks. A simple act such as this one would make anyone’s day and make a person feel appreciated. Your compassion to these drivers who are under a lot of pressure will go a long way in showing how much you appreciate them. Remember, drivers have a stressful job and are under a lot of pressure to keep moving in order to get their deliveries to their destination on time. On top of that, there is always another shipment waiting for him, so a driver’s job is rarely ‘done.’

Most of all, one of the best ways you can show appreciation to drivers is by being respectful to them while they’re on the road. Avoid cutting off semi trucks and give them the space they need to merge into traffic or change lanes. The machinery they’re driving requires a skillset and forces them to exercise caution. When drivers aren’t given the space they need it puts many people in danger because it is very easy for one of these machines to get away from a person, even if they are experienced in handling the machine. Giving drivers the space they need makes their jobs easier, helps them get to their destination on time, and keeps everyone safe.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of showing our appreciation to drivers. We do what we can to show our drivers just how important they are to us. We listen to their concerns, provide training and keep their vehicles in tip top shape, but we’re always working hard to give them their due respect. It is our hope that we can all show more appreciation to our drivers, because it’s the drivers who are the face of a logistics company. We’re forever grateful for the friendliness and can-do attitude our drivers show when they pick up & deliver every shipment that’s in our care. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

A Culture that Cares

This week we honor all of America’s labor force, including the people who have helped build this company we call Zip Xpress. It is because of these remarkable people we’ve been able to create a culture that stands out in the logistics field and a dynamic company that only keeps getting better. It’s because of the hard work and dedication to providing great service that we here at Zip Xpress are one of the few companies that can truly say we have built a culture that cares about the people both inside and outside of the company.

To build onto this culture, we naturally select candidates who have a ‘can-do’ attitude and a mentality for service towards a greater good. We want everyone here at Zip Xpress to know that we’re there for them – from our drivers, to the freight handlers, to the front office staff. Everyone here is treated with respect, because we understand that everyone’s natural strengths help make Zip a better place than it was before. We understand that skills can be taught so we seek attitude first and foremost. As a result, our office collaborates with carriers across the field and our associates work together to provide the best custom carrier solutions for your shipment while it’s in our care.

When you call our organization, there will always be a person that will answer your call, never a machine. Everyone you speak with will ask: ‘Is this something I can help you with?’ Our freight handlers will handle your shipment with the utmost care, and you won’t have to worry about damaged freight. Our drivers will provide a smile to every customer whether they’re making a pickup or a delivery. Our associates will help you by calling & scheduling these appointments, working on a timeframe that suits you best. Our business was built with the people of logistics in mind and we have always believed in the incredible value of service.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of culture, which is why we’ve worked very hard to find the best, brightest and the friendliest people to work with. Through our incredible associates we have well documented procedures for every transaction, problem solving that gets every shipment to its destination on time and undamaged and sustainability initiatives that actually work. It’s because of these people who work so hard that we can claim a 99% retention rate with all of our customers. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Fortifying Your Supply Chain

If there is one lesson we’ve all had to learn over the course of these past few years, it’s proper risk management over our supply chains. Whether you’re facing delays due to storms, worried about unscrupulous suppliers, or other risks to your business, it’s vital to take risk management seriously. Being proactive about the inherent risks to your supply chain will give you the confidence to move forward no matter what the circumstances may be. Let’s focus on some of the most important methods of risk management in your supply chain.

Flexibility is a key component of supply chain risk management, particularly in sourcing and distribution strategies. Conducting supplier audits helps ensure that your suppliers are honest and not providing you with counterfeit products as well as verifying performance against your contractual agreements. These audits can also highlight gaps in your supplier’s schedules which will provide feedback on what can/needs to be improved upon. Developing the flexibility to adapt to new sourcing and distribution strategies will provide customers with confidence in your ability to deliver orders and give you the ability to adapt as needed when circumstances change.

Improving traceability in your shipments will also help mitigate risks against your shipments since customers want to know where the shipment is at all times. Determining where and when damages occur will help ensure that steps are taken to prevent such damages from occurring again. Improving traceability can consist of multiple technologies that help you determine where your shipment is at any given time. Your carrier will be able to provide you with multiple options for tracing your shipment as well as recommendations that will work for you. As proactive as we wish to be for risk management, the question now becomes: what happens when something goes wrong?

In spite of everyone’s best efforts, things will inevitably go wrong. That’s why you must develop a well coordinated team of individuals as well as properly placed communication channels throughout your organization. Having a team in place that is able to communicate quickly and take necessary action will give your organization the ability to ensure your shipments are protected. Having your shipments protected will build trust with your customers, and provide you with peace of mind that your shipments will arrive when they need to.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of risk management for all of the shipments that are under our care. We can provide flexibility by working directly with you, your suppliers and your customers to get every shipment to its destination on time and undamaged, on the timetable that works best for you. We provide traceability by coordinating and scheduling pickup & delivery of shipments in our care and you’re able to track your shipments online through our portal anytime you need to. To see how we can help fortify your supply chain, start today with Zip Xpress!

Relationship Management of Your Supply Chain

One area of business that can always use more attention is development of relationship management. While it’s easy to overlook this as important to supply chain management, its importance as part of a strategic supply chain cannot be overstated. Why is relationship management so important? Effective relationships help prevent confusion, and they result in better service for everyone involved. In fact, 86% of business leaders believe service is just as important as the product or service they receive. Proper relationship management means going above and beyond for the people who depend upon your organization. How do we do this? The two best practices are by opening lines of communication and extending empathy.

The first step is to open lines of communication across all members of the supply chain. For some companies they may need to open lines internally and ensure that departments are aligned in supply chain goals. For others it’s opening communication with suppliers, procurement managers, transportation management and anyone else that is actively involved in getting your shipment to its customer. This opening of communication is vital to the success of your organization. By opening communication you’re eliminating a lot of ‘surprises’ that can cause delays in your shipments and frustration for your customers. 

Extending empathy to other stakeholders, especially when they’re taking steps and informing you about delays will really help you bolster the relationships with your members of the supply chain. Labor shortages are rampant, costs are on the rise, suppliers can’t receive parts or service, inclement weather all can cause delays with a shipment. Extending empathy and understanding to your stakeholders gives them breathing room, especially when they’re communicating with you any delays they’re experiencing. Many businesses are doing the best they can in their efforts to keep up with demand for their products, however delays can and do occur. Berating them for forces outside their control does not build goodwill. It only serves to create a cycle that harms everyone involved.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of great relationship management. We strive to build close relationships with all of our stakeholders, caring for their needs that help them provide dynamic service. When you call Zip Xpress, you’ll speak to a person, never a machine and there’s always someone who is able to help answer any questions you may have. We’ll work with you, your suppliers and your customers through phone calls all in an effort to get your shipment to its destination on time and undamaged, no matter what. Finally, all of our associates work together to provide you with the right custom carrier solutions that will build your business. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Stopping the ‘Fires’ in your Supply Chain

When discussing a strategic supply chain, one of the areas that many shippers feel overwhelmed by is the sense that they’re always putting out ‘fires’ in their organization. That is, solving problems that take time and attention away from creating products to be sent to your customers. Oftentimes these ‘fires’ are caused by confusion since a lack of processes and procedures can result in ‘different ways of doing things’ between associates or a lack of proper training. Both of these result in questions for management and thus fires that need to be put out.

To create a more strategic supply chain, it would be wise to create a set of processes & procedures that standardize the steps your organization takes to complete a task. When creating these processes and procedures, be sure to get everyone assigned to a particular task involved so that they can provide you with a preferred list of steps everyone can agree to. Including screenshots, pictures, lists and any other resources you deem necessary that help make these instructions crystal clear will help current associates get their tasks completed faster and provide clarity with getting all assigned tasks completed in the best way possible.

Devising processes and procedures will allow you to create a company playbook that will grant a lot of independence for your associates while also maintaining standards for your organization. Such clarity will make your supply chain operations run smoothly and in time you’ll find that there are fewer questions or operations where your input is needed. As long as you’ve provided proper input as well as documentation and the procedures are being followed, you’ll find that over time your organization will operate like a well oiled machine. You’ll find yourself spending less time putting out fires and more time building your business, a place where every founder wants to be.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of processes and procedures. Every role in our organization has a series of processes and procedures that provide clarity in how every job is done. Combine this with our focus on a positive attitude from all of our associates and we have a winning combination where we’re able to ensure that every shipment in our care will be delivered on time and undamaged. We have tested and verified all of the steps we utilize in getting your shipments to your customers, and this is one of the ways we’re able to ensure a 99% satisfaction rate with all of our customers. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Customer & Supplier Impacts on your Supply Chain

When creating your supply chain, it’s vital to remember that every activity you’re doing leads back to one road: the customer. The customer is arguably the most important member of the supply chain because without customers, nobody would be in business. Building your supply chain to satisfy your customers will allow you to source proper materials that will make your supply chain more resilient. 

How is this done? When your business endeavors to get a clear understanding of what your customers value about your business and how you differentiate yourself, you can build upon your strengths. If you’re known for building a more reliable product, then customers won’t mind if you need to source higher quality parts/materials and take a little longer to do so. The story will be different if you’re known for efficiency and cost savings or customer satisfaction. Seeking out what your customers value from you has proven time and again to be a worthwhile investment.

By knowing what the customer values with your business, you can identify what threatens your ability to deliver your products and which risk mitigation measures will be most effective for your business. You can also utilize this information in regards to your suppliers and provide them with feedback on improving their supply chain as well. They can source better materials or direct you to another supplier in case there is a disruption. Creating these working relationships allows you to continue providing quality products to your customers in a timely manner while keeping true to your values.

It’s important to pay attention to the supplier’s impact on your supply chain, particularly the distance and shipping methods used when determining sourcing strategies. There was a long-held belief that parts/materials would simply be delivered no matter what, but it will be a long time until this will be the case. Understanding the distance and shipping methods allows you to develop contingency plans in the event there is ever a disruption.

Finally, we must understand the supplier’s costs associated with creating products. While nobody wishes to pay more, we must understand when it’s beyond the supplier’s control and assess whether their value as a partner outweighs these costs. It’s important to remember why your company picked your suppliers, oftentimes it was for reasons beyond cost. If we’re too focused on costs we may run out of suppliers and if we can’t have suppliers, then we won’t have a supply chain.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the patterns that can affect your supply chain. That’s why we strive to help our shipping partners and their customers ensure success with every delivery by scheduling pickup and dropoff times through a phone call. Our drivers also understand the importance of every shipment, providing friendly and helpful service while your shipment is in our care. If you’re looking to understand more about developing a strategic supply chain, we have a multitude of custom carrier solutions that can help every shipment of yours arrive on time and undamaged. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Developing a Holistic View of Your Supply Chain

In our previous article, we discussed the importance of developing a ‘strategic’ supply chain for your organization. The first area in developing a strategic supply chain was to take a holistic view of the supply chain, rather than constantly putting out fires when things went wrong. This week, our aim is to discuss exactly how your business can develop a holistic view of your supply chain rather than spending your energy always putting out fires.

Visibility of Your Supply Chain

The first step is to define visibility for your organization. If you’re in need of one, a definition we’ve seen works well is asking: “Can we find all the components and move them from Point A to Point B when we need to?” Once you have your definition of visibility, the next step is to work on communication across the supply chain, since company silos ensure that a supply chain is less effective and resilient than an optimized one. Ease of communication to all parties involved in the supply chain helps create visibility and allows you to allocate the resources when and where you need them.

Plan for Multiple Contingencies

One of the interesting perspectives of a holistic supply chain perspective is the fact that they have multiple suppliers for all of their products/components. A lack of visibility often led to a lack of knowledge in alternative supplies that has hit many supply chains hard. Developing alternative sourcing contingencies is the heart of supply chain resilience. Simply having a backup plan in case a supplier doesn’t get you your shipment on time is vital, and sometimes it’s better to have a second and third contingency just in case.

Unity Across the Organization

Finally, the most important component in a holistic supply chain is the unifying belief of its importance across every department in the organization. Developing a holistic supply chain strategy starts at the top with every executive providing their input and follows all the way down across departments to the front line. One department may be concerned about cost, another one about the quality of components. When the executives determine the vision of their supply chain, such questions will be easily answered against the company’s values. Such a unified vision for a holistic supply chain will do wonders to inspire your team and help to grow your company as a result.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of taking a holistic approach to your supply chain strategy. We stress the importance of communication in all that we do and provide continuous updates for every shipment that is in our care. Any time you call us, you’ll receive an answer on the phone from a person, never a machine and we’re always willing to help, whether you’re looking for an update on your shipment or a quote. Everything we do is for our customers and no matter what supply chain challenges you’re facing, we have a custom carrier solution that will help you get your shipment to its destination on time and undamaged. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Choosing Your Supply Chain Strategy

There is little doubt that every shipper understands that their supply chain is critically important to their success. Yet recent research has concluded that 85% of shipping executives would only give their supply chain a rating of ‘average’ or below. Subpar supply chains cause multiple financial and operational challenges since companies need to deal with allocations of critical supplies and management of skyrocketing costs. The question becomes: how can companies develop an excellent supply chain, one that will fuel their growth?

The first step in evaluating your supply chain strategy is to assess whether your company has a transactional or strategic supply chain. Transactional supply chains tend to be focused on always putting out fires. There’s a belief that these supply chains are too chaotic and it’s impossible to ever ‘get ahead.’ Transactional supply chains are also too focused on the cost side of the equation, rather than focusing on the value provided by their supply chain partners. Finally, transactional supply chains exhibit a lack of awareness on their suppliers and customers patterns and how those impact their business.

On the other side there are strategic supply chains which tend to: look at the supply chain holistically, and are able to see how everything works together. They also focus on how the patterns of customers and suppliers impact their supply chain activities. Finally they operate with a proactive ‘fire-prevention’ approach, always evaluating their processes in response to changing market conditions. Now the question is: how can a company become more strategic?

Companies that are more strategic take the time and effort to create a written strategic supply chain and/or transportation management plan that defines how activities are managed and quantifies the investments that must be made to address their requirements. They also have written goals and objectives for their supply chain/freight activities as well as supply chain/transportation Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are reviewed on a monthly/quarterly basis. Taking the time to develop, write and incorporate your supply chain partners into your strategy will keep your business strong in the long run and allow your business to achieve incredible performance.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of a dynamic supply chain strategy. Our services were designed to help companies meet their objectives and surpass their expectations, no matter the current operating environment. Our level of service and experience can help you devise a supply chain strategy that will help your business grow. No matter what challenge you’re facing, we have a custom carrier solution that will work for you. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

In the Driver’s Toolbox

No matter how hard a carrier tries, no matter how often companies maintain strict maintenance schedules to keep their trucks in tip-top shape, breakdowns inevitably happen. While roadside assistance is always available, drivers know that shipments need to keep moving and any delays must be addressed.

While major repairs should be left to a professional mechanic, with the right set of tools many if not most of the smaller repairs can be handled by drivers. One of the most valuable tools for a driver is their cell phone since they can call and report the incident to dispatch and anyone else they need to. A cell phone is invaluable for calling roadside assistance as well should a driver not wish to address the mechanical problems they face.

For the more hands-on drivers, some of the tools we’ve found to be absolutely essential in their toolbox include: screwdrivers (philips and flathead), pliers, wrenches, vice grips, a hammer (for knocking debris off of brakes), duct tape, a flashlight, ear plugs, zip ties and a fifth-wheel pin puller. The reason for the fifth wheel puller is because too many drivers hurt themselves when reaching for the pin or trailer tandem and strain their muscles by overextending themselves. These are the ‘lighter’ set of tools which are handy in any situation a driver may find themselves in.

If a driver wishes to be prepared for any situation they find themselves in, some additional tool considerations are: a socket set, pry bar, a torque wrench, spare light bulbs (such as headlights and brake lights) and spare nuts and bolts. Another recommendation from a long time driver was a spare key stored somewhere on the outside of the truck, because it was a matter of “when” not “if” a driver may accidentally lock themselves out of their truck. It helps save them a trip from the locksmith, although this may apply more to long-haul drivers than regional ones. Being prepared is the sign of an experienced driver as well as dedication for getting the job done. Having a few tools for all of the minor fixes is simply another way drivers prove just how resourceful they are.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of keeping a driver equipped for whatever they need on the road. We’re able to maintain our trucks thanks to our routine maintenance schedules along with our driver’s diligence, but we know they’re ready for anything on the road. It’s this diligence that helps keep our shipments moving and their dedication to our customers that ensures every shipment we handle is able to arrive on time and undamaged. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Diesel Fuel Index & Surcharges

If there is one thing that we can count on, it is the volatility of fuel prices. In an effort to provide stability against the ups and downs of the fuel market, carriers created and adopted a practice during the 90s to tie the price of fuel into shipping rates. This fuel surcharge was and still is added in addition to the price of the shipment but only as a means of protecting carriers against the volatility of the fuel markets. However, there’s a new challenge, one that threatens many carriers if it’s not properly addressed.

The Energy Information Administration (the E.I.A.) is a section of the Department of Energy (DOE) which provides ongoing analysis and projections of fuel prices for the United States. The E.I.A. has been in the process of developing new statistical methodologies of estimating on-highway diesel fuel prices and these prices were supposed to be viewable by the public as of June 13, 2022. However, June 13th was the last day that these prices were available to the public for nearly a month. Updates resumed as of July 7th, 2022. The E.I.A. cited technical difficulties for why these prices were not displayed, and most carriers simply used the June 13th rate as their go-to when creating contracts, regardless of market conditions.

The E.I.A. worked hard to get diesel prices live on their website, but they also announced that once prices were live, they would provide a comprehensive list of diesel prices from June 13th through July 7th. The E.I.A. is only providing information, why would this be a problem?

Well, as with all markets there was a degree of fluctuation in the prices of diesel during this interim. When carriers billed for services rendered during this interim, they were using diesel prices as of June 13th for their pricing. They were simply relying on the information they had available to them. Any volatility in pricing opens up the possibility that shippers and carriers who subcontracted between June 13th and July 7th will come back to challenge any and all discrepancies pertaining to fuel surcharges. Many carriers are worried about having to retroactively adjust their freight bills due to market fluctuations.

We would like to take a moment and assure any carriers that we have worked with during this time that we have no intention of calling attention to any discrepancies or ask you to retroactively adjust freight bills to reflect updates from the E.I.A. 

With that in mind, we’d also like to state that Zip Xpress has worked diligently to treat all customers with fairness in our pricing practices and would like to call attention to item 120 in the Application of Surcharges on our Rules Tariff:

“If for some reason the E.I.A. is not able to post the weekly index, the most recent prior posting will be used. If after a period of time of lapsed postings the E.I.A. publishes fuel prices for prior weeks, ZPXS will not retroactively adjust freight bills to reflect those updates.”

As you can see, we will not be retroactively adjusting freight bills to reflect the updates from the E.I.A. We are dedicated to providing all of our customers with the best possible service and we hope that shippers will understand that this was not an attempt from carriers to manipulate pricing, but only a means of operating and getting shipments delivered on time and undamaged. We look forward to serving you and providing you with the customer carrier solutions that will help your business succeed. To see this for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!