Useful Tips and Recommended Approaches
Code of Conduct
NASSTRAC Strategic Shippers take conscious steps to build trust with their carriers, make their freight more desirable, and invest in their facilities and technology to streamline the transportation operations. To compete in today’s transportation market, you must be open to change, able to adapt, and willing to invest in the long term.
By signing this Code of Conduct, participants agreed to abide by the Code and work continually to improve their working relationships with the transportation service providers. Recognizing that there are operational differences within the shipper community, NASSTRAC has deliberately kept the Code of Conduct generic and recommends shippers customize the program in cooperation with their transportation service providers. The following suggestions are offered as a starting point. Please let your creative juices flow and work with your providers to come up with the best possible program for your operation.
Here are a few categories to be covered by your Code of Conduct
When working with carriers it is important that you are transparent from the onset of the relationship. Here are some things to consider:
- Set expectations early to help carriers plan ahead and avoid unforeseen issues that might otherwise cause them to reject your freight
- Be upfront with carriers about past issues and proactively point out any operational burden.
- After bidding and negotiations, communication should be organized, consistent and reasonable.
- Provide clear instructions in the on-boarding process covering:
- Access to 3rd party systems
- How KPI’s are calculated and reported
- Key points of contact
If you do business with your carriers on a contractual basis, consider these areas of concentration:
- Abide by contracted payment terms “As a Strategic Shipper we will make every effort to pay freight bills within the agreed upon contractual terms”
- Adhere to contract terms/rates “As a Strategic Shipper we will abide by contracted rates and terms of the contract.”
- Provide for regularly scheduled carrier reviews “As a Strategic Shippers we agree to maintain regular open lines of communication between our company and our transportation providers”
Whenever possible, provide carrier with weekly volume forecasts and ensure that tenders are sent with as much lead time as possible allowing carriers to plan more effective and source drivers ahead of time.
Look at electronic solutions to request information from your carriers about appointments, load updates in/out times, and invoices. This will alleviate email and phone calls and remove obstacles for carriers servicing your freight.
The SSP program provides for the use of Dock411 to assist in the communication between the transportation provider drivers and the facility. Some of the information contained in the Dock 411 platform are as follows:
- Facility Hours
- Facility Gating Information
- Average Dwell Time Loading/Unloading
- Staging & Drop Area Access
- Specific Receiving Instructions
- Directions and signage
Shippers in the SSP program agree to use the Dock 411 resource to communicate vital location information to their transportation providers. In turn, NASSTRAC will be reporting to the program participants basic key performance indicators of the program’s progress in total. No shipper identities will be used in reporting. However, shippers using the Concierge Dock 411 program will have the ability to use custom reports specific to their location(s). Dock 411 allows shippers to control their brand and the information flow to the marketplace.
Transportation Provider Review Suggestions
In order to maintain program consistency and participation we strongly encourage you to conduct regular reviews with your transportation providers. These reviews give you the opportunity to review Key performance Indicators (KPI’s) and discuss ways to improve performance. Meetings should include reviews of:
- Performance metrics – maintaining mutual goals and objectives which are measured objectively and routinely.
- Continuous improvement initiatives – intentionality in eliminating inefficiency and driving out excess cost.
Shippers can and should review their infrastructure and operations as your facilities play an integral role in the overall carrier experience. They want to be loaded and unloaded as quickly as possible to maximize their hours of service and earning potential. Ask yourself: “are you understaffed, or is there another underlying issues? It has been documented that most shippers carry up to 10% excess operations cost that can be reduced or eliminated by this review.
While some of the following is basic common sense, you would be surprised by the number of complaints we have seen from drivers, so as a reminder:
- Treat drivers with respect
- Allow driver access to restrooms/cafeteria/break area
- If required, drivers allowed to inspect load prior to signing bills
- Truck parking available/allowed
- Trailer drop/hook allowed
The Final Word
We have all been involved in various programs throughout or careers with what I’m sure was varying levels of success. A major determinate of success is ensuring senior level sponsorship who will advocate in support of the program. It’s critical for shippers to focus on carrier decisions to stay ahead of competition and control transportation costs. By being a Strategic Shipper carrier will want to work with you because of the value you bring to the partnership.