How a shipper impacts a motor carrier financially and affects driver productivity will go a long way in determining whether a carrier will assign them “preferred shipper” status, per results of a survey conducted by Transplace of its own preferred-shipper program.

Transplace, a leading non-asset 3PL provider, explained that the study was conducted to gain insight into best practices for achieving preferred status with carrier partners. It drew on data from over 75 motor carriers.

The goal was to identify key factors that affect how carriers evaluate shippers and provide insight to enable shippers to better understand the best practices for becoming a preferred shipper.

“Shippers are looking for ways to improve their transportation operations, and a significant way to do so is by aligning efforts with their carrier partners to improve efficiency and overall benefits to all parties,” said Ben Cubitt, Transplace’s senior vice president, consulting & engineering.

The survey responses consistently ranked the impact on carrier finances and their drivers’ productivity as key to awarding “preferred shipper” status,” he added.

Cubitt stressed that the economic role shippers can play remains the most important factor in how they evaluate and rate shippers.

However, he also pointed out that how shippers affect driver productivity “continues to be a focus for carriers and one of the most critical factors in shipper freight profiles or practices.”

In addition, Cubitt said carriers consider how “driver-friendly” shippers are as well as the “scope of the relationship” and level of partnership they have with shippers when determining which deserve preferred status.

 

Transplace detailed the survey's significant findings as follows:

Economic impact. Nearly all respondents indicated that providing market-competitive rates and fair fuel surcharges are “critical” or “important” factors.

Payment terms and average length of time until payment was a concern, with 63% of the carriers ranking it a “major factor” and 36 % as “important but not critical.”

The majority of the carriers surveyed regard 30-day payment terms as “acceptable,” with paying in less than 30 days seen as “really differentiating” a shipper. Volume potential and positive credit rating were also consistently rated as major factors

Driver productivity. Of those surveyed, 97% consider dwell time as an “important” or “critical” factor in determining the preference status of a shipper.

In-transit delay was the second-most important, with 65% ranking it a “major” factor and 32% as “important.”

The ability to use drop trailers, shipper load count and type of freight were also seen as key elements.

Driver-friendliness. Carriers ranked driver-friendly practices highest based on those that enhanced driver productivity, such as onsite parking and making available bathrooms for drivers.

Regular updates on loading and unloading status and a guard shack for drivers to receive instructions also ranked high. Having break rooms for drivers rounded out the top five factors.

Relationship scope. The scope of the business relationship and the “level of partnership” were also revealed as affecting the preference status of a shipper.

The effort of a shipper to understand a carrier’s costs with relationship to equipment and recruiting drivers and willingness to discuss the carrier’s issues came in as the two biggest factors impacting the shipper/carrier relationship.

In addition, the survey found that “treating drivers with respect and as a valuable network asset can impact the way the shipper is viewed by an entire carrier organization.”

Of the carriers surveyed, 47% reported they have implemented a “shipper scorecard” that details performance metrics.

“Network efficiency and driver productivity are becoming the foremost concern and focus for many carriers, and they will reward efficient shippers that help keep their trucks and drivers with capacity,” remarked Cubitt.

“However, it’s not just about efficient deliveries,” he added. “Carriers want shippers to be partners at every level and work together to drive productivity and efficiency.”

A panel discussion on the survey was recorded at Transplace’s 12th annual Shipper Symposium.

Transplace noted that it provides Transportation Management Services, Intermodal, Brokerage and SaaS transportation management solutions, which are supplemented by supply-chain network planning and design, transportation procurement and consulting services.