To be a successful freight hauling professional, you’ve got to be in a constant state of adding value.
Why? Because even as you’re out mining for new customers, so is your competition.
Your best protection from rate-gouging, bottom-feeding trucking companies – and even from the other value-driven transportation haulers – is adding value to the hauling services you provide your current customers. Remember, there will always be some trucking company willing to cut their rates to the quick – or below – to steal your best shippers.
The only way to stop this theft is by creating value in your freight services that exceeds your price. Let’s expand on this idea of value. The most important way to establish the correct value with any freight shipper is to know what they need and what they want.
The simplest way to find out this information? Ask.
The best way to ask is to frame it in an open question such as, “What services or needs are you not receiving from the carriers or brokers currently handling your shipments?” Listen to, and write down their answers very carefully. Next, ask the following question: “If you could pick three services you’ve never received from any trucking company that would make your supply chain operate more efficiently, what would they be?”
With answers in hand, you have the first step in developing a greater value specifically tailored to the shipper. Figure out how to provide the shipper’s needs and wants within an acceptable hauling rate to both the shipper and to your operation.
One important note: Never say you’ll do something for a shipper without knowing if you can consistently keep that promise. From time to time, there will be shippers who have expectations and wants far beyond your capabilities or capacity. Nothing will undermine added value faster than a promise of service not kept.
The list of activities and things you and your team can do to add value is limited only to your imagination. If a shipper has the technology available, one idea would be to set up a real-time communication method that’s extremely simple. That way, if he needs to locate the truck that’s coming for a pick up, track a load that’s in transit, or change a destination, he can.
But there are many small things a carrier and its drivers can do that cost little to no money, yet add tremendous value to relationships with the shippers and brokers with whom that carrier works. For example, having your drivers, whether employees or contractors, show up dressed like they mean business. This doesn’t mean a coat and tie—but imagine the look on your shipper’s face if they did!
The idea here is to have the driver, any carrier-provided labor and the truck and trailer all look professional. Imagine a shipper’s response when the vast majority of truckers from other carriers show up in disheveled clothes and unkempt equipment, while your truckers arrive to load or unload looking like a businessperson who takes his job seriously.
Adding value is the best route to receiving the highest possible hauling rates for the area and commodity hauled. But it’s something that must be earned, much like respect. Don’t expect a new shipper to pay the highest rates until you’ve proven that your added value of services is actually saving him money in other areas.
The idea of added value includes reducing cost to the customer so that your carrier receives top hauling dollar from a greatly-satisfied shipper or broker.
Drive long and prosper.
Timothy D. Brady is a speaker, business coach, and trucking industry guru. He provides training and educational presentations for small to large trucking companies, logistics organizations, and community groups. Learn more about Tim at www.timothybrady.com
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