Want to be a Preferred Shipper? Keep Drivers Happy

In our last post, we covered ways to reduce wait time to help keep drivers productive. But, despite your best intentions, you will sometimes run into delays. Think about ways to keep drivers happy (and distracted) during wait times. Driver retention is often a challenge for carriers, and their experience in the yard directly influences this. According to Transport Topics, 80% of drivers surveyed cited their experience at a shipper’s facility as the deciding factor in whether or not to stay with a carrier. Become known for keeping drivers happy, and you’ll increase your leverage with carriers. Here are some creative ways to ensure drivers love stopping at your warehouse, even when they need to wait.

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The Basics

If at all possible, provide a location where drivers can park to sleep. If this isn’t possible, know the closest suitable location to save drivers from having to search for one. Give them access to basic amenities like washrooms, coffee, and vending machines. Let them take a break in the employee break room. Be sure to provide newspapers, magazines, or a TV. And bonus points if you can give drivers access to a shower.

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Free Food

On congested days, put out a tray of sandwiches along with whole fruit like apples and oranges. Sound too generous? This might cost your business anywhere from $45 – $75…nothing compared to detention fees from each carrier. And yet, drivers will feel spoiled, and you can be sure they’ll let their company know.

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Can’t Keep the Truck Moving? Then Keep the Drivers Moving

Does your facility have a spare room? Consider setting up a gym. Lightly used gym equipment can be purchased inexpensively, and it will also increase health, morale, and productivity among your own staff. Staying in shape is especially difficult for truckers, and visiting a gym is a luxury they can’t access on the road. But if a long wait means the opportunity for a solid workout, they might feel differently about detention or dwell times.

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Put Yourself in the Driver’s Shoes to Become a Preferred Shipper

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The shipper-carrier power dynamic is a cyclical one. As shippers, we enjoy times when there are a large number of carriers, each vying for our business. While it’s tempting to use this as leverage to get as much as possible out of the carrier, the tables eventually turn. When there’s a shortage of carriers, the carriers enjoy a large number of shippers to pick and choose from.

Whether you want to prepare for a driver shortage or you want to negotiate better rates, it’s to your advantage to be a favorite among drivers and carriers. It all comes down to helping the driver increase efficiency.

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Fast Loading and Unloading

Make it your goal to get the driver in and out of the yard quickly. Use drop and hook whenever possible. According to Fleetowner.com, a live unload takes 48 minutes longer than drop and hook, on average. With limited Hours of Service, this adds up quickly.

Don’t wait until the last minute to get the trailer loaded, either. Loading the next trailer early allows for flexible appointment times. If a driver makes it in early, having a load ready to be picked up can eliminate time spent waiting for an appointment.

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Consider the Driver’s Schedule When Booking Loads

Put yourself in the driver’s shoes when scheduling loads. Are you asking a driver to drive downtown on a weekday during rush hour? He’ll be stuck in traffic.

On the other hand, drivers tend to be more available on weekends. As discussed on Talking Logistics, one shipper made a point to give carriers longer hauls later in the week. They were a favorite shipper among carriers.

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Stay Open Late

Making your warehouse available at night and on weekends is becoming more and more important. This allows drivers far greater flexibility in driving. It also helps to reduce dwell & detention times when your warehouse staff are available to load and unload 24 hours a day, instead of trying to squeeze the same number of trucks into a 9 or 12 hour window.

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Last Minute Tips To Avoid Cargo Theft on Labor Day Weekend

Long weekends are traditionally peak times for cargo theft, and Labor Day weekend is no different. According to FreightWatch International, cargo thefts on the Labor Day weekends between 2010 and 2014 had an average value of $232,955. Research shows that cargo theft is one of the top 5 causes of freight claims.

The best security measures are well thought out and planned in advance. Even so, here are some last minute security tips that you can implement right now, and avoid becoming a victim of cargo theft this weekend.

Don’t Pre-Load The Trailers

Since many drivers are taking time off this weekend, pre-loading the truck is a popular time-saving strategy. Trucks may be loaded on Friday and left in the lot, ready to go for Tuesday morning. But a fully loaded, unattended trailer is the exact opportunity that cargo thieves are looking for. As convenient as this may be, don’t allow drivers or warehouse staff to load the truck until the load is ready to be hauled away.

Get All Eyes and Ears on Board

With warehouse staff also taking vacation, your staff will likely be a little thin this weekend. Of course, cargo thieves know this, and it’s one of the key reasons that they target more aggressively on long weekends. Emphasize to your staff that this weekend holds a high risk for cargo theft, and ensure that everyone keeps an extra eye out for suspicious behaviour. To keep staff motivated to remain vigilant, offer a cash bonus to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest.

Beware of Early Pickups

One strategy cargo thieves employ is known as the “fictitious pickup”. The cargo thief will call you, posing as a driver. They will say that they will be early, and request that the load is ready for their early pickup. A few hours later, the real driver arrives, but by then the cargo thieves are long gone. If a driver calls to say that they will be early, do some digging before handing over the load. Call your broker or carrier to confirm the early arrival. Ask the carrier for the license plate of the driver that they’re sending, and make sure it matches with the driver who called. And make sure your staff is aware of this cargo theft trick as well.


For more information on cargo theft, read our post on how to prevent cargo theft due to fraud.

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The Top 5 Causes of Freight Claims

The logistics insurance provider, TT Club, performed a claims analysis and found that the vast majority of freight claims fall into 5 categories. We’ve created this infographic to summarize their key findings.

TT Club - 5 Reasons for Freight Claims Infographic


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Nepal Earthquake Logistics Make Relief Efforts More Difficult

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday has done massive damage to an already poor country. While aid workers are rushing in, relief efforts are largely complicated by a number of logistics issues.

Nepal Earthquake Logistics Challenge #1: Road Access

Nepal has a meager road network, with the whole country connected by only two main roads. This means that if they have been damaged or blocked, which is likely, travel will be severely limited.

Aid workers have also run into many roads blocked by landslides. According to Uddhav Timilsina, chief bureaucrat in the Gorkha district, aid workers were running into 8 – 10 landslides between villages, preventing them from even reaching survivors.

Nepal Earthquake Logistics Challenge #2: Airplane Access

Aftershocks have been severe, with one aftershock reaching a magnitude of 6.7. Due to the constant threat of the aftershocks, air traffic controllers were evacuated from Nepal’s only international airport, meaning that planes couldn’t land at the airport. Aid organizations such as South Africa’s Gift of the Givers had to then make alternative arrangements to land in India.

The airport has since re-opened. Still, the fear of aftershocks has prevented many flights from running. The New York Times reported on Sunday that less than 20% of regular flights were running.

The large numbers of incoming planes carrying relief workers and family and friends arriving to search for loved ones has also created major delays at the airport.

Nepal Earthquake Logistics Challenge #3: Helicopter Access

Many of the country’s most isolated and devastated regions can only be accessed by helicopter. But they will need to wait, as Nepal only has 12 functioning helicopters, with an additional 6 donated from  India.

Mountaineers stranded by avalanches on Mount Everest will also need to be rescued via helicopter. However, landing a helicopter on the peak is risky, since it’s not clear whether a snowy surface is supported by underlying rock or nothing at all. Flying a helicopter at that altitude is also difficult due to the thin air. The pilot must constantly calculate how much power they need and how much power they have at the current temperature and air pressure.

Other Challenges to the Nepal Earthquake Relief Effort

The capital city, Katmandu is densely populated. This means that there is little physical space for people forced to leave their homes.

According to Lila Mani Poudyal, Nepal’s chief secretary, workers such as electricity company staff and laborers needed to clean up the streets are refusing to work, instead opting to stay with their families. This is a factor that has further slowed recovery.

Access to clean water was already limited in Nepal before the disaster, so the problem is now exasperated. Survivors trying to contact their family also need to work around spotty cell phone and internet coverage.

While disaster relief is always a race against time, it is even more of an issue for Nepal. The rainy season is only weeks away, and once it hits, it will severely complicate relief efforts.

Want to help? Donate to the Red Cross’ relief effort in Nepal.

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Prevent Cargo Theft Due to Fraud

Cargo theft is a growing problem in the supply chain industry. While cargo theft may occur at a stop en route where the load is temporarily unattended, load thieves are increasingly sophisticated. In this article, we’ll discuss how thieves can use fraud to steal freight. We’ll also discuss how to prevent cargo theft and what to do if you become a victim.

Basic Cargo Theft Strategy

First, a new carrier will contact a broker to take on a load. The carrier then fills out the paperwork to be listed with the broker and sends a driver to pick up the load. The driver then leaves with the load and subsequently disappears.

Upon investigation, the carrier and the paperwork is found to be fraudulent. This is an incredibly simple strategy, but it works.

Delaying Report of Cargo Theft

In addition to the basic theft strategy, many thieves use strategies to prevent cargo theft from being quickly reported. For example, it is more common for thefts to occur on Fridays or weekends, because this may delay reporting and investigation.

In another strategy, a carrier may pick up a load and claim that delivery has been delayed. They then keep in touch with the broker/consignee/shipper for a few days before cutting off contact. Thus, the theft isn’t reported until several days after the theft occurred.

Prevent Cargo Theft

Fortunately, there are several proactive steps you can take to prevent cargo theft, at least, to protect yourself in the event that it does happen.

  • Take care in verifying the identity of all carriers. Carefully review and verify all paperwork.
  • Collect as much information as you can about your carriers and drivers, such as
    • Photocopies of drivers’ licenses
    • Video footage of the truck being loaded
    • Tractor & trailer make, model, year, & color
    • Tractor & trailer VIN
    • Trailer & trailer license plate number
    • Carry your own insurance, and understand what your insurance policy does and does not cover. A fraudulent carrier’s insurance company won’t pay a claim when their client provided fraudulent information, so ensure that your own insurance will protect you.

Reacting to Theft

After the theft has happened, take these steps to increase the odds of recovery:

  • Act quickly. The faster you notify authorities, the more likely they will be to catch the thief and recover your cargo.
  • Follow up with police often. Be persistent in order to keep your case from dropping from their priority list.
  • Consider hiring a private investigator to  track down the freight.
  • Keep all documents and evidence organized in case they are needed for court.
  • Contact any relevant federal agencies, depending on what was stolen. For example:
    • Dangerous cargo or hazardous products – contact the FBI
    • Food – contact the department of agriculture

Following these steps will help you prevent cargo theft and minimize the loss to your company. For more information, see our source, TIA’s excellent 54 page piece on fraud in the supply chain.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Freight Rate Negotiation

Shipping costs represent a major supply chain expense, anything you can do to lower your freight rates will help. Here are the do’s and don’ts of freight rate negotiation.

Don’t Pay for What You Don’t Need

Be clear on what is important to you in a carrier, and what isn’t. If you can compromise on speed, you can negotiate lower rates. Or maybe your product has a relatively low value by weight – in this case, you can negotiate a lower price for lower carrier liability levels. Tell your carrier what is and isn’t important to you when you ask for a quote, and they’ll be able to trim extras that you don’t need.

Do Sell Yourself

You’re probably used to asking potential carriers “why should I work with you?” in an effort to lower prices. But consider what can make you a better shipper for them, and use it to your advantage. According to Inbound Logistics, small parcel carriers prefer air shipments and shipments with high delivery density. Do you have the cash flow to pay faster than required in exchange for a lower rate? That could be a powerful negotiating chip.

Don’t Skip the Fine Print

Make sure to read it…and all of it! Inspect the documents for hidden fees or inflexibilities that won’t work with your needs. Are there charges for demurrage? Charges to offer C.O.D? How much time do they allot for pickup and delivery? Are there extra charges for evening or weekend deliveries? The carrier’s quote may sound good initially, but the extra terms and fees in the contract need to be taken into consideration. The fine print is also a good place to negotiate. For example, many carriers will accept a liability around $25 per pound, rather than the usual low FAK liability. You can also negotiate various accessorials and charges.

Do Calculate Your Cost Per Mile

Once you’ve found any additional or hidden fees in the contract, use them to calculate the carrier’s cost per mile. This will help you to compare prices with other carriers, and to get a more realistic understanding of your total shipping costs.

Don’t Be Hard to Deal With

The word “negotiation” might invoke the image of digging your heels in and refusing to budge. But don’t forget that your carrier will play a key role in your supply chain, and you want to build a positive relationship. This is especially important when you consider that the supply & demand balance between shippers and carriers is always shifting. While you might have your choice of carrier now, you could be scrambling to find capacity at high rates later.

Do Ask for Bids on All of Your Business

Asking for quotes on all of your business rather than a small subset increases the motivation for carriers to offer you competitive pricing. Working with one carrier or broker can have other advantages as well – if a carrier knows everything that you need shipped, they can make recommendations on more cost-effective ways to combine or route your shipments.

Don’t Underestimate the Value of a Good Carrier

Consider how important reliability and flexibility is to you. Understand that a higher priced, reliable carrier may cost less overall compared with a low priced carrier that loses freight or makes late deliveries. Keep that in mind if you have a fantastic carrier who isn’t willing to negotiate lower prices. 

Do Leverage A Freight Association

If you’re shipping small parcels, freight associations can help you to access group buying prices. Check at any associations that you currently hold membership with. It may even be worth joining an association just for access to parcel shipping savings.

Do Create a Carrier Master Agreement

A Carrier Master Agreement is a private agreement between you and your carrier. This is important for two reasons – first, it will put everything that you negotiate in writing. Second, because this is a private agreement that only applies to you, your carrier does not need to offer it to their entire shipper base, as they do with terms written in their tariff.

When you implement this agreement, make sure to specify that the Master Agreement will take precedence over the carrier’s tariff, and that they may not change their tariff or any terms with your agreement. This way you won’t ever be taken by surprise – and your work negotiating will not go to waste.

Looking for extra help writing a Carrier Master Agreement or negotiating with carriers? Read how our Freight Claim Assistance Program can help.

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Where to Find Salvage Prices Before You Sell for Salvage

As a shipper, you have a responsibility to mitigate the carrier’s loss in the event of damaged freight. A common way to do this is to sell damaged products for a salvage price. Typically, the carrier will reduce their payment on your claim by the value of the salvage. We discussed in a previous post that sometimes it is unreasonable to salvage. But even when it is reasonable to do so, before you accept a lower claim payment, it’s important to do some research into salvage prices to find out what your salvage is worth.

Now the question is – where to go to find salvage prices? That’s why we’ve found two websites that allow you to research salvage prices quickly and easily: Scrap Monster and Scrap Register.

Researching Salvage Prices on Scrap Monster & Scrap Register

Each site offers salvage prices for various types of scrap products, each broken down by geographical region. Both sites also offer buying and selling tools which may be useful if you choose to sell your salvage yourself. Here is a comparison chart showing the salvage price categories offered by each website.

Item Scrap Monster Scrap Register
Metal scrap broken down by type of metal X X
Plastic scrap Extensive Little to none
Electronic scrap X X
Paper Products Prices X
USA prices broken down by coast/region X X
China prices X X
Japan Prices X
India Prices X X
Europe Prices X
Subscribe for live prices X X

The metal pricing for each type of metal is further broken down by product type. For example, you can see the salvage prices for an aluminum radiator, as well as the prices for aluminum car wheels. For several categories, Scrap Monster offers a larger break-down compared to Scrap Register. In the Aluminum category there was an especially large difference, with Scrap Monster offering salvage prices for 22 different aluminum products, and Scrap Register only offering prices for 15.

Need Current Salvage Prices?

Now here’s the catch – the publically available pricing information is not fully up to date – on both sites, the information you can see for free is one month old. If you’re looking for today’s market salvage prices, you’ll need to register for a subscription plan. Here are the subscription plan costs for each site:

Plan Region Scrap Register Price Scrap Monster Price
America pricing plan $199/year $40/month
China pricing plan $149/year $30/month
India pricing plan $99/year $30/month
Japan pricing plan $99/year NA
Europe pricing plan NA $30/month
Combo offer (all above regions) $299/year NA

Note that Scrap Register prices are per year, whereas Scrap Monster prices are per month.

Scrap Monster also offers plans for plastic salvage prices:

Plastic Plan Region Scrap Monster
Asian pricing plan $1200/year
Europe pricing plan $1000/year
U.S.A. pricing plan $1000/year

Ideally, your shipments will always arrive in perfect condition, or your carrier will pay the full value of your claim. However, if your carrier ever wants to reduce your claim payment by the salvage price, you now know where to check market salvage prices and ensure that you collect a fair payment.

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The 4 Freight Claim Programs You Need to Be Running

Freight claim management involves more than just filling out a few forms. Ideally, your company will have a number of procedures in place in order to minimize losses and ensure maximum recoveries. Here are the top 4 freight claim programs you should be running.

No More Customer Giveaways

If a customer hasn’t received their shipment, your customer service department will typically credit them for the price of the missing product, or send them a new product free of charge. In order to reimburse your company for this loss, the next step is to file a claim against your carrier. However, what happens if the customer does end up receiving their shipment, after you’ve credited their account? In this case, the carrier will reject your claim. This is where most shippers lose track of the claim. The key here is to keep track of credited customers and rebill those who did end up receiving the product. This way, your company is still made whole.

Don’t Limit Claims to Carriers

Carriers frequently deny claims because they are legitimately not responsible for the damages. If this is the case, don’t abandon the claim without further investigation. If your supplier sent a damaged or poorly packaged shipment, then you can file a claim against them, instead of your carrier.

Keep Suppliers in Line

While you should be prepared to file claims against your suppliers when necessary, ideally you’ll help your suppliers to avoid mistakes that lead to damages. You can do this by implementing a program to provide detailed instructions to suppliers regarding proper packaging and shipping. While this will prevent some damages, it will also help you to recover losses from suppliers in the case of non-compliance.

Review the Data

Of course, the best thing you can do is to prevent freight damages entirely. You should be regularly reviewing your reports to find trends in your claim data. Which products are damaged most often? Are there certain carriers, warehouses, or shipping routes that are most prone to damage? Use this data to revise your processes and retrain personnel.

While many of these programs consist of relatively simple ideas, actually implementing them is an area where most companies struggle. For help implementing these programs and other freight claim management processes, read about our Freight Claim Assistance Program.

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Your Graphic Guide to The Effect of Selling Terms on Distribution

How do your selling terms affect who pays for shipping, who finds insurance, or who files the freight claim? This infographic explains everyone’s responsibilities in each situation.

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