Every article, report, and forecast I have read from industry experts, economists, and transportation gurus say the same thing; “freight is approaching all –time highs.” This is a positive trend especially since we are just beginning to touch the peak shipping season. Carriers are busier than ever with more load and shipper options. Everyone knows the already tight capacity is only more exacerbated by the real driver shortage experienced in both the public and private sectors.
Shippers and carriers with an eye to the future are shuddering to imagine what the situation will be like in a couple of weeks when the end of the second quarter arrives. The end of the second quarter is only the beginning of an always challenging third quarter run on trucks. This year carriers are, and will be supporting those shippers who are the most driver friendly. I don’t even have to mention rates because the market is already taking care of the rate situation.
Shippers can differentiate themselves to carriers by being carrier and especially driver-friendly. As carriers battle it out amongst each other to attract and retain drivers, carriers are naturally migrating to those shippers that pay the best, get them home most frequently, and treat them the best. They are also looking for a company who has driver-friendly facilities, freight, personnel, and most importantly whose customers treat drivers with respect.
Carriers are listening to drivers’ comments regarding “friendly” or “unfriendly” shippers and freight – and it’s about time! In today’s market, drivers are just as hard, if not harder to come by than loads. Carriers are evaluating Shippers not only on rates and lanes but also by driver-friendliness, efficiency, payment terms, cargo liability risk, driver injury risk, and a myriad of factors that have not been in the forefront of many carriers’ radar in previous years. I frequently speak with many of my counterparts in the flatbed trucking industry and invariably the discussion defaults to the topic of drivers. Almost all of the major carriers I speak with either already have a shipper evaluation/rating program in place or are quickly developing one. The shippers who rate the highest in driver /freight friendliness are going to be the shippers who get the trucks at the end of the day.