Everyone wants to succeed in freight logistics. Whether you are a start up learning the ropes or an established company looking to refresh your perspective on your business, these tips are meant to help you succeed. For this list, I am working with Brandon Hurst, VP of Logistics at Meadow Lark Companies. Brandon is a logistics guru who seamlessly manages Meadow Lark’s logistics operations at their headquarters in Billings, Montana. He is CTB certified, and has worked many years in the transportation industry. Brandon has given me these top tips to success to share with you. I hope they make all the difference in your business!
Here are tips 7-5. Tips 10-8 can be found here. Stay tuned for the rest!
7. Good or Bad News, Communication Matters
For logistics to work, you need to have open lines of communication between all members of your organization and with your carrier and customer partners. Never go radio silent on someone whose business depends on your operations. No one likes being the bearer of bad news but not communicating when something goes wrong will make everything much worse.
People will want to work with your company if they know they can count on your organization to be honest-no matter what. Also, know that there is opportunity everywhere and that sometimes you can turn bad news into good news by offering solutions and alternative courses of action. Try offering several options to resolve issues and turn bad news into new opportunities. Remember, people like solutions not excuses. The upside is that even though you have to give bad news, you also get to deliver good news a lot, so savor the all of the moments when you get to tell someone something wonderful has happened.
6. Look at the Long Term Affects of Every Decision
First of all, freight logistics is not a business where you can afford to be indecisive. Often when you have a choice to make, you don’t have a lot of time to pick your course of action. No matter how big or how small it may seem, every choice you make can have an impact of the future of your operation. If a situation is time sensitive and you’re struggling to pick a direction, try quickly making a list of the short term and long term consequences of the decision at hand.
Also, try not to operate your business one or two loads at a time. Start focusing on the bigger picture and how your business will successfully book and move freight in the long term. Stark looking one week ahead, then two weeks ahead, then three weeks ahead and so on until you have a vision for the future of your company. Look at the bigger picture and weigh all possible outcomes. If you do make a bad call, be sure to learn from it so that you don’t repeat it moving forward.
5. Be Competitive with Rates.
A lot of companies struggle when it comes to offering competitive rates for many reasons. As a logistics company, you have to be competitive enough that your customers will choose you over your competitors, but you also have to be competitive enough so that the driver and/or carrier are motivated to haul your freight. Then of course, you need to be compensated as well, because arranging all that takes up a lot of resources, including time and money. So what is the key strategy to offering competitive rates in an increasingly competitive industry?
The experts at Meadow Lark agree that asking the customer the price question upfront is an efficient way to establish a rate. Many times logistics companies spend hours researching a specific rate when a simple question can be posed to the customer. Great questions to ask your customer include:
· What kind of lane is it?
· Is it a backhaul lane for carriers?
· How much notice do you have?
· What are the parameters for the freight?
· Does the freight require a specific type of trailer or could multiple trailer types suffice?
Information is vital to pricing and the best source of information is your customer base. For instance, pick up and delivery locations are key to pricing because the supply and demand of each geographical area’s marketplace can greatly increase or decrease the rate. Your customer will be well aware of those supply and demand thresholds in their marketplace.
Remember that carriers also have diversified supply and demand structures based on their portfolio of customers. With that in mind, you should be building relationships with carrier partners that are looking for backhauls. You can be more competitive with rates if you know you have established and reliable resources to cover the freight. Establishing backhauls with carriers is integral to that strategy.