by Mike Starling

Does your organization suffer from a Gunslinger Mentality where for-hire truckers are concerned?

Here’s the scenario:  The company has just gone through a TL or LTL competitive bid. They are under pressure to reduce carrier costs and improve service to their customers. The staff has biases for and against certain carriers, but the CEO and CFO need to find ways to improve operating cash flow. Reduction of freight expense is one means to that end. While not wishing to put all their eggs in one basket, they agree to bring on a carrier they’ve used in the past; but according to the staff, they quit using this carrier because they had unspecified PROBLEMS with them in the past.

Okay, new contracts are in place and the new carrier is being tendered a fair number of loads. Suddenly, while auditing carrier invoices, Suzie in the accounting department notices that the carrier is charging a higher rate based on reweighs that seems at odds with the tendered weight put on the bill of lading by the warehouse. Word goes up through the chain of command that Hey, this carrier is screwing us again. We are on the verge of a peasant revolt in the operations side of the business, and the CEO, feeling the heat for MAKING A BAD DECISION to use this carrier (again!) makes a snap decision to fire the carrier, without doing due diligence to determine what, in fact, is going on.

Upon investigation, it turns out that the problem was related to one specific terminal in the carrier’s system, and further investigation reveals that the problem was caused by one particular employee at that terminal who was taking it upon himself to eyeball the loads on the cross dock and decide which ones needed reweigh. He had a particular idea that this one client’s loads never looked right. Otherwise, loads being tendered to this carrier have been getting delivered all over the country without any problems with the loads or the invoices.

What’s the lesson here? Collaboration with your carriers can pay dividends and help you achieve the dual goal of improving cash flow via reduced freight rates AND improving service to your customers if you are savvy enough to take a long-term view of building a partnership with your carrier(s). Gunslinger Mentality always leads to disruption in your supply chain AND incurs extra work breaking in the NEXT carriers while you make excuses to your clients for the service disruption.  Do yourself a favor — the next time the boss says “Fire the carrier and get me another one,” be a professional and go investigate, and work with the carrier to resolve the issue. Take a Continuous Improvement approach to your business relationship. You’ll be glad you did.

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