Look, the transportation industry is a funny place; trucking companies and freight brokerages stand shoulder to shoulder, jostling for each shipper’s attention by offering the best-in-class services that “only their company can provide.”
Differentiation in this business is too often left to using carefully-crafted marketing slogans rather than providing actual, unique value to each customer relationship.
Instead of information that you literally need to know, you’ll more commonly run across catchphrases like this in the transportation world:
- “Get your freight delivered on time and on budget with help from our experts!”
- “Delivering peace of mind is what we do. Let us handle yours.”
- “Transportation is complex, we’ll make it easy for you!”
- “Keep your cargoes moving and your customers happy with (insert company name) by your side.”
Sure, these banners are fun enough to read and do a good job of telling a shipper what they want to hear, but do they actually bring anything to the table? Do slogans like these leave shippers with any insight into what they’re really getting from partnering with each provider?
In reality, they don’t.
Here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), we’re interested in breaking this mold. As a long-time staple of the United States’ trucking industry (going on more than 65 years now) we understand the important role transportation providers play in their customer’s supply chains.
This role should extend well beyond simply moving their freight where needed.
Transportation providers also have the obligation to put their customers’ needs ahead of their own; to answer questions when shippers have them and educate them on the core benefits, downsides and potential outcomes of all transportation decisions.
The most fundamental and universally-applicable of these decisions — a decision made by every company looking to move freight — is which type of provider to work with.
Although there are a wide array of options, and plenty of variance between them, the three most common options that shippers select from are: using a freight brokerage; using an asset-based trucking company or using a third-party logistics provider (3PL).
Each of these provider types comes laden with its own mix of advantages and disadvantages, but shippers rarely know what they are.
In this article, we'll talk about the tried-and-true advantages of using an asset-based carrier for your next freight shipment. This will give you a crucial piece of the larger picture and a bit more information to base your final selection decision on.
Let’s get started with a quick baseline definition.
What is an Asset-Based Carrier?
An asset-based carrier also called an “asset carrier” or “asset-based trucking company” is a transportation provider that owns a fleet of trucks and trailers and employs the drivers that operate them. These companies work directly with shippers (their customers) to move freight shipments of various quantities, modes and sizes.
Unlike third-party providers like freight brokerages and 3pls, asset companies can only meet transportation demands by dedicating the time and use of their assets.
Where third-party providers work to match their customer’s load with a solution selected from their larger network, strictly asset-based companies — in many cases — rely solely on the fleet of assets they own.
Nevertheless, utilizing an asset trucking company for your next shipment will give you a set of upsides that are distinct to their service offering.
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The Top 5 benefits of Utilizing an Asset Trucking Company Are:
- Streamlined communication
- Improved quality control
- Heightened dependability in their areas of strength
- Dependable financial security
- The ability to optimize processes and interactions over time
1. Streamlined Communication
Managing the logistics of freight transportation can get complicated — especially with too many parties in the mix. Sometimes working with non-asset providers, though, only makes this process more complex.
If you’re a shipper with deadlines to meet and customers to please, it’s likely that ease of communication and transparency are foundational pieces of your supply chain — something you look for in every provider.
In-transit updates and a direct line of access to the party carrying your load are highly convenient as they help you plan for deliveries and communicate with consignees.
Streamlining this communication, giving you the access you require and the information needed to make educated decisions for your business are where asset trucking companies thrive.
You see, these businesses are directly tied to the truck driver hauling each load. As such, where third-party companies need to hurdle multiple levels of communication to give you timely information, trucking companies give you direct “from the horse’s mouth” access.
In the end, working with an asset company and utilizing their adjacency to your freight can be highly beneficial to your business as nothing is lost in translation and the status of your shipment is never in question.
2. Improved Quality Control
This one is pretty self-evident; trucking companies physically control and monitor the assets hauling their customer’s freight.
This gives these providers far more oversight on the quality of both the equipment used to do so (trucks and trailers need routine maintenance to stay operational) and the individuals seated behind the wheel.
Believe it or not, unreliable trucking companies don’t always take diligent care of their trucks and trailers.
This can lead to loads failing when things break down unexpectedly or a trailer shows up to a facility in markedly-tough shape. Without seeing the quality control practices of each carrier they utilize, though, third-party providers simply won’t know this is the case.
And, with so many trucking companies to choose from — more than 700,000 across the nation — it’s not uncommon for freight brokers to arrange transportation services with carriers that have less-than-quality equipment. This isn’t a risk you’ll have to take when working directly with an asset provider.
Additionally, the safety practices and quality of the trucker hauling your freight is really important, Although good third-party providers take steps to ensure that only safe drivers — with adequate training and CSA ratings — are used on their customer’s freight, they can’t match an asset company’s control.
These companies know their drivers, including what they’re best at hauling, what information they need before moving a load and what training they’ve undergone. For this reason, asset trucking companies can match their driver’s needs and capabilities to the requirements of each customer.
If you’re looking to work with a transportation provider with intimate control over the quality of the driver on your load and the equipment used to haul it, look no further than a great asset-based carrier.
3. Heightened Dependability in Areas of Strength
The U.S. transportation industry is massive. With over 3 million truck drivers nationwide — each of whom either work for themselves (as independent contractors) or as a member of a trucking company — it can be difficult for shippers to select a dependable solution.
This problem is expounded when working with third-party transportation providers that simply don’t have as much control over the trucking assets they utilize.
Be it because of an underpriced initial quote, because they selected an unfamiliar carrier with shoddy reliability standards or for a myriad of other reasons, freight brokers fall through — with greater regularity than trucking companies.
But why is this the case? Since brokers generally have access to a wider array of trucks, wouldn’t it stand to reason that their ability to reliably service freight would rise accordingly?
Actually, this isn’t necessarily true
You see asset-based carriers understand their capabilities, and although they’re highly motivated to get the most productivity from their assets, these understandings translate to heightened dependability in their areas of strength.
ATS inc. (for example) has a high concentration of dry van truckers spanning regions east of the Mississippi River. As a result, offering dependable transportation services around these areas is quite easy with proper planning.
And, since ATS’s vans division has a comprehensive understanding of their capabilities and areas of strength, they can service loads with a lower rate of failure than many third-party providers.
This pattern holds true when analyzing the performance of many great trucking companies and you’ll get enjoyment from the stead-fast reliability that working with one presents.
4. Dependable Financial Security
The cost structure of an asset-based trucking company is far more complex than a number of other provider types. Running a trucking company takes a heavier financial investment than simply owning a computer, paying for a cellphone and securing an internet connection — which is the minimum allocation needed to start a brokerage.
As such, well-run asset-based carriers are more financially dependable than many third-party companies. For this reason, shippers can rest assured that their provider won’t flake on them in times of uncertainty or disappear from the industry when it’s most convenient.
Instead, the best asset companies have long histories of weathering the many twists and turns of the transportation world. These carriers can take a hit on the occasional under-priced shipment while still following through on their commitments.
Additionally, good financial standing allows these companies to employ only the best truck drivers in the business to ensure that their customers are given top-of-the-line service with every transaction.
5. The Ability to Optimize Processes Over Time
Getting the most from your transportation supply chain, and shipping dollars usually comes down to the relationships and understandings you hold with each provider in your network.
- How well does this company understand your business, your industry, your customers and your goals?
- Are they able to make adjustments from one transaction to the next to ensure your satisfaction?
- Does working with them get easier over time or more difficult?
The answers to these, and questions like these will reflect the overall quality of each shipper-provider relationship you hold.
That said, asset-based trucking companies hold the unique ability to learn, adjust to and optimize based on the needs of their customers — no matter how unique they are.
When you repeatedly work with a great asset carrier to meet your transportation requirements, these companies will optimize with you over time, learning your processes and the specifications of your supply chain.
In turn, this continual optimization and adjustment on their part will relieve a large burden from yours. Eventually, when done correctly, shippers that have a great asset company in their corner save time and money as their shipping processes get easier with continued use.
Make The Right Carrier Selection Choice
Ok. So now you understand the five largest benefits of working with an asset-based trucking company to meet your transportation needs.
And, although you might not have known that these providers boast some of the best financial stability, dependability, quality control practices and ease-of-communication offerings in the transportation world, there’s still quite a bit more to consider.
Here at ATS, we understand the predicament shippers, like you, are in these days as the internet age has made it easier for bad companies to make contact with your business.
To help you avoid trusting your precious cargoes to an asset carrier that will let you down in the end, download this comprehensive Carrier Vetting Guide today.
This 30 question selection checklist is full of the most pressing questions that you should ask each prospective asset trucking company. Doing so will help you weed out those bad-seed carriers before it’s too late and maximize your transportation network from the start.
Finally, ATS has a large fleet of asset trucks, trailers and drivers spanning the United States. As such, if you need help securing capacity you can count on, contact us today!