Saving money can be difficult. That said, you’re hoping to find a way to cut back, however slightly, on your freight shipping costs.
Granted, there are certainly tactics in our day-to-day lives designed to save us a little bit of money here and there. Unfortunately, things like cutting out drive-through coffee or shopping at big-box wholesalers simply won’t help you save money on your freight costs.
Sure, a nice cup of homemade “joe” has been known to put a smile on your boss’s face but you’re looking for more than a wry grin this time.
No, today is the day you widdle down your shipping budget a little bit further and turn your boss’s smirk into a full-blown smile that sends the fragrance of your job well-done wafting throughout the building.
Here at ATS, we pride ourselves on helping shippers make the most of their valuable budgets and today, we’re here to give you one more tactic to do so.
You see, the transportation industry is wholly reliant on, and dedicated to, the happiness, well-being and supply of truck drivers. Truckers are the foundation of our business and a key component of yours.
As such, the more you can do to make their interactions with your freight more enjoyable and efficient, the better off you’ll be.
In this blog, you’ll learn about eight things you can do to make your business, your processes and your freight, more appealing to truckers.
And, as your company becomes more attractive to truckers — making it easier to find a truck for your freight — you’ll gradually save more and more money.
The eight things that make freight more appealing to truck drivers are:
- Efficient loading times
- Clear directions for the driver to follow
- Accurate and detailed freight specifications
- Lighter weight FTL shipments
- Overnight parking
- Amenities available for drivers
- Brand recognition and reputation
- Excellent driver experience
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#1 Efficient Loading Times
Truck drivers are subject to a strict set of federal guidelines dictating the amount of on-duty hours they can operate with. As it currently stands, this class of workers is allowed to be actively on-duty for 14-straight hours within 24 hours.
This “clock” starts as soon as a truck driver starts their vehicle in the morning and ends exactly 14 hours later — including all breaks and idle periods.
Since drivers only make money when they’re moving/transporting or while their wheels are turning a shipment, and cannot stop their hours of service clock after they begin their day, truckers are highly motivated to maximize their on-duty time.
For this reason, the prolonged loading times that leave a trucker sitting for an extended period without moving can be highly detrimental for truckers hoping to make the most of their clock.
Companies that make a habit of drawn-out loading times, be it due to a lack of staffing, the nature of their industry, inexperience or myriad other reasons, aren’t popular destination points for truckers.
Often, this unpopularity translates to reluctance from the drivers in their area which, in turn, drives the cost of finding a willing “taker” for their freight, upward.
For this reason, you should work on streamlining your loading process as much as you can so that the truckers hauling your freight aren’t reluctant to come back.
If a truck driver recognizes a shipper’s operational procedures are efficient and will thereby get them in the best position to maximize their hours, they become motivated to service their loads. This motivation leads to cost savings as shippers simply don’t need to monetarily “grease the wheels” of the truckers in their area.
To conclude: Get ‘em loaded and get ‘em moving!
#2 Accurate and Detailed Freight Specifications
Out of the eight items on this list, giving truck drivers accurate and detailed information about the nature of your freight is perhaps most important.
Contrary to other types of interpersonal relationships, when it comes to the partnership between a shipper and the trucker sent to pick their freight, there’s no such thing as too much information.
Drivers like to know exactly what they’re getting into before they accept a load. As such, shipments where information is foggy — leaving drivers with unanswered questions and very real concerns — simply aren’t attractive to truckers.
In the transportation industry, miscommunication is one of the major reasons that shipments fall through. Without all of the proper information, truckers have a far more difficult time servicing freight and — in the worst cases when vital information isn’t conveyed — may fail on a load.
To do their job properly and plan ahead, drivers need to know everything they can about your freight including information surrounding:
- Commodity type
- Cargo value
- Freight weight
- Freight length
- Freight height
- Freight width
- Pick up and drop off windows
- Any special requirements (tarping, load locking, etc.)
As a general rule of thumb, the more information you can provide about the specifications of your freight the better. This will help to ensure that when your truck shows up, nobody is caught off guard.
For example, “Legal FTL of wood” is good. But mentioning specifics like, “Treated 4 by 6’s needing 48 feet of deck space with overall width and height of 8 feet and weighing 47, 500 pounds,” is better.
#3 Clear Directions For The Driver to Follow
Giving truck drivers clear directions on what they’ll need to do upon arrival such as where they should park, where they need to check-in and what side of the building they should enter, goes a long way toward giving your business’s processes credibility.
Shippers who give drivers information, above and beyond what they’re normally granted in the interest of making trucker’s day smoother, are highly coveted.
Truckers love to be efficient with their time and giving them clear directions from the onset can often build credibility in their minds. And, as you already know, credibility and pleasant past experiences spark willingness from drivers — which can lead to cost savings.
As the amount of direction a driver is given about the intricacies of interacting with your facilities increases, so too does your credibility and their willingness to move your freight.
#4 Lighter Weight FTL Shipments
The weight of full truckload shipments usually ranges between 10,000 and 48,000 pounds — depending on the length and height of the freight in question. As such, it's often possible for a trucker to find FTL freight without completely maxing out the legal weight capacities of their trailer.
These types of shipments are highly attractive to truckers as they often make their job less challenging, granting them greater maneuverability and over-the-road efficiency.
Instead of hauling around a trailer loaded to the brim with 48,000 pounds of fabricated steel, truck drivers would prefer 34,000 pounds of steel if they can get it. Where this weight discrepancy makes their job more manageable by reducing their fuel consumption and reducing wear and tear on their equipment, it also makes these loads more attractive to the drivers hauling them.
#5 Overnight Parking
Allowing overnight parking for truckers is another great way to make their lives easier and increase their willingness to get to your location to move your freight.
You see, drivers like to book their loads out days in advance and having a place to rest before picking a load helps them do this.
For a truck driver, knowing that they’ll be able to drive to your pickup location, stay the night, reset their on-duty hours and get some shut-eye is a big perk.
As such, if you’re in a position to offer overnight parking to drivers at your facility, you should expect to find plenty of willing drivers for your load. This is especially useful if you have a strict time frame (8 a.m. - 5 p.m., for example) for loading freight. Allowing drivers to rest before arriving at your facility works wonders to increase your load's attractiveness.
#6 Driver-Accessible Amenities
Some businesses offer truck drivers simple perks like clean bathrooms, lunchrooms and showers. Collectively, these facilities make a trucker’s life a bit more comfortable during their time on the road.
Amenities like these are a nice treat for the drivers that use them and if you’re able to offer them, expect to draw a bit more attention to your freight.
If a driver knows that they’ll be able to shower and get a hot meal before picking up your freight, the likelihood that drivers will want to, increases.
#7 Brand Recognition and Reputation
Truckers, more than anything else, are human beings. Just like you and me, truck drivers enjoy the mystique of certain brands. They have favorite cars, meals, clothing companies and manufacturers. They fall victim to nostalgia when they recall childhood friends, vacations and dad’s old toolbox.
And, honestly, sometimes it's just fun to haul a John Deere tractor on a drop-deck trailer through the mountains of Colorado on a crisp October Wednesday. . .you know?
Beyond this, larger brands give drivers peace of mind in knowing that when they show up — because of the efficiencies they’ve gained through the years — this shipper will have their ducks in a row.
Brand recognition is a powerful thing. People live their entire lives with company jingles rolling off the tongue and logos imprinted in their minds. Drivers are no exception.
Often we see loads from these large companies fly off the boards as truckers look to work with world-renowned companies for one reason or another. As strange as it sounds, brand recognition can make freight more appealing to truck drivers.
#8 Excellent Driver Experience
Remember the adage of “treat others the way you want to be treated”?
From the onset, we teach our kids to respect others, make eye contact and say please and thank you.
Too often though, we adults don’t practice what we preach.
Never forget, treating others with respect is a foundational piece of good business. Sometimes, drivers show up at a loading site and are treated as second-class citizens. Their concerns are ignored and they’re told to simply “wait in the truck".
This should never be the way truckers, or any person for that matter are treated.
As such, drivers who are treated well by the employees at a shipper’s facility, respond to these interactions fondly and — when the situation allows — aren’t hesitant to return.
Always treat drivers with respect. Be friendly, share a laugh and talk about last night’s football game. Honestly, It’s not that complicated, simply be nice.
Truckers want to go to places where they feel welcome and respected. If you can do this, your freight will become far more attractive to drivers.
Make the Most of Your Budget This Year
At the end of the day, the more information that you can give a driver about your freight and the more things you can do to make their lives easier, the more attractive associating themselves with your business, and your freight will become.
This, in turn, can lead to long-term cost savings as drivers enjoy interacting with your company and will agree to move your freight at competitive price points.
Your next step in maximizing your budget and earning that sparkling smile from your higher-ups is to begin understanding the intricacies of the transportation industry. There’s certainly a ton to learn but the more you know the better prepared you’ll be to make the right decision for your freight.
To help you do this, we publish valuable content on our learning hub every week, check it out.
As always, if you’d like more information about how ATS can help you meet your shipping goals this year, please reach out. We’d love to help you in any way we can!