Many shippers I have worked with are well-known Fortune 1000 companies with complicated supply chains. One of the challenges to building strategic partnerships with customers in that profile is that they typically work with between 100-250 service providers — roughly 90% motor carriers and 10% brokers. There is always somebody else competing for the same part of their business you are interested in.
Strategic Partnership Target 1: Primary Level
At 30,000 feet, this is easier for motor carriers than brokers, mainly due to their business model. Carriers know their costs, their lanes, and their network, and ‘cost’ isn’t really market-based. Price is market-based, and operating cost is not.
Strategic Partnership Target 2: Backup Level
The second level is backup business — most commonly a little further down the routing guide, say second, third or fourth choice. Your rates are not primary, but they are relevant and close enough that you might be called upon if the primary is not available.
More often than not, I think of this as being a short-lead-time provider. Either 1) the end customer orders more product in a window that the primary is not required to accept and cannot do so affordably, or 2) a primary provider accepted the load seven days ago, and suddenly the assigned driver is unavailable due to detention or returned product or one of many reasons.
Strategic Partnership Target 3: Seasonal Level
Even if the shipper does not ship seasonal product, marketplace seasonality has a network capacity effect. I believe we all know the high-level seasonality. Fresh produce ships in the growing areas during regional harvest times. Beer, water, and ready-to-drink beverages surge during the summer. Poultry, dairy, and retail surge during Q4. Whatever the cause, there will be times when all shippers with complicated supply chains experience seasonal demands on the available capacity that leave them short of primary providers.
Strategic Partnership Target 4: Temporary Level
There will always be short term bumps in capacity needs throughout the year, in some years more than others. There will be demand spikes when primaries cannot supply capacity. Although being available to help your customer during temporary times of need may not account for a large percentage of your overall business with them, my experience is that it does account for a large percentage of the overall value you bring to the relationship.
Strategic Partnership Target 5: Strategic spot
The fifth level of partnership is what I define as a strategic spot market. In the hybrid digital world, this is API, real-time, dynamic price routing guide. This is playing in a space where loads are not covered by design.
Strategic Partnership Target 6: Transactional Spot
Strategic Partnership Target 7: Expedites
I left the best and most relevant for last. The seventh level of partnership is the expedite. If you don’t and can’t do this, you don’t get a crack at the middle five levels.
Get Noticed, Build Familiarity, Earn A Strategic Partnership
Let’s discuss the value of a strategic partnership with Surge Transportation, a Diamond sponsor for MercuryGate Velocity 2022. If you’re attending Velocity, please join us for the panel discussion, Keeping up with the Accelerated Pace of Change. Check the Velocity agenda for more details and be sure to visit the Surge Team in the exhibition hall throughout the conference.