Follow us on Twitter!
Blog Header Logo
DG&A's Transportation Consulting Blog
Posted by on in Shipper-Carrier Collaboration
  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Hits: 1743
  • Print

Developing a Core Carrier Program

In a recent Stifel report, it was noted that the “mother” of all capacity shortages is expected to hit the United States in 2017 as a series of government regulations reduce the supply of fleet equipment by five to fifteen percent. Despite the efforts of carriers to raise pay, upgrade facilities and improve the lifestyle of drivers, annual turnover stubbornly remains at close to one hundred percent in many fleets. On the rail side, a huge upswing in the movement of energy products by this mode has had a deleterious effect on intermodal capacity and service. Wise shippers realize that trying to secure carriers on the spot market is a risky endeavor since this leaves them open to capacity shortages and rate volatility.

What can your company do to protect itself if there are capacity shortfalls?

Is your company ready for even tighter freight capacity? Will the integrity of your company’s supply chain be maintained in this ever-changing environment? What can your company do to protect itself if there are capacity shortfalls?

1. Bring your top performing carriers under contract

An important first step is to view your major carriers as business partners. As such, it makes good sense to negotiate formal multi-year contracts with capacity commitments and service guarantees. As you engage in these types of discussions, find out how your business fits within the parameters of their operation. Does your freight move on their primary traffic lanes? Do they have head haul or back haul in the reverse direction? Are you a valued customer?

2. Do your Due Diligence

An equally important step is to evaluate the extent to which your top carriers can meet your range of inbound, transfers and outbound movements of freight. Some traffic lanes are easier to cover than others. One often finds that there are certain particular (remote) lanes or requirements that require specialized carriers or equipment. These lanes and services may best be served by a local carrier or freight broker. Searching out regional or local carriers may take some time and due diligence. To be safe, it may be helpful to test and interview these less known players to ensure they can perform at a high level.

3. Secure Back-up Carriers on every lane

Where are the weak spots in your supply chain? What would happen if one or more of your core carriers went out of business or stopped hauling your company’s freight? With limited capacity, carriers are allocating their scarce equipment and drivers to the highest yielding customers. Many shippers have been surprised to see their carriers come to them with substantial rate increases to improve margins or as a mechanism to de-market their accounts. Do you have backup carriers on all of your lanes? Do you give them a percent of your freight to keep them engaged with your company?

4. Look out for Quantity and Quality

One should never forget that some carriers are better than others. The better carriers have higher quality management, have more motivated staff, employ more highly trained personnel and utilize newer model equipment and better monitoring systems. Higher quality can translate into better safety ratings, superior productivity, fewer damages and theft and happier customers. It is wise to interview all prospective carriers for your company to see if they are Smartway certified, to review their CSA or CVOR (in Canada) scores and to inspect the quality of their customer service personnel, their equipment and their information systems. If you are considering using a freight management company, it is fair to ask them about their systems and those of their core carriers.

5. Focus on Performance

Missed pick-ups, late deliveries and damaged product all cost companies customers. Review your on-time service and billing accuracy reports. Make sure that they are at a very high level. In this extremely competitive world, superior performance allows a company to stay ahead of the competition.

6. What can your company do better?

Where does your company fit on your carriers’ scorecards? Is your company a profitable account for all of your core carriers? Are there any lanes that don’t work for a particular company and would be better handled by another carrier? What is the one thing that your company could do that would make your account more profitable for some of its carriers? Are you willing to work with those carriers to make it happen? What can your company do to rank higher on their scorecards? Do you have regular (quarterly) meetings with your core carriers to address and fix problems?

Proactive companies should go through this due diligence exercise now so they protect the integrity of their companies’ operations.


Dan Goodwill & Associates ( provides freight transportation consulting services to shippers and carriers throughout North America. Follow Dan on Twitter @DanGoodwill. To stay up to date on the latest developments in energy and transportation, obtain a free subscription to Dan’s Transportation Newspaper ( ).



  • No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Leave your comment

Guest Friday, 19 January 2018

Most Recent Posts


Tag Cloud

Trump Accessorial Charges 2013 Economic Forecast shipping wine online shopping Fire Phone Bobby Harris NAFTA FCA Distribution MBA Doug Davis Deferred Packaging Success failure entrepreneur ProMiles freight payment freight audit Scott Monty future of freight industry Retail transportation Cleveland Cavaliers Transplace Horizontal Supply Chain Collaboration Grocery University of Tennessee driverless small business Crisis management routing guide employee termination 360ideaspace FCPC economic forecasts for 2012 energy efficiency Business skills freight forwarders Transloading JB Hunt buying trucking companies shipper-carrier contracts shipping New York Times autonomous vehicles driver shortages Business Strategy Packaging Twitter Schneider Logistics cheap oil Transcom Fleet Leasing Doug Nix LCV's UP Inbound Transportation Shipper economy Facebook Right Shoring business start-up TMP Worldwide FMS Career Advice LTL Freight contracts EBOR US Housing Market Donald Trump Derek Singleton 2015 Economic Forecast technology David Tuttle Freight Recession NMFC solutions provider IANA US Economy Emergent Strategy Stephen Harper Trade Vision Freight Capacity Driver Shortage Consulting rail safety Werner freight audit fuel surcharge TMS Canada U.S. trade Canadian truckers Otto CN marketing Blogging Life Lessons Social Media President Obama Keystone Pipeline risk management consumer centric Leadership NS Canada Map-21 hiring process NCC Search engine optimization Climate Change financial management Muhammad Ali 3PLTL Spanx Yield Improvement CSA Retail freight bid Conway BlueGrace Logistics freight transportation in 2011 e-commerce Infrastructure freight agreements freight broker 2014 economic forecast Load Boards the future of transportation Crude Oil by Rail tanker cars broker security Driving for Profit derailments transportation audit Toronto Ferromex Wal-Mart Harper Davos speech professional drivers Carriers Dedicated Trucking freight RFP Load broker Amazon USA Truck Whole Foods 2014 freight volumes KCS Freight Shuttle System Reshoring Education Tracy Matura Canada-U.S. trade agreement YRC US Manufacturing Associates Freight Rates pipelines home delibery CITA Shipper Pulse Survey Microsoft Omni Channel robotics capacity shortages shipper-carrier roundtable Freight Matching Warehousing capacity shortage 2014 freight forecast supply chain management Global Transportation Hub trucking company acquisitions Freight Carriers Association of Canada Colilers International LinkedIn Transportation Canadian economy Finance and Transportation Adrian Gonzalez carrier conference last mile delivery truck driver intermodal Trucking Loblaw ShipMax freight costs transportation newspaper network optimization Success driver shipper-carrier collaboration freight cost savings Dedicated Contract Carriage 2012 Transportation Business Strategies. Jugaad trade Outsourcing Sales dynamic pricing Sales Management BNSF Politics US Auto Sales natural disasters Failure bulk shipping Transport Capital Partners (TCP) Canadian Transportation & Logistics selling trucking companies Dan Goodwill CSX Regina mentoring CP Rail Celadon Freight $75000 bond Training New Hires drones 3PL CSA scores Management freight rate increases automation freight transportation conference Training CRM Rotman School of Business Swift Entrepreneur truck drivers Rail Software Advice RFP transportation news Surety bond peak season Global experience customer engagement Rate per Mile broker bonds Hudsons Bay Company FuelQuest Railway Association of Canada TransForce Broker Social Media in Transportation Masters in Logistics freight transportation freight payment Transportation service Business Transformation Strategy Truckload coaching Comey Canadian freight market FMCSA home delivery dimensional pricing Sales Blockchain Transportation Buying Trends Survey ELD CN Rail Sales Training Freight Management APL Job satisfaction Canada's global strategy US Election MPG

Blog Archives