It's common knowledge that good times don’t last forever, especially in a sometimes-unpredictable market. Fortunately, there are effective strategies for weathering the bad times. While the freight shipping industry has seen booming business in recent years due to rapid e-commerce growth (and other factors), there are signs that a recession could be just around the corner. As a Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) shipper or owner of a company that ships freight, it's critical to be prepared for downturns in order to protect your business and its future success.
In this blog post we'll discuss five key strategies for successfully weathering a recession so you can stay afloat during even the toughest economic times!
1. Strengthen Your LTL Carrier Relationships
As an LTL shipper, having good relationships with your carrier network is a necessity. More and more, carriers are preferring to work with shippers who can provide early and accurate shipment information digitally. Exchanging timely and precise data enables carriers to make informed operational decisions, optimize routing plans, and mitigate potential risks - contributing to better, faster service.
During tight capacity conditions, some carriers have even gone so far as to utilize preferred customer lists that only include shippers who can provide early, accurate information. Having a direct digital connection with your carrier (without a middleman) makes it more likely that that they can succeed on your behalf.
2. Protect Yourself Against Loss or Damage
While cargo insurance may seem like an unnecessary expense for LTL shippers, it is actually one of the most effective ways to protect your bottom line. When you opt for limited liability, you could be on the hook for costs associated with freight claims that are much higher than the cost of a full-value freight insurance policy. On top of your bottom line taking a hit, your customer relationships may take a hit too.
With full value protection, all financial responsibilities resulting from claims will be taken care of by the insurance provider (in a timely manner) so you can focus on other aspects of managing your business.
3. Automate Your Shipping Process
LTL shippers have a lot to gain from automating their shipping process, which can completely transform shipping operations. Freight automation increases operational efficiency and accuracy, saving time and money. It eliminates manual errors which can result in higher costs, delays, and unhappy customers.
Automation allows shippers to instantly compare freight quotes across multiple carriers, dispatch with the click of a button, and track freight in real-time without the need for significant personnel resources — perfect for warehouse operations that may be short-staffed due to hiring or financial constraints. All these benefits make automation an essential part of any LTL shipper's strategy.
4. Get Better Visibility
Having the ability to view shipment data and receive reporting is a major advantage for any business that utilizes LTL freight. This data can provide insights into key performance metrics like shipping times, cost efficiency, and customer satisfaction. Also, it can help with analyzing shipment and carrier performance to find cost-saving opportunities.
By having this information readily available and updated in real-time, businesses can use the shipment data to come up with better strategies and plans to improve their freight's operation process down the road. This can provide an unmatched level of visibility while helping managers make smarter decisions on how resources are allocated.
5. Focus on Customer Satisfaction
Keeping customers happy is the bread and butter of any business, but can be challenging for companies that ship freight. One of the biggest keys to keeping customers happy is good communication. Updating customers on the status of their shipments, responding to questions promptly and professionally, and providing a clear way for customers to get in contact with the business are all key elements to great customer service.
Additionally, offering reliable tracking updates that can show where packages are and when they’re expected can keep both customers and businesses on the same page so problems can be addressed quickly if they come up. Letting customers know about delays can help maintain good relationships. Timely communication is essential for giving customers peace of mind that their packages will arrive in-tact and on time.
An economic downturn can be unsettling for LTL freight shippers, but having a sound plan can help your business remain resilient during hard times. Fortunately, there are tools that can make the above strategies easy to implement. Connected shipping technology can help you strengthen your carrier network, protect your freight, automate your shipping process, get better visibility into your operations, and keep your customers happy – all leading to a healthier bottom line.
So, what steps have you taken to prepare for changes in the market? Let us know in the comments below!