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If you want to ensure your goods are on time and in full, you need your best freight carriers on the job. But in today’s market, with capacity shortages and demand at an all-time high, you can’t guarantee your top suppliers can make the space for you.

To ensure your preferred freight suppliers prioritise you, you need to have a strong relationship with them.

So how do you build a strong relationship with your top carrier? Here are 4 smart ways to become the customer they always want to work with.

1. Communicate effectively and regularly with your carriers

Effective communication is the backbone of every relationship – including your supplier relationships.

There’s nothing worse than being blocked by someone when you’re trying to do your job. If your suppliers are waiting on key information from you repeatedly, they will prefer to work with more reliable shippers.

So, don’t leave anything to chance – automate your bulk communication. That way, you can be certain that all your carriers have the correct and most up-to-date information.

You can automate a lot of your carrier communication on today’s digital procurement platforms. For example, you can set up triggers to automatically inform carriers if their quote has been successful or not. Or if there’s urgent information you need to send to all your carriers, you can send it out in bulk with all the details they need pre-attached.

Automated communication ensures that none of your carriers are left in the dark and you can rest easy knowing they’re happy.

2. Standardise your freight carrier processes

One of the biggest benefits of using the same carriers repeatedly is they learn how you operate and like things done. However, if you don’t have standardised rate sheets and processes in place, your carriers will feel like they’re working for a brand new customer every tender. This is bad for them and you as it slows down the entire process and wastes everyone’s time.

To standardize your processes, you need standardised rate sheets. Use a template (or templates, if you have varying requirements) that fits your needs. If you don’t have standardised templates yet, our free rate management tool has industry-specific templates you start using for your next tender!

3. Address issues and concerns upfront 

Good relationship management isn’t just about addressing the positives – you also need to address what’s not working. If you’re upfront with your issues or concerns, you can iron them out early and move forward positively.

For example, if one of your top carriers has hit you with some unexpected BAF charges, let them know at your next tender you were disappointed about it. If you politely explain why this was a problem for you, it won’t sour the relationship. This will give you the space to address what’s not working for you and put a plan in place that works for both parties.

4. Have a reliable payment strategy for your freight carriers

Late payments will immediately land you in your carriers' bad books. This is especially true for small to mid-sized trucking firms, which are in high demand right now.

One of the biggest barriers to on-time payments is slow invoice reconciliation processes. With SHIPSTA, you can automate your invoice reconciliation process to ensure it's lightning-fast and you never pay your carriers late again.

If you’re not reconciling your invoices already, you could be losing money. Shipping invoice reconciliation firm Martin and Sorbo found carriers overchange 1%-2% of a shipper's total freight spend on average. This can really add up if you’re moving a lot of goods, so automating your processes is a win-win for both you and your top carriers. 

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SHIPSTA powers smart logistics procurement with a digital platform that connects shippers and carriers to ensure a frictionless procurement process for spot and contract buying, entirely online. It automates complex tasks, provides unrivalled visibility and supports fast data-driven decision making.

Designed and built by experts in logistics procurement, SHIPSTA is bringing transparency, automation and efficiency to the global logistics industry. It is used by some of the world’s largest companies to respond to market volatility, control freight costs and manage risk. The company was founded in 2015 and is based in Mertert, Luxembourg and Hamburg, Germany