10 critical factors while choosing a trucking partner

Nithin
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Selecting the right trucking partner can be a tough experience for most companies. If you are new to the industry or involved in setting up systems for your organization, say a startup, this can be even harder. To find a trucker from whom you could rent commercial vehicles wouldn’t be a big challenge, as there are plenty of them out there, with a vast majority being single vehicle owners. This construct has its own set of challenges and limitations which is beyond of scope of our discussion here. Yet, for an organization which intends to scale with numerous challenges, which includes efficiency, system integration & data integrity, outsourcing transportation to a specialist partner is imperative for business success.

Do not cut corners by following a mere L1 RFQ (Request for Quotation) process in evaluating one, because the reputation & success of your company depends on your trucker reliability & more which is detailed below. Moreover, the country has progress immensely in this sector thanks to the onset of e-commerce, which simply means you have a wide spectrum of services which is available today, which was not present few years ago.

To avoid any potential disaster here, follow these 10 elements in selecting a perfect transporter/trucking partner.

  • Can they be trusted & do they have a shared goal of reducing the total logistics cost?

By the nature of industry, the operating margin here is very low, driving the partner not be as transparent as they should be. Keep a close watch on how the partner behaves/interacts during meetings, do you sense trust in them? are there focused on increasing vehicle utilization for you? Would they join hands in reducing cost through optimization of vehicle type–load–route mix for your business? In short, are they in for a win-win situation to expand the pie.

  • Does the organization care & work on reliability?

It an unwritten norm that vehicles sometimes don’t report on time or in worse scenarios don’t report at locations, but this need not be the case especially since you have a delivery commitment to your customer, hence the trucker should and must be agile enough to handle it effectively. We all know how happy we would be to receive an order from top e-commerce companies on same day or next day. Modern technologies help you achieve this with ease, you can also evaluate on technology that aids reliability.

  • How competent & experienced is the operations team/how good are they in handling escalations?

In logistics and transportation understanding the heart & soul of operations, with the on-ground practical difficulties, is no easy task. Hence its very important to ask for the experience & competency of the operations team. Even with the onset of superior technologies, some critical issues can be solved only by experienced professionals. Make sure you ask for an escalation matrix so that your problems get due attention and are solved appropriately.

  • Do they have own vehicles / can provide back-up for you?

In many cases, you might be bound to face issues on vehicle breakdowns or failure of components. Partners having large number own vehicles means larger flexibility for you and you can be assured to get vehicles in exigent circumstances. This also reduces the partner’s dependency on aggregating vehicles. Moreover, with competency in managing vehicle maintenance, a logistics partner with own fleet can give competitive pricing. A good blend of aggregated & own vehicle gives your partner a greater leverage and in short you are up for better service quality. Moreover, it’s worth checking with the partner on how they are geared for this. Most modern companies would be working on advanced telematics systems to assist this, which would be a distinguishing parameter between a professional trucking partner and the rest.

  • Do the company have the will & culture to innovate and induct technology changes?

A company without an innovation strategy won’t be able to make trade-off decisions and choose all the elements of the innovation system. Simply asking for the kind of technology they are working on to improve customer satisfaction or solving new problems for customers like you would give you a sense of the internal factors aiding technology.

  • How experienced is the organization in the industry?

The age of the company & experience in handling core operations give you an idea of their market presence and service quality. This does not mean that new companies are poor or won’t perform better than the age old ones, but for your long-term association & scaling this is an important criterion to consider. As Albert Einstein says, “The only source of knowledge is experience.”

  • Are they recognized/appreciated by any of their customer or partners?

Check for testimonials and references to know the solution provider’s service quality. References/word of mouth also plays an important role in assessing this. If they are listed online portals, you can check for Google/Play store ratings to keep a tab on how customer-centric is the organization.

  • How do they treat drivers and maintain the relationship?

Truck pilots are the main force of daily operations. It is important that operations move smoothly without undesired clashes between any stakeholders and the drivers.  Check for policies that enable the driver force from the partner you are engaging. If the organization provide trainings that aid this. If labor compliances that ensures their better lifestyle are met by the partner. An overall economic development is prudent for a better country https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2172rank.html

  • Do they have a good HR practice that keeps their employees happy?

High attrition & poor HR practices means an instable workforce, longer learning curve & harder change management. Adding poor competency, this indicates the quality of service and ability to manage trough situations for you will be very poor. With various interactions with stakeholders you can look for these specifics

  • How concerned are they about compliances?

Compliance is an important part to reduce and legal risk and also for uninterrupted operations daily. Check for driving license, Insurance, emission and PUC certificates as a routine check. Well managed organizations would have a system ensuring this & providing proactive alerts to manage these risk. If you are in a business of food & beverages, you can casually check in on FSSAI license/similar level of internal compliance

Above is a non-exhaustive list you can keep in mind. However, if you wish to know more on above write-up or you need any help in Supply Chain design & optimization please feel free to comment below.

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