Ready…Set…Go!

So, you’ve read all the Greenhouse Grower transportation articles, conducted meetings with your staff, readied your carriers, fired up your new technology – and you’re ready for a smooth (and less expensive) shipping season. Right? Good! Then please read on.

Most of you reading this are not directly involved with the daily transportation, logistics and distribution functions of your company. The first thing you should have done during the off-season is to have engaged the right people in your organization. The success of your program will come down to being organized and whoever is in charge of your shipping function needs to be fully onboard with the refined procedures. These procedures will save you money starting today.

So, I have compiled a short checklist to help you get ready, set and go! Each of these tips are outlined more fully in my articles published in Greenhouse Grower over the last six months. If you don’t have a copy of a particular article and need one, please e-mail me at thigham@interstate-transport.com and I will be happy to assist! 

Using Your Own Trucks, Fleets Or Drivers

  • Service Your Equipment: It is likely your trucks and trailers have been less than fully utilized for several months and they are about to run long hours in hot conditions. An ounce of prevention will go a long way.
  • Meet With Your Drivers: Discuss expectations, unloading and how claims should be handled. Provide a bonus program that meets your objectives such as on-time deliveries (a carrot is better than a stick).
  • Boot Up Your Technology: If you ship more than 100 truckloads a year, you need a full transportation management system (TMS). It will quite simply save you time and money.
  • Re-Assess Your Loading Procedures: Having your drivers wait all day to load will not win you friends. Get your loading under two hours per truck.
  • Give Drivers A Nice Place To Wait: A cold soda and cool place to sit with a TV will go a long way to getting driver loyalty and reducing turnover.
  • Protect Yourself: Check insurance, especially if you backhaul freight). Insurance will bite you hard unless you have it all in place and paid for.
  • Reward Your Staff: They will work long hours during the season. Surprise them with pizza on Fridays or take them for dinner one night. The cost is minimal – it is the thought that counts. 

Using Common Carriers

  • Meet with Core Carriers: Discuss expectations, rates, load allocations and how claims should be handled. Make sure the carrier sees you as an important customer so you get the trucks first.
  • Boot Up Your Technology: Even with common carriers, if you ship more than 100 truckloads a year, you need a full TMS.
  • Re-Assess Loading Procedures
  • Give Drivers A Nice Place To Wait
  • Protect Yourself: One of the most important things is getting your carriers to sign your shipping agreement and getting you added as an additional insured on their insurance policies.
  • Advance Drivers: Add up to 30 percent more capacity by advancing a driver a portion of the load payment when loading is complete. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain if you have checked off the "Protect Yourself" box above.

I strongly advise you sit down with your shipping manager and check off each box. These items are not complex, but they are often overlooked, lead to wasted money being spent and harbor the potential for huge financial claims due to liability issues not being addressed.

Most growers conduct 70 percent or more of their business in a four-month period. Hopefully you have been using the "slow season" to re-tool and get ready for the long days ahead.

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