A little kindness goes a long way. It’s a true statement no matter the situation, including the hustle and bustle of bulk transportation.
“Driver-friendly” is a term that’s come to describe freight shippers – including their customers and facilities – that apply this truism to their treatment of truck drivers. In this article, we’ll examine why a little driver-friendliness can go a long way in creating a successful transportation operation.
Why be driver friendly?
It seems to me that being friendly is its own reward. The nicer you are to others, the better you feel, and the nicer others are likely to be to you. But, enough of the touchy-feely stuff…
Drivers often get the short end of the stick in the friendliness department. Many motorists aren’t happy to share the road with large trucks hauling even larger bulk tanks and trailers – and some don’t mind voicing their frustrations. This unfriendliness can extend to worksites as well, where drivers routinely face long waits to load or unload (even with an appointment), onsite accommodations that aren’t all that accommodating, and people that are sometimes less than cooperative.
When routinely encountered at a given worksite, these negative factors may discourage drivers from wanting to visit the worksite in the future. And, if one driver gets burned at a specific site, many other drivers will hear about it.
So, it stands to reason that if your site – or your customers’ sites – are viewed unfavorably by drivers, it may be more difficult to find drivers willing to visit your site and move your products. This can be especially straining on your operation in the face of the ongoing driver shortage. With fewer drivers on the road, it’s far from a certainty that other drivers will quickly take the place of those who give your load a pass.
On the flip side, making your loading and unloading sites more attractive to drivers will make it more likely that they will want to handle your loads. This often means more than just steady capacity – it can mean more competitive rates for your operation as carriers vie for your business.
How can freight shippers be driver-friendly?
The following practices serve as a great start to becoming a driver-friendly shipper.
Make sure the loading/unloading site is safe. The most important thing to drivers is a safe, clean, and accessible site. This includes unobstructed pathways for trucks (e.g., the driver doesn’t have to navigate a packed parking lot) that don’t require much – or any – backing in. It also includes clear instructions for drivers and appropriate safety equipment for loading and unloading processes (e.g., harness protection should be offered if a driver has to get on top of the tank to check for heel).
Have staff to assist drivers. Drivers drive and that should be it. The majority of the loading and unloading processes should be performed by employees at the shipper or consignee locations. As we all know, however, this is often not the case. Shippers should ensure that loading and unloading facilities are staffed and ready to receive the driver upon arrival (e.g., ensure that check-in windows are staffed). Facility employees should then perform most of the loading/unloading work (e.g., hooking up hoses and operating pumps), while the driver waits with the truck.
Make it easy to load/unload. Drivers encounter many older facilities, with piping that runs great lengths with right angles along the way. If a substantial length of hose is needed, make sure it’s available to the driver – along with the staff to make the connections.
Have onsite driver amenities. Drivers don’t expect white-glove service at your facilities, but a few amenities can prove enormously helpful. These include on-site (or nearby) scales, as well as a secure parking lot where a driver can rest while product is being unloaded or loaded from a tank or trailer.
Be nice. The biggest strides in becoming a driver-friendly facility come from treating drivers with respect and courtesy. By ensuring that your staff treats drivers as they’d like to be treated, you’ll be well on your way to ‘driver-friendly’ status.
Keep product flowing through your driver-friendly facilities
Now that your facilities are set to be the friendliest ones a driver will visit, you can focus on keeping product flowing. Bulk Connection can help you do just that. As a freight broker with over 30 years of bulk shipping experience and one of the largest carrier networks in North America, we have the expertise and the capacity to keep your products moving. To learn more about our services, contact us today.