Modern tools drive modern business, and this is as true in the transportation industry as anywhere else. Shippers, carriers and freight brokers can all use TMS systems and other electronic applications to ship, haul, track, and pay for freight transport.
But, while this may work perfectly fine in the dry van world, shipments of bulk loads often require a little something extra: a phone call.
In this article, we’ll tell you why the phone is still as important as ever and why you need to make sure your freight transportation provider will answer your calls.
Why the phone is still important in bulk shipping
1. Bulk loads are more complex
Anyone who’s ever booked a bulk or hazmat shipment understands that there is often significant knowledge and back and forth communication that goes into making the shipment successful. As such, shippers need true experts to guide them through the process. You’re simply not going to find that expertise and support on a load board or a computer algorithm – especially if the project encounters a hiccup along the way.
The information needed to ship bulk or hazmat products includes a range of details, many of them more nuanced than you can capture in a drop-down menu on an online form. These details include product info, equipment needed, facility details, fuel surcharges, tank wash details, incompatible prior products, and more.
A simple phone call can cover these details and make sure that both parties are on the same page.
2. Uncertainty is expensive
When your transportation provider doesn’t have all the necessary details, or if those details seem unclear or incomplete, experience has taught the provider do one thing: charge a higher rate.
Why a higher rate? Because seasoned carriers and freight brokers don’t want to be caught by surprise. They will protect themselves by assuming that any load detail left off could be the worst-case scenario – and they’re going to protect against those scenarios with higher rates.
The phone is again invaluable here. A phone call between two parties can quickly iron out details and remove the uncertainty that can come with online forms.
3. Transportation is a relationship business
Think of your personal life and the people and companies you do business with. Whether it’s a coffee shop or a mortgage vendor, odds are that you choose to work with the businesses that you know and trust. It’s human nature.
Bulk shipping is no different.
When times are tough and capacity is strained, most carriers are going to make sure that they take care of the customers they have close relationships with before any newcomers.
It’s important to foster relationships with the transportation vendors you work with now – and the ones you may need in the future. The phone is a great tool to foster those relationships.
4. Problem solving is more effective over the phone
If there is a problem with your freight at 2am on a deserted highway in the middle of nowhere, who are you going to contact for help? Are you going to exchange messages with a chat bot that can help you with only the most basic of requests? Or, are you going to call the 24/7 line at your transportation provider and speak to an actual person that can help you?
If you don’t have access to the latter with your current transportation setup, it may be time to rethink your partnerships.
5. Conversations can lead to unforeseen solutions
In addition to the immediate problem, the phone can also allow experienced brokers to solve problems that are not even on the table. For example, at Bulk Connection we were recently finishing up a booking for a carrier partner. We asked what else was happening and he mentioned 2 trucks that were down in New Jersey and about to return to home base empty. We were able to cover those loads and create a much more profitable run for the carrier. It’s not rocket science; it’s just talking. But sometimes that’s all it takes.
Bulk Connection answers the bulk freight call
We’re not saying to avoid modern technology when booking your bulk loads – we’re simply saying that you should not exclude the phone from the process. At Bulk Connection, we have a team of dry and liquid bulk freight specialists ready to answer your calls, as well as dedicated personnel to support booked shipments 24/7. Our specialists average decades within the bulk freight industry and can provide invaluable guidance for your next booking. To learn more about our bulk freight services, contact us online or, even better, give us a call at 800-543-2855.