Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Handling Carrier Strikes and Other Service Disruptions

Recently, the 12,000 member Teamsters Local 705 in metro Chicago authorized a strike against one of the major carriers. Although an agreement was reached just hours before deliveries stopped, it reminded me that there is another important aspect of a multiple carrier shipping system - carrier choice. Sure, carrier choice in your shipping system gives you the best price for each package and more negotiating power with the carriers at contract time. But "best pricing" is in second place compared to making sure your packages get shipped.

Labor problems are not the only reason a carrier may stop picking up your packages. What about weather like hurricanes and winter storms? If a carrier stops picking up your packages, whatever the reason, you need to do something immediately. If packages aren't flowing out, then money is not flowing in. Even a one day interruption is disruptive, and you never know when it will be over until it's over (with apologies to Yogi!). If you miss just one shipping day, you could be facing expensive service upgrades when you ship the next day to you meet promised delivery times.

When an interruption becomes extended, history tells us other carriers may not even accept new customers to prevent overloading and poor service to their current customers. Even if you have selected a "primary" carrier, consider giving another carrier some packages each week so you have an alternate carrier available if the worst happens. As an example, with the CPS shipping software, you simply change the three carrier initials and you are immediately shipping with your alternate carrier, printing carrier accepted labels and sending them accurate data for billing and tracking.

Strikes, weather, etc. are "worst case" situations, and a shipping system with carrier choice can do more than just save money, it could save your business.

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