Just a drink of water and a smile

October 10, 2018

John Bendel

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Has the capacity crisis made shippers smarter? Have they finally stumbled upon the obvious?

At least one logistics business magazine is trying to help. Inbound Logistics is a well-established magazine written for corporate shippers and 3PLs. The most important issue for most of them these days is capacity.

Of course, that’s your empty truck.

So the cover of Inbound Logistics for September (yes, they’re a little late) promises to help its readers “Find the Hidden Capacity.”

The actual article is titled “Six Ways to find Hidden Capacity.” Some of the “ways” are more relevant than others, but by and large, they get it right.

The first recommendation to their readers is to get their warehouse or shipping and receiving departments working efficiently. “Drivers don’t want to sit around waiting,” one logistics expert told the magazine. Pretty sad anyone has to be told something as apparent as this, but if they need to be told at least Inbound Logistics is telling them.

Next, Inbound Logistics advises readers to be flexible with shipping and receiving times. Seems like good advice. If they want you to show up when they need you, they shouldn’t turn you away when you need them.

I’m going to skip item three for now. We’ll come back to it.

The fourth item suggests support for infrastructure. I guess that means urging government representatives –federal, state, and local – to fund highway improvements and more rest areas. I’m all for it, but I’m not sure how it will enhance a company’s reputation among the drivers they work with. This one belongs on some other list.

The fifth item tells their readers to help you, the truck driver, find backhauls. I suppose that’s possible, but from the write-up, this item reads more like an ad for a company trying to sell software to shippers than an explanation of how it would actually work.

Now, Inbound Logistics’ sixth recommendation for the capacity crisis is a good one: “Pay Your Carriers Quickly.” You don’t like waiting for your money any more than you like waiting for freight or a door assignment – maybe even less. You don’t need a high IQ to understand this one.

That brings us back to item three, the smartest, simplest recommendation of all, the one item that kind wraps up the other five in one smart sentence: “Be nice to drivers.”

Holy Toledo! Could it be that simple?

For those folks who have no idea how, Inbound Logistics spells it out: “Give drivers a safe place to park and access to restrooms. Smile at them. Offer a bottle of water at the loading dock. Show a little respect.”

Yes, in fact, it is that simple.

Somewhere a top-drawer logistics executive, palm to forehead, is calling his assistant.

“Get a couple of cases of the cheapest water at Walmart and find us a professional smiling trainer!”

John Bendel

John Bendel is Land Line’s contributing editor-at-large. A former trucker, former editor at National Lampoon, and longtime truck writer, John is an author, photographer, and freelancer for New York Times. There’s more, but in short, his insight and matchless style of writing makes “Gizmos and Gears” a runaway reader favorite.