In today’s fast-paced, volatile cargo shipping environment, port drayage is a key element in ensuring an effective and reliable supply chain. Accordingly, it’s vital to have a port drayage partner who you can trust to get the job done while keeping up with the changes in the industry. If there is a breakdown in performance, it can become a key pain point for logistics professionals, and most of these customers will quickly consider alternative options. You can’t afford to lose ground to competitors due to a choke point in your supply chain.
When assessing port drayage partners, beneficial cargo operators should look at everything from the degree of transparency the partner provides to how quickly they get the job done. Let’s take a closer look at three important areas that are often decisive for logistics professionals in choosing to stay with a current drayage provider or to make a change.
Responsive Customer Service
Customer service in port operations has been increasingly important due to shifts in the flow of goods over the past decade. Consolidation of cargo transport into larger ships serving fewer ports means that a problem at one port can disrupt a significant portion of a business’s supply. As such, the drayage provider must be in constant communication to ensure that any such problems can be quickly rectified.
This requires a partner that’s always on and reachable through a variety of methods — if they don’t provide multi-channel customer service, it shows they aren’t keeping up with the needs of their customers. Furthermore, at a fundamental level, responsive customer service means agents should be knowledge and empowered to help solve problems, rather than just logging complaints.
It’s also important that customer service is well-coordinated and transparent in order to ensure that all involved parties are on the same page. If cargo arrives at the wrong time or if the customs, drayage, and warehousing operations aren’t properly aligned, it can make it difficult to resolve any problems that arise.
Responsive customer service also involves providing information on-demand. Customers want to know the status of goods transport at any point of time. Having visibility into every port-related process can ensure that they can modify supply chain operations in order to maintain consistent flow of goods. In this process, accuracy is essential.
If the drayage provider falls short in any of these areas, it can make it difficult for problems to be solved and complicate the effective management of the overall supply chain.
Consistently High Performance
The most important quality of any drayage partner is how they perform. Cargo businesses track everything from the speed of these partners to their reliability in dealing with challenges. With port congestion and corresponding challenges, drayage operators that always manage to get the job done through comprehensive port services can’t be undervalued.
As part of this consistent performance, they should be able to provide transloading and warehousing options that help you manage your supply chain and gets goods where you need them in a timely manner. Key performance indicators include how long it takes for cargo to be transported from the time it arrives at the port, to the amount of cargo that can be transported in a single day. Each drayage provider offers different levels of resources; it comes down to how a drayage partner meets your immediate business needs.
Each customer will assess drayage operators based on how they perform on the metrics that matter to them the most. For most, on-time performance will be the most important KPI. For larger cargo operators, though, the sheer amount of goods they can transport may be a more valuable measure. Cost per pound is also important. If the operator fails to meet the baseline metrics or slips over time, customers may consider an alternative partner that will get the job done more effectively in accordance with their needs.
Regularly Scaling Up to Match Demand
While customer service and high standards for performance are important to current operations, drayage partners should keep an eye toward the future as well. With congestion expected to continue unabated as well as new regulations at ports like Los Angeles and Long Beach, drayage providers need to have solid planning for how to ensure their operations will maintain their performance over time.
Customers should look at whether the operators are equipped to scale. In some cases, this may involve drayage partners using high quality contractors like independent-operators to supplement baseline operations. This can help ensure that large volume of cargo is moved quickly instead of sitting at the port for days.
Part of the scaling process should also involve developing the technological capacity for better tracking of goods, which can help mitigate some of the bottlenecks that increased volume can create. On top of this, every drayage partner should have plans in place to deal with unusual conditions, from unexpected congestion at port to the further consolidation of shipping routes and cargo ships.
Cargo customers constantly assess their drayage provider to ensure that their partner is meeting their needs. In looking at their overall effectiveness, it’s also important to consider how well they are adapting to industry trends, planning for future developments, in addition to their current performance and customer service quality. If they fall short in any of these areas, a change might be in order.
To learn more about how Globecon can empower your supply chain, contact us today.