With billions of bytes of data available at our fingers tips today thanks to automated data collection it’s important for businesses to be able to identify which data is most important to successful operation. This allows companies to intelligently use their data to make strategic decisions instead of getting mired down in the complexities of all the data they’re tracking (after all with so much data now available to businesses it’s unrealistic to assume it’s all equally significant).
That being said it can be helpful to have a baseline idea of what you should be tracking to make sure your data mining is most effective. That partially depends on the type of business you are and the services you provide. As a shipper, there are certain data you should definitely track to ensure you’re on top of any potential issues and also aware of any possible opportunities to exploit a competitive advantage.
Cost per LTL Shipment – over time you should be tracking the cost of shipments through each individual transportation provider you use and then also comparatively track costs across all transport companies you work with to identify trends that can ensure you choose your lowest cost carriers. This will help you lower costs when you can and have greater leverage when negotiating rate contracts.
Billing Accuracy – when you’re managing thousands or even millions of shipments over the course of a year accurately keeping track of invoices is essential to ensuring that you’re paying what you agreed to pay with your various carriers. Be on the lookout for double charging or being charged for extra weight or freight that you didn’t ship to avoid overspending on freight charges.
Damaged Freight – keeping track of freight that is damaged upon arrival at its destination is a key data point for two reasons. First, you can be sure that the damaged freight doesn’t reach customers and create a particularly nasty customer service issue. And, second, you can then keep specific carriers accountable so that they either change their practices or you can terminate the relationship and find someone more reliable.
Shipments on Time – we all know that today’s’ consumers are more impatient than ever when it comes to receiving their goods. That means keeping track of on-time shipments is essential to maintaining proper customer satisfaction levels. If you start to see a spike in late shipments with a specific carrier you can take immediate action to improve the situation.
Carrier Compliance – monitoring whether your suppliers and carriers follow the rules laid out in the Inbound Freight Routing Guide allows you to have visibility to violations and decided whether a not the relationship with a carrier needs to be renegotiated on the basis on non-compliance.
Acceptance or Refusal Rate – as with any freight, LTL freight will either be accepted or refused by its destination. Tracking your acceptance rate against your refusal rate allows you to see any recurring issues either with your carrier or with your freight that might lead to costly refusals and help you avoid them.
Accessorial charges – like tracking billing accuracy to ensure you’re only paying for the freight you ship, you should also track the accessory charges on the bill (like fuel surcharges or multiple delivery attempts) to better understand what carriers are charging you for and if those charges are fair. If you disagree with a charge you can address it with the carrier before it becomes a habit.
Overall carrier rating – combine the various data points you track for each carrier and use them to create a carrier rating scale. This allows you to compare all the carriers you use to see which are your top performers and which relationships could use adjusting to make them meet your desired standards.
These data points are obviously not the end all be all of the data that LTL shippers should track. Everyone’s business is a little different and uses data slightly differently to maximize efficiency and success of shipments. However, they’re a great place to start to ensure that you have ample visibility into your shipments and how they’re working for your business.