It isn't just the customer that should scrutinize product or service offerings, Hill says. Transportation providers need to determine if their services are still "valid" in the customer's eyes. Traditional concepts have had to give way to a new reality, a new ways of doing things. "LTL companies are not just LTL anymore," Hill says. "They want to expand into airfreight, into international transportation. UPS and FedEx, of course, are into every kind of transportation business."
That's the kind of new thinking that's needed if companies' service offerings are to be relevant to customers' needs.
Information technology is a major challenge and opportunity for transportation companies. You have no choice but to invest in IT. Many customers simply lack the kind of IT support they need internally, so the 3PL must supply it.
Training is essential if a provider is to remain competitive as well, Hill says. "You can't expect your people to be competitive in new service areas if you're not giving them adequate training."
Customers are looking to get as much cost off of their books as possible. That means they want 3PLs to take on that expense, whether it's in labor, warehousing or some other value-added service.
Providers must remain fast and nimble, innovative and creative, Hill says. They must offer a choice of attractive payment models, whether it's a simple management fee, a contract for services pertaining to a single product or some other arrangement.
If anything, flexibility is the one word that sums up what transportation services providers need to be be if they are to succeed in difficult economic times. Those that have the ability to adapt to customers' requirements quickly, will be positioned best for success.
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