• 6 RFP Questions for Association Affinity Shipping Programs

    04/28/2014 — Scott Frederick

    RFP ClipboardIf you're an executive or a membership director with an association or trade group and you're considering offering an affinity "shipping services" program to your members, here are six (6) questions you should ask your potential partners:

    1. What is your company background and experience? Ask your prospective partner to tell you the history of their company, how many years of experience they have, how did they get into the business, and what makes them different than their competitors. In the case of PartnerShip, we were founded by an association to provide shipping services to members - something we've been doing for 25 years.
    2. Describe your sales and customer service approach? Will your partner have a dedicated account manager for your program? Does your partner have a dedicated customer service department and what is their process for handling member inquiries and resolving issues? PartnerShip, as an example, provides a dedicated "program manager" to every one of our association programs. Additionally, we have a dedicated customer service team to support members.
    3. What marketing communications strategies do you use? What marketing strategies will your partner adopt to maximize program participation? What has been their track record with other associations? What is the process for bringing members into the program? PartnerShip uses a turnkey outbound and inbound marketing approach that includes a variety of high-quality co-branded marketing materials, including a custom website.
    4. How much program implementation support do you provide? How will your partner implement the program for your members? Will they share in the cost of the implementation? Will they provide communications and digital assets to your association for placement across your channels? Do they provide any live webinar support or will they support your trade show? PartnerShip does all of this and more.
    5. Do you have detailed reporting and tracking tools? This is an important one and an area where many partners fall short. Will your partner be able to provide both aggregate and member-level participation information broken out in sufficient detail? Will members be notified of the savings they enjoyed through the program? PartnerShip association clients enjoy a high level of detailed reporting on both a quarterly and annual basis.
    6. What does your compensation model look like? What methodology do you use to establish a mutually beneficial compensation model that will provide long-term success to the program? What process do you use to allow for full-disclosure and transparency of compensation reporting? PartnerShip non-dues compensation models are flexible and very transparent for each association client that we work with.

    I hope this blog post helped give you some ideas about how you might approach the RFP process of implementing this type of an affinity program. If you're still interested in learning more about how best to implement a shipping services affinity program for your members, we invite you to download a FREE copy of "Shipping Services as a Valuable Member Benefit" electronic white paper.

    By Scott Frederick

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  • 6 Considerations for Choosing an LTL Freight Carrier

    04/21/2014 — Scott Frederick

    As recently reported by the Journal of Commerce, revenue rose 3.9 percent at the 25 largest U.S. less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers in 2013 (see table below).  In 2013, these 25 LTL carriers collectively brought in $29.5 billion in revenue (nearly 90% of the $33 billion industry total). Overall 11 of the top 25 carriers grew at a faster pace in 2013 than in 2012 (compared with only one that did that in 2012).

    Top 25 LTL CarriersAs the largest LTL carriers continue to command more of the overall marketplace, small businesses must be resourceful when looking to source LTL freight services so as to not get "squeezed" on price due to a reduction in the number of market players. Businesses should take the following six (6) factors into consideration when finding the most efficient LTL freight services.

    1. Transit Times - How fast do you need to get your shipment to your customer, or to receive your shipment from your vendor? Long-haul carriers tend to have slower transit times in regional lanes, while regional and multi-regional carriers are much faster in these lanes, but may not provide service in longer haul lanes.
    2. Geographic Coverage - Once you get beyond the top 10 LTL carriers, most of the remaining players provide only regionalized direct pickup and delivery services. Understanding carrier coverage areas helps you optimize which carriers are best suited for the service.
    3. Service Performance - On time pickup and delivery performance is not always the same. Often this depends on where you're business is located relative to the nearest freight terminals. Long-haul carriers traditionally have been known to provide low 90% delivery reliability, while regional carriers tend to provide reliability in the high 90% range. Almost all of the LTL carriers will guarantee delivery or provide deliveries that are "faster than standard" for additional fees.
    4. Liability Insurance Coverage - Most LTL carriers will provide liability insurance coverage to shippers at a rate of $10 per pound. Although harder to find, best-in-class coverage limits tend to be around $25 per pound. On the other end of the spectrum, some regional carriers will offer liability coverage as low as $1 per pound. However, there are many other factors that come into play such as freight classifications, whether your product is new or used, etc.  
    5. Financial Stability - Most of the remaining LTL carriers in the industry are pretty stable from a financial standpoint. However, there are a few carriers that continue to struggle with profitability and debt issues. Anyone who may recall when industry behemoth Consolidated Freightways closed its doors in 2002 will understand the importance of not having your freight in the hands of a financially unstable carrier. 
    6. Pricing Factors - Lastly, and perhaps most importantly for many small business, is price. When working with LTL freight carrier, there are many factors that will determine your true cost of transportation. These include:
      • Discounts, base rates, and net price - most LTL carriers provide pricing in the form of discounts off of base rates, which will vary by carrier. So, a 68% discount from one carrier might actually be less expensive than a 70% discount from another. The main point to consider when comparing LTL carriers is not what the discount or the base rates are, but rather what is the final net price to you.
      • Minimum charge floors - generally a flat fee under which the carrier will not discount its price. Some carriers offer big discounts, but set the minimum charge floor high which may result in less of a discount on smaller weighted shipments than you anticipated.
      • Freight classification - there are 18 different classes ranging from 50 to 500. These classes are based on the density of your product and will definitely impact your overall price.
      • FAK provisions - if negotiated, "freight-all-kinds" provisions may allow you to ship products with different classes under a single class from a pricing standpoint. 
      • Weight - volume discounts may occur as your shipment weight increases. For shipments that are over 5,000 pounds, or greater than 750 cubic feet, it's often better to negotiate a "spot rate" rather than ship using an LTL carrier's standard pricing.
      • Accessorial fees - extra services performed by the carrier generally add additional fees to your overall freight bill. The fees that carriers charge for these services can often be radically different. Some of these fees can be "waived" if negotiated with the carrier (as PartnerShip often does).

    There are other factors not mentioned above that need to be considered when choosing an LTL freight carrier as well, such as equipment specifications (e.g., liftgate, trailer size, etc.), scheduling flexibility, and tracking capabilities, to name a few. It's easy to see why, what may seem like a simple service of picking up a shipment and delivering it, is often more complex than meets the eye.

    Generally speaking, there is almost never just one LTL freight carriers that fits every need you may have. Unless you have spare time on your hands, your best bet is to work with an established 3PL partner (like PartnerShip) that can do the "heavy lifting" for you so that you can stay focused on running your business.

    Need some help evaluating your freight shipping? Need help finding the right LTL freight carriers? Let PartnerShip provide you with a free, no-obligation shipping analysis to get you started.

    Scott G Frederick

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  • Happy Easter from the PartnerShip Team!

    04/17/2014 — Scott Frederick

    PartnerShip will be closed on Friday, April 18th in observence of the upcoming Easter holiday. From everyone here at PartnerShip - have a safe and happy holiday, and thank you for being our customer!

    Happy Easter















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  • 25 prizes in 25 weeks - our first 5 winners!

    04/14/2014 — Matt Nagel

    PartnerShip just wrapped up week number 5 of our "25 prizes in 25 weeks" promotion to celebrate our silver anniversary of helping small businesses save on shipping! The entries continue to come in and we are happy to announce our first five winners:*

    Store Pictures

    Week 1: Gene from Texas A&M Univ. at Galveston Bookstore

    Week 2: Sara from UIC Bookstore

    Week 3: Jessica from Panola College Store

    Week 4: Jerri from Saints Bookstore

    Week 5: Angela from On Campus Marketing

    Congratulations to all our winners who received a "PartnerShip 25th Anniversary Prize Pack," and thank you to those that provided us with some great pictures of their businesses (as shown to right).

    We still have 20 prizes to give away over the next 20 weeks so be sure to enter if you haven't already. Click here to enter our raffle if you are our customer or any other small business that would like to get in on the action. On our promotional website you can watch our 25th anniversary thank you video, learn more about PartnerShip, take a walk down memory lane, and, of course, enter for a chance to win a PartnerShip Prize Pack with some fun prizes such as t-shirts, piggy banks, mini basketball hoops, and more!

    Check back here at The PartnerShip Connection Blog for more winners in future weeks - or better yet, click the button below to subscribe and never miss a post!

    *Winners are also contacted directly.

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  • Are you an expert Truck Loader?

    04/09/2014 — Matt Nagel

    At PartnerShip, we love everything about shipping - including trucks, boxes, and the loading of boxes into trucks! That's why - as your Freight Headquarters - we just had to share this "Truck Loader" game that we recently found online.

    The game allows you to load your own freight on a truck through a series of mind bending mazes and puzzles. We invite you to spend your lunch (not worktime, of course) stacking boxes and loading trucks - we promise, it's more fun than it sounds!

    You can play the Truck Loader game in the window shown below. Since PartnerShip is no stranger to friendly competition (e.g., Minute To Win It, Corporate Challenge, Fantasy Football), be sure and post your best level or time results in the comments section below. Good luck, freight stackers!

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