By Paul Publow
Improving margins can either be accomplished by increasing price of the product or reducing costs or a little of both. Unfortunately during these times, most companies are often unable to gain any ground with their customers by increasing prices. As such management is forced to look at methods of reducing costs and one of the most obvious area of any operation that is reviewed is the supply/distribution operation. It is one area that tops the lists year in and year out.
Some questions that can be asked are:
If you have any concerns about any of these issues, call Logistics Solutions & Services Inc. and at (905)-896-9080 for your no-cost consultation and start improving your margins.
By Paul Publow
Undoubtedly the largest purchase an individual or family will make during their lifetime is a house. The second largest purchase and a much more regular one is the family automobile. Similarly one of a company’s largest ongoing expenditures is the purchase of transportation services.
But let’s talk about selling and buying a house for example. Anybody that I have spoken to about this subject does two very important things. In fact it would be impossible to think of a person not doing this basic homework.
They check the comparable prices that similar houses sold for when they sell and they check the same type of data for a house they wish to buy. In real estate, the actual dollars that houses are bought and sold for are readily available through the use of a broker. Bottom-line…people do not want to sell themselves short nor do they want to buy to high. These comparable listings are usually available in the form of a photocopy of the listing with the asking and purchase price clearly marked. No verbal assurances from the salesman necessary here.
Now let’s think about purchasing a car to put in the driveway. Things are a little tougher here. You the purchaser are confronted with a sticker price in the window of the vehicle. It lists the standard and optional equipment and the manufacturers suggested retail price. Somewhat different than buying the house, since you have no idea what the last customer was able to negotiate. Did they pay the sticker price, did they get ten or fifteen percent off? Were they able to negotiate better maintenance arrangement etc.? The list can go on and there are not many car sales people worth their salt which would offer up any information to you. So you blindly make an offer, without knowing what the “real” selling price is, or what the dealer is prepared to take. You probably have to meet the sales manager to “sell” him your offer.
How do these two purchases differ? In the case of the house, you do your homework, use an outside real estate agent and explore actual buy/sell numbers…you get to know the “real” cost before you make the offer.
In the case of the car purchase, by way of the nature of how the business is structured you end up making an offer based on virtually no concrete information. It’s anybody’s guess whether you got a deal and more than likely you walk away satisfied that you paid less than the sticker price. But who knows?
How does this relate to transportation and logistics?
Unfortunately the purchase of transportation related services in the business world is even worse than the process described above in purchasing a car. The individual who is charged with the responsibility of purchasing distribution services for his company has less knowledge than the car purchaser and unfortunately the purchase is far greater in real dollars.
Let’s list what most buyers of transportation know about their costs:
What they don’t know turns out to be the most important factor(s) in the entire purchase process.
If you knew the answers to these items, your effectiveness as a purchaser of transportation would be enhanced tenfold. The carriers do not want you to know the answers, since this knowledge will only weaken their position. There is something to be said about “knowledge is power” and it is very true in these circumstances.
But how do you as a purchaser better equip yourself to negotiate the next transport contract? How can you possess as much knowledge about the issues as your carrier does? I could confidently bet that your carrier can easily answer all of the questions about your business as well as the three most important factors that you need to know but don’t.
The answer is very simple. Engage a professional service that will “benchmark” your business against that of other service users similar to yourself. Only a company that deals with a wide number of transportation purchasers and an even wider circle of carriers can help lead you through the maze that lies before you.
Transportation is a complex industry often slanted in favor of the carriers and only rarely in favor of the purchaser of the service. Comparisons are not easy to make. The carriers even design their pricing in such a manner as to make comparisons extremely difficult. Different weight breaks, different minimum densities, different zone charts, different accessorial charges, different rules and the list gets longer each day.
It's definitely “buyer beware” when looking at your transportation expenditures.
Let LSS take the guessing out of the process. Call us today for a no-cost bench marking evaluation.