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One of the key challenges and unique factors impacting the third-party logistics industry (3PL), is in providing a service that isn’t readily visible. However, acting as a 3PL enables you to differentiate yourself from a carrier in many ways. One way to stand out as a value-add provider is to successfully establish yourself as an industry expert.

Being a transportation industry expert will set you apart from your competition and will be a vital and key component in building long-term successful customer relationships. In the sections below we discuss opportunities to become the trusted advisor every customer wants and needs.

Focus on the Long-Term Strategy

There are many unique challenges in every season throughout the year that occur within the transportation industry. Offering a competitive price will always be at the forefront of every customer relationship. Take caution when building a relationship solely based on price.  Competitors may be able to offer the same price and establishing a customer relationship on price alone will serve as a short-term band-aid. Change within the transportation industry is constant. Market conditions will shift and place your customer relationships and retention in jeopardy. Winning business based solely upon rate will become transactional and is not a long-term strategy for success.

Take a Consultative Approach

One of the most important ways to differentiate yourself from your competition in the service industry is to take on a consultative role with each of your customers. Due to the consistent shifts and factors, both inside and out of the transportation industry, staying current with market conditions will be a key service and value you can provide your customers. Over the past year, COVID-19 has forced customers and consumers to think and act differently. Many customers leaned heavily on the relationships of their transportation providers.

Be a Subject Matter Expert

COVID-19 impacted two very important industry factors – increased transportation cost and market demand. As a result, customers looked to subject matter experts for guidance. More than ever, they are relying on their transportation consultants to provide insight into regulations and legislation, customer acquisitions, strategic shifts with asset-based providers, and market demand impacting capacity. They look to their strategic partners to help them navigate these waters.

Provide Data Customers Need

Incorporating technology and providing industry information proactively to customers is an ongoing strategic differentiator. There is tremendous value in providing a market competitive price to a customer, but there is additional upside as we seek to work alongside our customers and help them achieve their ultimate goal. Providing insight to help your customer make educated decisions will help you continue to set yourself apart from those looking to take your place at the table.

In the transportation industry, challenges will always be present. Your ability to work through them proactively will build your brand and a strong foundation for customer relationships and long-term growth.