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Podcast: Freight markets, RFP season, and partnerships with Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping

Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping, joins the podcast to discuss the 2023 freight market outlook, RFP season, and partnerships.

Jacob Roseburrough
Jacob Roseburrough Director of Marketing

Executive Summary

Episode overview

It’s officially RFP season. The time where shippers re-evaluate current and potential new and current logistics providers to drive cost-efficiency and improve service quality. However, many RFP’s fall short of expectations. One of main reasons is due to poor data collection and data quality.

If you run an RFP with bad data, you should expect 1,000 percent for every single other carrier you run that will come in exorbitantly higher than your incumbent providers. And then the actual reaction is I knew I was already getting the best rates. No, you don’t because the carriers that you’re working with have your data in their database.” Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping.

In today’s episode, Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping, joins the podcast to discuss the 2023 freight market outlook, RFP season, and partnerships. Let’s dive in.

Transcript

Mike Adkins, VP of Sales at WarehouseQuote:  “Welcome to this episode of Supply Chain Unpacked. Today, we have Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping. Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little bit about yourself.”

Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping: “Thanks for having me, Michael. I am happy to be here. I’m always excited about an opportunity to talk about transportation and I think that probably makes me alert in the industry, but that’s okay. I started with rocket shipping actually in August, so it’s been a busy few months and we really have a lot going on. But I’m the vice president of revenue. And so it’s kind of my job to understand the markets that were operating in the domestic markets as well as the overall macroeconomics and microeconomics that the United States is in as well as global economy because all of these things ultimately factor into freight markets and pricing and the decisions that we have to make as an organization every day. So that’s kind of the bulk of my time spent if you will right now is keeping up with markets and making sure that we’re positioning ourselves correctly in the market.”

Mike Adkins, VP of Sales at WarehouseQuote: “Somebody who’s been a supply chain nerd for a while. You know, how does it feel to have supply chain be like a dinner table topic?”

Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping: “Yeah. I mean, that’s so funny because like my mom, my, even my grandpa, they’re texting me and like did you see on the news that there’s going to be a rail strike? Have you heard, I mean, have you heard about that? Yeah, you know, we hear about all of that well before it makes it to the mainstream news channels. But it has been a very common discussion topic over the last several years ever since COVID started. You know, the news outlets have been publicly showing supply chain pressures indexes on the nightly news as the cause for people’s inflation that they’re dealing with in their homes. And so the supply chain has become much more widely appreciated, which is the good part, but also just discussed. And now more than ever, it’s a good time to be educated because there’s also a lot of misinformation out there as well around what’s passing inflation and just all sorts of other areas that directly correlate to supply chain.”

Mike Adkins, VP of Sales at WarehouseQuote: “Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I’m a warehousing guy. So, I’m always keen on getting some information on the transportation side of the business. And I know we were joking, right? You know, things change so quickly. It seems like regardless of what kind of area in the supply chain you’re working on when this podcast was going out, because, gosh we could be looking at a completely different situation in three to four weeks. But in terms of right now, towards the end of December going into, you know, January 2023 what are you seeing in the LTL and FT markets, the domestic tracking markets, and, you know, what are some of the things Rocket Shipping and yourself are really looking at to, you know, help customers be in a strategic place to be successful here as we start off the new year.”

Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping: “Yeah, take that question about where we’re headed. And kind of usually when I answer this, I’d like to go back a couple of years and just because we’re in a cyclical industry, unfortunately, it is that way that the freight market and domestic transportation, I guess I’ll go ahead and elaborate there when I say freight markets and primarily talking about a, the truckload freight market or even the LTL freight market because they are cyclical in nature when it comes to pricing. And that’s driven by quite a few things. But one of them just being that there’s natural seasonality to domestic transportation based on back to school based on summer based on holidays. And so there’s always gonna be some waxing and waning in volumes and pricing in this market. But typically, what we see is that this freight market will recycle every three years on average. So over the course of three years, there’s a gradual increase in pricing till you hit a high. And then once you hit the high, it’s rarely sustained for very long before it’s gradually decreasing. And then you’ll hit the bottom. And then you’ll stay there for a little while but not too long before it starts working back up. And so usually that cycle takes somewhere around three years to fully play out. And so where we are at right now as we are coming into the end of the year is we are at the bottom, what is coming up to be the bottom of that market cycle. And so, I think that’s actually something that’s not being talked about enough right now is that we’ve all been waiting for, you know, transportation costs to come down and everything to get better. And there’s a lot of, I think false hopes that it’s gonna stay better for potentially a year or years. But the truth of the matter is all of 2022 has already seen a decline in truckload freight rates. And so we’re actually going to be coming up on that bottom here. And what’s most likely gonna end up being Q1 of 2023 and we’ll start working ourselves back up slowly but surely. And so I would expect by the time we get to the end of 2023 that will be net positive again on your over year rates in domestic transportation. And so, I think the main thing people can take away from that is if you haven’t already taken it upon yourselves to reevaluate your networks, your partnerships and domestic transportation, maybe you haven’t run an RFP in a while because let’s be honest, that was a pretty fruit less effort during COVID, you’re running out time to do that before you’re going to see the market cycle again and RFP affords you the luxury of 12 month rates. Whereas if you take too long to do that, you’re going to be on the upward cycle by the time you put in your 12 month rates. And then you won’t get to take full advantage of the decline in the second half of those 12 months. So it’s all about timing and it’s about understanding the market and it’s about having good conversations with your partners. That’s kind of where we come in with our shippers as we help educate them on the market. But then we also help them have those productive conversations or we handle those conversations even with the carriers, the actual transportation providers who are offering out these rates by understanding where they’re coming from, what stages in the market cycle we’re in. We’re able to negotiate better and plan for those six month or 12 month rate cycles. So I was kind of a long winded answer, but that’s kind of overall where I see us headed right now in Q4 and Q1. And then just know that 2023 will be an easier year than past years. But I’m not expecting any drastic reductions in domestic transportation costs.”

Mike Adkins, VP of Sales at WarehouseQuote: “As customers look towards the next year like, you know, beginning of the year and just kind of where we are in the, you know, the cycle. You’re referring to a pretty good time to go back and at least price check what you’re working on today. I think, you know, that’s the other thing in RFP that you at least on, you know, from my perspective on other services, right? Is that you don’t know what you don’t know? And until you have some objective responses coming back from ideally folks who are trying to win your business, right? Like it’s a good way to at least understand you’re making the right decisions today and validation.”

Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping: “A little tidbit here. It’s pretty well known but Q1 and pretty much anything after January one marks the lowest period in domestic transportation. I mean tonnage for LTL carriers that report that it’s gonna drop in Q1 volume for truckload tenders is gonna drop in Q1. And it’s because there’s such a big push for a, over the summer back to school and just summer activities drive so much purchasing and consumer habits and even, you know, services and things that are going on construction happens a lot more in the warmer months. So all these things that drive the transportation of consumer goods, of building materials, of supplies for events like you name it, there’s just naturally a lot more going on in the warmer months. And back to school is actually one of the largest like spending times, right? It’s when everybody needs all the new clothes, the new shoes, the new school supplies, the new everything schools are preparing their facilities for. So then that goes for universities as well. So there’s a lot of money they get turned around in that time. And we’re both parents and you have four kids. So, you know that. But, then we get into Christmas. So it kind of just continues on. And as you go through the holiday season, we also know that that’s a lot of consumer spending fueling the movement of goods. And so then we come into January and it’s like everything just grinds to a halt. You also have Chinese New Year this year, unlike any other year. There are reports that China, the factories are actually going to shut down for like five to six weeks this year. And so essentially, I think that usually it could be wrong exactly but one to two weeks. But just because of all of the cancellations and reduction in orders that are already going on in China that’s gonna fall so much that they’re like let’s just take five to six weeks off while this is a slow season. So I bring that up because there will be nothing leaving China unless it was already made for five to six weeks. And so that will play out over all of Q1 essentially by the time something could, you know, actually get to a ship and then get to a port here domestically. And then anything that ports domestically will typically go on a track of some sort. And so that also affects domestic transportation. But Q1 will be very slow. And so, you know, this is a time when carriers in full truckload and LTL are out there right now looking at their networks, evaluating their current partnerships, looking for new partnerships. You know, what can we find? To fill our funnel essentially so that we are maybe seeing some new freight in Q1 to sustain us through a lower period or so that we can at least win right in Q1, that will allow us to increase our profits in Q2 and Q3 as you recover from Q1 losses. So, it’s a very important time for the carriers to be evaluating their networks. And it’s a very important time for shippers to take advantage of that. There are people out there on the provider side actively looking for opportunities at business and they want to understand your freight and what you could potentially offer them.”

Mike Adkins, VP of Sales at WarehouseQuote: “And I imagine, you know, there’s a lot of businesses especially maybe some of those that have been growth mode where transportation has been a partnership who, you know, referral based, the local guide out of the street, taking part in retail programs, you know, whatever that may be as an owner or a decision maker in one of these companies. If I haven’t gone to RFP before and I’m not familiar with it. What kind of, what are the steps and what are some of the guidance that you can provide in some of those that you see and respond to? And how can a business get the best input from those carriers to then make a decision on where that partnership needs to go?”

Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping: “Yeah, that’s a good question. So an RFP for anybody who might not know is request for proposal request for proposal of rates. And so typically what it is, it’s an aggregation of data and it is your shipment data and it is sent out to multiple providers. So let’s say if we’re in LTL, maybe you only currently utilize three providers, we’re still gonna send that RFP out to 13 and you’re going to take in those requests for proposals and they’re gonna all come back. And the nice thing about an RFP is that you get to in many cases dictate the ask a, so right now if you’re using multiple providers but you’ve never run an RFP, then it’s likely that your providers are on different base rates. They have different discount percentages. They have different accessorial charges and it’s really impossible at that point to compare carriers apples to apples against each other. So you can’t say, you know, if you ran those carriers against each other, you wouldn’t really know like who overall is pricing better. And you could still make decisions when you quote at the shipment level, but you’d have no way to essentially predict who’s going to win, how much of my freight over the next year. And so what RFP does is it attempts to standardize your carriers Terri that you hold with them. And so everybody will be on the same base rate. Everybody will have the same fak, everybody has the same accessorial. And this allows you to genuinely compare apples to apples because at that point, the only thing that’s really changing is you’re maybe they can change the absolute minimum charges or the actual discount percentages. And those will affect the rates. And so that’s how you’re able to easily and quickly evaluate these carriers as far as how they stack up. And then as you work through the RFP process, you’re able to award carriers and actually tell them like, thank you for your participation because I was able to, you know, fairly compare you to everyone else. You either aren’t looking in a word or you are predicted to handle 30 percent of our volume over the next year with an estimate, you know, maybe it’s a one point $2,000,000 dollar award or $100,000 dollar award depending on the size of the company. And that helps the carriers understand where they fell in line. And so maybe you give them the opportunity for around two to come in more competitive. And it also helps the ones who win, right? Understand what to expect so that they can realistically plan operations. Around that new award. And so an RFP is just truthfully a great process. But something that I have to always remind people is that an effective RFP can only be run with good data. And that becomes the biggest issue in our industry because data collection has never really been prioritized properly for a lot of organizations. And it’s become more well known now this is something that needs to be prioritized but it’s still lagging especially across bigger organizations. Because a lot of times what you’ll find is that your ERP system doesn’t support data collection like you need it for your WMS, doesn’t support this like you need it to maybe it’s your TMS system that you’re using. Maybe you don’t have a TMS system. And so these are all things that we find. So someone’s like, can you run an RFP for us? Yes. Can you send us your data? Well, oftentimes what we get back is some zip codes and the overall weight and that’s just quite truthfully you’re doing yourself a disservice because no carrier’s able to look at that and understand exactly what it is they’re being asked to do. And the worst thing you can do when you’re dealing with carriers is make them start guessing because every time they guess about something, they just padded their margins because there’s risk involved now and you don’t want to make them guess like we need to eliminate the guesswork by having data that clearly paints the picture of what it is they’re looking to participate in bidding.“

Mike Adkins, VP of Sales at WarehouseQuote: “Yeah, we, and we do studies all the time, right on like where your warehouse should be, right? Based upon the movement of freight. And we run into the same problems. You know, I think our general guidance is like many PS or, you know, a line of business systems have a like a shipment sales report, that type of thing that can be run pretty generically out of the system that has, you know, essentially the, you know, the specs of the order that went out or came in with where it’s going right? And we, you know, try to provide some guidance on the minimum viable data that we would need to provide them with some sort of insight that’s valuable. Again. Otherwise we’re just filling in gaps and making assumptions generally on the conservative side, I completely agree that the data is just paramount to making some of these decisions.”

Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping: “And something else I would bring up because we just talked about two very relevant topics back to back, right, the RFP process itself and then the data that’s needed to do it. But we talked about RFP being a way to test the market to understand if your current providers are providing competitive market rates. If you run an RFP with bad data, you should expect 1,000 percent for every single other carrier you run that will come in exorbitantly higher than your incumbent providers. And then the actual reaction is I knew I was already getting the best rates. No, you don’t because the carriers that you’re working with have your data in their database. They know what their operating ratios are for your freight. So they are not assuming risk when they bid it because they know exactly what it is that they’re working with. Those non incumbents that you bite out to. I mean, it is a blind, yes. They haven’t seen the stuff. They haven’t even moved a Pallet in their system to know how that one Pallet operated. And so they’re just, you know, taking a shot in the dark honestly that’s as good as it’s gonna get. And so you will pull yourself if you’re running an RFP with bad data into constantly thinking that your incumbents are doing the best that’s possible for you to get. That’s not true. And in fact, your incumbents are probably getting pretty comfortable because every year they can give you a RI and every year nobody can displace them. And I cannot stress enough how much of a service that is to you and your business to just sit there and be complacent and continue to take increases each year. But you’re checking yourself into thinking that you already are getting the best that’s out there for you because nobody seems to be able to displace them.”

Mike Adkins, VP of Sales at WarehouseQuote: “100 percent. Yeah. And we’ve talked about a lot of the quantitative side of the RFP process, right? Like getting back rates and comparing data apples to apples. And I know from my experience, like my share and building our business around warehousing and distribution that if cost is the number one thing for one of our customers, you know, we may not be a great fit, right? Because we offer a lot of services around the area of warehousing and distribution that are essentially baked into our cost model. How do you help evaluate and kind of share with customers? You know, some of those things that differentiate some of the providers that you’re working with. You’re comparing, you know, outside of just, you know, pure rates and cost items.”

Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping: “So at rocket shipping specifically, we have a little bit of a leg up and so I’ll give you how we approach it. And then I can give a suggestion for anyone who doesn’t currently work with us. We have a TMS, a proprietary TMS that we’ve developed and our TMS was built for shippers. And what one of the functions it has is in the reporting section, we’re able to allow our people to go in and say it’s a bias rating tool. So you’re able to set your bias. And there’s three categories and it’s performance, transit and cost. And you have to say what’s most important to me and there’s no, you know, add up to 10 magic numbers, it’s ratios. But let’s say I would go in and I would say cost is king right now. And so I put the cost out of three. And then I put a zero next to performance and transit because I’m like I don’t care. I just have to save money. So it will run based on all the rates that you have in your tires or, you know, even the rate that we have that we give our shippers access to. It will run the algorithms and it will instantly return. Okay. Here’s the carriers you’re gonna use and here’s you know, how often you’re gonna use them. And then here’s the amount of costs that you’re gonna save. And then it’ll show you like you’re going to have an 11 percent decrease in performance and a five percent decrease in transit. And so we’re able to just totally put that decision making into the hands of our shippers and they’re able to play with that all they want and decide what they wanna do. Now, we don’t recommend that they’re doing that every week and changing routing decisions with their carriers, especially if we run an RFP. But it’s very helpful for situations like we did an RFP and we brought on the carriers we wanted to work with. But to your point, one of them is under performing. And so it’s just not gonna work. We want to replace them. So then you can say, hypothetically, if I remove them, what happens and it will show you the impact to your bottom line to your transit, to your performance. And then you could even say, okay, now, hypothetically if I replace them with, so and so what happens? And it will show you what character or what carrier would now come in and be basically the person that back filled that position and the implications of that to your bottom line performance in transit. So I don’t know of another system that does, but what we do where it’s in control of our shippers, and that’s why, you know, that’s why we design it that way. That’s why we love it for anybody else out there doing an RFP collaborating with their providers. Or maybe you’re running it yourself. You need to have in mind who you want to work with. So when I said, you know, maybe you have three or four incumbents, you’d better run that RFP with 13 or you wasted your time right? Like get it out there to as many people as you can. A lot of people don’t realize this, but I think there’s over 40 LTL carriers. I mean, there’s like seven or eight big nationals, but then you have all these regionals, and even like hyper regionals, there’s a lot of good carriers in those mixes. So sometimes one of the simplest things you can do is bring in regional carriers. If you have a network that supports regional freight movements. And so finding those carriers and deciding who do I wanna work with and set that target for yourself? So when the rates come back in and you said I really like my relationship with XP, it’s phenomenal, but that came in 10 percent cheaper than them. Then you can go back to XP and say here’s where I can meet you in the middle. I’m not expecting you to be the cheapest but can you know, you here’s what I’m dealing with and oftentimes that’s a great conversation to have carriers appreciate that collaboration. And now maybe you choose them, but it’s only a five percent premium instead of a 10 percent. And that’s why you test a larger carrier market so that you can use those carriers to hold the ones you want to work with accountable when it comes to market rates.”

Mike Adkins, VP of Sales at WarehouseQuote: “You know, as you work with partners, right? I think even outside of a what’s your on time performance, you know, some of the like the pure execution and operational SLA that you know, I think are important to every business at some point or another. But also, you know, we found that working with partners and customers even like culture is important, you know, and getting into kind of just a shared perspective on what it means to be successful, right? And well, I think I, I’m sure there are businesses out there that have gone to, for that very reason and, or they don’t and to me that’s an important tool to have in your bag is somebody running a business is a partner, you can count on, right? Whether it’s somebody to help you find that right transportation solution like rocket shipping, or the carrier moving the freight itself. I think, you know, things go wrong. So it’s important to have a good, you know, family of partners that really can help you get through those times.”

Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping: “Yeah. And I mean things go wrong on both sides too. So like just as things might go wrong with the carriers, shippers are never exempt from causing issues themselves, right? So that’s another thing that I would say is in RFP in the, you know, grand scheme of things is a blip in time over the year that those rates are good for. And so the rates that go into effect in Q1, you know, come Q3. If you’re all of a sudden, your down staff and your warehouse just cannot get freight loaded without two hour detention times at origin every time you should expect pricing increases because now you have seriously affected the operational efficiencies of your partners. And so while they commit it to a rate for you, you’re making it very difficult for them to be profitable at those rates because of operational inefficiencies. And so I just engaged with a couple of people last night actually in a conversation around far off of the LinkedIn post talking about operating ratios which are called or well, something that there’s not really a formula for it. Not really discussed is a far which is a fully allocated operating ratio. Every carrier has that you’ll never know what goes into it. It’s their only post like, you know, one carrier might be a union carrier. One carrier is not right there. They have different input costs and cost of labor. So the fares are gonna look different based on what’s going into that to calculate what it costs them fully allocated to operate on your account. So I, the carriers know these numbers, they watch these numbers and those numbers are what prompt pricing increases. Those numbers are what prompt carriers to go. You know, what? We can be a little more aggressive with this RFP because if we can increase market share, we’re operating well, they’re a good partner. So it helps you or hurts you and the way you’re handling your operations. And this is, you know, we’ve talked about similar things, Michael, because this is where warehousing ties in as well as if you are running efficient operations in your warehouses and those carriers show up, they’re getting what they need when they need it to put in that truck. The documents are all coordinated and accurate and correct. They’re able to effectively set appointments for delivery because you’ve given them their accurate information or you’ve done that yourselves and they have seamless processes with you and that makes them happy more than anything like I promise you, it is not all about like pricing and they don’t I have seen and for background, I worked for an asset carrier for three years prior to working with rocket shipping and I handled a lot of pricing negotiations and discussions and conversations with, you know, analytics on far. So that’s why I know this and I can speak to this but I have seen in us as a carrier, I’ve seen carriers be willing to take very minimal margins honestly on freight. That just, I mean, it executes like clockwork and it’s like, hey, the volume helps us. It keeps the ton age up. It employs our local terminals and we don’t have to barely lift a finger to do it because they work with us so well. So those, you know, you might be making very minimal profit margins. Whereas someone who has difficult freight, they’re always late, you know, it’s such a pain in the butt. I’ve seen us be willing to kick those people out even if we are making 30 percent profit margins because at some point operationally it’s just not worth it. And you never as a shipper want to find yourself in the position to be the one that’s not worth it no matter what. Because even when you do find someone to service, you are paying way too much money, at that point, you are paying them, you’re bribing them to take your freight. And you still don’t have a guarantee that, you know, if things get hectic at their terminal, you’re probably the first one up on the shopping block and that’s inefficient for you, you as well to continuously be having to look for new providers. So I can’t stress enough that it’s not just the RFP event that helps you guys shippers drive savings. It’s everything you commit to year round, to be a shipper of choice, to be a good partner to ensure that you understand the operating needs of your terminals. And if you are willing to have good conversations with your, maybe you have a carrier sales rep or sorry, yeah, carry your sales reps, you’re your account manager. If you go to them and you’re like, hey, what can we do? You know, 80 percent of our freight is shipping out of a facility in Dallas, Texas. Is there anything that Dallas needs from us? Maybe we don’t already have drop trailers. Does it help you guys to pick up after hours? We could put the oils in the back of the trailer. If you guys have more bandwidth after hours, it just takes offering an interesting solution like that for them to go. That’s possible. And now they’re able to reduce their, or, in your account and improve them. And you are in higher standing with that carrier. And maybe you can even get some cost reductions in the next rate cycle. So there’s a lot of things that shippers can do to assume more responsibility for their freight pricing.”

Mike Adkins, VP of Sales at WarehouseQuote: “100 percent. Yeah. You know, I think, you know, as somebody on the provider side, right? One, the goal is for us to get to a fair deal, like we have an internal operating rate that we want to get to and where it makes sense to take on a particular project or customer long term, et cetera. And then, you know, I have these conversations with our client success folks, and our operation staff has no money at the end of the day as a tool to incentivize behavior, right? And it goes on both sides, right? And I think when, you know, we have a customer and from the customer’s perspective or provider that’s adding value or doing things the right way, there is room on the table to negotiate. And when things are difficult, you know, oftentimes the rate increase or the conversation around exactly changing the underlying, you know, maybe original terms of the agreement that was on the table is because what was talked about at the beginning of the cycle, it just isn’t happening in real life from an execution perspective. So 100 percent.”

Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping: “You know, both of our businesses play in a third party space in a way, right? So that’s another thing that a shipper needs to keep in mind is that just because you’re outsourcing the work doesn’t mean you don’t need to be understanding how that relationship is working for you? Because I’ve seen it where a shipper will outsource their warehouse management to a third party warehouse, and that third party warehouse could not load a trailer any worse. And it’s taking my, you know, carrier terminal eight hours to work one trailer. And that is such a burn on our man hours that it’s just not worth it. And so, it often takes the support of the shippers to be having conversations with those third party warehouses. You’re paying them, not me, you know. So you need to be talking to them and coaching them and asking them to create a sop for your freight. Because if you’re going to outsource the management of anything at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter because those things still go into the cost that you ultimately pay. Even if you outsource your F pa services, you ultimately pay that invoice. And we can also talk about fpi services. Because if they’re not paying their carriers on time, you are the headache to them. Like they see the name of the shipper that’s not getting them their money because they’ve chosen an F pa service that is less than ideal. And they don’t know maybe you’re not paying your F, pa service and that’s why the pa services and paying you. And so, even when you outsource these services, ultimately, it’s a direct reflection of you as the shipper with the actual providers, the transportation providers handling your freight. And you will see it reflected in your prices that you get from those providers even if it’s through somebody else holding those rates.”

Mike Adkins, VP of Sales at WarehouseQuote:  “Yeah, absolutely. And when we talk about like the kind of the qualitative questions to ask about your partners again, whether on the warehousing side, whether they’re on the freight forwarding side, where they’re on the domestic side, manufacturing, right? I think it’s important to ask what they bring to the table in terms of advice to better or better run, right? And are you having the, you know, whether it’s you know, the format of BR, right? Or it’s a, you know, a 90 day review after, you know, onboarding, you know, I think seeking that advice and then also ensuring that the partner, your partner ecosystem is capable of providing that advice and is interested in doing that is incredibly important to, you know, overall getting the best service at a fair price.”

Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping: “You just hit the nail on the head there to me like for me to have customers feel comfortable to call me and say, you know, let’s say we manage their LTL for them and they’ll call me and say, like, hey, we’re considering trying to do this thing on the truckload side, like what are your thoughts on that? And maybe we don’t really manage the truckload. It is so reassuring to me to know that people feel comfortable coming to us and asking us for opinions and advice on whatever it is that they’re facing because that’s what we try to do. I mean, we are fully transparent. We are very educational. Education is a big part of what we provide our customers. Here’s all of our thought process behind this. Let’s collaborate and let’s make sure we’re finding the best solution for, you know, I talk with fortune 500 companies that I’ve helped them negotiate contracts that are not even with my company and on all sorts of things because I trust these people and they trust me and we’re both trying to make sure that we are understanding our positions in the market and how we can responsibly play in that market. And so that is something that I’m very big on is just education in general. I make sure I’m studying markets. I’m educating myself, I share it as much as I possibly can. I’d love for anybody listening to connect with me on LinkedIn because that’s where I share that attempt to, anyways… and it’s just great the conversations that you get to have with your shippers and really come alongside them and get down in the weeds and be like how, you know, how are we going to do this? Let me understand what you’re dealing with. And then we’re going to work together to find the best way to do it. And that type of honest transparent collaboration is definitely what our industry doesn’t have enough of. But I think we’re getting better at it.”

Mike Adkins, VP of Sales at WarehouseQuote:  “Kind of a discussion of the difference between cost and value, right? And like the rates that you’re getting, you know, you mentioned the operating ratios, like good providers, hire good people that are experts in what they do and that’s obviously reflected in what it takes to run their business. You know, I think to ask for access to those people is a fair thing. And most providers would, you know, like you mentioned, like to just blush at the opportunity to put somebody that’s really knowledgeable in front of their customers. So, you know, in terms of getting the pricing and all that is one phase. But as you’re operating, ensure that you’re getting the most value for what you’re paying for. Like that’s free money on the table for any customer working with a partner.”

Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping: “Absolutely. And I think, you know, as we’re a third party provider too. So sometimes… shippers are trying to decide, do we go direct? Do we go to a third party? There’s a lot of stigma out there on which is better, which is worse, what we should do. But that’s something that, you know, everything we do is just consultative in nature. It’s like, well, we’ll tell you if it’s best for you or not, you know. So I find those people who are willing to just be honest with you because 1,000 percent, I will walk away from an opportunity if I don’t think it’s the right fit for that shipper rather than trying to convince them that it is, you know, I do some sales here in the air because I’m always going to be a seller at heart and that’s part of what I’ve been doing lately which I enjoy. And I, you know, I sent an email the other day and I straight told this person I’ve never done that, you know, this before, moved your product. But here’s the reasons why, you know, we work with other similar companies like here, our expertise and here’s why I think it translates perfectly. You know, people need to be upfront and honest about what their capabilities are, what they can and cannot do and collaborate with their partners to figure out if it makes sense. But there’s a lot of, a lot of ideas out there that once you hit X amount of dollars revenue as a shipper, you need to be doing this like please everyone just throw those out the window because it’s not true. I can tell you that as a managed provider, we manage, you know, multi $1,000,000,000 dollar organizations and we manage $100,000 dollar organizations. And sometimes the multi $1,000,000,000 dollar ones are the ones that save them a $1,000,000 dollars a year on transportation by taking them from carrier direct to manage provider. So there is no one size fits all in transportation, that’s why we love it. Probably that’s why we’re all addicted to it is because there are so many variables in this industry. And every shipper is unique. Every broker is unique. Every carrier is unique and what they can offer the industries they play in every industry moves, right? And it moves it differently, different modes, different requirements. And so all these complexities mean that you should never just be looking at other people going. They’re doing something like that. I should be doing something like that is a terrible idea. And another thing that you might get into is paralysis by analysis, right? Trying to figure out what everybody else is doing. Is doing, how is working looking at 50 different options for yourself? How would these all play out? Talk to somebody who knows that and that’s the other benefit for a shipper? If you’re working with a managed provider or a broker, or a spa service, or a warehouse management service that works with hundreds of other shippers, you just open yourself up to the experience of hundreds of others. Because that person has seen a lot more of companies like you, companies that are different from you, what works, what doesn’t work. And so you’re able to learn from them because, you know, that’s what they do every day is live with other shippers and they’re able to give that advice and that guidance to you. So, I think what I’m trying to say here is be open minded and make sure you’re not just trying to compare yourself to other people. And there is no one size fits all in logistics or domestic transportation especially at that.”

Mike Adkins, VP of Sales at WarehouseQuote:  “You know, just to summarize the conversation here, Samantha, you know, the truck market is cyclical, it’s a good time to start looking. You know, I think we’ll see some advantageous times here. Based upon your insight here at the beginning of the year to renegotiate and kind of establish your transportation strategy for the following year. Go to RFP, see multiple providers?”

Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping: “If you have, if you have good data, if you don’t have good data, start getting the data yesterday. So that’s why I always tell people if you’re like, well, I don’t have that data. Well, then do not waste one more day saying I don’t have that data and figure out the plan and maybe that’s where you’re at like, yeah, this is a great time for an RFP. But if your data doesn’t support it, then, okay, now, the goal for 2023 is to get to a point where next year I have the data I need or next, you know, second half, even I’m not saying you can’t run an RFP in June. I’m not saying you can’t run one in December. I’m just saying that typically, there are more ideal times to do it. But if you’ve never done one and you never have the data and you go get the data, you could probably run one at any time of the year and still save some money. So don’t lose hard. I’m not trying to discourage people, but I am saying, you know, focus on your data collection. You know, we just gave that guidance. Right now. We’re partnering with a shipper and they don’t have data that’s okay. So we’re going to put them in a TMS system and we’re going to gather data for three months. And then after three months, we’re going to be able to take that data, formulate the RFP, run the RFP process and transition from there. So it really can happen at any point. But if you’re in a position to run an RFP right now, absolutely would encourage it if you’re not getting the data you need, make a plan, have a goal, get that going. And just start thinking about how you can be a better partner with your carriers or even your third party providers, as far as you know, how can you help them operationally, how can you communicate effectively if that’s not something you’ve prioritized before start doing that? There’s no time like the present.”

Mike Adkins, VP of Sales at WarehouseQuote: “Yeah. Lastly, you know, leverage the expertise of your partner ecosystem, right? And making some of those decisions. So I think all really good ways to ensure again you’re getting to be somebody who’s you know, the end customer and all these relationships, the most value for your transportation warehousing, whatever spend, you know, is required to get it from one place to your end customer, right? To complete the sale. Samantha, thank you so much for being a part of our series and being on today. I know it’s freezing outside here in Kansas City and I know you got a home life too with battling through the holiday season here. So really appreciate your time and your expertise here on the call, you know… from all those, you know, checking in today, like what’s the best way to get a hold of you and engage with you?”

Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping: “Yeah. I’m big on LinkedIn. Like I said, I love to connect with people and grow my network there. So feel free to send me a connection request and you can message me if you have any specific questions. I usually accept connection requests like five times a day, if I see them. So you’ll be able to message me there. If you would like to email me. My email is Samantha at go rocket shipping dot com. And like I said, we’re a consultative company. So we’re happy to just answer questions, help you guys understand where you’re at right now and we can make recommendations for best fit, whether that involves us or it does not. It never upsets me to take a little time out of my day to help somebody out.”

Mike Adkins, VP of Sales at WarehouseQuote: “Awesome. Well, if you’re listening and you’re looking for a transportation solution, I highly recommend reaching out to Samantha.”

Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping: “I’m going to say that we’re probably the best, but that’s okay.”

Mike Adkins, VP of Sales at WarehouseQuote: “You can go into the conversations thinking that. And I think as you said, you’re not afraid to walk away from something that isn’t right to, and oftentimes I don’t know about you, but for us, it leads to a referral somewhere else to somebody who might be better suited. So that’s the other thing we all got friends and you in our competition can be friendly in the industry and generally know who kind of exceeds succeeds in certain areas. So either way, I’m sure you’d get some value out of reaching out to you. So thank you again and… take care over the holiday and have a merry Christmas.”

Samantha Jones, VP of Revenue at Rocket Shipping: “Yeah, thanks, Michael. Merry Christmas.”

 

About WarehouseQuote

WarehouseQuote is an intelligent warehousing solution helping middle market businesses scale their warehouse operations with precision. Our agile warehouse network of 250+ facilities, logistics expertise, and integrated technology platform enable businesses to design efficient fulfillment networks connected by a single technology platform. Hundreds of B2B and B2C businesses like Chatime, Joyride, Benitago Group, Big Ass Fans, and Mighty Good Solutions use WarehouseQuote to scale, streamline, and optimize their warehouse operations.

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