8 Timely Decision-Making Guidelines

August 22, 2012 at 10:33 AMScott Frederick

Decision Making SkillsAs a 22+ year veteran of the business world, a common challenge I have faced - both individually and collectively - is the dilemma of getting decisions made in a timely manner. That's why the following tips provided in a recent report from Keith Prather at Armada Executive Intelligence really caught my eye.

Keith works with many big and small organizations on planning and strategy, and he often sees executives spending too much time on too many decisions. He suggests that one strategy for faster decision making is to invest less time on so many decisions. To accomplish this seemingly improbably goal, Keith recommends developing some self-imposed guidelines for identifying decisions where you need to be involved but don't need to spend so much time getting ready to decide what to do. He recommends eight potential guidelines across three categories where you can accelerate your decision making process:

Decisions with Less Potential Impact

1. Non-strategic issues - Many business people equate strategic with "long-term" decisions. But in reality, strategic isn't defined by a time horizon. Strategic involves areas having a material impact on the business. If a decision's ultimate outcome and implementation lack real significance or visibility for a business, try to limit how much time you spend on making it.

2. Current alternatives are adequate to meet expectations — It's popular to suggest one key to success is a willingness to purposely change things that appear to be working. That can be true in areas important to a business and its customers/clients. If it's a process or activity that is required but takes place in the background and could work in a variety of acceptable ways, however, it's best to decide quickly and move on without trying to reinvent the entire operation.

3. There's plenty of runway to recover from a poor decision — As more processes, services, and even products become digitized, development and recovery costs from something being slightly off the mark are reduced. In these instances, don't overdesign or over-engineer a decision when there is ample opportunity to introduce, test, diagnose, and correct with minimal downsides.

4. It is likely customers will be indifferent to the options being considered — We've seen too much time wasted at businesses agonizing over service and product enhancements so slight that customers will be hard-pressed to EVER notice the difference. If you have a couple of decent decision options on a product or service feature change that is already low on the list of what's important to customers, it's quick decision time.

Decisions that can be More Standardized

5. Decision policies or guidelines already exist — We've seen the human tendency toward boredom used either directly or indirectly as a motivation for overdramatizing what should be routine decisions. When team members have been focused on a narrow area of the organization for too long, even minor decisions can seem like they could change the world. When you have a policy that's working on routine decisions, let the policy work and invest time on bigger issues that really do have some potential for impact.

6. You have a reasonable track record from which to decide — Even where there's a general track record on the results a decision you're considering may yield, people in the business can be overly invested in arguing for a path that feels comfortable or protects a personal agenda. When you sense this is happening, cut short the debate and go with what your experience suggests is the best course of action.

7. You don't have resources for prolonged exploration — An important variable for decision making (i.e., time, people availability, investment for attractive decisions, etc.) may be constrained. If that's the case, forego the intellectual attractiveness of giving a decision everything the business has; it's simply not practical. If this is your situation, shift to eliminating options that aren't viable and quickly get to what you CAN decide to do and implement.

No-Win Decisions

8. You've got no chance of selling in a preferred alternative — Hope springs eternal, but perhaps you find yourself having already unsuccessfully made your best case to sell an internal or external customer on a decision you think they should make. At some point, when you know the customer isn't going to decide in your favor, but still won't say —No,' it can be in your own best interests to say it yourself. With a firm decline, you can free yourself to move on to fight for a different decision on another day.

So what do you do to speed decisions in your organization?

Adopting decision guidelines that make sense for your business and reflect your decision style and pressure points can be a big time saver. The key is to do your thinking upfront (and to continue adding to this list) so you can easily recognize situations where taking more time to get ready to decide is simply not a good investment of resources.

When it comes to making decisions on transportation - whether determining shipping mode, carrier selection, prepaid or collect, or to ship to a tradeshow using a decorator or 3PL - don't waste too much time when PartnerShip is here to help!

This post was supported with business intelligence from Armada Executive Intelligence. Visit their website or follow them on Twitter at @ArmadaCorpIntel. And if 8 decision-making guidelines are too many, check out this article on 7 decision-making situations from the folks at Brainzooming.com!

Best Practices for Exhibiting at Your Next Tradeshow

August 20, 2012 at 8:10 AMMatt Nagel

Harry Centa - Senior Program ManagerA tradeshow is a great way to get in front of your customers.Managing shipping programs for over 100 associations means that PartnerShip attends its fair share of tradeshows and events. What we've gleaned from all of these tradeshows is that there is always something new to learn, and things are always changing. That's why we called on one of the PartnerShip resident tradeshow experts to share some experience and knowledge that he has gathered over the years.

Harry Centa, a senior program manager with PartnerShip, has attended over 100 tradeshows in his seven year career with the company. When asked why tradeshows are important to small businesses, Harry said, —Tradeshows are a great way to put a face and personality to your company. The face-to-face interactions and conversations you have at tradeshows go a long way in building relationships and solidifying leads for your company. That's why we take tradeshows seriously and invest resources in this valuable tool.'

We asked Harry for some tips on pre-show, at-show, and post-show best practices and this is the advice he had to offer:

  • Pre-Show — —Decide on a plan of attack for the upcoming show. Establish what you want to accomplish, how you are going to accomplish it, and what tools you'll need to successfully carry out your plan. You can then start thinking about collateral, giveaways, and promotions leading up to the show. Determine if your booth will ship to the advance warehouse or directly to the showsite. Lastly, bringing your own table, chairs, modular carpet squares, etc. can dramatically reduce your exhibiting costs.'
  • At-Show — —If possible, setup your booth a day in advance of the show start, that way you are not rushed, have plenty of time to make extra copies of your marketing materials, and deal with any emergencies that can arise from time to time. Take advantage of every networking opportunity, and be sure to track all leads. For larger shows, renting a lead retrieval scanner is a wise choice, and for smaller shows, taking notes on business cards works just as well."
  • Post-Show — —Write down what you learned through your show experience — it will be valuable for future shows. Also, be sure to follow up with any leads you received at the show in a timely manner. Striking while the iron is hot will ensure you are fresh in the prospect's mind and you won't get sent to voice mail with the rest of the sales calls. Another best practice is to send a post show eblast and/or postcard to the attendees list (if offered) to remind them of your product or service.'

Additionally, Harry emphasized, —The most important aspect of tradeshows is getting your booth and show materials to the tradeshow on-time and in one piece. Without a booth or materials for customers, the tradeshow experience is hampered considerably.' Harry went on to say, —Shipping my tradeshow materials is one part of the tradeshow process I leave to the tradeshow shipping experts here at PartnerShip!'

Your booth is now at the show, you've followed Harry's pre-show rituals to a T — now, how do you drive people to your booth? —There's not much point in going to a tradeshow if your just going to stand there and shuffle your feet for 8 hours.' said Harry, —I use giveaways as a method for driving traffic to my booth, and once customers are there I use that opportunity to discuss PartnerShip and the services we provide. Tradeshows are constantly changing, but one idea will always hold true: People love free stuff - pens, pads or any swag in general!' Harry went on to stress that a consistent, inviting, and aesthetically pleasing display is an important tool in catching people's eye, getting your sales pitch out, and getting literature in a customer's hand.

Tradeshows can be an investment for your company, but when done right, tradeshows are one of the most useful tools in your sales toolbox. The PartnerShip goal is to make sure your booth is at a tradeshow on-time and you are prepared for a successful show. That's why we've developed some tradeshow specific information for our customers: The 411 on Tradeshow Shipping and our tradeshow helpful hints page.

If you have any additional questions about shipping to tradeshows, about tradeshows in general, or would like to quote a shipment to your next show — contact the PartnerShip dedicated tradeshow team at tradeshow@PartnerShip.com or call 800-599-2902. You can also contact Harry Centa at the above information.

Consolidate Orders to Save on Shipping

August 13, 2012 at 9:40 AMScott Frederick

As a general rule of thumb, one big order ships for less than three smaller orders. That means consolidating multiple orders into a single shipment whenever possible, and always striving to minimize the number of packages you send. All too often, shipments are arranged as they come in from sales or order processing. However, a little planning and visibility goes along ways towards shipping savings.

As the example below shows, one 30 pound small package shipped via FedEx produces a 27% expense reduction over shipping two separate small packages, netting almost $6 in savings.

Small Shipment Consolidation

When it comes to small package shipping, these savings - although seemingly small at times - definitely add up over time. However, when you consolidate LTL freight shipments, the savings become immediately more impressive. As the example below shows, by consolidating three 300 pound shipments into one 900 pound freight shipment, the shippers was able to save 25% - or $454.24 - on their freight shipping expense.

Freight Consolidation


Consolidating orders provides additional benefits to both shippers and receivers (consignees) of small package and LTL freight shipments, including:

  • Reduced shipping supply expenses
  • Greater fuel efficiency (better on the environment)
  • Less time needed to receive, handle, and restock orders

One strategy for shipment consolidation is to create a simple shipping guide that takes into consideration all of your business rules for carriers, weight breaks, orders, and shipping contacts. Distribute this guide to your vendors and discuss it with your customers. A little communication can often go a long way towards small business savings. If you need a partner to help you through the process, you can always call on PartnerShip ... we're here to help.

PartnerShip Carriers make the Quest for Quality

August 6, 2012 at 8:10 AMScott Frederick

LM Q4Qmedal 125x122The editorial staff of Logistics Management (LM) recently unveiled the results of its 29th Annual Quest for Quality Awards. This year, 127 providers of transportation and logistics services have received the ultimate vote of confidence, posting the highest scores across critical service criteria.

For nearly three decades, LM’s Quest for Quality has been regarded in the transportation and logistics industry as the most important measure of customer satisfaction and performance excellence. To determine the best of the best, LM readers rate carriers, third-party logistics (3PL) service providers, and now U.S. port operators strictly on the basis of service quality.

Not surprisingly, many PartnerShip core carriers were among the award winners in this year's contest for the categories outlined below:

  • National LTL

    • National: Con-way Freight, FedEx Freight

    • Multi-Regional: FedEx Freight, Old Dominion

    • Surface Package: FedEx Ground, UPS

  • Regional LTL

    • Northeast/Mid-Atlantic: New Penn, Pitt Ohio

  • Truckload/Specialized

    • Expedited: UPS Urgent, Old Dominion, Pitt Ohio, New Penn

    • High Value Goods: United Van Lines

  • Air Carriers:

    • Air Express: FedEx Express

On behalf of PartnerShip - and the thousands of customers that rely on your services as part of our shipping programs - congratulations to all of the transportation carriers that won Quest for Quality awards this year! PartnerShip works only with the best carriers in the industry - and you've all proven to be in that category.

Tradeshow Shipping - Exercise Your Options!

August 3, 2012 at 7:29 AMTina Straw

Tradeshow ShipmentWhether you’re a frequent tradeshow exhibitor, an occasional exhibitor, or a show organizer, you inevitably begin with a long list of “to-do’s” when planning your exhibit or event. You’ve probably spent months carefully considering your booth design, literature, show floor strategy, and giveaways. But one thing is for certain, your plans all hinge on your show and conference materials arriving at your event – on time and in good condition!                                                 

This is one part of the process that is often the most overlooked, and least considered – getting your precious cargo from Point A to Point B. When it comes to tradeshow shipping, many exhibitors believe that they can save time, money and energy by using the decorator’s freight solution, shipping through a small package ground program, or bringing the materials in themselves.  Sometimes exhibitors will choose to go with a lesser-known freight carrier, thinking that they will have the lowest rates.                                                                                                              

If your tradeshow shipment is at least 150lbs., you will want to find a shipping option that meets all of your most important criteria:                                    

  1. Use a transportation partner that has a dedicated tradeshow shipping department – Tradeshow shipping is a unique line of business in the freight transportation world, so pick a partner that specializes in getting to know the logistics of your event. Inbound and outbound shipping paperwork, and warehouse deadlines all become easier to navigate when you’ve picked the right partner.                     

  2. Who’s watching your shipment? – The success of your business can hinge on your success at a large tradeshow or event, so pick the partner that’s going to track your shipment from the time it leaves your dock to the time it gets to the show.

  3. Money isn’t everything, but… – You don’t want to end up spending all of your hard-earned profits from the show on freight, but you want to make sure that you don’t jump at the lowest offer if it’s a carrier that you’ve never heard of. “Bob’s Trucking” may be offering you the lowest shipping rate, but make sure you won’t be charged additional fees that you didn’t know about, such as “wait time” and “lift gate” fees. Also, you’ll want to make sure that your show materials are covered by a certain amount of liability insurance with the carrier that you’ve chosen.

    PartnerShip can help you with all of your tradeshow freight shipping, using the best national carriers, and at the most competitive rates. When you ship to a tradeshow using PartnerShip services, you can be sure that you’re getting the best service from a partner that will treat your shipment as if it was our own – daily tracking, preparing your paperwork, and providing you with the best liability insurance in the industry.

    Visit TradeshowSelect.com to get a free rate quote and learn about our services. For more information, email tradeshow@PartnerShip.com or call our dedicated tradeshow team at 800-599-2902 from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. ET. Want even more tradeshow info from the experts? Download our whitepaper – The 411 to Tradeshow Shipping.

    A Free Freight Analysis

    July 25, 2012 at 7:42 AMScott Frederick

    Sometimes you just don't know what you don't know. This is especially true when it comes to LTL freight rates. Because there are so many variables that go into your bottom-line LTL freight pricing - such as commodity classification, base rate schedules, discounts, accessorial fees, etc. - it's difficult to really understand if you're getting the best rate when you call your carrier or 3PL for that LTL freight quote. As shown in the example below, sometimes the "highest discount" doesn't always mean the "lowest price."

    LTL Freight Comparison

    For this reason, PartnerShip began offering a no-obligation FREE freight analysis service a few years ago to help small businesses sort through their current freight rates to ensure they aren't leaving money on the table. We run several of these analyses for customers every week, and requesting a freight analysis is as simple as:

    • Visit PartnerShip.com and complete or brief Freight Analysis Form.

    • In the About Your Shipments section of this form, let us know what you are shipping, how frequently you are shipping, and a general idea of where you are shipping to our from.

    • If possible, also provide us with examples in an email to select@PartnerShip.com. This could be a few recent freight invoices, or better yet, send us a simple Excel file with recent shipments, including the following four pieces of information: Origin ZIP, Destination ZIP, weight, and commodity type (or classification).

    Once we have your request, our LTL freight experts will analyze your shipments to determine your current freight rates. Then we will review the best rates we have in place with our best-in-class LTL transportation carriers to see if you can save additional money on part or all of your shipping. Again, our free freight analysis comes with no-obligation - if you already have the best market rates, we'll let you know so that you can continue to enjoy them.

    If you're wondering how your current LTL freight rates compare, before (or after) you ask for that next LTL freight quote from your existing carrier, consider having PartnerShip provide you with a free freight analysis to make sure you are getting the best deal possible.

    A PartnerShip Profile: ABF

    July 23, 2012 at 10:22 AMMatt Nagel

    ABF was recently added to the select group of core carriers serving PartnerShip customers. ABF concentrates on national and regional transportation of general commodities freight, involving primarily LTL shipments. Established in 1923 in Fort Smith, Arkansas, ABF has solidified its reputation as a benchmark for safety, security, and freight-handling standards.

    ABF Logo 
    Through the PartnerShip alliance with ABF, customers can access competitive LTL freight rates, create bills of lading, print labels, and track shipments on PartnerShip.com. In addition to competitive freight rates PartnerShip customers enjoy ABF U-Pack services which offer extremely competitive rates on the ReloCubes for moving purposes. Some other advantages PartnerShip customers have by using ABF for LTL freight services are:
    • ABF provides comprehensive shipping services to all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, Guam and Puerto Rico (see map below).
    • More than 99 percent of all shipments handled by ABF are moved without a loss or damage claim.
    • Additional ABF services available upon request through PartnerShip:
      • TimeKeeper®, a guaranteed expedited service for time-critical, time-definite shipments.
      • TurnKey®, a premium inside delivery and set-up service.
      • FreightValue®, a service for shipments requiring special equipment or handling.
    If you have any questions regarding ABF services, or special LTL freight shipping needs that ABF might be able to address, call your dedicated PartnerShip sales representative at 800-599-2902.

    If you are interested in receiving a ABF rate quote for an upcoming LTL shipment, log on to PartnerShip.com, or create a web account if you haven't already done so.
    ABF Map

    A PartnerShip Profile: Old Dominion Freight Line

    July 10, 2012 at 10:09 AMMatt Nagel

    Old Dominion Freight Line, or "OD" as they are often referred, provides less-than-truckload (LTL) freight services with nationwide coverage across all regions of the United States. Based in North Carolina, Old Dominion focuses their LTL services domestically with 217 service centers which ensures that your LTL freight gets there on time and as promised.


    Through the PartnerShip alliance with Old Dominion, customers can access competitive LTL freight rates, create bills of lading, print labels, and track shipments on PartnerShip.com. Old Dominion offers regional and inter-regional LTL freight service with very competitive transit times and pricing. The map below shows the six Old Dominion regions and U.S. service coverage. Some other advantages PartnerShip customers have by using Old Dominion for LTL freight services are:

    • Comprehensive U.S. service coverage with competitive transit times and pricing.

    • One of the most efficient and financially stable LTL carriers in the industry.

    • Additional OD services available upon request through PartnerShip:

      • Security Divider Service which provides guaranteed, locked-in security. Your freight is locked securely into place on a trailer at its origin, and is not unlocked until it reaches its final destination.

      • OD Expedited which provides daily on-time and guaranteed deliveries within normal transit times or time-specific windows.

    If you have any questions regarding Old Dominion services, or special LTL freight shipping needs that Old Dominion might be able to address, call your dedicated PartnerShip sales representative at 800-599-2902.

    If you are interested in receiving an Old Dominion rate quote for an upcoming LTL freight shipment, log on to PartnerShip.com, or create a web account if you haven't already done so.

    Old Dominion Map

    A PartnerShip Profile: UPS Freight

    June 20, 2012 at 8:12 AMMatt Nagel

    UPS Freight, a division of UPS that focuses on LTL freight and truckload services, has been a PartnerShip core carrier for nearly a decade (dating back to when they were known as Overnite Transportation before being acquired by UPS). With over 200 service centers across North America, UPS Freight provides LTL freight service coverage to the entire U.S., Canada, and Mexico. UPS Freight also provides time-sensitive and tradeshow shipment delivery to PartnerShip customers through its LTL Urgent services division.

    UPS Freight


    Through our alliance with UPS Freight, PartnerShip customers can access competitive LTL freight rates, create bills of lading, print labels, and track shipments on PartnerShip.com. UPS Freight will be very competitive on virtually any commodity type and any length of haul. Some advantages that UPS Freight brings to PartnerShip customers are:

    • Full North American coverage, including over 200 service centers in the U.S. (see map shown below)

    • Excellent brand reputation and service reliability, with regional, inter-regional and long-haul capabilities (including over 20,000 one- and two-day service lanes)

    • LTL Urgent service options for time-sensitive deliveries, special equipment needs, and tradeshow deliveries

    If you have any questions regarding UPS Freight services, or special LTL freight shipping needs that UPS Freight might be able to address, call your dedicated PartnerShip sales representative at 800-599-2902.

    If you are interested in receiving a UPS Freight rate quote for an upcoming LTL shipment, log on to PartnerShip.com, or create a web account if you haven't already done so.

    UPS Freight US Coverage

    A PartnerShip Profile: YRC Freight

    June 12, 2012 at 12:53 PMMatt Nagel

    YRC Freight (formerly the Yellow and Roadway companies) is one of the nation’s largest LTL freight carriers and has been a PartnerShip core carrier for over 20 years. Headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, YRC Freight has built a strong foundation on their specialization in LTL freight and tradeshow shipping. Within these service areas YRC Freight offers a full range of national, regional, and international options for the movement of industrial, commercial, and retail goods. These services combine to bring flexibility and reliability to customers' supply chains.

    YRC Freight

    Through our alliance with YRC Freight, PartnerShip customers can access competitive LTL freight rates, create bills of lading, print labels, and track shipments on PartnerShip.com. Typically YRC Freight will be most competitive on mid-length (750 to 1,500 miles) and long-haul (over 1,500 miles) moves based on the strength of their national network. Some advantages that YRC Freight brings to PartnerShip customers are:

    • Full North America service coverage with fewer handoffs than most LTL carriers (see map shown below)

    • Good reliability in 2-5 day delivery lanes (i.e., mid- and long-haul lanes)

    • Responsive customer service, including a Live Chat feature (although in most cases, your PartnerShip team can assist with any of your customer service needs)

    • Reputable time-critical, expedited and cross-border U.S./Canada service options (call PartnerShip at 800-599-2902 to schedule these specialized shipments)

    Like many businessess over the past few years, YRC Freight has had its share of financial challenges. However, its recent announcements on a new financial restructuring plan and rebranding point to a positive future for this important PartnerShip service provider.

    If you are interested in receiving a YRC Freight quote for an upcoming shipment, log on to PartnerShip.com, or create a web account if you haven't done so already.

    YRC Freight LTL Map