From the December 1998 issue of Entrepreneur

If you use well-known national package delivery companies for all your overnight shipments, you may be spending more--and getting less--than you need. Regional carriers are often positioned to provide service that's more flexible, dependable and cost-effective, contends Jim Berluti, president and CEO of Eastern Connection, a regional trucking company based in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Some of the benefits Berluti cites include:

  • Later pickup and earlier delivery times without hefty surcharges.
  • Less chance that bad weather will cause delays.
  • Reduced risk of damage. Regional carriers typically don't use major sorting centers, which means less package handling.
  • Lower costs. Because they don't operate nationally or internationally, regional carriers aren't forced to subsidize less profitable routes, says Berluti.
  • Strong business relationships. Regional carriers are usually smaller companies with fewer employees, so it's easier to build a relationship with the customer service and dispatch personnel. This can be a big plus when you need extra help with special shipments.

When you evaluate a regional carrier, ask for and contact references. Also find out about their tracking, billing and online capabilities. Does the carrier operate a PC-based shipping system that lets you generate your own bills of lading and track shipments from your computer?

Finally, Berluti advises, ask the carrier to conduct an analysis of your delivery needs and expenses. You can provide them with your typical shipping patterns or an actual shipping history for a specific time period such as one month or one quarter. The carrier should give you a report on the service and rates they offer for comparable shipments.

Berluti says it pays to do your homework before you need to deliver the goods. You may just find those big carriers don't fill the bill. "Why use a shotgun to swat a fly?" he says. "You don't need a huge delivery system to deliver a package 100 miles away."


Jacquelyn Lynn left the corporate world more than 12 years ago and has been writing about business and management from her home office in Winter Park, Florida, ever since.

Zap!

Energize employees and watch your business take off.

Looking for ways to get the best effort from your employees? Bob Nelson suggests energizing them--and no, this way of improving performance and increasing enthusiasm doesn't involve batteries. "Energizing means tapping into the potential every employee has and wants to use," says the president of Nelson Motivation Inc. in San Diego and author of 1001 Ways to Energize Employees (Workman Publishing).

Three key areas that charge up employees are:

  • Involvement. "Involve people in decisions that affect their jobs," Nelson advises. Give them a say in how they perform their work, and be sure they understand how the entire business works, where the company is going, and their individual role in the company's goals.
  • Communication. Look for creative ways to communicate with employees. "Communication is more than just telling; it's explaining. And it's a two-way process," Nelson says. He suggests treating people as colleagues, not subordinates, and being as personal as possible in your communications.
  • Flexibility. "Allow employees flexibility in how they do their jobs, where they do their jobs, and what they wear when they're doing their jobs," Nelson says.

Unleash employees' potential by energizing them--and then watch their productivity, along with your profits, soar.

Contact Sources

Eastern Connection, fax: (781) 416-3280, http://www.easternconnection.com

Nelson Motivation Inc., (800) 575-5521, http://www.nelson-motivation.com