Road haulage has always been an industry with hundreds, if not thousands, of operators. The bedrock of the industry is small family firms with trucks that are at the customers’ behest if they need something moving. Being local to the source of whatever needs moving is important because it means that there are trucks close to base and the source of business. If the return journey of the truck is empty, so be it; the cost of the movement is borne by the single load. Without being too cruel about it, the small family firm is not the most sophisticated operator and it is our contention that their focus on price when selling their services does not serve them or the market very well. The requirement to shift a load from A to B still dominates.
However, there is also a more sophisticated need to provide a solution for goods storage, managing supply and moving products in a very tight time window. This change has taken place over the last four decades. Yet, despite these developments, there is still an unhealthy focus on price. This limits innovation, it stymies added value services and it reduces the amount of personal service that is offered. You can’t blame the people who need haulage for wanting a bargain. A good price is an obvious and easy thing to measure and it is no surprise that it is a strong metric for decision making. But in this respect, hauliers are their own worst enemy as many still see themselves as delivery men. They still believe that a low price is the best and easiest way to win business and as a result they sell on price. It is about time that hauliers opened their ears and listened to their customers. Logistics market research and transport market research can help them do this.