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Four ways sustainability can grow your carrier business

Carriers, SustainabilityPublished on November 22, 2022

Convoy joined more than 1,700 transportation and logistics professionals at the 2022 Accelerate! Conference and Expo in Dallas, Texas, hosted by Women in Trucking from November 13 – 16. The week was educational and inspiring, with opportunities to connect and learn from women changing the landscape of the trucking industry and breaking through barriers. In a breakout session, I had the opportunity to address one of those barriers in a session entitled, “Four Ways Sustainability Can Grow Your Carrier Business.”

There’s a misperception that truck drivers don’t care about carbon emissions. Recent data suggests otherwise. In the latest Sustainability in Trucking Snapshot survey of 588 truck drivers, dispatchers, and owner-operators, 27% reported that they were already measuring their carbon footprint today. Further, 34% of carriers surveyed reported feeling pressure to reduce carbon emissions in their business, with the top motivator being “greater awareness of the environmental impact of carbon emissions.” 

Sustainability, or the pursuit of maintaining conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations, affects everything we do. The sustainable choices we make today in how we operate can significantly impact the future of our businesses and their resiliency in a competitive market. Companies do not work in isolation. They are embedded in society and impact individuals, communities, and the environment. Operating a successful business entails strategically managing a complex variety of elements. 

How sustainability can benefit your business

1. Differentiate your carrier business

Operating with a sustainability mindset sets you apart. A McKinsey study published in September 2022 on where the “world’s largest companies stand on nature” stated that 83% of Fortune Global 500 companies have climate-related targets. Companies are digging deeper into their supply chains to figure out how to reduce carbon emissions. If you are using bio-based fuels, electric trucks, or safe and efficient driving practices, those may soon become factors enabling you to win a bid. 

It offers distinct competitive advantages:

  • Differentiate your carrier from competitors, as shippers prefer companies with a distinct focus on people and the planet.
  • Engages a sense of purpose, resulting in a better product, more streamlined operations, long-term cost savings, happier employees, and a new customer base who prefers to do business with a sustainably minded company.  
  • An increasing number of banks and lending institutions prioritize financing companies with a sustainability mindset, as they see it as a commitment to the long-term future and viability of the organization, the industry, and the global community.

2. Expand your business

Making a sustainable impact translates to added value for anyone doing business with you and puts you in a better position to win. This added value will enable you to steal market share from those who don’t operate sustainably and puts you at an advantage when considering booking loads, financing, and more. 

We’re increasingly hearing that shippers are starting to prioritize brokers and carriers who can deliver higher fuel efficiency with proven data to back it up. When incorporating environmentally conscious practices into your business, you need the ability to speak to it clearly and have the data to show that your vehicles are operating efficiently. Consistently tracking the right data makes it easier to have this information readily available for your financing department and planning. 

3. Access new business opportunities

With sustainability moving front and center in the corporate world, an organization operating with a People, Planet, and Profit mentality can take advantage of a wide range of new business opportunities never before available.

A supplier diversity program is a proactive business program that encourages the use of minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, LGBT-owned, and service-disabled veteran-owned. Becoming certified as a women-owned business sets you apart and gives you a distinct advantage to win more business. Shippers are increasingly asking us to provide them the “Certified Diverse Supplier” data for Quarterly and Annual Business reviews and are willing to pay a premium to work with “Certified Diverse carriers”. We asked 200 shippers in June of this year, “How much are you willing to pay for diverse carriers?” 26% said they’d pay up to 10% more per load, and 13% said they’d be willing to pay more than 10% per load. We are starting to also see a strong interest in a similar incentive structure for “greener” freight options.  

As a new carrier, I know supplier diversity programs were going to give my business a competitive advantage and stand out with companies like Convoy. Today I’m hauling dedicated loads on my favorite lanes and working hassle-free.”

Trielle Hart, KDZ Brands Transport & Logistics Inc.

4. Reduce operating costs

It’s not a secret that the trucking industry suffers from waste. When you look at your operations through a sustainability lens, there are many opportunities to drive efficiency. Research shows that 35% of the time, trucks are driving on the road empty. These empty miles, or deadhead miles, are not good for the environment, nor for your wallet. Newer innovations in the freight industry, however, present an opportunity for carriers to reduce empty miles, eliminate harmful carbon emissions and save money. Convoy’s batching capabilities allows drivers to bundle their shipments, reducing empty miles from the industry standard of 35% to 19% (a 45% reduction). By finding backhauls, carriers avoid the environmental and financial costs of hauling empty. If the industry as a whole is able to achieve the same efficiency improvements that Convoy has seen in our bundled shipments, it would reduce CO2 emissions by 40 million metric tons. This is the equivalent of taking more than 8.6 million passenger vehicles off the roads for a year. 

We are continuously searching for ways to improve sustainability and reduce emissions across our entire value chain. By working with Convoy, we are able to lead this charge by collectively addressing the challenge of empty miles within the industry, streamlining our business, and contributing to a more sustainable future.”

Charmaria Gurley, Gurley All Freight

To conclude, sustainability adds value to your carrier business by providing a unique point of differentiation from your competition and enabling you to earn more customers who want to do business with a sustainability-minded company. It can also give you access to new business opportunities while achieving cost savings in the short and long term. Ultimately, this can lead to growing your revenue through additional business and making it easier to access financing to expand operations.

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Kiana Van Waes

Kiana (she/her) is a Corporate Sustainability Analyst at Convoy. Driven by the urgency of climate change, she specializes in corporate reporting and driving reductions in carbon emissions both in Convoy’s operations and in the freight industry. Kiana brings more than a decade of experience in climate action, circularity, and driving customer loyalty. She enjoys trail running, snowboarding, and sun.
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