December 20, 2022
Working on the brokerage side of the drayage space I had never heard about street turns until I and the company I was working for secured a large piece of import business from the LA port to Arizona. It was a huge win for the company and our trucking partners. The only problem was we were losing money on it.
We had to race to the bottom with several other brokerages to secure the business (a practice that is very common). Our executive team wanted the top line revenue and logo, but after just a week the conversation switched to “we need to make money”. Knowing that there are exporters in Arizona I started cold calling. I was fortunate enough to connect with a large exporter with a few facilities only miles away from our import site. We directed our truckers to do a drop and hook at the import site and then load the empty at one of the exporter's sites to then truck back to LA. We were doing street turns. This exporter paid us around 75% of what we were getting for the full import trip and was happy to have the capacity. It was a huge boost in profit margin and a big win for the company. Street turns, interesting…why isn’t every broker and trucker trying to pair their import business with exporters' demand?
After doing some research I found out it’s difficult, but the bigger truckers and more savvy smaller ones were doing them and they were blowing the competition off the road. These truckers were able to lower their rates for larger BCO’s(importers) to secure the contract business knowing that they could street turn the containers with one of their exporters. Fulfilling the needs of their export customers at a lower rate while fulfilling their importer's needs at a lower rate. Not to mention this move is the most efficient move you can make in drayage trucking. These truckers are cutting costs for both shippers, reducing dead miles for themselves, keeping the steamship line’s containers moving quicker, lowering terminal congestion, and reducing their carbon footprint.
Now, the truckers not doing them often argue that they don’t have the export customer base, that the operations are too difficult to execute, or that their import container supply never matches their export customers' demand and bookings. These are all valid points. Street turns to date have been often very difficult, especially for those truckers and brokers that don’t have big sales teams or larger operational and account management teams.
At Qualle, we knew that this could be solved through technology and connecting all of the parties. We as an industry need to increase the amount of street turns we are doing. We need to properly communicate and share data with one another to perform container triangulation. The first step of that is providing the adequate toolset for the trucking community to do so.
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