Tempus on-time: How we bungled our own rule and paid for it

Tempus on-time: How we bungled our own rule and paid for it

If you ask any Tempus driver what makes our fleet successful, I bet they’re going to tell you about Tempus on-time. Tempus on-time is not the rest of the world’s on-time—it’s early. We encourage our drivers to deliver early whenever possible. In expedited freight, an early delivery is often greatly appreciated by the consignee, earning you goodwill with the customer. It also puts you available for a new load as much as a day sooner than planned, which is often how our top truck of the week makes their magic happen. And if you can’t deliver early, the worst that can happen is that you’re sent away and told to come back at the appointment time.

So that’s what we preach. Yesterday, Tom and I made the decision to NOT practice what we preach. And boy did we get burned. Here’s what happened.

We picked up a load in California on Monday evening. Panther dispatch (our carrier) gave us a delivery time of Thursday at 5:30pm in Ohio. We followed our typical team driving strategy to get across the country, knowing full well we would arrive early. We got into town Wednesday afternoon (nearly 30 hours prior to our appointment time) and called Panther dispatch to request an earlier unload appointment. Typically we would go straight to the consignee and check in, but we decided not to do that because we knew we were delivering to a major retailer (Walmart) who has a reputation for making trucks stick to their appointment times.

Never break your own rules!

When we showed up on Thursday for our 5:30pm appointment, we were informed by the guard that we were 24 hours late! I checked my QC again—sure enough, it said 5:30pm on Thursday. As it turned out, someone in Panther dispatch had made a data entry error. Unfortunately, nobody noticed that mistake when we called in on Wednesday to see about having the time moved up. As a matter of fact, Panther dispatch told us that they spoke to their Walmart contacts and were told that the Thursday delivery time couldn’t be changed. The truth of whether those calls actually happened lies in their call logs. Regardless of who they did or didn’t call, Panther failed Walmart on this load. I knew it wasn’t my fault, but I still felt terrible about letting Walmart down, too. They had to wait a full 24 hours for freight that was sitting right outside their gates!

Not to mention, we lost a full day of potential miles out of an area of the country that can’t get enough trucks this time of year. By the time we were unloaded on Thursday, we should’ve been 1,000 miles away, at the top of a good load board and anticipating a big statement for the week. One person’s typo is our big loss.

I’m going back to my old rule—always go direct to the consignee. Sure, human error happens. Being there in person is the best way to make sure the customer’s needs are met. I’d rather be turned away for being early 99 times than be late once. If the customer is going to pay expedite freight rates, they deserve expedite service.

Remember: in trucking, time is relative. If there’s freight on your truck, it’s time to go get unloaded. If you’re empty, it’s time to go get loaded.


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