When the [Olive] Branch Gets a Little Close for Comfort, It’s Good to Have a Clear Set of Rules

Rules are often seen as a bad thing. They establish expectations and scope of responsibility and can sometimes feel like a wet blanket. If you challenge yourself however, I bet you can think back to many instances in which you were elated to have a set of rules. Perhaps the movers damaged your great-grandmother’s antique buffet or left you with a busted bed frame. You got the run-around and had to remind them of specific insurance policy verbiage in order to be made whole.

My mind goes back to when a tree limb towering over my condo building punctured my roof while I was traveling. (This stuff only seems to happen to me!) Inevitably a thunderstorm came, soaking the sheet-rock, carpet and all my clothes. The owner of the building with whom I had a great relationship was apologetic but refused to make the interior repairs. Then, there it was! On page 286 of my building bylaws, I found that landscaping was the expressed responsibility of the building owner, and any negligence was on their dime. Once that was demonstrated, the owner agreed to tap into their insurance policy, the repairs were completed, and I lived harmoniously in that home for another three years without incident. It wasn’t emotional; it was business and those were our mutually agreed upon rules. I learned that day that having a set of clear expectations documented takes the emotion out of a potentially confrontational situation and protects relationships.

The word “rule” is defined as “one of a set of explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct within a particular activity or sphere.” That sounds pretty comforting to me. Perhaps the reason the word sometimes feels stifling is because some rules are not made with the right goals in mind.

Over two years ago, when NYSHEX drafted the rules that would govern the exchange, we got dozens of shippers, NVOs and carrier executives into a room and reached a consensus regarding what would be expected of all parties in a guaranteed transaction. The result was a 165-page document which outlines such things as: what specifically constitutes a force majeure, what happens if there are no chassis, and what evidence is utilized in evaluating a default. Each and every rule in our rule-book has transparency, trust and reliability as its core goal.

This document lives within the live exchange and is always accessible to our members. Whenever there is an update or a change, it is first approved by our Member Council consisting of both shippers and carriers. Next, we notify all our members with a full outline of the modification.

Although NYSHEX can nearly boast a perfect reliability score, in our industry ‘ship happens.’ So, in those 4% of cases when something does go wrong between a shipper and carrier under a NYSHEX contract, because of the rule-book, the conversation stays positive. We never have to worry that a shipper or a carrier feels they didn’t get a fair shake.

Our members know we’re an advocate with no conflict of interest with either of the two parties, and can be relied upon to defer to the mutually agreed upon rules without emotion. The best part is that the NYSHEX rules are standardized across all member carriers. One set of transparent rules and an unbiased party to research a breach ensures that the olive branch remains intact and never becomes a liability.