4 best practices to ship truckload freight.
March 3, 2016
We'll get to truckload shipping, but first, let's talk about chili. Talk to fans of the cold weather staple that ranges from bland and beany to meaty, melt-your-face spicy and you'll get a different recipe from each for an award-winning, best-ever chili. It's up to you to find the one that delights your taste buds - and that's often a combination of different techniques.
Well, we've tested the recipes for truckload shipping success for you. Read on to find out the combination that will help your company bring home the blue ribbon.
Full truckload shipping (FTL) is typically more cost effective per pound than less than truckload (LTL) shipping since you pay by the mile instead of by weight and freight class. Also, your freight is not routed through a hub system, so it will arrive faster and there is less potential for damage because packages are only handled at pick up and drop off.
However, hiring a truckload carrier requires more than scheduling a pickup time and loading freight into a trailer. The truckload industry is complex, and increasingly so given the rising demand for shipping combined with an ongoing shortage of drivers and regulations that restrict how much time those drivers can be on the road.
Carriers don't have many idle rigs waiting for somebody to call with a load to haul. Unlike LTL shipping, one-off FTL shipments are a spot market transaction, and hundreds of factors can affect the market on a given day. Some you can't anticipate, like weather. Others, like diesel fuel prices, are sometimes predicted (with fluctuating accuracy).
Then there are seasonal factors that heighten truckload demand in certain regions, such as agriculture and holiday shipments for retail. If you don't move freight on a regular basis, you may benefit from a little help from a freight service provider to secure truckload capacity.
Below are four truckload best practices that can help you secure capacity at the best price.
Having knowledge about shipping trends, how the industry operates and which carriers can best handle your business enables you to get the best truck for the best price. On the flip side, not understanding the current market can cause you to leave money on the table or set a budget that's unrealistic.
Conduct research to determine when demand is lowest for the lane you want to ship in and, if possible, schedule during that period.
You should also research individual carriers to gauge their reputation, their ability to handle the type of freight you need moved and their typical rates. Other considerations when selecting a truckload hauler include:
- Will you have a single point of contact when questions arise, or will you have to call a customer service line and discuss your issues with the first available representative?
- What happens if your load gets damaged or stolen in transit?
- Can you track the progress of your shipment?
- Are the company trucks reliable and capable of going the required distance?
With the persistent driver shortage and increasing regulations, truckload logistics have become more difficult to manage.
Therefore, to be a preferred customer, it's best to make your business as regular as possible. That means shipping the same amount of freight at the same times to the same locations, when possible.
If your business doesn't allow for consistent shipping schedules, or if you have to deviate from your normal shipping routine, you can do yourself and your carrier a favor by being as flexible as possible when your freight ships.
The best way to ensure timely delivery in these situations is to plan far enough ahead to allow the carrier to fit you into its route schedule.
For example, with some carriers you can more easily secure capacity if you permit afternoon pickup. If a carrier has a load to deliver in your area in the morning they will be available to pick up your freight later in the day.
The bottom line: The more constraints you place upon a carrier, the more difficult it will be to secure truckload capacity and the more it's going to cost.
One way to minimize costs is to reduce the time it takes to load and unload freight. Consistently building shipments that are easy to load and unload increases productivity and efficiency and lowers costs, both in time and in the potential for product damage. Ways to optimize the loading and unloading process include more efficient dock scheduling and/or the use of load planning software.
The ultimate best practice for hiring truckload carriers is to work through a freight service provider, like Freightquote. They have the knowledge of the current market and trends in the industry. Plus they work with a number of carriers, making it easier to secure the capacity you need at the best possible price. Freight service providers can help absorb any constraints your freight may come with and insulate your business by providing predictable, consistent freight service.
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