Avoiding the Danger Zone – 4 Ways to Stay Ahead of LTL Shipping Issues
Every shipper knows the value of being proactive. From scheduling overnight parcels early to avoid late pick-up charges, to ordering supplies before you run out, staying ahead of the curve often yield’s exceptional results. This includes LTL shipping, and the issues that can and often will plague the daily operations of shippers. While many people believe less than truckload shipping is overwhelming and complex, the truth is that most problems that occur are the result of ineffective planning.
To avoid entering the danger zone associated with LTL shipping problems, consider these 4 tips that will help you navigate the less than truckload roads with relative ease.
First – Improve Your Pool of Qualified Carriers
Here is a quick rhetorical question – what is the source of most LTL shipping problems? If you stop to think about it, most LTL issues tend to be caused by working with inexperienced or unprofessional carriers – right? Whether it’s a delayed or missed delivery, receiving mysterious charges on your freight invoice, or unprofessional customer service, poor-quality carriers can cause significant headaches – in some cases, lost customers.
The solution to this all-to-common LTL danger zone issue is to improve the pool of qualified LTL carriers. While cost is typically the top attribute shippers consider when routing an LTL shipment, there is truth to the saying, “you often get what you pay for”. So – consider these important attributes when you’re looking for the right LTL carriers:
- Their Flexibility: If you work with carriers who offer flexible pick-up and delivery times, and flexible shipping rates – you’ll experience fewer problems.
- Customer Service: When you have a problem with an LTL shipment, working with a carrier that can resolve issues, are exceptional communicators, and operate with superior customer service standards – you’ll avoid several common LTL issues.
- Performance and On-Time Delivery: For those who ship products to customers via LTL shipping, the carrier’s performance and on-time delivery can make all of the difference.
Second – Upgrade Your TMS Solutions
For those unaware, transportation management systems (TMS) are the software that manages communication between an order management system, warehouse/distribution center, and carriers for shipment. It was initially developed to consolidate LTL freight shipments in one, easy-to-access platform. As technology has improved, TMS solutions have expanded to offering advanced shipping programs, load optimization, route planning and optimization, freight audit and payment, and improved communication.
The latest cloud-based TMS software platforms offer customer-centric communication platforms, such as shipping updates via SMS/Text, email, automated phone calls, and even desktop alerts. Having updated TMS helps you to reduce communication mistakes common with LTL shipping deliveries, by keeping your recipients notified about delays in deliveries or other common LTL delivery problems.
Third – Learn More About Freight Audit & Payments
When you receive an LTL carrier invoice and have billing issues – a whole crop of new problems can pop up. This is a big reason why proactive shippers are learning more about freight audit & payment services offered by professional third-party logistics companies. Freight Audit & Payment solutions provided by 3PL’s assume this time and resource consuming task on behalf of the shipper. These experienced professionals not only understand the idiosyncrasies involved in freight billing but also have the advanced technology solutions to not only discover and resolve problems but pay the invoice directly once all issues have been resolved.
Finally – Improve Contract Negotiation Resources
It’s amazing how often money or finances is the root source of problems – especially with LTL shipping. One of the leading culprits to increased costs of LTL shipments are the negotiated contracts, such as fuel surcharges and shipping rates. This is another area where a professional 3PL can assist. The experienced third-party logistics company will consider multiple aspects – beyond simple discounts, that in the short and long-term, can save you a tremendous amount of money.
The key to avoiding any problem is first understanding the root issues. When it comes to LTL shipping, having a solid pool of quality carriers, using the best TMS software solutions, staying ahead of contracts, and thoroughly auditing freight invoices is the key to avoiding most LTL-sourced headaches. A professional 3PL can significantly help with each of these 4 common LTL shipping solutions. If you’re looking to have a successful 2019 – and want to be ahead of the curve, reach out to a proven 3PL like Redwood Logistics to see how we can help.