Sometimes, it can be downright frustrating to navigate through Less Than Truckload processes. While there are some who are exceptional LTL carriers out there, most shippers simply find the entire LTL experience frustrating.
Whether it’s the lack of communication, delays, or unexpected costs on the freight invoice, most LTL shippers opt to have a professional 3PL handle their LTL operations, simply to avoid the mess.
But what would you say if we told you that 95% of all LTL-related issues are avoidable? That's right! By putting into action just a few proactive practices, LTL shipping is a breeze!
So, let’s break down the LTL shipping best practices that any company can follow to reduce mistakes, save money, and improve the overall LTL experience.
How to Achieve a Seamless LTL Experience
The following are 4 questions that you should consider before moving forward with LTL shipping. These are very basic things to make sure you have marked off your checklist, but they can have a significant impact on your overall LTL experience.
What are the Dimensions & Weight of Your Goods?
The physical size of the freight you are shipping will determine if it even qualifies as an LTL shipment. In the past, this was determined based on weight, with most LTL carriers putting the cutoff somewhere around 150 pounds. Obviously, that is quite limiting. However, over the years LTL carriers have started to expand their services to accommodate larger shipments.
The one thing that remains the same, however, is the fact that dimensions are still taken into account. So, to speed up the process just a bit, it helps to take measurements before you arrange for pickup.
Also, don't be surprised if the carrier wants to take their own measurements as well, this is just common practice.
When does the recipient need the product?
The second thing to consider is the delivery time in which the customer expects to have the package arrive at their door or warehouse dock. If your LTL packages are always arriving late, it is time to consider your options.
The best way to counteract any potential scheduling issues that may arise, be proactive! The is no magic solution that automatically ensures timely deliveries, it is a matter of planning properly. And even then, it is not always going to be perfect. There are various delays that could just as easily happen to your FTL freight. These delays could be related to weather, construction and time spent rerouting.
The good news is that with a fair amount of communication, you and your carrier can minimize a lot of potential issues.
As a last resort, it might benefit you and your customers to send the freight via Full Truckload (FTL) instead. While this isn't always preferred due to the costs involved, it is much better than dealing with angry customers.
What is the Destination of Your Freight?
The destination of your freight is one of the biggest factors in finding the right carrier to meet your needs. Not all LTL carriers serve all regions. Knowing exactly which options you have available to you will help narrow down your list of carriers and speed up the process.
If you are shipping a pallet or two locally, partner with a local-based carrier that can handle the task. If you’re shipping internationally, it is best to work with a carrier (or better yet, a 3PL) that can set up a multimodal shipment.
Is Everything Packaged Properly?
Did you know the root source of most freight damage is improper or low-quality materials used in the packaging of the products? Less Than Truckload shipments are moved frequently between trucks, warehouses, and goods get rearranged at various stops along the way. This is just how a general LTL process works.
This means that if your goods are not packaged properly before they leave your loading dock, they are susceptible to damage. Always use high-quality supplies, including boxes, bubble wrap, and labels to ensure proper handling. And if you must stack your goods on a pallet, try to do so so that they will not fall when being rearranged in the truck.
This is something that you have plenty of time to take care of before you even think about scheduling an LTL carrier.
By following these simple tricks, you can reduce the potential of common LTL mistakes. More importantly, it provides both you and your customer with a smooth and seamless LTL experience.
If you’d like to learn more about navigating the LTL industry, reach out to us here at Redwood Logistics. We offer our clients top of the line, full-service, third-party logistics services that are backed by a Top-15 North American brokerage operation and industry-leading proprietary technology!