Tips for Choosing an LTL Freight Carrier
Less Than Truckload or LTL freight shipping can be a very viable and cost-effective way for smaller companies to ship out their products or other goods quickly when they don’t have a full truckload to send out.
But LTL shipping is a bit different than what you may have come to grow accustomed to with more traditional shipping methods. And these aren’t small differences either, they are ones that you need to be made aware of and give some thought to before choosing the best LTL provider for your shipping needs.
So, in this article, we will be discussing the top 3 things that you should consider before choosing an LTL provider in an effort to help get you moving in the right direction, right out the gate… or warehouse. (yes, that’s a little logistics humor).
Determining Freight Class
One of the very first problems that you are likely to face when choosing a new LTL freight carrier to work with is going to be deciding which freight class your products are likely to fall into.
When you ship goods via LTL shipping, you have 18 different freight classes to choose from. These classes are made up of two main factors; the weight range per cubic foot, and the type of material or goods being shipped.
If you choose the wrong freight class for your goods, it can cost you big bucks on shipping as you may end up overpaying. Furthermore, most carriers will decide to just go ahead and reclassify your goods to the appropriate category. Some carriers even charge you a fee for this as it can be difficult and time-consuming to have to go back and make sure that there is enough room, and if not, how to make some more.
Overall, understanding the different freight classes is a fairly simple and straightforward affair, but it also makes everyone’s job a little easier and certainly speeds up the process while keeping costs right where they should be.
One of the major things to consider when shipping your freight via LTL is the fact that the goods you are shipping are going to pass through multiple people’s hands before reaching its final destination. After all, that is exactly how LTL shipping works.
The more hands that exchange your goods, the likelier it is that they will get damaged somewhere in the mix of it all. Damages are bad for business, plain and simple. But when they happen in a large supply chain with many transactions happening at lightning-fast speeds, it can be a bit difficult to file insurance claims for damages when you have no solid proof of how, when, or where they happened.
Do yourself a favor and choose an LTL freight carrier that has a strong reputation with the shipping teams they work with frequently. It is usually these LTL providers who have the best control over the tracking and reporting of your goods. Many of them can provide you with on-the-spot real-time tracking of your goods.
It is important to note that some LTL solutions providers only work with a small group of shipping companies, very similar to how some 3PLs prefer to do business. This is sometimes a really good sign that the LTL provider is trying to keep a close eye on detail and quality of their own services. By doing so, they can decrease the percentage of damages that they may be held accountable for in the near future. These are the guys you want shipping your goods.
While LTL shipping is a wonderful solution to a specific problem, it is not the best shipping method for all of your shipments. One such area in which this could not be more evident is in the difference in delivery times.
As I mentioned previously, LTL shipping relies on one main concept; utilizing more than one mode of shipping to move the goods from point A to point B. Needless to say, this is not going to be the fastest process. Your products have many hands and centers to pass through before landing at your customer’s doorstep.
If you need to ship goods frequently, it is a good idea to pay attention to roughly how long it takes from the time your goods make it onto the road or into the air or water before it finally makes it to the distribution center… and then the time it takes to get your goods sent out to your customers from the distribution center.
Doing this will give you a pretty good idea of when you need to start your shipping process in order to make sure that your customers receive their products on time, every time.
Having said this, if you are shipping LTL freight locally, this is ironically the fastest way to go about it as many LTL providers can get local deliveries out the very same day.
At the end of the day, you need to feel confident that you are shipping your goods in the most efficient, secure, and cost-effective way possible. This requires strong attention to detail, weighing your options, and a little bit of math, maybe.
We hope that we’ve given you some real food for thought! More importantly, we hope that you apply it and that it helps you find the perfect LTL freight carrier to ship your products with. And if you still can’t find a provider that can meet all your needs, give us a call here at Redwood Logistics and let us show you what we can do for you.