LTL freight carriers are not all created equal. Picking the suitable carrier for your business can save you time, money, and headaches in the long run. Look for carriers with a robust network that aligns with your shipping locations. Also, evaluate their service performance, including on-time pickups and deliveries.
Choosing an LTL freight carrier that prioritizes safety and reliability will save your business time, money, and headaches in the long run. Evaluate your carrier’s track record, industry expertise, and customer service standards. Look for carriers that offer a wide range of delivery options, such as inside delivery, residential pickup, and liftgate services. These extra services can impact your shipping costs, so understand the fees carriers charge for these services before deciding on a provider. Transit times are also an essential factor to consider. Look for carriers with dependable transit times that align with your business needs, such as just-in-time production deadlines. Many carriers provide day-definite guaranteed deliveries for an additional fee. Lastly, evaluate your carrier’s service performance by looking at their on-time pickup and delivery rates.
When a shipment is too small to fill an entire truck, shipping companies use less-than-truckload or LTL service. With this option, multiple shipments from various shippers are loaded together to create one truckload. This helps to drive down costs by consolidating freight from many different locations and destinations into one single load. In addition to cost, it is essential to consider a carrier’s liability coverage and financial stability. Other factors to consider include transit times and service performance. LTL carriers can offer various delivery options, from standard to expedited and lift gate services. However, these extra features may come with additional accessorial charges. In addition, it is essential to ensure your freight classification is accurate. The National Motor Freight Classification system assigns a freight class to your shipment based on density, storability, and handling characteristics. Accurate freight classification helps ensure your shipment is priced correctly and avoids unnecessary delays in transit.
The suitable LTL freight carrier can provide seamless in-transit visibility, enabling you to track and manage your shipments confidently. Look for a carrier that offers specialized services and technologies that complement your business and improve logistics performance. When evaluating an LTL carrier, consider their ability to manage your specific shipping needs, such as a guaranteed delivery date and expedited service options. Also, evaluate their capacity and geographic coverage. Pricing is another crucial consideration for LTL shippers. Many carriers have a complex price structure based on freight classifications, weight pricing, and freight provisions. The right partner can help you simplify this formula and make informed decisions about how much to pay for your freight.
Additionally, you want to be sure that the LTL carrier has a good safety record and adequate insurance coverage to protect your cargo in case of damage during transportation. A suitable carrier will have a clean safety record and a system for quickly vetting drivers to ensure they operate safely. They should also be able to transport across the US-Canada border if required.
LTL carriers set high-security standards to keep your freight secure for the entirety of its trip. Their packing is typically more secure, and they arrange shipping routes with as few stops as possible to reduce the chance of damage and further delays. Freight brokers who live and breathe LTL freight understand all the variables in a shipment’s success. They know how to classify your freight using NMFC and freight dimensions correctly, and they can help you avoid costly mistakes that could result in penalties or extra fees. A good broker will also be able to ensure on-time pickup and delivery performance to improve customer satisfaction. They’ll also offer shipment visibility to keep your team on top of the situation. For example, many companies provide online portals that update you on where your freight is in real-time. This information is vital to ensuring that your business operations don’t halt if your freight arrives on time. Some even provide expedited services for an additional cost.
Choosing the suitable LTL freight carrier for your company requires considering more than just the shipping price. Other factors, such as on-time pickup performance, industry expertise, and the ability to integrate into your operations, are vital. LTL carriers do not play in the same spot market as full truckload spots, so pricing is primarily determined by their own regional and national networks and service areas. If you work with a broker, they can help you understand how different carriers’ base rates (quoted per hundredweight) and additional charges such as accessorial surcharges (liftgate, residential pickup/delivery, limited access locations) and fuel surcharges affect your freight cost. It’s also important to know if a carrier offers preferred rates to customers who consistently move a large volume of freight with them and whether or not they have financial stability and adequate liability coverage. It’s also worth evaluating if a 3PL owns its trucking fleet, as this cuts costs by eliminating the need for handing your shipment to another carrier’s facilities.