Shipping freight involves a complex process influenced by numerous factors. Essentially, it entails entrusting a carrier with the responsibility of loading, transporting, and unloading valuable assets at their final destination.
Given the substantial stakes involved, including financial assets, the integrity of your supply chain, adherence to timelines, and even the preservation of your reputation, it is imperative to minimize errors.
This article aims to identify three common mistakes often made by shippers and provide practical solutions for each. By the end, you will be better equipped to steer clear of these pitfalls.
Always Opting for the Most Inexpensive Freight Shipping Choice
Let’s be clear, saving money is a commendable goal, and occasionally, the most economical option is indeed the best one.
However, choosing the cheapest freight option can ultimately lead to higher costs. Before accepting the lowest quote, especially from an unfamiliar broker or carrier, it is essential to ensure their reliability when you need them.
Beware of hidden charges that some carriers and brokers with lower upfront prices might impose. Examine the services included in the quoted price, and budget for any additional services that might incur extra charges.
Time is a valuable asset in the world of trucking. An unreliable carrier can result in substantial costs. For instance, saving $50 on a shipment loses its significance if the truck arrives late, forcing the consignee to pay $200 in overtime wages for unloading.
Instead of consistently opting for the cheapest choice, evaluate the provider’s quality. Common sense applies here: in both transportation and life, if a deal appears too good to be true, it probably is.
Failing to Provide a Comprehensive Freight Specification
- Contents of the shipment: The carrier needs to know what is being shipped to source an appropriate truck. Precision is vital. Mention if the shipment contains hazardous materials, its packaging, or any special handling requirements (e.g., temperature control, non-stackable).
- Dimensions and weight: Each type of truck must adhere to legal load limits. Oversized freight necessitates permits in every jurisdiction it traverses. Failing to obtain these permits in advance can lead to significant delays and additional expenses. Exact measurements are critical; small discrepancies can spell the difference between a smooth journey and potential mishaps.
- Delivery dates: Specify pickup and delivery dates. The driver’s Hours of Service (HOS) dictate the freight’s travel pace. Your provider will use this information to assess the feasibility of the dates or offer updated information in your rate quote.
Savvy shippers recognize that flexibility with delivery dates can secure favorable prices. If your freight has a window of movement spanning several days, it becomes easier for a carrier to integrate your load into a driver’s route, minimizing costs.
- Pickup and delivery addresses: Identifying the origin and destination of the freight enables the carrier to calculate the route’s length and choose the most efficient path. Sometimes, especially for oversized freight, an alternate route can save time, reduce hassles, and ultimately cut costs. A reliable carrier or broker will communicate this information before departure.
- Additional driver requirements: If the driver needs specific protective equipment or certifications, specify these upfront. Failure to do so may result in additional fees and delays if the driver arrives on-site ill-prepared or if another certified driver is required. Providing this information at the outset is the optimal approach. However, given the ever-changing nature of the transportation industry, promptly inform your contact person if any variables change before the delivery commences.
If you are collaborating with a carrier for the first time or find it challenging to describe your shipment, pictures can be invaluable. Providing images of your freight, weight readings, or size comparisons with a tape measure can eliminate potential confusion.
Neglecting to Screen New Carriers and Brokers
Before entrusting your freight to a new carrier or broker, it is essential to thoroughly vet the individuals responsible for transporting your assets. While many reputable new brokers and carriers exist, some may disguise ulterior motives, such as cargo theft schemes.
Even established carriers should undergo scrutiny by your company. Not every carrier will align with your specific business needs. If your shipments predominantly consist of short-haul loads, a carrier specializing in this area would be most beneficial. Conversely, heavy haul freight necessitates carriers with appropriate equipment.
Evaluating a new carrier may require an initial time investment, but it is invaluable in safeguarding your freight and cultivating long-term relationships. ATS provides a freight carrier selection checklist for comparing carriers, or you can establish your own key performance indicators (KPIs). Examples of KPIs include:
- Average fleet age
- Years in business
- On-time performance
- Availability of necessary trucks
It is likely that you will need more than one carrier or broker in your arsenal. Just as you would interview job candidates before hiring them, asking questions to become acquainted with new carriers is essential.
Avoiding These 3 Mistakes for Proficient Shipping
Diligent preparation and planning for your shipments can save considerable time, money, and trouble while averting potential disasters.
Remember these fundamental guidelines in the transportation industry:
- Select a broker or carrier based on suitability for your shipment, not solely on the lowest price.
- Prepare a precise and comprehensive shipment quote request as early as possible.
- Conduct thorough assessments of new providers according to your specific needs.
If you frequently require cargo transportation, purchasing your own semi-trailer can be an economical choice.
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