Less than Truckload (LTL) shipping is an efficient and cost-effective way to move freight, and is becoming an increasingly popular method of shipping. Regrettably, many shippers lose money on LTL shipping because they’re unaware of process efficiencies and cost-saving techniques. It’s not unusual for LTL shippers to face challenges and complications. Fortunately, being aware of common LTL shipping mistakes can help shippers avoid frequent pitfalls and become more productive and ultimately, more economical.
Below are the LTL shipping mistakes that we see most often, even among more experienced shippers.
1. Improperly Packaging Freight
If a freight shipment is packaged incorrectly, the chances of goods being lost or damaged in transit greatly increases. The LTL shipping process can be complex, which means shipments are often handled many times in route. Therefore, it’s extremely important to pack goods securely on pallets or crates. The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) provides design specifications for hundreds of packages, and provides the following information for palletized freight:
- No broken boards or protruding fasteners are allowed. All fasteners must be flush or below the surface before loading packages.
- Gaps between deckboards must be minimized. Deckboard spacing should be as narrow as possible to prevent forklift damage.
- Use 4-way forklift entry pallets at all times. The pallet must be raised at least 6 inches from the ground and permit forklift access from all four sides.
- Use sufficient size & rate capacity. The pallet should be spacious enough to contain the shipment without overhang and surpassing weight capacity.
- See more proper packaging tips here.
2. Skipping Insurance to Save Money
The truth is that skipping insurance can actually result in losing money, rather than saving. If shippers turn down cargo insurance because they believe their shipments are automatically insured at full value by the carrier, they should take a second look at the policy details. Carrier liability for loss or damage has limits (which are decreasing across the industry), regardless of the actual value of the shipment.
Filing a lost or damaged freight claim with a carrier while only being covered by carrier liability is often a losing battle for shippers. Shippers expecting to be completely reimbursed by their carrier for their lost or damaged goods are frequently disappointed by the amount they receive. On top of this, the carrier is financially responsible for loss or damage only when it's proven to be attributable to carrier negligence. Because of this, it’s always best to protect each shipment through full value cargo insurance.
3. Not Comparing Carrier Rates
There’s a reason that successful companies like Kayak do so well. It always benefits the customer to compare prices and find the best deal. The same goes for shippers. Finding the most efficient route at the most competitive price is the ideal scenario, and LTL shippers can truly benefit from taking advantage of carrier competition. Like Kayak, the MyCarrier platform provides multiple live quotes, all on one page. That way, shippers don’t have to spend hours scrolling through various carrier websites to find the optimal route and best price. Comparing carrier quotes is always the most efficient way for shippers to save the most amount of money.
4. Not Validating Delivery Requirements
When requesting a quote, many LTL shippers forget to inform their carrier in advance of any additional services (accessorials) they may need. It’s essential to notify carriers ahead of time about needing a liftgate, limited access location delivery, sort & seg, white glove service, etc. When shippers forget about including these additional services, they may end up with unexpected fees on the final bill. It's important to validate delivery requirements to avoid hidden fees. Clearly communicating any requested services when booking your shipment can eliminate unnecessary charges and delays.
5. Incorrectly Estimating Weights and Sizes
Inaccurately estimating the weights and sizes of shipments is the most frequent error made by shippers. In many cases, shippers make calculations from customer data, but then the carrier has to re-classify and re-rate shipments after leaving the facility. Because of this, shippers need to weigh and obtain the dimensions of all shipments that they process, even if the customer has already done so. Doing this greatly decreases errors and saves the time it takes to fix billing issues. It’s necessary to list accurate dimensions, weight, NMFC code and class on each shipment’s Bill of Lading – and it never hurts to double check to ensure the information is correct.
6. Forgetting About Shipments Once They Are Sent
While it’s great to trust carriers and customers completely, there is always the off chance that something unexpected may happen. “Set it and forget it” (or “send it and forget it”) is never a good motto in the shipping industry. The time to check on the status of a package is not when a customer calls and complains that the package never arrived. Shippers should monitor the status of all cargo sent, from the beginning of transit until final delivery. Staying on top of the freight’s journey reduces the time needed to audit shipments and allows shippers to focus on customer satisfaction and delivery guarantees.
MyCarrier allows shippers to track all of their shipments from all of their carriers on one intuitive, user-friendly calendar. The color-coded calendar provides valuable, up-to-date shipment information. On top of live shipment tracking, MyCarrier delivers a gold mine of data via a comprehensive report that helps shippers control shipping costs and keep tabs on each carrier relationships. Reports include transit time, cost per carrier, market share, average weight, and more.
A truly proficient LTL shipper is successful because they're aware of common pitfalls and know how to best avoid them. As the LTL industry continues to expand, smart shippers who focus on proactive shipping practices will save the time and money needed to grow their businesses.
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