A few months ago we wrote a tongue in cheek post about 5 Upfront Tips you can do to save on less than truckload shipping (a capitalization of Less than truckload). We say “tongue in cheek” because when we have distributed some of the fundamental and basic best practices around tips when shipping LTL, experts in social media, primarily LinkedIn Groups, would state how rudimentary, 101, or basic the tips were. However, when we wrote the post that was clearly a response to those naysayers, we noted that the number 1 reason there are errors in less than truckload shipping was because the shipper didn’t remember the fundamentals or basics such as choosing the correct freight class or understanding the difference between limit of liability and carrier insurance. Surprisingly, or perhaps, not so surprisingly, the fun but informative post was one of our most popular posts of the year. In fact, Inbound Logistics asked us to submit a fuller list of the top 10 to feature in their July issue (look out for that next month).
So, what does that tell us? Perhaps we have relied too much on technology to “do it for us” forgetting that there are still certain inputs we must get right that the technology can’t (yet) do automatically. But, no matter the technology, whether it’s an advanced transportation management system or robotics (which Rethink Robotics is pioneering with Baxter and Sawyer), these are only tools for efficiency and enablement. They allow us to step out of the primordial ooze of tactics and process and gets us to remember the fundamentals.
Think of it like this…..remember when your parents (or on your own) taught you not to “nickel and dime” your money away? You may want that candy bar, that video game, and that trading card, but quickly, your weekly allowance is gone before you know it. You forgot the simple basics of setting a budget and categorizing your spending. Heck, most adults have trouble with this still, yet it seems like quite the basic principle. When it comes to less than truckload shipping, it’s no different. Pennies (or nickles) can add up. The more you don’t follow the basics, the more it can come back to bite you and your company’s bottom line.
In light of the request from Inbound Logistics for another 5 upfront less than truckload shipping tips, these are slightly more advanced, yet still somewhat common sense things you can do to improve your bottom line by paying attention to the fundamental practices of shipping LTL. We hope you enjoy and learn a thing or two!
5 More Common Sense, Yet Often Forgotten Basics for Less than Truckload Shipping to Save More
#1: Getting Everyone on the Same page with Freight Claims
It’s a common misconception – the idea that freight claim management is confined to the claims department. In reality, departments ranging from receiving to purchasing play an important role in ensuring that freight claims are paid and properly processed. For example, if the receiving department handles the paperwork or incoming shipment incorrectly, the claims department will be unable to collect reimbursement for the damaged shipment.
Therefore, it’s essential that you communicate each departments’ responsibilities toward freight claim management especially with less than truckload shipping.
#2: Think about Guaranteed Shipments
Shippers need to know how critical it is to get their shipment to the destination. Be aware of holidays and weather conditions; this allows you to make a better decision about which carrier you choose and when you ship out your door. When you can determine if the shipment is time sensitive or not, you know when to choose a guaranteed service. It really is a big thing. Those who really needed to select a guaranteed shipment but didn’t choose it may face additional costs. A carrier isn’t going to remove charges because of a holiday for example.
#3: Think of transportation accounting before you get the invoice
Make sure you KNOW your product, know your classification of your product and be accurate on your weight. Document. Document. Document. We repeat: have your documentation. Maybe it’s a matter of taking pictures. Or, if you have a scale, log your scale. Print out whatever you have for that freight. In the end if something does happen, like a reweigh or re-class, then you are well armed to combat the carrier and avoid any issues with price discrepancies of quote vs. invoice.
#4: Make sure you have available to you a whole roster of LTL carriers and have blocked out a full day
Price a carrier on your own, I hope you’ve blocked out your whole day just for less than truckload shipping. Because you would have to look at every available carrier and determine do they ship there, what is my pricing, and you’d have to do all of the manual math to figure out what the price would be for that specific carrier. You’d have to completely understand the tariff (and I am confident many do not understand tariffs). Our suggestion is that you employ a multi-carrier rating transportation management system, as this will save you tons of time and hassle of getting a shipment out the door.
#5: Speaking of Carriers, Make sure you have a Carrier Mix
What is the TRUE Cost of having 5 different carriers at your desk? Giving multiple shipments to one carrier at a time, in the long run can hurt you. Most companies will give 100% inbound and 100% outbound to one carrier as the shipper feels it is easier and they have one throat to choke if things go wrong. For example, a just in time shipper may keep zero inventory and if a customer orders something today and they need it by Monday. This is a tough order to fill and have carriers be 100% on time and so a shipper might feel it is easier to manage one carrier, but this could lead to horrible pricing because of ALL The work the carrier is doing. But, if you have great access through a system where you can analyze, you can create a healthy balance and achieve your goals. You may end up finding out that several carriers can do it, and with the right system, have the ability to efficiently get a good carrier mix. How do you put a price tag on finding the right carrier mix and do you have the tools to do it? You really can’t long term.
All of these issues should be considered when shipping less than truckload shipping, which can end up taking you time and becoming a stressful hassle to some. To avoid the issue, turning to a third party shipping logistics company could help. The combination of connections and experience means you’ll get the best shipping results without having to deal with the hassles.