In an ideal world, every package is picked up and delivered on time, transit times are rock solid, and your chosen carrier handles every interaction with exemplary professionalism. And it all comes at a price that you can afford.
To reach this nirvana of a shipping experience, you need to choose the right Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) carrier. An LTL, as you may already know, moves goods from many customers on one truck and the shipment itself does not require a full 48- or 53-foot trailer. Since volume affects price, LTL is a common choice for any business that moves relatively small freight.
But who should be given the delicate task of transporting your goods?
We suggest you take the following factors into consideration when you choose an LTL carrier:
- Consistency is key: When you hand your product off to the carrier, you’re also putting your reputation on the line. If your LTL carrier can’t meet delivery deadlines, a great quote means nothing. The carrier’s ability to consistently deliver depends on issues such as network breadth (Every 10 miles from your site can exponentially affect service quality), organizational structure (regional or coast-to-coast, for example), and network gaps (Will a second carrier handle the final-mile delivery?). Consistency should not come at the expense of speed and vice versa. Expect your carrier to be both fast and reliable.
- The science of rates: As tempting as it may be to pick the lowest rate, it’s not necessarily that simple. LTL freight rates are like fruit salads in which each part contributes to the overall success (or taste). Make sure to keep a steady eye on the final net price as discounts, base rates, and minimum charge floors are discussed. Freight classification alone can have a big impact on the total price as can FAK provisions (freight-all-kinds), weight, liability insurance, distance, and access fees.
- Service quality rules: Once you have narrowed down your search, dig into the customer service of each “nominee”. Will you be treated to a different face picking up and delivering your goods every time or does the carrier understand the value of building relationships with a few trusted professionals? How responsive is the carrier to issues that may arise off-hours? What kind of support can you expect to receive? Online tracking 24/7 and other online tools that facilitate doing business should be part of the service package.
- Referral is king: Have a word with a few current customers of the carrier. If your needs are similar and they are happy, chances are you will be too.
- Too much?: If searching for an LTL carrier does not sound like your cup of tea, rest assured there are options. eShipper, for instance, lets you process all of your shipments right from your computer, anywhere, anytime. In addition to our great shipping rates, we happily help you every step of the way, whether you need to ship across the country or around the globe.
What else do you need to know? Consider using an Amazon-certified Carrier to streamline your shipping.