Meet the People Who Help You Ship Smarter: Taresa

January 20, 2023 at 4:45 PMLeah Palnik

If you’ve ever wondered who keeps the wheels in motion at PartnerShip, look no further than Taresa Gannon. As a Senior Key Account Specialist, she prioritizes caring for our customers above all else. She may quote, schedule, and track shipments, but her role is so much more than that. It’s her reliable communication and problem solving skills that make her invaluable to the shippers who work with her.

Meet Taresa

Something you should know about Taresa
She loves dogs! Taresa and her husband James have a full house with 5 of their own. She even hopes to open a dog rescue shelter someday.

Expert advice
Taresa’s favorite part of her job is all of the challenges. And she’s an expert at navigating them. We asked her to share some things she’s learned along the way.

  • What industry trends are you seeing that you think shippers should be aware of?
    Production delays, staff shortage/labor issues, and lack of warehouse space/scheduling availability.
  • If you could give customers one piece of advice for smart shipping, what would it be?
    Keep an eye on demand, plan ahead, and entertain flexible options such as drop trailer service.

Taresa

How to apply these tips to your freight
It’s clear - planning is essential if you want everything to go smoothly with your freight. Wondering where to start? A quality freight broker can help. If you’re curious how, we have a couple of great resources:

Taresa also brings up a good point about entertaining flexible options. There are several ways you can do that, and if you need some ideas, we have you covered:

If you’re ready to discuss your options with a freight expert like Taresa, contact us today

3 LTL Freight Fees That Are Actually Worth Your Money

January 19, 2023 at 3:04 PMJen Deming
3 LTL Freight Fees that are actually worth your money blog title image

Keeping shipping costs low should be a goal for any LTL freight shipper, and is a smart tactic to successfully manage business expenses. What you may not know is that there are some scenarios where spending a little bit more can actually be beneficial. In certain cases, paying extra for an LTL freight fee may help avoid headaches, improve service, and create more efficiency. Let’s take a look at three scenarios where the fee is worth the extra cost.

Spend on: Freight Insurance

Probably the most important added fee that is worth the cost is extra freight insurance. The fact is that despite your best intentions (and packing procedures), your freight will at some point encounter damages and loss. Thinking that you’re safe with a claim payout from the carrier will lead to trouble. 

We hate to break it to you, but payouts are usually pretty low, and don’t often approach the actual value of your shipment. The process is slow, tedious, and complicated - it's very easy to make a misstep that can jeopardize the approval of the claim. If you do acquire approval, your payout is based on dollar per pound and freight class, which can complicate things. Lower freight classes typically have lower dollar per pound payouts, so a discrepancy between actual shipment value can make it challenging to recoup your losses. Other freight classes, especially those that include used items, may not be covered at all.

Freight insurance usually comes at nominal cost with major extra coverage. The payout is based on the actual value of your freight, and you won’t have the responsibility of proving that it was the carrier that caused damage to your shipment. You also won’t be so hard-pressed for time in submitting a claim, and your payout will be faster. A quality broker should offer options to add on insurance coverage to your loads. When requesting a quote, just make sure to mention that you’re interested in additional coverage - for a minimal fee, you should be protected.    

Spend on: Special Services

It’s always a smart idea to make sure your warehouse is well-stocked with proper loading equipment, and that your staff is adequately trained. But, sometimes you simply don’t have the resources. 

ALTL Fees Tips

Shipping locations without docks, small teams with low staff, and limited access businesses or special loads all warrant the extra money. Carriers offer a slew of extra services that cost money, but can be a life-saver depending on what you need to safely move your load. Liftgates, refrigerated trucks, and conestogas all fall into this category. You can also request driver assistance with loadings or delivery. While this isn’t a typical responsibility for the driver, if you’re willing to pay a little more, you can secure the extra help.

The most important thing about adding on these premium services is planning for the extra cost so that your invoice isn’t a surprise. Make sure you quote accurately, and include any additional options at the time of your request. If you’re unsure whether something may come with a hefty price tag, consult your broker or the carrier directly - especially since these services usually vary in cost across carriers.

Spend on: Carrier Appointments

Certain types of businesses require very specific shipping procedures and protocols. This happens often with high volume shippers that have trucks arriving all day long. These businesses frequently require appointments for delivery and pick-up. Grocers like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, and mass box stores such as Walmart and Target fit into these categories. Appointments help curtail truck pile-up and keep perishable goods stable. 

Some businesses are designated as limited access, and may also operate within restricted shipping hours, like schools, universities, prisons, churches, or construction sites. Appointments can help ensure arrivals fall within that open window and avoid unexpected deliveries that may disrupt business operations or cause scheduling issues. 

LTL fees to avoid

Neglecting to follow any business’s shipping and receiving protocols may result in a driver being sent away, which will likely incur missed appointment or redelivery fees. If you are shipping fresh produce and other perishable goods, any major delays are disastrous, resulting in damages to the load. Make sure you know whether or not your load will require appointments, and schedule them in a timely manner. Be extra mindful of any new locations you may be working with, and make sure any changes are communicated between all shipping parties. 

Don’t be afraid to spend when the circumstances are right

It’s important to be budget-minded, but the most successful shippers know when to shell out versus when to save. If you need freight insurance, special services, or appointments for arrival, it makes sense to pay just a bit more to ensure less headaches down the line. These extra services ultimately help your freight - but you need a plan. PartnerShip can help determine which “extras” make the most sense for your business.  

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3 Freight Claim Mistakes That Carriers Love You're Making

January 6, 2023 at 12:39 PMJen Deming

Freight damages and lost shipments are the worst. Submitting a freight claim in order to receive compensation from the carrier can be challenging, and if you don't do it right, you're unlikely to get much of a payout. In fact, certain mistakes that you might be making can pretty much guarantee a denial or low payout - and have the carrier jumping for joy.

Why Offering Free Shipping for Your Business is Easier Than You Think

December 13, 2022 at 10:14 AMJen Deming
Why offering free shipping is easier than you think

As a consumer, the words “free shipping” can create a huge incentive that pushes you to purchase. The expectation for most shoppers is that there will be some sort of free option. However, many retailers are still hesitant to offer free shipping, or stuck on how to make the choice available to consumers while still protecting their bottom line. Let’s take a look at the three most common misconceptions about offering free shipping, and how you can implement strategies to make it work to your business’s advantage.

Misconception #1 – Absorbing shipping costs will cut into my bottom line

If we’re really being honest here, it’s important to note that free shipping isn’t really “free”. Transportation services require time and effort from the carrier, so someone has to pay for it. If it’s not your customer, then it will have to be you. If not addressed correctly, you will have to absorb costs, and this will decrease your margins, overall.

The good news is that offering free shipping to your customer can have a major positive impact on your sales because it’s viewed as a huge value-add. In fact, most consumers are willing to spend up to 30% more online if they know they won’t be paying for shipping. As a top incentive, a further 93% of shoppers say they will take action to qualify for free shipping by adding more items to their order. By offering free shipping, you are going to boost sales and increase your average order spend. In time, the increase in revenue will ideally offset your shipping costs.

Pro tip: Set a minimum amount threshold to qualify for free shipping. 

To make free shipping a viable strategy, it’s probably not smart to offer the service on just any order that is placed. Because shipping costs fluctuate, it can be hard to predict consistently. By setting a minimum order amount, you’ll help ensure that the revenue from the sale will offset the costs of transportation. Determine your minimum order value in advance, and be strategic about communicating that minimum amount during every step of checkout.

Misconception #2 – Building shipping cost into product price will scare customers

Why offering free shipping is easier than you think

To counter the cost of shipping, it may make sense to increase your product price. But this can sound like a scary notion. Raised prices turn off customers and decreases your competitive advantage, right? The truth is, by increasing prices even minimally, while offering a high-value service like free shipping, you will see a boost to your net margin. 49% of all cart abandonment occurs due to sticker shock at the shipping point of checkout, not due to product price. Moderate price increases are generally justified by the customer, as long as fulfillment expectations are being met.

Pro tip: Product pricing should match what your customers are willing to spend and the type of customer you are trying to attract.

When building shipping costs into the price of your products, it’s always important to keep in mind who your target consumer base is. For example, a premium, brand-name shoe retailer can get away with a higher minimum price point than a book seller. Adding the cost of shipping into product price is a legitimate tactic that ensures you're covering your bases, just keep your price points fair and realistic.

Misconception #3 – The demand for free shipping isn’t there for my business 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that free shipping has pretty much become the industry standard. Thanks to large ecommerce companies like Amazon, consumers expect shipping to be fast, free, or a combination of both. No matter whether you’re selling t-shirts or toolkits, the demand for free shipping is there for any industry. In fact, 66% of consumers want free shipping on all orders, regardless of the total, and 88% expect it when their order exceeds a certain amount. Even more alarming, 61% of shoppers say they are “somewhat likely” to cancel their order if free shipping isn’t offered – that’s a big old ‘yikes’. In short, when the majority of your consumer base expects some type of free shipping, it’s time to stop stalling and decide how to offer the service instead.

Pro tip: Explore ways to “test out” free shipping with offers and promotions.

You don’t have to jump right into a committed strategy right off the rip – dipping your toes in can help determine which tactics work best for you. Consider offering new customers, or rewarding existing ones, with a free shipping promotion. Implement VIP or loyalty programs that allow your customers to sign up and receive free shipping as an incentive. You may even benefit from offering free shipping on select items (perhaps those with a higher price point). By testing out different methods, you can really look at the shipping costs you incur, what your minimum order threshold should be, and refine your strategy from there.

Discounted shipping options help you and your customers

No matter which tactic you decide is best when offering free shipping to your customers, it’s extra important to keep your shipping costs low. You might not know that there are often shipping discounts available through memberships within trade associations, chambers, and industry groups. PartnerShip works with over 130 groups to provide their members with discounts on FedEx services. Contact our team to find out if you qualify.

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Your Essential Guide to the 2023 FedEx and UPS Rate Increases

December 6, 2022 at 11:35 AMLeah Palnik
The essential guide to the 2023 FedEx and UPS Rate Increases

FedEx and UPS will be increasing their rates by an average of 6.9% in 2023. That’s a heavy statement for a couple of reasons. First, this is the highest General Rate Increase (GRI) the carriers have taken in recent years. And second, your actual shipping costs will likely go up more than 6.9% in the new year. Oof. Unpacking the new changes is complicated, but essential if you want to understand how your costs will be affected and what you can do about it.

Here's your guide to the FedEx and UPS rate increases for 2023. Jump to:

A look back at the FedEx and UPS GRIs 

FedEx and UPS have a long history of mirroring each other’s pricing. They typically announce the same GRI and appear to have very similar pricing strategies. Bottom line, published rates aren’t a major differentiator between the two carriers.

For 2023, both FedEx and UPS are pointing fingers at inflation as a contributing factor to the higher-than-usual rate increase. 2022 already saw an uptick with a 5.9% GRI, thanks to all of the supply chain disruptions and surges in demand that resulted from the pandemic. For several years prior to that, both carriers had been raising their rates annually by an average of 4.9%.

Some important quick facts about the new FedEx and UPS rates:

  • The new FedEx rates take effect on January 3, 2023, while the UPS rates take effect a week earlier on December 27, 2022.
  • The 6.9% average doesn’t take surcharges into account - many of which are increasing by more than 6.9%.
  • How much your costs actually go up in 2023 will depend on several different factors. The services you use, your shipment dimensions and weight, and how far your shipments are traveling all have an effect.

Important changes

So you already understand that FedEx and UPS rates are going up in the new year. What does that look like exactly? First, you'll want to review the released service guide previews: 

If all of those tables and numbers are making your head spin, you're not alone. But there are some key takeaways. Let’s take a look at a few of the general observations from the base rate changes:

  • Across all services and weight breaks, longer zones are getting hit with higher increases than shorter zones. Many of those increases are higher than the announced average. 
  • For Ground services, many of the rates for shorter zones are lower than the 6.9% average increase.
  • For each service, the rate increases are similar across most weight breaks. Zones are the biggest difference-makers this year. 
  • For the 3 Day services, you'll see a higher increase from FedEx than UPS. However, the actual rates are comparable. That is because UPS took a larger increase with this service the previous year. 
  • Both FedEx and UPS have increased their Ground Minimum charge to $10.10

When you are reviewing your shipping costs, you can’t look at the base rates alone. Surcharge fees often make up a significant chunk of the amount you end up paying. Here are a few noteworthy surcharge updates:

  • Fees for larger, more difficult to move packages continue to rise to hefty prices. You could be paying an extra $1,150 for a shipment that qualifies for the Unauthorized Packages fee by FedEx or the Over Maximum Limits fee by UPS.Common FedEx and UPS Surcharges
  • Both carriers are increasing the late payment fee from 6% to 8%.
  • FedEx created a Remote Delivery Surcharge. Almost 4,000 zips will now incur a $13.25 fee. UPS originally introduced a fee for this in January 2022.
  • Many common surcharges are increasing, with a significant amount increasing by more than 6.9%.Common FedEx and UPS Surcharges

There are also a couple of other changes that are important to be aware of:

  • UPS announced that it will be renaming “peak surcharges” to “demand surcharges”. Several years ago FedEx and UPS started implementing these fees to address the increased demand the holiday season brings. Then, the pandemic hit. Both carriers have struggled to meet the surge in demand amid all of the supply chain disruptions and decided to use peak surcharges in response. The decision by UPS to rebrand these surcharges signals that it is viewing them slightly differently. Instead of implementing fees based on seasonal predictability, “demand surcharges” suggests usage anytime there is an uptick in demand. In short, they’re likely here to stay.
  • The list of zip codes for zones is changing. Depending on where you’re shipping, you may have to pay based on a longer zone than before. It’s changes like these that make budgeting for your annual cost increase very challenging.

How the FedEx and UPS rate changes will affect your costs in 2023

You can’t take the announcement of a 6.9% increase at face value, unfortunately. You’ll need to determine what services you use the most, how far your shipments travel on average, and how much of your invoice charges can be attributed to fees.

Many shippers will see their costs go up over the announced 6.9% average. With that in mind, let’s look a few factors that could put you at risk for higher-than-average cost increases:

  • If you’re shipping larger packages or your packages require special handling. For the past several years, FedEx and UPS have been raising these fees at an alarming rate. Any shipment they can’t run through their normal systems costs them more time and money, and these fees are a way to discourage those types of shipments from entering their networks.
  • If you ship a higher percentage of residential shipments. Residential shipments cost the carriers more because they require more stops and are a less efficient use of their driver’s time. Residential fees continue to climb because of this.
  • If you ship a lot of low density packages. The pricing structure that FedEx and UPS have put in place punishes lighter shipments that take up a lot of space. The carriers prefer denser packages that take up less space because they’re able to fit more packages on their delivery vehicles.
  • If a high percentage of your shipments go to longer zones. It’s always been true that the further your package travels, the more expensive the rate. This year that’s especially true. Longer zones are seeing more increases above the announced average than shorter zones.

What you can do to mitigate the effects of the FedEx and UPS rate increases

  • Right-size your packaging. While FedEx and UPS rates are based on weight, that’s not actually the whole story. If your dimensional weight is higher than the actual weight, your package will be rated using the dimensional weight - meaning you’ll be paying more. This makes any excess space within your package extra costly. Focus on packaging that allows space for the items you’re shipping and the necessary cushioning and nothing more.
  • DIM Weight Calculation
  • Consider opening or using a new distribution center. Shipments with the longest distance to travel cost you the most every year. But in 2023, this will be even more important as the longest zones are seeing the highest increases. Getting closer to your customers could be a great strategy for keeping those costs down.
  • Take advantage of discounts available to you. Many trade associations and chambers of commerce will offer FedEx or UPS discounts to their members. Oftentimes the annual cost savings from those discounts more than make up for the cost of joining. PartnerShip works with over 130 groups to provide their members with discounts on FedEx services. Contact our team to find out if you qualify.

Wrapping your head around all of the changes for 2023 FedEx and UPS rates can be challenging. But, using this guide to understand what's behind the announced average and published service guides is a good first step. Use this information to properly budget for the new year and set up any mitigation tactics that work best for your business.   

4 Questions You Must Ask About Your Freight Broker's Carrier Network

November 9, 2022 at 11:50 AMJen Deming

When it comes to the carriers that can move your freight, "more is better", right? While that may be true for some, the quality of your partner carriers may be more valuable than quantity. If you're looking to add new carriers to the mix by working with a freight broker, make sure to ask the big questions to determine if their network is right for your needs.

Freight Carrier Closures for the 2022 Holiday Season

November 3, 2022 at 1:47 PMJen Deming
2022 Freight Carrier Closures

As we near the end of 2022, it’s crucial to plan ahead for shipping through the holiday season.  Freight demand is starting to show signs of decreasing but continues to strain available carrier capacity. As a result, transit times are still a bit unpredictable. 

Planning your shipping schedule during the final months of the year will be extra important. To avoid extra stress, take note of when your carriers will be closed during the holidays. 

Freight carrier closures

  • Saia LTL Freight – will be closed November 24 - 25, December 23 - 26, and January 2.
  • YRC Freight – will be closed November 24 – 25, December 24 – 26, 31, and January 2.
  • XPO Logistics – will be closed November 24 – 25, December 23 – 26, and January 2.
  • ArcBest – will be closed November 24 – 25, December 24 – 25.
  • R+L Carriers – will be closed November 24 - 25, December 24 - 26, and January 2
  • Estes – will be closed November 24 – 25, December 23 – 26, and January 2.
  • Dayton Freight – will be closed November 24 – 25, December 23 – 26, and January 2.
  • Pitt Ohio – will be closed November 24 – 25, December 23 – 26, and January 2.
  • AAA Cooper – will be closed November 24 – 25, December 23 – 26, and January 2.
  • TForce Freight – will be closed November 24 – 25, December 23 – 26, and January 2.

Avoid being left out in the cold this holiday season

Freight shipping during peak shipping months can be extra-challenging, but you’re not alone. With over 30 years of holiday seasons under our belt, the freight experts at PartnerShip can help you ship smarter. 

Please note that our office will be closed November 25-26, December 26, and January 2 so that we can celebrate with our families. Happy Holidays!

Which Shipping Strategy is Right for Your Retail Business?

October 26, 2022 at 9:50 AMJen Deming

Choosing the right shipping strategy can help increase profitability, conversion, and repeat business from your customers. But, how do you know which one is right for you? We take a look at the three most common small package shipping strategies for retailers, so you can decide what makes sense for your business.

FedEx and UPS Holiday Shipping Deadlines for 2022

October 21, 2022 at 9:10 AMLeah Palnik
2021 Holiday Shipping Deadlines for FedEx and UPS

As you prepare your store for the influx of orders that come with the holiday season, you’re going to want to keep an eye on the shipping deadlines. Both FedEx and UPS have announced the last dates you can ship your orders and make it in time for a Christmas delivery.

It’s important to note these deadlines because demand surges this time of year. The carriers' networks are already strained, and it’s only going to get worse the closer we get to the holidays. To keep your customers happy and set the right expectations, we recommend clearly communicating the shipping cutoff dates and adding in extra days in case of delays.

FedEx has published a complete visual list of the last days to ship. Here are some highlights for domestic shipments:

  • December 8 for FedEx Ground Economy
  • December 14 for FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery
  • December 20 for FedEx Express Saver
  • December 21 for FedEx 2Day and 2Day AM
  • December 22 for FO, PO, SO, and Extra Hours
  • December 23 for FedEx Same Day

UPS has also created a list of the last days to ship for Christmas delivery. Unfortunately, one thing that is missing is a specific cutoff date for Ground shipments. You will need to get a quote on the UPS website instead. For domestic UPS air shipments, the dates are as follows:

  • December 20 for UPS 3 Day Select
  • December 21 for UPS 2nd Day Air
  • December 22 for UPS Next Day Air services

It’s also important to note that service guarantees are currently suspended for both FedEx and UPS ground services. It's also suspended for select air/express services. The main takeaway? You’ll want to encourage your customers to order early and do what you can to add in extra days when setting delivery expectations.

If you're looking for any additional guidance or need a way to lower your small package costs, PartnerShip can help. Contact our team today.

How To Best Protect Your Freight From Freezing

October 13, 2022 at 11:13 AMJen Deming
How to Protect Your Freight From Freezing

Winter is coming, and that means large parts of the nation will be impacted by cold, freezing temperatures, and adverse weather conditions. Certain types of freight, like beverages, electronics, and pharmaceuticals, are especially at-risk for damage during the winter months. The good news is that there are ways to protect your freight from freezing, which can help avoid both damages and cost challenges during the winter months. But you must be vigilant and follow three essential strategies.

Strategy 1 – Ensure your prep and packaging can handle cold temperatures   

Protecting your freight starts with you, the shipper, and proper packaging and preparation. To make sure that your freight kicks off its journey safely, make sure to use the following tactics to avoid issues:

  • Know your product: Different types of products have varying temperature minimums, so first and foremost, you should determine what temperature ranges are safest for your freight.
  • Group like products together: When palletizing or crating your loads, make sure similar product types (and temperature ranges) are grouped together for maximum safety.
  • Use insulated packaging: When boxing up your product, make sure items are packed with insulating materials, like foam core, cotton or paper fiber, or insulated box liners.
  • Wrap packed pallets: Insulated pallet covers, or specialty cargo blankets can help trap heat inside, making sure your products stay a warm and consistent temperature.
  • Track temperature variations: Many shippers opt to use smart thermometers that can help track shipment temperature and detect any shifts that may impact the product.
  • Load quickly and efficiently: Your loading team doesn’t have the luxury of time during the winter. Load carrier trucks quickly to minimize exposure to low temperatures and other weather risks like rain and snow.

Strategy 2 – Become familiar with specialized temp-control equipment options

To be completely honest, the equipment you choose will make or break your freight. Most carriers, especially large national carriers like TForce Freight and YRC Freight, offer temp-controlled services and have specialized trucks in their fleet that can manage freeze-protection. 'Reefer' (refrigerated) trucks aren't just used to haul frozen products during the summer. They can also be used to maintain a constant temperature for at-risk freight during the colder months. 

Reefer freight

When arranging your temp-sensitive freight, it’s important to contact your preferred carrier and learn about what options they offer. Communicate your shipment’s needs, starting with product type and what the required temperature range must be. Carriers can help secure a reefer truck, offer heated truck options, or even may provide alternative heating solutions, like portable or built-in trailer heating units. 

After communicating with the carrier and deciding which temperature-control options are right for you, it’s important to note temperature requirements on your bill-of-lading. As with most special requests, this not only gives the carrier direction on your needs, but it can also be used as a point of reference for liability should something go wrong during transit. 

Keep in mind, that temperature-control services are considered accessorials, and will incur charges and fees that may vary by carrier. Building those fees into your shipping costs is best done early on in the transportation process.

Strategy 3 – Stay on top of delays and weather conditions

Not every part of the United States will be impacted by inclement winter weather – but most of it will be. Snow, rain, ice, and even wind can create major issues for truckers during the winter season. It’s super important to research the path that your shipment will be taking. Don’t let your load fall prey to the common “out of sight, out of mind” misconceptions some shippers succumb to.

Data Graphic

When shipping LTL, your load won’t travel from point A to point B in one straight shot. The further your load travels, the more varied its path will be. If your shipment enters any of the high-risk zones like the Midwest, New England, or Central U.S., it’s extra crucial you stay on top of weather updates for your shipping lane. When the weather is bad enough, it’s in your best interest to delay shipping until it clears, if you can swing it. Road closures and rerouting may be hard to predict, so it’s always smart to build extra time into your transit.

Shipping over the weekend is always tricky, even in the best-case weather scenarios. But in the colder months, you will likely encounter extra challenges. Because weekends are considered “dead freight” time, your loads will sit and be exposed. Your best bet is to ship early in the week and avoid weekends all together, but if you have to, make sure you communicate with the carrier about keeping the temperature-control running while idle.

Because freight transit can be so unpredictable during cold weather, always keep in mind that you should be keeping alternate shipping options open. If you have a larger freight shipment, a dedicated truck may be a viable alternative. While pricey, keeping room in the budget for emergency scenarios like weather delays is a smart plan of action.

Shipping freight safely in winter is possible

Winter weather freight shipping can be tricky, but it’s not out of the question. You will need to strategize even more than you’re used to, and take every precaution necessary to avoid slip-ups. Keep in mind that now is not the time to take any unnecessary risks just in an effort to save a buck. PartnerShip can help you keep on top of cold weather shipping issues, including communicating with carriers and staying on budget. If you’re going to be shipping this winter, make sure to contact our freight experts so your freight is delivered safely. 

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