5 Freight Broker Benefits You Can’t Afford to Pass Up

March 23, 2022 at 9:45 AMJen Deming
5 Freight Broker Benefits You Can’t Afford to Pass Up

If you’re shipping freight, then it’s likely you’ve heard the term ‘freight broker’. But maybe you’ve wondered what they actually do or why you should bother using them. A freight broker acts as an intermediary between a shipper and a carrier - they help shippers find quality transportation providers for their loads. Brokers, also known as 3PLs, can manage every step of the shipping process and help alleviate some work, especially if you’re low on time and manpower. Whether or not you consider yourself a seasoned freight shipper, here are five freight broker benefits that will help level-up your shipping procedures.

Benefit #1 – Freight brokers offer guidance if you’re just getting started

If your business needs have shifted recently, and you need to start using services for larger loads, your shipping department may be a little stuck getting past the basics. Stepping up from shipping small packages to shipping freight is an entirely different ball game. Packaging and pricing strategies differ, as well as the amount of work your team needs to put in during loading. Now is the time to look for assistance from experts, because by going in blindly, you may encounter a variety of pitfalls that result in damaged shipments or expensive bills.

Freight brokers can help get you started off on the right foot by getting to know your business and what you need to ship. They can assist by researching freight classes and determining any special equipment or packaging needs. A great broker can also help with quoting and booking procedures, by scheduling pick-ups and getting all parties any necessary paperwork. After pick-up, they will proactively track your shipment and provide updates, so you can stay on top of your freight’s progress. 

New freight shippers can be surprised how many checkpoints a load will encounter throughout transit. And with that, how many chances something may go wrong. For issues along the way, such as transit delays, inspections, or missed deliveries, freight brokers can troubleshoot quickly. Fixing these obstacles can take a lot time, a bit of run-around, and quite a few phone calls, so working with a broker can help shippers avoid that stress entirely. Many freight challenges stem from a lack of communication between shippers, consignees, and carriers, so brokers can act as conduit between the three and clear up matters quickly.

Benefit #2 – Brokers are your inside access to better freight rates

If you could save money on your freight shipping, you’d do it right? Better prices sound appealing, but it can be hard for small and medium-sized businesses to have enough clout with a carrier to get great discounts. 3PLs have strong shipping volumes, and working alongside one can be that extra boost you need to access better pricing. Freight brokers can both leverage carrier relationships for discounts (passing them on to you), and may have a broader pool of carriers that offer budget-friendly options. 

To really evaluate where you are at with your freight spend, brokers can also conduct audits on your current procedures. By looking at your past invoices, brokers can identify any areas that you may be spending more than average and check for opportunities to cut costs or increase efficiency. For example, by reviewing accessorial charges like recurring liftgate fees that are being implemented by the carrier, a quality 3PL can help identify potential solutions to eliminate or offset those costs. This may mean suggesting equipment solutions at your warehouse, or looking into alternate carriers who charge less for extra services. There are many ways you can manage your freight budget, but without expert assistance, you may be stuck wasting money while trying to find solutions.

Benefit #3 – Brokers are your advocates in the case of freight claims

Freight claims are a dirty word in this business, and a top stressor for any shipper. Should you find yourself in that predicament, however, working with a freight broker can give you a leg up during the claims process. Freight carriers can be difficult to work with – their primary goal is to limit payouts whenever possible. Because there are so many steps and policies you have to follow, it’s best to have an expert on your side who’s done this a few times before.

A broker can often help set you up for success by making sure you have as many pieces of documentation backing up your claim as possible. They can educate you on the process and make sure you’re submitting the proper paperwork and adhering to any necessary deadlines. A qualified broker can help you understand the differences between carrier liability and freight insurance, and be your advocate during any negotiations and follow-up. 

Benefit #4 – Freight brokers give you access to more quality carriers

Freight brokers work with many different carriers, and by using a broker, your pool of shipping options broadens greatly. This is a great benefit on a variety of levels. For example, if you’re experiencing consistent issues like damages, timeliness, and reliability with one of your carriers, having access to some new options could be just what you need to eliminate the problem. 

With the worldwide freight crisis hanging overhead, it’s also a smart move to have as many carrier options available as possible. Many shippers have found it challenging to secure a quality carrier that meets their needs and budget. The more options you have, the more likely your freight is going to be picked-up and delivered on time. 

Benefit #5 – If you’re stumped on a load, they’ve got options

Freight brokers are experts at putting out fires - they’ve seen it all. If you have a shipment that needed to be delivered yesterday, brokers can help navigate expedited options that balance service level and budget needs. Or maybe your load needs a specialized piece of equipment like a box truck or flatbed. A freight broker will be able to quickly access a large pool of carriers to ensure you have the coverage you need. For any kind of tricky freight loads, a quality broker can help guide you through the process. 

The case for using a freight broker

Gaining the benefits associated with working alongside a freight broker can be a game-changer for your business. The ins-and-outs of freight shipping can be complicated, and while you can try to navigate them on your own, it’s always better to have an expert on your side. PartnerShip can help guide your team and help answer any questions you may have on whether working with a broker is right for your business.

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Record High Diesel Prices Will Affect Your Freight Costs

March 9, 2022 at 11:26 AMLeah Palnik
Truck driving on highway

It’s been hard to miss the high gas prices at the pump and the headlines about the rising cost of crude oil. Not only does this affect the average American driver, but this also has a large impact on the drivers moving our freight. In fact, the national average for on-highway diesel fuel has shot up to the highest it’s ever been since the U.S. Energy Information Administration started tracking the prices in 1994.

The cost of doing business just got a lot more expensive for trucking companies, and that will be reflected in your freight rates. We’re currently seeing fuel surcharges as high as 42% with some of our carriers. While it’s a hard pill to swallow, this is something to keep in mind and budget for.

As for how long you can expect fuel surcharges to be high, that’s hard to say. Many experts note that even when oil prices start to go back down, gas and diesel prices aren’t likely to fall as quickly as they’ve risen.

To learn more about the record high diesel prices, check out this article on Overdrive.

If you're curious about how oil prices drive the cost of gasoline and diesel, check out this segment from Marketplace.

It’s more important than ever to work with a freight broker. Our team is available to help you find the best rate for your freight and help you navigate through logistics challenges. Contact us to consult with one of our shipping experts.

Why Carriers Hate Difficult Freight and How to Fix It

February 18, 2022 at 2:49 PMJen Deming
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Have you ever thought about whether your LTL freight loads are worthwhile for the carrier? Your freight shipments must be worth the amount of effort that’s invested in moving them. If the payoff isn’t there, your loads will be regarded as “difficult freight”.  This can lead to declined loads, infrequent pick-ups, or a tense relationship with your carrier. To get your freight prioritized, the first step is determining whether you have difficult freight, then taking the steps needed to become a shipper of choice. 

Reason 1: Your pick-up or delivery location is tough to access

One way to determine whether your freight is cringeworthy can be as simple as walking through the door of your business and scanning the surrounding lot. Ask yourself, are my freight pick-ups a pain to complete? Maybe you don’t even have a lot, but your business is located on a side street or an alley in the city. A standard LTL dry van being dispatched by the carrier is 52 feet long, which definitely takes skill to maneuver safely. If your business location is in a challenging place, such as a cramped area that restricts maneuverability or doesn’t have a dock, pick-up is tough for the driver to complete. 

On the other hand, maybe you have the space to maneuver, but it’s such a rural location that the carrier only services the area infrequently. If you’re in an isolated region that doesn’t have many other local businesses moving freight, the work to payoff ratio is pretty unbalanced. Either way, carriers have a term for these hard-to-reach locations. High-traffic metropolitan areas, remote construction zones, and extremely rural regions all fall within the definition of limited access.

The best thing you can do to avoid this particular pitfall is to create as much flexibility as possible for the carrier. You might not be able to move your business, but if the physical location of your pick-up has some structural challenges, you need to communicate that to the carrier beforehand. Informing the carrier allows them to plan for the proper equipment, such as dispatching a smaller box truck for arrival. If you can swing it with your warehouse team, consider shipping to or from a freight terminal, rather than your business. Busy freight terminals are located in desirable geographic areas that you know the carrier will visit regularly. This helps ensure your shipment gets moving and will spare you extra limited access fees. 

Reason 2: Your freight is a prohibited commodity

Want to know another reason that your shipment may be marked as “difficult freight”? The commodity you are shipping may be prohibited by the carrier. This is usually due to liability, governmental regulations, or company policy. The act of prohibiting certain items exists for two main reasons: 

High risk/high value - These types of products can be difficult to put an exact value on, or may be easily damaged or stolen. Commodities include bank bills, credit cards, gold or precious stones, currency, original artwork, furs, or other high-value items. Your chosen carrier may be willing to accept certain items, but you must prove you have the appropriate insurance coverage.  

Regulated – These shipments may be excluded due to government regulation or may be hazardous in nature. This may also include perishable items that require controlled storage requirements. Items in this category include aerosols, chemicals, assembled guns, alcohol, combustible materials, hazardous materials, and live plants and animals.

So, since this type of “difficult freight” can include so many different commodities, what can you do? Your first goal should be to learn just how your carrier views these products. Evaluate your carrier’s terms and conditions  before you even start planning your pick-up. Restricted or prohibited items will be listed there, as well as any liability and claims information. Inspections regularly occur during transit, so if you aren’t sure if you’re safe, call the carrier and find out their policy.

If you are consistently moving these types of risky shipments, make sure that you are working with carriers that are properly certified. Many carriers specialize in these types of loads, so you can ensure your shipments are moving safely and legally. For some types of cargo there may be state-mandated regulations, as in the case of transporting alcohol. Be sure to have the proper permits and to adhere to the necessary policies. Any type of shipment that has restrictions will likely have very specific packaging requirements and requisite paperwork.  

Reason 3: Your warehouse hours don’t mesh with the carrier

Maybe the location of your business isn’t the thing preventing a carrier’s arrival, but your facility’s operating hours are what create further problems. Due to the nature of certain establishments, arrival times may be heavily policed or limited. Places like schools, prisons, or storage facilities often have restricted hours for arrival and loading – and sometimes they’re after a carrier’s business hours. 

All a driver wants to do is arrive onsite, get loaded quickly, and then to get back on the road. Having to work around odd hours can complicate the daily schedule. To make matters worse, some locations may require an appointment for arrival. If you have a small loading window that requires the driver to stick to a very fixed schedule, this is going to present some issues. Traffic issues or detours can throw off an entire day’s work. If a driver arrives just short of the appointment time, the shipment may need to be put back on the board for the next day.

Create flexibility in your loading hours whenever possible. If you must require delivery appointments, make sure your loading team is efficient and organized so that you don’t run over. Allowing weekend arrivals, extended hours for pick-ups, and having a team “on call” can greatly reduce the stress a driver will experience and boost the chances the carrier will work with you again.

Reason 4: Your reputation proceeds you 

When you are auditing carriers, and measuring up how well they’re working out for you, realize that carriers are doing the same thing. With capacity as limited as it is, freight carriers want to work with customers who have their shipping processes down pat and are pleasant to do business with. If you are anything but that, they will take their business elsewhere.

One major disruption for carriers is the subject of detention. Carriers usually allot two hours for loading, and any time it takes over that is considered detention. Detention holds up drivers, wasting time and preventing them from moving on to the next load. It’s pricey too, as most carriers will pass on a detention fee to offenders. Keep in mind, drivers are not going to help you load your cargo. Some may assist, but be warned, that will rack up some hefty fees too.

In order to avoid these fees and stay in good graces with the carrier, you need to have a well-trained and efficient warehouse team that also has the proper loading equipment. If you don’t have a dock for loading, that’s okay, but you should have a forklift or another alternative ready and working at pick-up. 

Be helpful and accommodating to the driver. Amenities like accessible parking options, a comfortable resting area, and food and coffee will be greatly appreciated by the driver. Keep in mind, when it comes to difficult freight, your reputation is the one factor you can truly control. Becoming a shipper of choice takes planning and a little bit of thoughtfulness, but it goes a long way in helping the carrier look forward to your loads.

Reason 5: Your business has above average claim submissions 

It probably seems pretty obvious, but if you’re submitting a lot of claims, the carrier is going to be wary of your cargo. Freight claims cause headaches for everyone involved. While the burden of proof is on the shipper to prove carrier negligence, claims submissions take a lot of time, research, and possibly loss of revenue for the carrier. Whether you win the claim or not, damage and loss claims mean the carrier will think twice about moving your shipments.

If your company has a history of damages, your freight carrier is going to evaluate a few risk factors. It may be possible that you are shipping extraordinarily fragile, or perishable, commodities that create a lot of risk. For example, a landscaping business shipping live plants may want to use LTL services for smaller freight loads. While possible, doing so is hazardous. Any delays in shipments or extra handling may cause an above-average risk to the integrity of the product. 

The other issue may be with your packaging. A business that is shipping built furniture may experience increased risk of damage to their product. Custom crating your product can help avoid some damages, but the risk may still be too high, and standard carriers may decline to move your loads at all.

If you are shipping any sort of fragile or high-risk shipment, your first step should be to perfect your packaging procedures. It may be costly to invest in custom packaging, but using standard pallets and shrink wrap is not going to be enough to protect your freight. It’s more important to consider whether specialty shipping services may be the right option for your cargo. White glove shipping services can be pricey, but they prioritize safe handling and security. Refrigerated options or even using dedicated truckload services will limit the handling of your product, and may speed up transit as an added benefit.

Reason 6: Seasonality is shifting carrier priorities

During certain times of the year, there are huge spikes in available freight shipments for carriers to move. Depending on the industry, these periods vary by region and season, and sometimes there may be some cross-over. Some examples include produce season in places like Florida, the Midwest, and California, construction season in the spring, or nationwide during the winter holiday season. Because there are so many available loads to choose from, carriers will prioritize the loads that, you guessed it, have the highest payoff for minimal effort.

If you’re shipping during these busy seasons, you need to be flexible. LTL rates will go up and transit times will increase. You should always be practical about your budget, but consider the long-term goal. It’s not the time to tighten the belt on your budget during busy seasons - aim to lower costs year-round so that you have room when you need it. Since transit times will be longer, consolidating loads whenever possible will decrease your overall risk for late deliveries. Expanding your pool of carriers by working with a freight broker will increase the likelihood your shipment gets moved. As always, make your freight as appealing as possible so that when carriers are frazzled by the seasonal onslaught, they can count on your shipments to be fast and easy.

Make difficult freight a thing of the past

Nobody wants to be seen as a “problem shipper”, but the good news is that with time, and a little foresight, you can turn the situation around. It all starts with putting yourself in the carrier’s shoes. Would you want to work with your business? It’s your responsibility to make your cargo desirable, and encourage a strong relationship with your carrier. PartnerShip can help, by guiding your business to make the right choices for your loads, and connecting you with the right carriers who want to move your freight.


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6 Surefire Ways You Can Overcome Freight Capacity Challenges

January 18, 2022 at 9:08 AMJen Deming
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Sometimes, it’s just hard to find a truck. With a capacity crunch that’s been ongoing for as long as we can remember, the struggle to get your LTL loads covered is old news. But, it’s still relevant news. In fact, it seems like things are projected to get even tougher as more freight enters the network. So, while the capacity challenges continue, how can you get your loads covered without breaking the bank?

Why are there capacity challenges?

First, it’s important to understand why capacity is so tight in the first place. It all boils down to an oversaturated freight network – there’s simply not enough trucks on the road available to move every existing freight load. More money is being spent on goods than services, we’re looking at a 6% year over year growth in demand, and this shift in consumer spending is really tightening things up. While the trend has existed for years, the effects of COVID further propelled a push in consumer spending. Due to a diminished staff, freight is being held up within transit at distribution centers and terminals. All of these factors create the perfect storm that make it harder to find trucks for your freight

Why should you care?

While the effects of a capacity crunch can seem pretty obvious, there may be more challenges than you expect. The immediate issue is getting your freight shipment covered at all. LTL freight carriers are becoming more particular about the loads they want to move and locations they want to visit. Pick-ups may be infrequent, and if your shipment is particularly challenging, like oversized, for example, it may be refused. 

Transit times are becoming longer, with 87.9% of shippers reporting a delay in deliveries. Some carriers are also suspending or amending time-critical and guaranteed options. Base rates are higher than ever before, and LTL carriers are now charging detention fees in some cases when loading is delayed. This accessorial fee is typically just associated with truckload shipping, but with a driver’s time being a vital commodity, carriers are pushing back and using it for LTL shipments as well.

What Can You Do to Overcome Capacity Challenges?

  1. Expand your current network

    One of the first things you should do to increase the odds that your freight will get covered, is taking a hard look at your current carrier options to see where you can improve or expand. Conducting a freight audit can help determine if your business needs are truly being met. Look for reoccurring challenges like missed pick-ups or high accessorial fees. Some carriers may visit locations where demand isn’t as high only one or two times a week, which can create a big issue with your shipping schedule. Accessorials like limited access can vary by carrier and it’s possible the one you are currently using may be charging more than a competitor carrier would. Exploring alternative carriers to review service levels and pricing is a great place to start. If you are finding several carriers that may fit your needs, keep them on file so you can rate shop between them and choose accordingly as back-ups.

  2. Build in extra time for everything
  3. Time is the name of the game in shipping. One of the smartest things that you can do to combat freight capacity challenges is building in extra time at every step of the shipping process. When you get an idea of a project or order you will be working on, start quoting as soon as you know details. If you have reoccurring orders for an established customer, approach carriers with the opportunity to explore contract pricing and get commitments for the length of the project. Carriers are looking for reliable, predictable loads that are going to guarantee business while creating minimal headaches. If you can prove your business can meet these expectations, they are going to be even more willing to commit for the long-haul. An added bonus - they are likely to negotiate terms and better pricing for your business as well. Packing and staging your shipments early so that they are ready for pick-up and will be loaded smoothly is going to go a long way in the eyes of the arriving carrier.

  4. Review alternative services for applicable shipments
  5. While choosing alternative freight services for your loads won’t always work to combat freight capacity issues, it’s a valid option for certain shipments. If you have a large LTL shipment that could benefit from truckload services, this could be a great back up choice. Using a dedicated truck can increase security, minimize damage, and expedite your transit. 

    While truckload moves typically consist of 8-10 pallets or more, some truckload carriers will offer a partial option where your load will share space with another shipper’s freight. This can add some perks of truckload shipping like added security, while benefitting from a more competitive price than paying for the entire truck. It’s important to note, however, that in partial truckload shipping, it’s possible your shipment may encounter delays due to the other customer on board. Depending on the order of delivery, you may end up waiting on the first delivery location if they don’t have everything in order. Building in extra time is still a good tactic to take here, but knowing you have alternative freight service options for your larger shipments is good to know if you are in a crunch.

  6. Consolidate your shipments
  7. The less often you ship, the less you risk not finding a truck for your loads. By consolidating your freight shipments, you create an efficient way of both lowering costs and ensuring you have LTL truck coverage. It may take a bit of communication and working with your customers, but reworking replenishment schedules so that you’re shipping larger, less frequent loads can be a smart long-term strategy. Moving your shipping to off-peak periods, if possible, also takes extra stress off of a carrier network that is already stretched thin. This not only allows for increased truck availably, but it also helps you avoid seasonal closures that will affect your shipments.

    When receiving inbound orders, collaborative distribution is also an option. Collaborative distribution combines vendor orders from different shippers at one common distribution center and channels them into a single-truck delivery. This option is a type of consolidation, but happens much earlier in the supply chain. Finding the balance between identifying which shipments can be consolidated over a more flexible length of time while meeting delivery deadlines and customer expectations is key.

  8. Utilize regional carrier options
  9. Most shippers are familiar with the large, recognizable national freight carriers, but regional freight carriers can also be a great option for coverage. Regional carriers specialize in concentrated geographic areas, usually within state-lines or city locales. In addition to adding them as options within your existing freight network, there are important advantages to working with regional carriers. Regional carriers have in-depth knowledge and first-hand experience navigating these areas on a daily basis and can speak to potential challenges like traffic trends or limited access issues. While a national carrier may be unfamiliar with these hang-ups, a regional driver’s knowledge of the area means increased transparency with the shipper regarding these obstacles, so precautions can be taken. 

    Oftentimes, regional carriers charge less for the same services that national carriers do. Regional carriers don’t have delivery area surcharges and costs for liftgates and accessorial fees are lower. Because regional carriers travel shorter distances, expedited or guaranteed services are generally less expensive, as well. 

    Finally, because these are smaller companies, they tend to offer more personalized solutions that emphasize customer experience. Relationships with these carriers tend to be less transactional, and place importance on problem resolution and service. Adding a regional carrier to the pool is an underutilized and potentially game-changing way to ensure your LTL loads are getting covered.

  10. Become a shipper of choice

    Want to know a surefire way to combat freight capacity issues? Become a shipper of choice. This means to do everything possible to leverage your relationships with carriers to make your shipments as desirable as possible. The freight load itself, your location, and your business practices combined should create an easy, efficient, and positive experience for the carrier.

    A good way to start is making sure your shipping location is set up for easy navigation. Signs and directional assistance, communication, and a safe, clear dock location are all things drivers look out for. Flexible delivery times and plentiful parking options help eliminate some extra stress for the driver, as well. Above all else, doing what you can to eliminate potential detention time is critical. Staged shipments that are primed and waiting with a well-trained and ready-to-go loading team help ensure the truck will be loaded within the 2-hour limit. That way, the driver can get back on the road to the next location with minimal delay. Nurturing these carrier relationships by improving the experience for the driver is important, and it matters. When there’s lots of freight waiting to be picked up nationwide, be the one that the carrier wants most.

Final thoughts



Freight capacity is a challenge, and it’s not changing any time soon. The best thing that you can do is create a plan of action that tackles these challenges before you have freight waiting on the dock. Working with a 3PL like PartnerShip can help audit your current shipping procedures and identify areas of improvement that go beyond getting your loads covered. Contact our freight experts to help get your freight where it needs to go.

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5 Foolproof Ways to Take on Manufacturing Shipping Challenges

January 11, 2022 at 3:07 PMJen Deming
5 Foolproof Ways to Take On Manufacturing Shipping Challenges

The manufacturing industry is vital to our economy, but producing components and materials is just the first step in the fulfillment process. Manufacturers have to make sure products are shipped efficiently, arrive on time, and don’t experience damage. In addition to rising costs and other issues we’ve seen across all industries, manufacturers face a unique set of logistics obstacles. You may be shipping large, fragile shipments that are expensive and hard to handle. Services and equipment needs can vary day-to-day, so it’s important to find the right shipping solutions that meet your specific needs. Read on to learn five foolproof ways to take on manufacturing shipping challenges.

  1. Prioritize the safety of your loads

    Manufacturers ship a wide variety of commodities, from small parts and components, to fully-assembled heavy machinery. For any-sized load, you need to take the safety and security of your shipments into consideration in order to limit damage and other issues. Start with regularly auditing your parcel and freight carriers to ensure their service levels meet your business expectations. Spec out your shipping safety “need to haves,” such as security during transit, carrier reputation, and damage statistics. Keep track of what’s working, as well as any issues you are experiencing with current carriers. If they aren’t making the cut, do some research. Who do your customers and colleagues prefer working with and why? Try out new carrier options and look into alternate service levels that may better offset your shipping challenges. Most importantly, ensure that your preferred carriers are communicated to your shipping department and warehouse team as well as any outside parties such as suppliers who may be arranging your shipping.

    Because security is of the utmost importance, ensure that your packaging is perfected, whether you are shipping small parts via parcel services or large freight orders. You should use quality materials and keep some basics in mind:

    • Don’t reuse packaging to ensure structural integrity
    • Limit extra space to avoid shifting and breakage during transit
    • Use pallet wrap to keep loose components together
    • When shipping assembled machinery, consider using custom crates rather than pallets

  2. Double-down on service options that encourage timely delivery

    Manufacturing any type of product typically involves several different parties who tackle specific steps during fabrication, from start to finished product. If anything goes wrong logistically during that process, it can disrupt the entire supply chain and lead to more shipping challenges. It’s crucial that your business is utilizing shipping providers and services that prioritize timely, expedient delivery. 

    Both FedEx and UPS offer different service levels depending on the urgency of your parcel shipment. If you’re in a crunch, FedEx can help make a speedy delivery with options like FedEx Priority Overnight® or FedEx 2Day A.M®. UPS also offers expedited services, such as UPS Express Critical® and UPS Next Day Air®. 

    If you have a true freight emergency, take a look at estimated transit times between carriers and their services. It’s probably not the time to use low-cost or asset-light carriers, as they typically have longer transit times. Many LTL freight carriers offer time critical, expedited, and guaranteed options. Just-in-time delivery options can also ensure your shipments are delivered as soon as possible. Because these services often use dedicated trucks or air/ground solutions to maximize efficiency, they can be pricey. Be mindful of your budget, and stay on top of any emergencies when you can. If expedited services are necessary, make sure you quote with several carriers and explore all options in order to keep costs low.

  3. Confirm your freight class before you ship

    Manufacturing businesses ship diverse products or commodities to any number of delivery locations. Whether your business is in the field of precision medical equipment, mold builders, automotive engineering, or any other specialty field, a major manufacturing shipping challenge is being an expert on your products’ specific freight class and NMFC codes.

    The challenge with not knowing these codes can affect everything from your total freight cost to the result of any claims filed. A common mistake many shippers make is using an outdated or blanket NMFC or class code. For example, the ‘machinery’ group NMFC code is 11400. There are over fifty major categories that specify exactly what type of machinery, and they range anywhere from class 55 to 500. That’s hundreds of dollars difference in a final bill. The class for your specific shipment is determined not only by the product itself, but also density, dimensions and weight, packaging type, whether it’s assembled or in parts, and other factors. On top of that, these designations and codes are updated regularly. If you haven’t shipped this product very recently, you need to check it again, especially if any packaging specs have changed.

    In the event that you enter the incorrect class code on your BOL, your freight will likely be flagged by the carrier. This will lead to an inspection, and some additional fees that are going to both inflate your bill and delay your delivery. Because freight class can be complicated, especially for manufacturers, it’s important to have more than a basic understanding of how LTL freight rates are determined. If you have any trouble finding the most accurate class code for your shipment, and you probably will, don’t hesitate to call the carrier or work with a freight broker who can help you.

  4. Make sure the value of your load is covered 

    Damage is a huge concern, especially based on the types of products being shipped. Freight shipping involves tons of handling and frequent stops at terminals. As a result, it’s probably not a matter of if, but when, you’ll get hit with damages. We don’t want to jinx your shipment, but let’s explore the event that your load encounters some damages or loss while on the road. 

    Freight damage is frustrating from the start because it’s expensive, can hold up the fulfillment of an order, and potentially complicate relationships with your customers. Because many manufacturers’ shipments are extra fragile, hard to maneuver, and worth a lot of money, the problem can be compounded. It’s the shipper’s responsibility to prove the carrier is at fault if damage occurs, and frankly, a freight carrier will do everything they can to avoid responsibility. Even if you do win a claim and receive reimbursement, there are limits to carrier liability coverage and payouts. They may not meet the entire value of your load.

    To avoid extra headaches, make sure that you have your own freight insurance that will fully cover the value of your load. It also does not require that you prove the carrier is at fault for damage or loss, just that the damage occurred. While there is an extra charge for the insurance, it’s usually based on the declared value of your freight, and it is extremely worthwhile should damage occur.

  5. Use a freight provider that offers custom shipping solutions

    There’s not always enough time in the day or people in your shipping department to stay on top of the many manufacturing shipping challenges. Let’s face it, a one-size-fits-all approach is not going to work for an industry that has to constantly reinvent itself and adapt to consumer needs, tech advancements, and other changes. A third-party freight provider can help identify the unique needs of your business, without cutting any corners. 

    Cutting costs is always at the top of the priorities list, and taking a fresh look at your shipping procedures can be a fruitful place to start. A 3PL can help leverage carrier relationships and buying power to acquire better shipping discounts for your business. PartnerShip is connected to many manufacturing and industrial trade associations, like NTMA and PMPA. As a benefit provider to members, PartnerShip helps manufacturing businesses save on shipping costs with competitive rates with carriers who prioritize safety and better shipment handling. 

    Working with a freight provider can take on several of your shipping challenges at once.

    • Conducting carrier audits for better pricing and service. 
    • Managing claims and acting as your advocate, by touching base with carriers and making sure proper documentation is in order.
    • Determining if and when you may need to use expedited freight services, and helping to quote and schedule your day-to-day shipments.
    • Finding special equipment options that will balance cost and safety if you have an extra special load.

Turn your manufacturing shipping challenges into full-scale improvements

There are a lot of shipping obstacles to keep track of, and they can be a burden to navigate. Depending on your business size, your budget, and the time you have available, it’s not always possible to become an expert on your own. PartnerShip has the experience and proficiency to help take on your greatest shipping challenges, so you can get back to business. Download our all-encompassing guide to freight claims to learn more about how you can effectively resolve a top shipping obstacle for manufacturers.  


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Freight Carrier Closures for the 2021 Holiday Season

November 3, 2021 at 4:25 PMJen Deming
2021 Freight Carrier Closures Blog

2021 has been another challenging year. The freight market continues to be oversaturated with available loads while simultaneously suffering from a capacity crisis. Transit times are delayed, so to ensure timely delivery (you can't count on eight tiny reindeer), you must plan ahead and create a flexible shipping schedule. You'll also need to be mindful of carrier closure dates. We've compiled a list to keep on hand when you're executing your holiday shipping strategy.

Freight carrier closures

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

Santa has his elves, you have a team at PartnerShip

With extra challenges facing your business this year, keep in mind that the freight experts at PartnerShip can help you successfully manage your holiday shipping. Our office will be closed November 25-26, December 24, and December 31 so that we can spend time with our families. Happy Holidays!

Missed LTL Pick-Ups: Key Ways to Get Your Freight on the Road

September 15, 2021 at 10:30 AMJen Deming
Missed LTL Pick-Up Blog Image

Question: what’s worse than your LTL shipment running late for delivery? Answer: How about when your shipment isn’t picked up to begin with? Missed LTL pick-ups are a unique shipping challenge because the trouble occurs before the shipment even hits the road. Regardless whether you’re the shipper or the receiver, freight that’s left on the dock can mean delivery delays, playing phone-tag with the carrier, and a few other headaches. 

Missed pick-ups are very common in LTL freight shipping, even more so as demand increases and capacity shrinks. They usually occur when errors are made scheduling a shipment, or if a pick-up location is unprepared or inflexible regarding the carrier’s arrival. Sometimes, it’s due to a carrier running late because other shippers ran overtime. The good news is that many missed pick-ups are avoidable and there are steps you can take to ensure your freight gets loaded. We’ve broken down key ways to get your freight moving so missed freight pick-ups aren’t as common.

Understand your carrier’s pick-up schedule

The first step to avoiding missed LTL pick-ups is understanding how a carrier operates. Carriers typically complete deliveries in the morning, and only after those are completed are new loads picked up throughout the afternoon. Carriers create a plan of action early when scheduling pick-ups and deliveries. Missed pick-ups commonly occur when a shipper tries to squeeze it in too late in the day as an attempt to get a jump on transit. In most cases, it’s extremely difficult to get an LTL shipment picked up the same day. If your warehouse has early close times, this makes pick-ups even more difficult, and you’ll likely see a “freight not ready” designation when tracking your freight status.

To ensure your shipment gets moving, be realistic in your timelines and give the carrier 24 hours’ notice. Respect how a freight carrier must operate to complete their schedule. The more you accommodate the carrier, the more likely they are to be flexible with you, as well. 

Request special services at the time of scheduling

Special services that are necessary to complete a pick-up are often missed when scheduling with the carrier. For example, if you don’t have a dock or proper loading equipment, you’ll need a liftgate. They are often available, but they are not standard on every freight truck. The carrier must be notified when scheduling so the proper truck is dispatched. The same goes for businesses with tricky locations categorized as "limited access". Should you need a pup or box truck, this must be mentioned to the carrier, because smaller, more maneuverable trucks are harder to find. 

If you’re arranging the shipment, but aren’t the pick-up location, make sure you find out from your shipper whether or not they will need these special services. Mention and confirm these requests when scheduling with the carrier. If this is missed, another pick-up is not likely to be attempted the same day. Instead your carrier will return the next business day.

Get a confirmation number and ETA 

When you complete a scheduled pick-up successfully, either by phone or online, you will always be given a confirmation number. This number is a simple way to ensure everything was scheduled correctly and you’re “on the board”, a carrier term for scheduled and set to dispatch. The confirmation number contains a code that is unique to certain carriers. At the time of scheduling, you may receive an ETA from the driver. The ETA can help the shipper prepare for arrival, so a pick-up runs smoothly.

When scheduling your pick-up, be sure to note the confirmation code and double-check that it’s accurately representing your chosen carrier. Share this number with whomever will be a part of the pick-up process, so that if there are any delays, you can confirm that it was scheduled correctly.

Create flexibility in your warehouse operating hours

As a general rule of thumb, the more open you are, the better for the carrier. And we mean that literally. Truck drivers are constantly combating delays during transit, whether due to traffic, weather, or even being held up at another location. Time is money, especially in trucking. A simple delay can interrupt a day’s worth of pick-ups, and trouble can snowball quickly. 

By extending hours through weekends, or adding as-needed late or early shifts to your warehouse, the carrier will have an easier time completing your pick-up. Keep in mind that the driver wants to check off all of their scheduled stops, so they don’t carry over into the next day. By expanding your dock hours when needed, they will complete their workload and you can rest easy knowing your freight’s moving. 

Prepare paperwork and prep the load before pick-up 

As we’ve mentioned, to keep on track, carriers must spend the least amount of time possible at each location. Common reasons a driver may be delayed are because the BOL and paperwork aren’t prepared, or the load isn’t packed and prepped in time. As the capacity crunch tightens, carriers are even less flexible than they have been in the past. If your location isn’t prepared, you can bet the driver will leave if you’re running too deep into detention time. 

Make sure that if you’re the shipper, you have all paperwork ready. If you are shipping special loads such as hazmat or cross-border freight, those required documents must be in order, as well. Also important, be sure that your freight is properly packaged and staged for easy loading. If you have especially fragile loads, and your packaging isn’t up to par, the driver may choose to leave the shipment due to the added risk.

Check specs to ensure available space on truck

An important point to note is that pallet count, weights, and dimensions aren’t just for calculating your shipping costs. In LTL shipping, you share the truck space with other customers’ loads. The specifications you provide determine rates, but also help the driver plan for what will fit on the truck. Proper measurements reveal how much space is left in the trailer for other shipments. Incorrect specs can throw off a driver’s schedule, preventing other customers from loading after you.

If a carrier decides your shipment’s specs are just too different from what was planned, you guessed it, they’ll leave it on the dock. Keep this in mind if you consider estimating freight dimensions or sneaking on any extra pallets that you have ready. Make sure your measurements and weight match what’s on your BOL. Surprises are great, but not for your arriving truck driver.

Concluding points

It’s important to remember that missed pick-ups are common and sometimes unavoidable. The silver lining, however, is that some are within your control. If you want smooth sailing for your LTL freight, review these best practices to start your shipment’s journey off right. 

As more warehouse teams have increasing responsibilities, tracking and managing pick-ups can take up tons of time. 3PLs like PartnerShip can help proactively check on your loads and find out why there may be any holdups – freeing up your time and to-do list.


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The Current State of Freight: What You Can Expect

August 31, 2021 at 10:05 AMLeah Palnik

To say the freight market is strained right now might be an understatement. If you’ve experienced significantly higher rates and less reliability from your carriers, you’re not alone. As someone who is shipping freight, it’s critical to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the market in order to navigate the challenges that are coming with it. Let’s break down the factors that have led us here and what we can expect moving forward.

Key factors that have led to challenges in the transportation industry
Like so many other industries, freight transportation has been rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the cultural shifts that have come along with it. The pandemic not only created new challenges, but also exasperated existing pain points in the market – leading to the perfect storm. It all boils down to a case of supply vs. demand.

  • Consumer buying is strong and is driving up demand. While the world was locked down, we weren’t spending money on vacations or going out to eat. In many cases those spending dollars went towards buying goods instead. Retailers are doing what they can to keep up with demand and as a result, have an increased need for trucks to deliver their much needed inventory.
  • There is a truck driver shortage. The driver shortage is old news, but it is still very relevant now. Sometimes there just simply aren’t enough drivers available to take on new loads. For years, there have been more drivers retiring and leaving the profession than there have been new drivers entering the market. Unfortunately, the open road hasn’t been as attractive to this generation of the workforce as it once was.
  • Building new tractors are constrained by parts availability. Not only is it hard to move freight with less available drivers, but now we are also seeing a limit on new trucks on the road. Supply chains for many goods have been seriously disrupted thanks to the pandemic, and parts that are needed to build new tractors are no exception.

How LTL carriers are responding
With such volatile market conditions, LTL carriers are forced to respond. As no surprise, a major course of action they’ve taken is to increase rates. Simple economics tells us that an increased demand means they can charge more for their services.

Not only are they increasing rates, but they’re also looking to shed less desirable freight from their networks. Loads deemed less profitable, or more trouble than they’re worth, are harder to get covered because carriers want to prioritize loads that allow them to work efficiently and profitably.

Missed pickups, declined freight, and temporary terminal embargos have now become common place and plague freight carriers across the country, regardless of the company name and logo on the side of the truck.

LTL freight observations from the front lines
Many of our customers are exhausted dealing with carrier issues. In a survey we conducted earlier this year, 78% of respondents cited rising shipping costs as a challenge they were currently facing. Along with that, 47% noted they were experiencing longer transit times and 36% were dealing with poor carrier performance.

Freight shipping challenges

Our team has also noticed several concerning trends pop up with freight carriers. As if raising base rates wasn’t enough, we’ve seen them put in extra effort to collect on everything they can. Accessorial fees that you may not have seen on your bill in the past are now showing up for services you’ve always received. The carriers just aren’t as lax as they may have been in the past for charging for these extra services.

Because freight networks are so strained, we’re also seeing an uptick in missing shipments. If this has happened to you, you know how stressful it can be. The carriers are also doing everything in their power to deny claims for both missing and damaged shipments. They’re wanting to see them filed sooner than ever before and are requiring a great deal of evidence.

Estimated transit times for LTL freight has never been guaranteed, but now more than ever, we’re seeing shipments miss that predicted window. Unfortunately, longer transit times and missed pick-ups are becoming extremely prevalent, again due to how ill equipped carriers are to meet the current freight demand.

The quickly recovering economy is creating a new environment, in which all industries are competing for freight capacity and causing a new set of standards. Some shippers may be shocked by new carrier practices - from new fees to increased pickup and delivery times.

What can you do?
You may want to live by the old adage about how you can’t change others, only yourself. It’s not within your power to control carrier performance or consumer demand, but you can educate yourself and act accordingly.

  • Use a quality broker, like PartnerShip. While brokers have no control over what a carrier ultimately does with a shipment, a quality freight broker will provide the communication and creative solutions you need when caught up in an issue.
  • Follow the tried-and-true best practices for overcoming capacity challenges. Expand your current carrier network, build in extra time at every step of the shipping process, consolidate your shipments, and consider alternative services. While it’s not always possible to implement these strategies, following them any time the market is experiencing tight capacity can be very advantageous to your operations.
  • Become a shipper of choice. This means making your freight desirable to carriers. You probably aren’t able to change what you’re shipping, but there are some factors you can control. Being flexible with pick-up and delivery times, ensuring ease of access for the truck, and avoiding long detention times are all things carriers ultimately appreciate.

The widely reported driver shortage is very real, but it is only part of the challenge. Capacity is increasing, but not as quickly as the demand grows. Organizations that can adjust and plan accordingly will do a great deal to minimize disruptions in their supply chain.

Moving forward
Back to school season is upon us and the holidays are right around the corner. In short, demand is not expected to drop anytime soon. Will the supply side be able to catch up? Not likely. Recruiting and retaining the needed labor force will continue to be one of the biggest challenges in the industry. And as we enter hurricane season and another COVID-19 surge, we could see even more network disruptions.

At this point, it’s important to manage expectations. You’ll want to budget for higher freight costs and be mindful of potential delays, so you’re not caught off guard. For everything in-between, our team has the expertise to help you navigate these challenges. Contact PartnerShip today and lean on us when you need it most.

4 Key Factors That Affect Your Freight Class

August 24, 2021 at 7:56 PMJen Deming

Freight classification is a type of product categorization unique to freight shipping. It relies on four factors that help determine cost: density, stowability, liability, and handling. Once you have a general understanding of these variables, you can better calculate how your class (and cost) will be determined. 

4 Key Factors That Affect Your Freight Class Infographic

Freight Quote vs. Invoice: Why Don’t They Match?

August 13, 2021 at 9:25 AMJen Deming
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One of the most common questions we get is from customers wondering why the heck their final freight invoice doesn’t match the rate they were originally quoted. It’s a valid concern because once you have that bill, it’s next to impossible to get more money from your customer and you’re going to be eating that cost. Your knee-jerk reaction may be to blame the carrier, but the real reason they are different may sting a bit – it’s usually a shipper error. Before you start pointing fingers, review these common reasons your bill doesn’t match that original quote.

Reason 1: Your product is classed incorrectly 

One of the most common reasons a quote differs from a final bill is because your product is classed incorrectly.  With classification being a huge factor affecting your freight quote, even a small error can impact your price. If you guess or miscalculate, your class may be way off. 

The issue may be that sometimes your product is difficult to fit in a particular NMFC category. Take glass jars for example. This type of product falls under NMFC code 87700. It’s not as simple as that, however. Because glass jars are typically fragile, they are broken down by volume, and depending on that calculation, the class can be anywhere from class 65 to 400. In an average freight shipment, that’s a difference of hundreds of dollars. Make sure you are utilizing ClassIT, and consulting freight experts if you have any questions on class, or how to properly calculate density.

Reason 2: A liftgate service inflated your bill

When checking your freight quote vs. invoice, unexpected extra services are the second most common reason for a mismatch. One example we see time after time is for liftgate service. If you didn’t specify you would need a liftgate when you got your quote, but then your carrier provides the service at pick-up, it will cost you. Additionally, if your customer doesn’t communicate they need one for delivery, that can be added on without your approval or knowledge, surprising you once you get the bill. 

Communication between both parties and ensuring you have the proper equipment can avoid this completely. Make sure you both understand that the added cost of an accessorial may raise your rate, but will help your shipment get where it needs to. Understanding that these types of special trucks equipped with liftgates are not as common, both parties will know they need to be requested on the front-side.

Reason 3: Too much time has passed

First and foremost, it’s important to know that a freight quote is an estimate to begin with.

So many factors can change - for example, fuel costs fluctuate frequently. Additionally, depending on when you are scheduling your shipment, peak periods can cause capacity issues, and this generally results in higher charges.

As a general rule, we like to inform our customers that quotes for standard LTL service are valid for about a week. That window is even tighter when you’re using time-critical services. If you’re wanting an estimate so you know what to bill a customer, build in some room for your final cost, or requote as close to the actual shipment pick-up date as possible.

Reason 4: Your delivery location has changed 

While not quite as common, sometimes a change in delivery address can affect the final cost of your freight. Changes may occur after a load is quoted or may have to be made while the shipment is already in transit. Reasons for this might include a location being closed, or a consignee that isn’t ready to receive the shipment.

LTL freight shipments can be rerouted, but that adjustment will definitely incur costs: distance and fuel will increase if the location is further out. On top of that, special service fees such as a redelivery charge or even location-specific fees like limited access could also be applied. Do your best to requote if any details of your delivery location change. If the change is made at the request of your customer, be sure to communicate that fees will apply. If you want to absorb those charges as a courtesy, be sure to build some room in your customer cost to begin with. Otherwise, make it clear who is responsible for those fees.

Reason 5: The wrong carrier picked up your shipment  

You’d be surprised, but the wrong freight carrier picking up an LTL load happens much more often than you’d think. We’ve seen customers quote a general rate with one carrier and then hand it off to whatever carrier arrives that day just to get it on the road and off the dock.  Your shipping department is likely very busy, but this sort of simple mistake can cost you so much time and money in the long run.

Not every LTL carrier has the same base pricing, and even accessorial costs fluctuate between carriers.

If you quote with one carrier, and hand it off to another, you could be paying much more if that carrier charges more for their services. Even worse, if you have negotiated pricing with one carrier, the incorrect one won’t know to bill using your discounts. Worst case scenario, you may be billed at full-cost. Make sure your warehouse team is aware of what carriers are to move which loads. Creating color coded carrier labels and marking your shipments can help ensure a quick once-over to avoid this drama completely.

Reason 6: You have a paperwork error that affects billing 

When comparing your freight quote to your invoice, also take a look at your paperwork and shipping documents. Billing errors and missing information can create an expensive and exhausting headache.

If you are arranging a shipment, and have special pricing or are using a third-party, make sure an accurate BOL states the correct carrier and “bill-to” party. If you are receiving the load, but responsible for the shipping arrangements, don’t leave it to the shipper to create the BOL. In doing so, you run the risk of an incorrect billing party or other inaccuracies that mean your discounts won’t be applied. Even after the fact, a letter of authorization (LOA) can sometimes fix this by informing a carrier of the correct billing party, but it’s not guaranteed and it definitely delays the process.

Final thoughts 

Don’t freak out if you’re seeing some discrepancies between your freight quote vs. your invoice. While they can be unexpected and troublesome, educating yourself and your customer about what can change your rate can help you make better decisions when planning your LTL load. Strong communication and a plan of action can help mitigate expensive invoice issues. If you have concerns about your freight quote vs. your invoice, PartnerShip can help dodge the guessing, help choose the correct services based on your shipping needs, and side-step costly errors.

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