the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
5 Impactful Ways to Maximize Your Small Logistics Team
08/19/2022 — Jen Deming
These days, businesses are expected to do more with less, and that doesn’t stop at freight shipping. Small logistics teams need to be efficient multitaskers, and the demand to juggle so many responsibilities can be overwhelming. As a business owner, you can help set your logistics team up for success with a little extra planning and five tactics to maximize a small workforce.
Tip #1: Stay on top of industry updates and make resources available
Staying in the loop with freight industry news is great advice for any-sized shipping team, but it’s extra important for those operating with limited manpower. Be on the lookout and be proactive about communicating updates that are released by carriers, such as tariff changes, rate increases, service interruptions, and deadlines. Commit to publishing a regular newsletter or bulletin that communicates these changes. Post them in your warehouse and breakroom along with notices of any upcoming holiday service disruptions.
Be sure to implement regular training sessions with staff. It’s also best practice to keep a running list of solid freight shipping resources that your team can refer back to, as needed. With a small logistics team you’ll need to ensure your everyone has at least a base level of knowledge for each shipping function.
Tip #2: Prioritize your relationship with the carrier
While larger businesses may be able to operate on a more transactional level with carriers, developing relationships with transportation companies and their drivers is super important for smaller teams. By strengthening these connections, a business is more likely to become a shipper of choice, which is key when your logistics staff may run into unforeseen challenges. The current state of the freight industry can present obstacles. Limited truck availability means a carrier can either choose to move or pass up your freight, and in this volatile market any leg up on the competition can help.
Offer amenities for drivers like Wi-Fi, plenty of overnight parking, and free coffee. Be friendly and flexible with arrival times and communicate any delays or hang-ups. Paying it forward and becoming a preferred customer with the carrier can go a long way. A happy driver is more likely to help bail your team out in times of trouble or go the extra mile to help out.
Tip #3: Be extra mindful of minimum charges for LTL shipments
Smaller businesses generally ship smaller LTL loads, so it’s extra important that your team understands minimum charges to avoid sabotaging your freight costs. Minimum charges are the lowest prices that a carrier will set for its’ service and are implemented to offset operating costs. Each carrier may refer to the charge differently, but they are commonly known as an “Absolute Minimum Charge” or “Minimum Floor Charge”. Usually, the charge is applied for loads that are under 500 lbs.
In order to get the most bang for your buck, there are a few strategies that your packing team can implement. Maximize the amount of available pallet space by improving stacking technique and planning the layers of your load. Pack like-sized products together to improve density and overall volume.
Keep in mind that you can optimize your freight by consolidating loads. There may also be additional opportunities to group multiple small package orders into one, larger freight shipment. Review your smaller parcel shipments and determine if there are openings to use a freight service for cost savings and better efficiency.
Tip #4: Spend your money on quality loading equipment
It’s probably a pretty safe bet that if you’re working with a small logistics team, you’re likely working with limited resources. That may include restricted dock space – or a complete lack of a dock. If that’s the case, it’s critical that your team and warehouse/loading areas are well-stocked with fully functioning, safe loading equipment.
Investing in equipment like forklifts, pallet jacks, dollies, hand trucks, and hoists are all necessary to help with the loading process. More importantly, these tools can help avoid costly accessorial fees associated with extra services like liftgates and driver assist fees. While these loading supplies may have a high initial cost, this one-time expense can spare you hundreds of dollars in fees and help avoid overtaxing your team.
Tip #5: Work with a freight broker to access more savings and the right answers
You don’t have to tell us twice – freight shipping is super complicated and can be a lot to manage. It’s impossible to know everything when you have limited time, workforce, and resources. We know your small logistics team can pull out the stops, but partnering with a freight broker can offer invaluable help. Freight experts can help fill in any gaps when specialists are required, and offer competitive pricing options you may not typically have access to.
Knowledgeable freight brokers can also help identify areas you may be spending more than you need to or are experiencing operational inefficiencies. The freight professionals at PartnerShip can supplement your existing workforce and help shoulder some of the weight so you’re not overtaxing your team.
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3 Warning Signs Your Business Needs a Freight Broker
06/14/2022 — Jen Deming
Managing your growing business can present some unique challenges. On one hand, orders are coming in, your sales are increasing, and your customer base is thriving. The flipside to that success, however, may mean new operational issues that eat up your time and bottom line.
Shipping freight successfully during this growth period is a stumbling block for many business owners and logistics teams. You may find yourself needing more time and a larger workforce – at some point you may even wonder whether it’s time to outsource help. A freight broker can help manage many of your freight challenges, from overarching issues like lowering costs to tackling day-to-day issues like ensuring delivery accuracy. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t be stressing out more than enjoying the success of your business. If you’re experiencing any of these three signs your business needs a freight broker, it’s time to get the help from the experts .
Warning Sign #1 – You are making big mistakes when shipping orders
More sales is something to celebrate, but trying to keep up with the increase in orders without accommodating the volume is impossible. To make matters worse, packing and shipping is a very detail-oriented business, and rushing to get orders out quickly means an increased chance for error. There’s plenty of opportunity for mistakes that can snowball quickly.
Issues such as labeling or paperwork inaccuracies or even quoting errors can quickly escalate and create major problems. For example, something as simple as a wrong address on your freight shipment can, at best, cause delays. That means inconvenienced and aggravated customers. If your customer is paying for shipping, and you’ve quoted the cost incorrectly, you can’t go back and ask for more money – that’s your loss. You need to make sure you’re quoting freight accurately the first time by using exact details and the correct classification.
Mistakes like these cost you time and money, as well as customer satisfaction, which is pivotal when you’re a growing business. If you’re seeing shipping errors like those mentioned above, it’s definitely a sign that your business would benefit from a freight broker. A quality freight broker has a dedicated staff of freight experts who can help offer advice and resources on how to tackle the details that trip up many freight shippers.
A great freight professional can help you avoid mistakes by assisting with every step of the freight shipping process:
- Offer guidance on product classification and freight NMFC codes
- Collect competitive and accurate quotes from carriers who fit your needs
- Create necessary paperwork for delivery
Warning Sign #2 – Your billing department is becoming overwhelmed
Unless you’re an established, larger-sized business, it’s likely that your employees are juggling several different responsibilities. It’s not uncommon for a business owner to be playing the part of shipping manager and billing specialist to boot. Being burnt out and behind schedule is a pretty clear warning sign your business needs some help from a freight broker.
When your business is growing, it’s safe to say your shipment volume is increasing, and you may even be shipping with several different carriers or using a variety of services. Managing all of these invoices can be overwhelming, especially when you’re checking for accuracy, meeting payment due dates, and processing claims.
A freight broker can help simplify the billing process for your freight shipments by acting as an extension of your own team. Most will offer consolidated invoicing which can help cut down on billing chaos. You’ll also benefit from auditing services to double check for errors and savings opportunities. Should you experience damages, your broker can act as your advocate and help navigate the very particular requirements for filing your claim. Relying on these services can help shoulder some of the responsibility that your business just may not have the time or resources to do thoroughly on its own.
Warning Sign #3 – Your shipping costs are digging into your bottom line
Let’s face it, running a business is expensive, and while more customers mean a greater chance at making a profit, it can also mean that your shipping budget needs to increase. Between packing materials, labor, and freight transportation, these expenses can multiply quickly.
It’s key to make sure your freight rates make sense for your growing business. This can be done through carrier discounts and other means like order consolidation or taking a look at what types of LTL service providers work best for your business. Securing discounts and identifying savings opportunities can be challenging, especially if you’re not running a large corporation or shipping huge volumes of freight daily.
The great news is that through established carrier relationships and collective buying power, working with a broker can give your business access to higher freight discounts that are typically reserved for higher volume shippers. A quality freight broker will also a conduct cost savings analysis for your business to see where you are overspending on both inbound and outbound shipments. Lastly, they can also quote and compare among carriers to make sure you’re getting competitive pricing to help combat the current freight market.
Let us help you
Everyone wants to see their business grow and succeed, but keep in mind that as you do, new challenges will arise along the way. If you’re encountering major freight shipping issues like quoting inaccuracies, invoicing headaches, or rising costs, managing on your own may have run its course. These mistakes are signs that working with a broker may benefit your business, and PartnerShip can help get you started.
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5 Freight Broker Benefits You Can’t Afford to Pass Up
03/23/2022 — Jen Deming
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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Asset vs. Non-Asset Based 3PLs: The Major Distinctions
01/21/2021 — Leah Palnik
There are two main types of third-party logistics (3PL) providers and they’re not exactly created equal. Asset based 3PLs and non-asset based 3PLs each have their place in the market. However, they have a few key differences that can impact how your freight is handled and how much it will cost you.
What are asset based 3PLs and non-asset based 3PLs?
Asset based logistics providers own some or all of the parts of the supply chain. This can include carriers, trucks, warehouses, or distribution centers. Conversely, non-asset based 3PLs don’t own these parts of the supply chain. Instead they are relationship-based and develop a network of partners to help move your freight.
The major differences between asset based and non-asset based logistics
Besides how they operate, there are some distinctions that are important for shippers to take note of.
- Flexibility and ability to offer custom solutions
Since asset based 3PLs have their own carriers, those are the carriers they will rely on to move your freight. Their carriers likely specialize in specific lanes or services or may only have a presence in one part of the country. If those specializations match up with your specific needs, it could be a great partnership. However, if they don’t or if your needs vary, you likely won’t be receiving the most efficient or cost-effective service.
On the other hand, non-asset based logistics providers have a wider network. They have access to multiple carriers which allows them to source the one that most closely aligns with your needs. That flexibility allows them to offer more customized solutions for your freight.
- Level of control over the supply chain
Asset based 3PLs have more control over the supply chain because they own the assets that comprise it. What that results in is the ability to set their own pricing more easily because they don’t have to negotiate with an outside party. Asset based 3PLs also have more direct control over carrier issues and errors. They can implement changes with their carriers that non-asset based 3PLs simply can’t.
Non-asset based 3PLs have less control, especially when it comes to what the carrier does. That’s because there are more hands involved with moving your freight. However, a quality broker will know what to look for to prevent issues and will have high standards for the carriers it keeps in its network.
- The underlying interests of the 3PL
It’s hard to argue that asset based 3PLs aren’t inherently biased. They own their own warehouses and trucks, so it’s obviously in their best interest to have shippers use them over others.
The interests of a non-asset based 3PL are more in line with the shipper than the carrier. The best brokers will work on your behalf to find discrepancies in your invoices, provide claims assistance, and use their expertise to help you ship more efficiently.
How to decide between an asset based 3PL and a non-asset based 3PL
The type of 3PL that is best for you will largely depend on your specific needs. In general, you want to make sure you are working with a broker that can get you access to capacity when you need it most. From there, you should evaluate the typical characteristics of your freight so you can find a 3PL that is closely aligned.
No matter the situation, you need to work with a quality broker that is dedicated to finding you the freight solutions you need. PartnerShip is a non-asset based 3PL with an extensive network of alliances designed to help you ship smarter. Contact us to learn how you can save on your freight and improve your operations.
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- Flexibility and ability to offer custom solutions
Carrier Closures for the 2020 Holiday Season
11/19/2020 — Jen Deming
2020 has been a year unlike any other. With the holiday season upon us, managing your shipment timelines is more important than ever. Most carriers have strict cut-off dates to ensure your holiday cheer is delivered on time, and with COVID-19 stretching available carriers extra thin this year, it’s more important than ever to plan accordingly. Whether you’re shipping small packages to customers, or need to order seasonal supplies for your business, we’ve broken down the most important holiday shipping dates that you need to know.
Freight carrier holiday scheduleTruck drivers deserve some time off too, and it’s important for shippers to know which dates carriers are closed for business so you can plan your loads. Here are the 2020 holiday season closure dates for some common freight carriers:
- UPS Freight will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be modified service hours on New Year’s Eve, December 31.
- YRC Freight will be closed November 26-27, December 23-25, and January 1-2.
- XPO Logistics will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
- Old Dominion will be closed November 26, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be limited service hours on November 27 and December 31.
- New Penn will be closed November 26-27, December 23-25, December 31, and January 1.
- Pitt Ohio will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
- Reddaway will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be limited service hours on December 23 and December 31.
- Dayton Freight will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
- R&L Carriers will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
- Estes will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
- Central Transport will be closed November 26 and December 25. There will be limited service hours on November 27 and December 24.
- Roadrunner will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
- FedEx Freight will be closed November 26-28, December 24-25, and January 1.
- Holland will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be limited service November 27, December 23, and December 31.
- AAA Cooper will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
- ArcBest will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
Small package carrier closures and deadline dates
With a holiday season projected to be bigger than any other, it’s super important to review holiday carrier schedules and deadlines. For your shipments moving with FedEx, make sure to reference the FedEx holiday schedule so you can plan ahead. If you're using UPS to ship during the season, remember to check the UPS year-end holiday schedule beforehand.
If the unprecedented volume of holiday shipments has you saying "no, no, no" instead of "ho, ho, ho," the experts at PartnerShip can help. Please keep in mind that our office will be closed on November 26-27, December 25, and January 1. Happy Holidays from PartnerShip, and hang in there - we're welcoming 2021 with open arms!
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4 Major Advantages to Ditching Your Digital Freight Broker
08/24/2020 — Jen Deming
The convenience and accessibility of managing your day-to-day tasks online is appealing for most people, and shippers are no different. The shift to using digital freight brokers has been a trend for years, with perks like fast quotes and less phone tag. It's important to know, however, that if you're using automated digital freight brokers, you may be compromising on key components that give you a competitive edge. Working with an efficient traditional freight broker takes the best of both worlds, and adds in four key benefits that smart shippers need to succeed.1. Customizable service options that maximize your budgetDigital freight brokers rely on doing what they do best – pulling shipment data and running a high volume of quotes quickly and efficiently. These fast quotes are nice to review pricing among a variety of carriers, but this is a transactional approach that specifically relies on the shipper to input the correct data. If you’re shipping the same loads consistently, and just want to get your loads rated, picked up, and delivered, this may work for you.But freight shipping isn’t a one-size-fits-all business. The bulk of most shippers’ loads consist of a standard pallet size and weight, with delivery to repeat customers and businesses. However, what happens when you have a priority load that needs expedited services or ship to a location with limited access? If this is outside your realm of expertise, you may be completely in the dark about which services or carriers are the best options for your freight. Working with a traditional freight broker doesn’t require you to be an expert – they can take on that role for you by identifying key areas you may be overspending and help guide your choices so that you don’t sacrifice service for a lower cost.2. Familiarity with your business needs for better efficiencyA digital freight broker’s main selling point is efficiency, speed, and convenience. Running quotes online and on demand without consulting a live agent may be an expedient way to get an idea of potential rate costs. But, it’s best to use this as a rough estimate of what you can expect to pay. Freight shipping is full of variables and unexpected costs run rampant with even minor changes to a shipment’s weight, class, dimensions, and services. It takes more than quick quotes to successfully manage your freight shipments.A quality traditional freight broker will assign someone to manage your account. Over time, your contact will get to know your freight profile, from service preference to budget requirements. A freight expert who is intimately familiar with your business can catch classification errors, give packaging advice, and review invoices to get a better grasp on how to manage your freight spend.3. Additional freight management services that cut costsA digital freight broker may offer additional assistance like booking loads or preparing the bill of lading. Once the shipment is booked, however, service pretty much stops there. A pick-up number will be generated, and tracking can be done through the carrier’s website, which is a similar process to one you’d use if you booked with a carrier on your own. If your shipment encounters any challenges en route, however, you’re left to manage the issue on your own.A traditional freight broker has basically seen it all, and knows how to navigate any obstacles your load experiences in transit. When you don’t have time to spend on the phone to find out why your pallet is being held at a delivery terminal, a traditional freight broker will do it for you. If you receive reclassification, reweighs, or additional accessorials that you did not request on your invoice, a traditional freight broker will lead inquiries into why those changes were made, and start disputes if need be.In the unfortunate case your shipment is lost or damaged, traditional freight brokerages often have dedicated claims departments with specialists trained to submit a claim on your behalf. Damage claims are tricky, involve strict timelines, and require specific documentation to be submitted successfully to give you the best chance at receiving reimbursement. Working with a full-service broker will help you navigate tricky areas where a digital freight broker may fall short.4. Pricing flexibility with carriers negotiated on your behalfQuoting shipments with a digital freight broker may be convenient, but after you input your shipment details and receive rates from carriers, that’s where negotiation stops. You can’t assume that the rate you are getting is entirely correct. While it’s obviously an unwelcome surprise to get a pricey bill that is higher than the quote you received, what happens when your online quote is too high in the first place? Rate quote sticker shock can be frustrating, and if you run a smaller business with zero leverage to negotiate with carriers, it can be tempting to cut costs by using a budget carrier.A reliable freight broker likely has years of experience and strong relationships with reputable carriers. Leveraging these relationships helps the broker by gaining additional business for the trucking company, and assists the customer with an opportunity for price negotiation. This mutually beneficial relationship provides incentive for some additional flexibility when it comes to rate, and in most cases, an agreement can be reached between all parties that ensures quality service and fair pricing.The bottom line about digital freight brokersWhile the convenience associated with digital freight brokers is certainly enticing for businesses who are already strapped for time, it’s key for shippers to remember that there’s more to freight shipping than running a quote and pushing it out your dock door. Cutting costs and maintaining a budget are more important than ever, and smart shippers know that working with a full-service traditional broker, like PartnerShip, offers both efficiency and cost-saving solutions for their businesses.
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Ask a CTB: Your Shipping Questions Answered
08/21/2018 — Jen DemingAs part of an ongoing effort to be the ultimate shipping resource for our customers, we've compiled the most common shipping questions and had them answered by one of our CTB freight shipping experts, me! My name is Jen Deming and I've been with PartnerShip for 3.5 years. In that time, I feel like I've pretty much seen it all. Through my own personal experience, I've worked with all kinds of shippers - from newbie to veteran. I can help answer your most pressing shipping questions and help give you a better understanding of the shipping industry.First up, it's back to basics: What is a CTB? And what's a 3PL, for that matter? Most importantly, should YOU be working with one? CTB stands for "Certified Transportation Broker", and is an industry certification developed by TIA (Transportation Intermediary Association) to increase the professionalism and integrity of the freight brokerage industry. Areas of study include general business principles, traffic management best practices (for shipment, claims, fleet, and international traffic management), contracts and pricing, regulatory principles, and case law.
A freight broker is someone who assists shippers with finding qualified carriers to haul available loads, and works within a 3PL (third party logistics) organization by outsourcing shipping and logistics services. These individuals facilitate the relationships between the carrier and the shipper, and will negotiate rates with carriers, arrange the transportation, schedule pick-ups, provide follow-up on tracking, and will often offer claims assistance for loss or damage on behalf of shipper. A freight broker should serve as a shipper's strongest advocate, and is a great resource for expert shipping advice.
There are many advantages to working with a 3PL, such as cost and time savings, additional expertise, and flexibility. A knowledgeable freight broker can custom fit shipping options based on the specific needs of your business.
Next up: what's the difference between parcel shipping and freight/LTL? Small package shipments are typically under 70lbs but can go up to 150lbs, and are often shipped in your own boxes or carrier supplied packing materials. The packages are shipped singularly and should not be in excess of 108 inches in length. Small package shipments are subject to dimensional weight pricing, which can get expensive, so it may make more sense to ship via a freight service.
LTL or less-than-truckload shipping usually consists of multiple boxes or containers stacked on pallets and are over 150lbs. LTL shipments can utilize multiple modes of transportation such as rail or motor truck, and are sent with other shippers' freight to reduce cost. Depending on the length of the shipping lane, often these shipments are loaded, unloaded, and reloaded at multiple stops throughout transit. If you have multiple pallets (6 or more), need shortened transit time, or require enhanced security, it may make sense to use a truckload service instead of LTL.
Furthermore, what's the difference between LTL and TL? TL (or FTL/Full Truckload) refers to booking a dedicated semi-truck for your shipment, that will not be hauling other cargo along with yours. This option is most economical for shippers who have a very large shipment with multiple pallets, on that requires a lot of space, a high-value and fragile shipment, or one that needs to move at a faster pace. If your business requires strict pick-up windows or appointments for delivery, it may also make sense to work with a dedicated carrier. In the past, I've worked with customers who required set arrival times for pick-up, and though they may not necessitate the ENTIRE space within a 52 ft truck, appreciated the reliability of a dedicated truckload service over an LTL common carrier. Booking a dedicated truck also gives you the option should you need specialized equipment such as a flatbed truck or refrigerated van.
What is an NMFC/ freight class? How do I know which to use for my shipment? You'd be amazed at the variety of customer's freight shipments that I've worked with. From toy makers to hospital supply distributors, I've shipped the craziest stuff, and they all have a specific freight class or NMFC assigned to the category of shipment. The NMFC, or National Motor Freight Classification, can be rated as low as 50 and as high as 500. The higher you go, the higher the rate for your shipment. And details matter! Whether your work table is wood or plastic, assembled or broken down, each factor can affect the class of the freight. So it's important not to guess or mark whatever class you think may save you a few bucks. Freight reweighs and reclassifications are very real, and you don't want to have a $2,000 bill when you have $200 built into the budget. Your freight broker can be a good resource to determine your shipment's correct class - cutting down on costly errors in the long run.
What are these "accessorial" charges on my bill? Can I avoid them? My own customers brought me questions about the unanticipated service charges on their freight bills more often than anything else! Accessorials are fees a carrier charges for additional services. Common examples of these include lift-gate services, residential deliveries, inside pick-up/delivery, oversized freight charges, and limited access pick-ups or delivery. The difficulty with these is that the cost of the fees varies by carrier, and while one may determine one location "limited access", a different carrier may not. Your best bet? It's smart to do your research about every service your require before you get your rate quote. Find out if the pick-up location has a dock and a forklift. Know for certain whether your customer's delivery location is a place of business or their own home. Be accurate in your measurement of your shipment's dimensions and weight. Finally, consult your freight broker for any questions you may have about what incurs charges and what doesn't - they are your best advocate!
Just when you think you have this freight shipping thing figured out, carriers can throw you a curveball. It pays to be vigilant and ask questions of the experts so YOU can be sure you are shipping smarter and staying a step ahead. If you have any questions about your shipping practices, or how the shipping experts and PartnerShip may be able to improve your efficiency and lower your costs, email sales@PartnerShip.com or call 800-599-2902.
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How to Select a Freight Broker: Top 8 Factors Shippers Should Consider
04/03/2018 — Leah Palnik
Selecting the right freight broker to manage your shipping can make or break your business. You want to be sure they are up to par and will be able to address your needs. The relationship between you and your freight broker needs to be built on trust and communication – not unlike personal relationships. And just like when you’re dating someone new, you want to make sure they check all the right boxes. Here are the top factors shippers should consider when selecting a freight broker.
1. Licensed through the FMCSA
First off, to ensure the freight broker you’ve chosen is credible, check that they have a license through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). It is a federal law that anyone arranging transportation for compensation must have a federal property broker license issued by the FMCSA. You can check here if your selected freight broker is properly insured.
Licensing involves a number of strict criteria, including bonding and insurance requirements. Insurance requirements vary but cover things like loss and damage or property damage. The bonding protects you against fraud or other unlawful actions that the broker could commit by providing opportunity for compensation.
2. Specializations that match your needs
Most freight brokers will offer a number of services and work across a variety of industries, but that doesn’t mean they are all equal. When selecting a freight broker, ask what kind of experience they have shipping your products and if they specialize in the mode you typically use. If they’re familiar with your industry or have experience shipping your product, they’ll know exactly what to look out and understand how to get around some of your common challenges.
3. Insurance options and claims assistance
Dealing with lost or damaged freight can be a nightmare. When you select a quality freight broker they will not only provide the option to purchase additional insurance, but they will also offer assistance in the event that you need to file a claim. It’s a full time job understanding everything you need to know about filing claims and a lot can go wrong. Selecting a freight broker that offers protection and can help get you a fair resolution is invaluable.
4. Strict vetting process for carriers
The freight broker you select should only work with the most reputable carriers. Before working with a broker, ask about their vetting process. Do they verify the carrier’s operating authority and safety rating? What would disqualify a carrier? They should be checking the carrier’s history and safety ratings through trusted sources like DAT and the FMCSA.
5. Recognized and certified in the industry
The Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) is the premier organization for third-party logistics professionals and holds its members to high set of ethical standards. A quality freight broker will be a member of TIA and will have staff members that are certified through the Certified Transportation Broker (CTB) Program. There are also a handful of other affiliations that can show you the credibility of a broker. Select a freight broker that is in good standing with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and is recognized through industry affiliations like the NASTC Best Broker Program and Truckstop.com’s Diamond Broker Program.
6. Tracking options
Freight visibility is essential when choosing a freight broker. Using tracking systems allows your broker to keep an eye on your shipments and handle any hiccups before they become major issues. Tracking also helps protect you against cargo theft, giving you added peace-of-mind.
7. Long history in the business
Freight shipping is complex and can be tricky, which is why you need a master, not a novice. A more established freight broker will not only have more experience, but will also likely have deeper carrier relationships. Freight brokers that are newer to the scene likely won’t have a proven track record or the same kind of buying power a more established broker will.
8. Overall value
It may be tempting to choose the freight broker that gives you the cheapest quote, but sometimes you get what you pay for. Working with a broker that offers quality services can be worth the extra cash. Instead of considering price alone, consider all of the other factors, including customer service, quoting tools, claims assistance, tracking capabilities – and then determine what they are worth to you.
Working with an experienced freight broker that can meet your specific needs can make a world of difference. With the current state of the industry it’s more important than ever to have a broker in your corner that can effectively navigate through a capacity crunch. As an experienced broker, PartnerShip helps you ship smarter with competitive pricing and quality service. Get a quote today.
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Five Important Reasons You Should be Using a Freight Broker
04/11/2017 — PartnerShip
It is a very common question for shippers: "Should I use a freight broker?" Before we list five important reasons why you should use a freight broker, we answer the question, “What is a freight broker?” A broker arranges freight shipping between a carrier and a shipper. In exchange, the broker receives a small commission for facilitating the transaction. That’s how freight brokers make money.
So, why use a freight broker? Efficiency. A freight broker adds value and flexibility to your supply chain and that becomes your competitive advantage. Focusing all of your energy on what you do best gives you an edge and helps you stay competitive. Unless what you do best is shipping, you should consider using a freight broker to manage your shipping and logistics functions.
Big companies got big because they focused on what they did best. In fact, 85% of Fortune 500 companies use third-party logistics providers like freight brokers. That’s not a coincidence; it’s a cause-and-effect relationship. Every dollar saved on shipping goes right to the bottom line.
Consider these five important advantages of using a freight broker:
1. Save time, save resources, save money. With a freight broker as a strategic partner, you have the benefit of your own dedicated shipping department without the expense your own dedicated shipping department. You also don’t need to spend time on invoices, audits and training, Using a freight broker lets you focus on your business.
2. More flexibility, more scalability. A freight broker partner is able to provide you more, or less, capacity as your business goes through its natural cycles. So there’s no need to stress over seasonality, irregular spikes or sudden troughs in your business.
3. Shipping expertise. What freight brokers do best is shipping, and working with one allows you access to their knowledge of best practices and real-world experience. It also allows you to access the latest technology for shipping reporting and visibility into your logistics.
4. It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know. Freight broker partners have expansive carrier networks that provide many advantages over an in-house shipping department. They have buying power and can provide volume discounts, lowering your shipping expenses. They also can provide access to capacity that otherwise would be unavailable, or very costly, to an internal shipping department.
5. It’s a partnership. Your freight broker works for you and will put your interests first, because when you succeed, they succeed and when your business grows, so does theirs. That’s the definition of a partnership: benefits for both parties.
Need more convincing about the benefits of using a freight broker? Call PartnerShip at 800-599-2902 or contact us and see how we can help you ship smarter so you can stay competitive.
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