• Is it Time to Consider a Drop Trailer Program?

    05/14/2018 — Jerry Spelic

    Is it Time to Consider a Drop Trailer Program?

    Is it time for your business to consider a drop trailer and / or drop and hook freight program? The current capacity crunch and driver shortage has caused serious issues in many businesses’ supply chains and has increased the demand for drop trailer and drop and hook shipping programs.

    What is a drop trailer program? It is when a carrier brings a tractor to the loading dock and picks up a previously loaded trailer. Drop and hook takes drop trailer shipping one step further. A carrier will arrive with an empty trailer to drop, pick up a loaded trailer, and continue on to the destination.

    Many shippers are now considering drop trailer programs mainly because of the new hours of service rules issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which are more strictly monitored by the ELD mandate.

    Before the change to the hours of service rules, if a driver waited three or four hours or more while their trailer was loaded, they could make up the time by driving more hours. Now, with an ELD required for every tractor, load time and detention is a significant consideration because it cuts into the 14-hour on-duty shift rule.

    To illustrate, if a carrier has to drive an hour to the shipping origin, then wait five hours to get loaded, that means he can only drive for 8 hours after leaving for the destination. If he averages 60 mph, he can travel 480 miles. If the same driver picked up a loaded trailer, he could drive 10 hours before reaching the 11-hour driving limit. If he averages 60 mph, he can travel 600 miles.

    A drop trailer program can also have a significant impact on the efficiency of your supply chain. Drop trailer programs help shippers and carriers plan more effectively for deliveries and outbound shipments so it is important for them to align their schedules. Without drop trailers, a carrier must arrive within a narrow appointment window for employees to load or unload the trailer. Depending on how the appointment fits into their on-duty schedule, and considering traffic conditions, weather, breakdowns and other unexpected events, the driver could be forced to wait for hours, or miss the appointment altogether. In these situations, late delivery fees, detention fees, and a negative vendor scorecard are typically the unpleasant results.

    Drop Trailer Benefits for Shippers:

    • Smoother supply chain operation. You can load or unload a trailer at your convenience or when staffing levels are adequate; no more paying overtime to load or unload when a truck is early or late.
    • Great for time-consuming loads, like floor-loaded freight.
    • Avoid costly driver or truck detention accessorial charges.
    • Higher on-time delivery percentages. On-time freight departure times substantially increase the odds of an on-time arrival.
    • Decrease fines. With strict retail Must Arrive By Date (MABD) requirements becoming more common, drop-trailer shipping can help your carrier arrive on time and minimize the fines associated with missing a delivery window.
    • Better retailer relationships. When you fulfill MABD requirements, your vendor scorecard improves and you are seen as a more desirable vendor partner.

    Drop Trailer Benefits for Carriers:

    • Better planning. You decide when you pick up (and drop off) trailers.
    • No more waiting to pick up a load or be live-loaded; spend more time driving to the destination.
    • Great for time-consuming loads, like floor-loaded freight.
    • Higher on-time delivery percentages.


    There are a few circumstances of which to be aware when considering a drop trailer program. There may be an initial cost to implement a program. Every trailer that a carrier takes out of over-the-road service is lost revenue, so to recoup it, there will be a cost for a drop trailer, either on the front end or back end (or both). Of course, this cost will pay for itself because there should never be any detention fees.

    Drop trailers should not become warehouses; the maximum time a trailer should sit is a week. In most drop trailer programs, trailers turn two or three times a week.

    Finally, there is a lot of up-front work to implement a drop trailer program. Not all carriers do drop trailers so finding one that does can be time-consuming. Trailers make carriers money so if one of your carriers doesn’t want to drop a trailer, simply look at using a different one.

    A drop trailer or drop and hook program is a perfect opportunity to use a freight broker. Working with a broker allows you to tap into their network of carriers and take advantage of their expertise in finding carriers that will drop trailers. The truckload shipping experts at PartnerShip will work with you to find a drop trailer or drop and hook carrier and get you the best freight rates possible. We know the lanes, we know the rates and we will help you ship smarter. Contact us today to learn more about setting up a drop trailer program!


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  • How to Select a Freight Broker: Top 8 Factors Shippers Should Consider

    04/03/2018 — Leah Palnik

    How to select a freight broker

    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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  • 4 Freight Challenges That Will Actually Better Your Business

    03/27/2018 — Jen Deming

    4 Freight ChallengesThere are many stressful parts of freight shipping, and for businesses shipping regularly, it can seem the challenges are never-ending. From shipment delays to damaged freight, it can seem there is a definite lack of control once your pallet leaves your dock or doorstep. Informed shippers can turn these frustrating obstacles into positive opportunities to take back control of your shipping processes, and better your business in the long run.

    -Late freight is a very common issue for shippers, and one that can often affect the relationship between your business and your customer. Fortunately, it is also one of the easiest challenges to avoid, and it all boils down to transparent communication between you and your chosen carrier. It may appear that you are at the mercy of your vendors with regard to your inbound shipping orders for supplies and raw materials, but you don't have to be. Setting up routing instructions with specific requirements and chosen carrier preferences is something you can and SHOULD discuss with your vendors, that way your needs are met and you can rest easy. Most carriers offer online tracking services through their company websites, and you can always stay informed by setting up alerts and notifications by either text or email, so you can stay informed about the transit status of your freight. Selecting the appropriate service type is another way to avoid late freight. Different service levels are often determined by transit timelines. Time-critical and expedited shipping options can help get your shipment where it needs to, at an accelerated rate. Another way to avoid delivery delays is to be sure you are familiar with your shipping locations. If there a short window for dock hours, or pick-up/delivery appointments are required, and you don't make the carrier aware when scheduling the shipment, you can bet on a missed or delayed delivery.

    -Damaged or lost freight is every freight shipper's worst nightmare. Accidents happen, and every freight shipper will most likely experience damage to their product, especially as volume and frequency increases. If you are seeing repeated incidents, or a frequent occurrence, it's possible that there may be an underlying issue--improper packaging. Even minor adjustments can make all the difference in a long transit where shipments are being loaded and unloaded at several terminals and different trucks.

    -In the unfortunate event that your shipment is damaged, the last thing you want to worry about is compensation for that loss in order to repair or send a replacement product. In order to receive compensation from a carrier, it is necessary to prove that they were at fault or negligent. It's crucial to take as many pictures as possible to prove the product was in good condition prior to pick-up. Even if you are able to win the claim after filing, oftentimes the payout leaves a little to be desired. The amount of coverage is often paid out at a fixed dollar amount determined by commodity and class, and there are endless rules and exceptions. The headache can be avoided if the shipper is proactive and obtains supplemental cargo insurance to cover the cost of the load. Many providers do not require the carrier is proven negligent and shippers can avoid carrier tariff loopholes such as restricted freight classes.

    -It's a tough time for shippers. With the ELD mandate deadline behind us, many carriers still do not meet minimum requirements, thereby restricting the number of available carriers on the road. With truck drivers unwilling to risk the run as law enforcement officials crack down on non-compliant carriers, an already limited truck capacity is tightened further. Carriers that DO happen to have available trucks are asking a premium, and with options limited, they will get it. Shippers need to take control and shop rates among carriers, but that takes time, patience, and industry knowledge--and that's where working with a 3PL can come in handy.

    There seems to be no end when it comes to obstacles that shippers encounter. Getting your shipments delivered on time, safely, and smoothly seems like a no-brainer, but once that pallet has left your dock, control is pretty much out of your hands. But it doesn't have to be. A quality 3PL provider can serve as an extra set (or two!) to make sure you are shipping smart and staying competitive. The team of experts at PartnerShip have taken a look at the most common problems shippers experience and how they can actually BETTER your business. Download our free white paper today!


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  • 2018: The Year of the Truck Driver

    12/06/2017 — Jen Deming

    Truck Driver

    Ringing in the New Year means starting fresh and anticipating big changes for future, and truck drivers may be looking forward to 2018 more than anyone. The ELD mandate, driver shortages, fuel costs, and e-commerce boom are all components that leverage trucking companies' ability to determine cost and coverage.

    As we covered in our previous blog post, truckload rates are going up due to a number of different factors. That means that drivers and trucking companies are going to be behind the wheel when it comes to determining how much shipping lanes will be going for. Having this leverage pushes the shipper to the passenger seat, with the potential for less bargaining power and high shipping costs heading into the new year.

    A significant factor contributing to the higher truckload rates is due to an overall shortage of willing and capable truck drivers. Trucking analyst John Larkin suggests that the slow but steady economic increase will result in stronger demand with tighter supply. "The primary driver of the supply/demand tightness is the economy-wide shortage of skilled, blue collar labor," he says. "While driver pay scales began to rise in the 2nd half of 2017, the starting point for wages was so low, that it may take multiple wage hikes before we see any alleviation of this chronic challenge." The ELD mandate, which will be fully implemented on Dec 18, 2017, may add increased tension to an already volatile scenario. Many drivers view the mandate as an invasion of privacy, and may push an already limited number of qualified and experienced drivers from the pool of available carriers.

    The amount of freight being hauled by trucks is expected to increase more than 3% annually over the next five years, as reported by the American Trucking Association. The industry has already seen a 2.8% increase over the past year, and the ATA estimates it could accelerate as much as 3.4% before slowing down again slightly. A notable increase in shipping economy means that though the available trucker pool has dwindled, those who are qualified are more in demand than ever. In addition, because those drivers may have to travel outside their normal area of operations, they can charge a premium. The ATA also reports that trucking will continue to be the dominant freight mode, and in 2017 "approximately 15.18 billion tons of freight will be moved by all transportation modes." The growing economy will further push demand and stretch the pool of available carriers. The ATA estimates that the current 50,000 driver-deficit could expand to 174,000 by 2026.

    With that economic push, and labor shortage, truck drivers will demand higher wages and shippers will have to pay. The third-quarter hurricanes are also said to have played a factor, with drivers understandably asking more for lanes they had run at lower rates previously. Additionally, Florida and Texas, the two states hit the hardest by the storms, are typically some of the most reliable recruiting markets for new drivers. Until the economy recovers in these states, the pool of new drivers will be limited, with many potential recruits choosing the recent wave of construction positions over trucking. A jump in driver pay may keep them interested. According to Bob Costello, the American Trucking Association's economist, observes, "We've already seen fleets raising pay and offering other incentives to attract drivers." The driver pay structure is also evolving. Where once most carriers were being paid by load, many are now moving to an hourly pay model, specifically as the ELD mandate takes effect. Either way, with the anticipated changes for the new year, it's safe to say truck drivers and carriers are going to have a huge influence on shipping rates for the near future.

    So, now that truck drivers have extra leverage, what can shippers do to help keep down their shipping costs in 2018? Working with a freight broker like PartnerShip can help add value and flexibility to your current shipping options. We shop rates and put in the legwork for you, negotiating on your behalf with carriers for both your LTL and your Truckload moves. If you have questions on how PartnerShip can help manage your shipping costs, call us at 800-599-2902 or get a free quote today!

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  • Five Important Reasons You Should be Using a Freight Broker

    04/11/2017 — Jerry Spelic

    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:

    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.

    We could end the list right here. But wait, there are more benefits of using a freight broker!

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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. You might also want to subscribe to our freight broker blog, The PartnerShip Connection, to learn more about how to use freight brokers. Just type your email address in the box in the upper right part of this page and hit "subscribe!"


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