Important LTL Shipping Questions Small Businesses Should Ask

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LTL (less than load) shipping is a concept that implies that a certain batch of goods doesn’t require a full truckload. This results in a scenario where the truckload is portioned in order to allow several different shipments to be carried on a single truck.

Now, does this mean that you get to pay less for the shipment? Well, both yes and no. You see, LTL rates are somewhat higher, although you do save money on repeated shipments. There’s also an increase in driver compensation and a shortage of LTL drivers. Overall, things are not so easy to balance.

This is just one of the questions that small businesses ask before choosing whether this is worth their while. Here are several other such questions.

How can you make it safe?

The first question you need to ask is whether it’s safe to transport different types of packages in this manner? It all depends on whether you have the right package. You see, if you can’t fill in the entire trailer, the most space-efficient move for you would be to partition the trailer and fill it with different products. The problem is that some of these don’t mix or can’t mix safely.

As a result, the products will arrive broken or damaged, which will result in a loss of reputation, mandatory replacement (an additional expense/loss of value), etc. In other words, it’s a nightmare scenario you want to avoid.

So, what does safety depend on? Several matters actually. First of all, you need the proper package. Second, you need a quality road (bumps will increase the risk). Third, you need a careful driver. The third part is the reason why driver compensations for LTL shipping are higher.

The package is completely under your control, and it takes an executive decision (that you can enforce) to settle the issue. The issue of drivers and route selection can be solved by picking the right third-party freight company. If you’re handling your fleet in-house, the matters are usually more complex.

How are LTL rates determined?

There are several different factors that affect the rate in question. First of all, you have to take into consideration the distance. We’ve already mentioned that there’s a risk that something might happen to the goods along the way. The longer the distance, the higher the risk. This results in a much higher rate.

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Second, there’s the matter of weight. Sure, this is not something you would expect on this list, seeing as how LTL already implies that the loading capacity is not met. Still, the weight might be slightly under the limit, which means that its impact on the fuel economy won’t be negligible.

It is also worth mentioning that the nature of the shipped goods makes a huge difference when it comes to transportation. Other than this, additional accessories that are necessary for loading or unloading goods (like floor jacks, etc.) might make a difference.

Can I track my shipment?

Tracking of LTL shipment isn’t a difficulty. The key thing is that you check with the freighting company whether this is included in the package. Being able to track shipments can discover more than just their location. It could help you optimize your routes and get the goods to your customers much sooner than you otherwise would.

Keep in mind that even in a scenario where there is some damage to the transported goods, the tracking feature could be used to figure out the exact moment of the incident. While this wouldn’t undo the damage, it could improve your prevention efforts.

Did I pick the right freight classification?

The right freight class can drastically affect your freighting cost. So, what determines the class? Well, it all comes down to dimensions, weight, etc. For starters, you need to carefully examine the transported goods and make sure you did everything right.

Understanding how your LTL shipping rates are determined also helps out quite a bit in this regard. It allows you to understand the importance of getting the right freight classification. This also helps you understand the prices of this feature instead of assuming that you might have gotten a better deal elsewhere. To make the long story short, it helps you manage your own expectations.

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How much difference does the carrier make?

Asking this question is quite silly to begin with. Some companies simply have a better track record than others. Why? Well, there are a lot of reasons. Some have a sterner hiring process, which makes them vet their drivers far more carefully. Others invest more in the equipment or pay more attention to details.

The problem is that when it comes to valuable goods, a single bad trip (an incident that damages transported goods) can be quite costly. This is why you need to make sure that the carrier has all the insurances and is willing/ready to cover the costs.

In other words, just because others have positive experiences, this doesn’t have to be true in your particular case. It is, however, far more likely.

Can you switch to better packaging?

The packaging of the product is usually determined by its physical properties. However, extraordinary circumstances (like LTL transportation) might require you to introduce a special form of package. You see, when choosing packages, executives often focus on branding, cost-effectiveness, and even eco-friendliness of the option. With LTL transportation, you also need to add the safety of the contents to the list.

One more thing worth keeping in mind is the shape of the package. This might determine the chance to stack the products, which could make your job of transportation much easier. Needless to say, the safety of products when stacked then needs to become a part of the equation, as well.

In Conclusion

Overall, the concept of LTL is fairly common, but just because small enterprises use a feature, this doesn’t mean they fully understand it. Sometimes, in order to take full advantage of something and even dip into its hidden potential, you need to develop an in-depth understanding. By finding an answer to the above-listed six questions, you’ll be one step closer to getting there.