As a small business owner or manager, you know how much time it takes to manage your freight shipments along with all the other things it takes to successfully run your business. Whether your business is B2B or B2C, the demands from both sectors for fast delivery are increasing. This demand is putting additional pressure on small businesses to be more efficient.
Take a moment to think about how much time you spend managing freight shipping. Like many small business owners, you could be spending more than ten hours managing freight per week. That’s a lot of time wasted in today’s business environment especially now that consumer expectations are changing and demanding faster delivery. Imagine how much more efficient you could be and how much more you could get done for your business by integrating the right resources and best shipping practices into your supply chain. Here are 3 tips to save time managing freight that will go a long way toward optimizing your freight management.
3. Don’t Go It Alone
Like most small business owners, you’re probably wearing multiple hats and doing a million things at once. You don’t have time to visit multiple websites to compare individual carrier rates on your own every time you have a freight shipment. That’s a big waste of time. Here’s why:
- Carrier rates change frequently, and manually comparing individual carriers can be very tedious and extremely time-consuming. Not to mention, it’s a nearly impossible task to constantly find the best rates for each and every shipment your business does.
- If you’re not shipping to the same locations every time, you will probably find that the carrier you booked one week can’t help you the next week because they don’t have a lane to your new destination. Third-party logistics companies (3PLs) that operate nationwide have networks of carriers to call upon, so you never have to hunt for a new carrier. They are already in the system.
- With a multitude of options that are based on different (and often complicated) factors, getting your shipping options and rates right is critical for cost-effective shipping. Working with a 3PL gives you access to dedicated shipping experts with freight knowledge, who can match your cargo with the best service and rates to fit your business needs, saving you time and money.
There are many great benefits of partnering with a 3PL. By leveraging their large networks of carriers along with discounted rates provided by those carriers, shippers can save more by utilizing a 3PL rather than booking directly with the carrier. In addition, a 3PL can help you find customized solutions to optimize your business.
2. Standardize Packaging Materials
Unless your business is shipping many different types of products, you can probably standardize how your shipments are packaged and prepared to a significant degree. Here’s how:
- Pallets are a shippers’ best friend and makes transporting your freight easier and lowers the risk of damage. The majority of pallets come in one of three sizes: 48” x 40”, 42” x 42” and 48” x 48”. If your shipments are palletized, try using the same size pallet as much as possible.
- Freight that isn’t palletized is shipped in crates. How many different sized crates do you need? You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that most of your shipments can go in crates of one or two sizes.
- Standardize the packaging techniques you use so preparing your shipments becomes second nature. Packaging is very important, but it doesn’t have to be a time wasting task every time.
If you’re shipping more than once a week, the time savings of standardizing your materials and shipments will soon be worth far more than the nickels and dimes you might save by making each shipment the lowest price it can be. You can get full, comprehensive insight into freight packaging by downloading our Guide to Freight Packaging.
1. Automate with a TMS
Automating the manual steps in your shipping process will not only save time but will reduce costs for your business. Most 3PLs provide access to a technology solution such as a Transportation Management System (TMS) that can help you automate many time-consuming tasks. A TMS can help you with:
- Rate comparisons: Easily compare carrier rates all at once, so you can make the best choice for your shipment and budget. You will immediately see which carriers are available for your load, their rate and how long a transit time they anticipate.
- Save time: A TMS centralizes and consolidates shipping options and modes for shipments, allowing you to shorten the time it takes to select the best carrier or service for your shipment needs.
- Find capacity: No more going back and forth with various carriers to source capacity. Instead, find capacity with regional or national carriers quickly and easily.
A powerful TMS can help you cut down the time you spend searching for rates, services or different modes and empowers you to optimize and control freight costs, so you can focus on growing your business.
Spend Your Time Doing What You Do Best
When working with a 3PL, like FreightCenter, our customers have free, fast access to our TMS, and we can help you establish a shipping strategy to save time and money, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business.