Like every other aspect of running a business, shipping freight comes with a learning curve. Unfortunately, the freight shipping learning curve can be more expensive than necessary if you're not careful. Many business operators will be surprised to learn that these three ways can help you save on freight shipping and avoid running up a larger than expected shipping bill.
# 1 - Work with 3PL vs. Shipping Directly with a Carrier
One of the most common mistakes made by newbie shippers is to book their shipment directly through a carrier instead of using a 3PL (3rd Party Logistics provider). It's easy to understand why this mistake happens. It's popular to believe that the best way to save money is by "cutting out the middle man." But in the case of shipping freight, a good 3PL will save you money every time by helping you find the most affordable freight carrier that meets your unique needs.
Here's an example, a freight quote was ran using two different methods. In one approach, the shipper called the carrier directly and requested the price they would give to someone who was not a frequent shipper. The other method entailed getting a quote from FreightCenter's TMS (Transportation Management System)—the same manner anyone can use online to get a free freight shipping quote—using the exact shipping details.
The quote was for shipping from one business to another, loading dock to loading dock. Here are the particulars:
In this case, going directly to the carrier could cost you more than double. How is it possible that a 3PL like FreightCenter can save you 55% on this shipment? The answer is two-fold:
- Many businesses reward frequent customers. For freight carriers, 3PLs are very frequent customers. Not only do 3PLs ship hundreds of times a day, but they also make it easy for the carriers by making sure the orders are correct and all potential issues are dealt with on our end before booking.
- Shipping freight is a relatively complex form of commerce and carriers like for their job to be as efficient as possible. 3PLs ship in volume and know the ins and outs, the paperwork, and appropriate accessorials to include; therefore, 3PLs enjoy significant savings and businesses that ship infrequently do not.
Before booking a shipment directly through a carrier, take a few minutes and get an instant online quote from FreightCenter. You'll save yourself a lot of time, aggravation, and money.
#2 – Know the details
You may have noticed that we talked about shipping loading dock to loading dock in the above example. This is the easiest (and therefore preferred) way for the carrier to ship. It's in and out in a snap on both ends. Any other type of access or location is a pain in the truck.
What if the shipment destination was someone's home? That would mean no loading dock, so a truck with a lift gate would be required for delivery. If the house happened to be on a small street, a smaller truck would need to make the delivery. Ca-ching! Either of these scenarios would add more than $300 to the bill. Again, it's all in the details.
But what if the delivery was to a home business? That's a business, right? It’s not in the eyes of the shipping world. Whether or not a facility is considered a place of business or a residence is determined by zoning. If an area is zoned residential, you'll pay residential (limited access) charges even if the destination is a business. And if the entire block is rezoned from residential to residential/business, you'll still pay those limited access charges if the street is narrow and there is no loading dock.
We're not suggesting that you tell your customers to move their businesses. Still, we are pointing out that some companies neglect to find out about access issues and quote a shipping estimate of at least $300 below the final bill.
A trustworthy 3PL will investigate accessorial issues before giving you a final quote. In some cases, depending on access to the delivery location, they might suggest that the recipient picks up the shipment at the freight depot or has it delivered to a nearby friendly business. Either of those tactics would eliminate the limited access fees.
#3 - Palletize Correctly
This one is going to sound a little crazy, but it happens from time to time. Freight attached to pallets must cover at least 65% of the surface area of the pallet. If it doesn't meet that specification, the carrier can charge you for shipping the pallet instead of what's on the pallet.
While that might not sound so bad, it's expensive. Freight class is based on density. The higher the density, the lower the class (and the lower the cost). Let's look at an example.
Bricks are very dense and have a low freight class of 50. But if you put bricks on a pallet and do not cover at least 65% of the surface area with bricks, the carrier would be within its rights to charge you for shipping the pallet, not the bricks. And with a standard freight class for pallets of 200, you end up paying hundreds of dollars (if not thousands) more—just for using too large a pallet.
This one is easy to avoid. Be aware of the rules. Most of the time, a carrier will look the other way when you use too large of a shipping pallet, but that one time when they don't, it can put a real hurting on your pocketbook.
One Easy Way to Avoid Wasting Money When Shipping Freight
If you've fallen victim to any of these mistakes (or others that have cost you money), you know how frustrating it can be.
Next time you have freight to ship, start by getting a quote from FreightCenter or give us a call at 844-212-7447. Look for the company that gives you the right combination of technology with a personal touch. The peace of mind you get from a solid business partner is priceless.