Ever wonder how the LTL freight shipping experts at FreightCenter are able to answer your questions so quickly and accurately? After all, FreightCenter has contractual relationships with nearly 100 LTL freight carriers, each with its own shipping lanes and rules. How can LTL freight agents keep all that info in their heads?
The answer to that question begins with the agent’s mindset. Their job, as they see it, is to work with shippers to streamline their supply chain. For many businesses, FreightCenter acts as their shipping department, and the National Account Manager is their dedicated shipping manager. So, while there is a lot going on during the agent’s day, it’s all taken on with the mindset of helping to make shipping easy and affordable for all types of customers and cargo.
Now, let’s pull back the curtain and take a peek at the many balls an LTL freight agent at FreightCenter has to juggle throughout the day.
On a typical day there will be 20-30 potential shipments awaiting the agent that have come in via email, voicemail and online rate quote. All require attention for clarification and/or booking to make sure the shipper is getting what they want, when they need it and for the lowest cost possible.
A first-time shipper has requested a quote for shipping an embroidery machine. He thought he had the machine sold, but that deal fell through and now he’s trying to get a range of freight shipping costs depending on where the eventual buyer is located. In discussing the shipment with the shipper, the agent uncovers two details of the shipper’s quote that need to be addressed.
- This shipment will be picked up from a home-based business and likely delivered to another home-based business. That means there will be no loading dock at either end of the delivery. The quote needs to be adjusted to be a residential delivery at both ends. Residential pickups and deliveries are charged limited access fees, as well as accessorial charges for requiring vehicles with a liftgate.
- The shipper planned on securing the machine to a pallet (palletizing), but LTL carriers FreightCenter works with require that all machines be crated. The shipper doesn’t understand why this is so, so the agent explains the reasoning behind the rule. Crating machines reduces the likelihood that the machine will be damaged in shipping, and also reduces the likelihood that it will damage other pieces of cargo on the truck.
With these details covered, the agent provides the requested range of quotes and wishes the shipper the best of luck selling the machine. They will speak again once the machine is sold.
Organization is critical to an agent’s success. Each agent has their own organizing system that works for them. On their monitors they have the company knowledge base with detailed information on 16 critical subjects, plus multiple browser tabs open to show them:
- The quote or message they are discussing with the shipper
- The shipper’s history with FreightCenter
- Access to a subscription-based detailed guide to freight classes
- Several online maps to help the agent ascertain whether or not a point of origin or delivery has full or limited access
- Internal chat so they can ask for assistance from another agent without having to put a shipper on hold
There is always a lot happening, and while LTL freight agents do have a lot of information in their heads, they rely on a tremendous wealth of digital resources and their own ability to access those resources quickly and accurately.
A repeat inbound shipper is about to make his first outbound shipment. Typically, he purchases (and has shipped to him) large quantities of brand new printing toner cartridges from institutions that have upgraded their printers and can no longer use the cartridges they have in stock. He usually sells them one or two at a time on eBay and sends them through the post office, but today he is shipping a large order on a pallet and has called to speak with his dedicated National Account Manager to book the shipment.
The customer has two big questions.
- Can he save money if he takes the pallet to the freight terminal himself?
- Can the shipment be booked to ship the same day?
In both cases the answer is yes. The agent assures him that since the carrier will not have to send a truck to his residence, he will save on that leg of the shipment. And yes, the shipment can book that day as long as he gets his cargo to the freight terminal in a timely fashion.
The agent books the shipment and sends the customer an email that includes two copies of the Bill of Lading, shipping labels to put on the cargo and the terms and conditions of service.
Throughout the day, agents handle LTL freight shipping calls of all sorts, not really knowing what to expect until they speak with the shipper. One customer might be a company shipping newly manufactured brewing equipment to a microbrewery, while another might be arranging to ship their exhibit booth to a trade show. Other duties they perform throughout the day include:
- Serving as mentors to new hires who shadow them for an hour or two at a time
- Helping customers use the online tracking system
- Answering questions about insurance, packaging and much more
It takes a special kind of person to be an LTL freight shipping National Account Manager at FreightCenter. We are proud of the way they take care of customers and the way they represent FreightCenter every time they make contact with a customer.