There’s a lot to keep track of when managing a small business. It’s easy to overlook something in your shipping protocol or make a mistake in the logistics process. But these mistakes can be costly and negatively impact budgets and relationships with clients. Understanding and recognizing some of the most common small business shipping mistakes can help you avoid them and optimize your supply chain. Below are a few small business shipping mistakes and advice on preventing them.
Not Following the Freight Market
Many factors impact the way freight rates are dictated and how business is conducted in logistics. These factors trickle down to how small businesses ship. Staying proactive when it comes to researching freight shipping market conditions helps you better strategize and avoid small business shipping mistakes.
Rates are impacted based on economic conditions carriers are facing. When there’s plenty of space in a carrier’s fleet to take shipments, rates are lower. This is a looser capacity market. On the other hand, tightened capacity means harder times finding space for shipments and higher rates for shippers.
And market conditions fluctuate throughout the year because of shifts in consumer supply and demand or seasonal industries entering their busy shipping times. These changes are known to industry insiders as the four seasons of shipping. Having knowledge of what the year ahead holds in the freight business can help you manage expectations and implement best practices for future shipping. Additionally, fuel prices are a powerful influencer, which can impact the cost to ship.
Estimating vs. Accuracy
Estimating and assuming shipment information can take a chunk out of your small business’s money and time budgets. Shippers often “guestimate” the weight and dimensions of their freight only to be shocked when the final invoice lists a higher cost than the estimated quote they initially received. Keep in mind that the initial quote you receive may not be the final cost of shipping.
If you’re not careful in the way information about your freight is input for a quote or recorded on the it could cost your business hundreds or even thousands of dollars in billing adjustments. Carriers always check the weight and contents of freight packages and will adjust your cost of shipping accordingly. So, when weighing and measuring the dimensions of your freight, be as accurate as possible.
As a rule of thumb for measuring crated shipments, measure the length, width and height and always round up to the next whole inch when faced with a fraction of inches. For palletized shipments, measure the length and width of the pallet itself and include the pallet when measuring the height of the shipment. The best way to accurately weight your cargo is to invest in an industrial scale. If that’s not possible, do your best to accurately estimate the weight, keeping in mind that the carrier will weigh and measure your shipment and your initial quote could increase.
In addition, transit times are never guaranteed. Pickup and delivery times are always estimated unless guaranteed or expedited freight services are purchased . Reaching out to your shipping solutions provider makes it easier to schedule shipments on dates and times that work best for you and helps set the right expectations in terms of transit times.
Not Partnering with a 3PL
Small businesses often avoid partnering with a third-party logistics company (3PL) for a number of reasons. Many small business owners think the cost of shipping will be higher, or they don’t ship enough to have a dedicated shipping partner. Another myth is thinking that 3PLs don’t understand their company’s needs. However, partnering with a 3PL can save you time, money and energy. This gives you more time to focus on what your business needs from day to day.
The value of partnering with a 3PL far outweighs the cost for most small businesses. 3PLs have an extensive network of carriers who offer discounted freight rates to the 3PLs. These discounted rates are then passed on to shippers that partner with the 3PL. And you don’t need to have a minimum requirement of shipping volume or believe you don’t ship enough to partner with a 3PL.
If you’re still skeptical that the needs of your business will be understood, FreightCenter has you covered. We pride ourselves in delivering custom tailored shipping solutions to supply chains everywhere in all kinds of industries. We have the lanes, carriers and rates that work best for you and your needs. No matter what size your business is, we handle everything. And after 20 years of servicing the needs of small business freight shippers everywhere, we have extensive shipping expertise in a variety of industries.
Ready to ship more efficiently? Get a free quote today or call one of our experts at (800)716-7608.