Picking The Right LTL Freight Carrier
by Jillian Voege
We all know the benefits of having a solid LTL partner. LTL closes the distance between manufacturing and fulfillment, on top of linking together different fulfillment hubs for more operational flexibility. A good LTL freight partner does all that with absolute reliably and at a reasonable price. It’s a foundational piece to a business’ supply chain, which is why it’s important to ensure that you find a good partner.
But how can you spot a good LTL freight partner? We asked a few of our freight specialists to see what they thought, and we came up with a few tips to help you:
1. Can the LTL partner meet your business requirements?
However you plan on leveraging LTL, you’ll need to find out if the vendor in question can even meet your requirements. Before you start shopping around, list out all the services you absolutely need from the prospective LTL partner, and determine how well they fit before moving forward.
2. How fast are they and where can they go?
First, determine if you’re going to need regional or multi-regional carriers. Regional carriers are much faster in the lanes they own, but are also exclusive to their region. Multi-regional carriers can handle long-haul lanes, but are usually slower than their regional counterparts. Find the right balance of speed and coverage to help determine potential LTL partners.
3. Are they reliable and more importantly, are you covered regardless?
Service performance is paramount. It doesn’t matter how fast or how long a carrier can run if they have a below-average performance rate. Take stock of their reliability rates in carrying loads. Regional carriers are usually high 90% while multi-regional carriers are usually low 90%. More importantly, see if your carrier offers reasonable liability coverage for your products. If your load gets lost, damaged, or destroyed, you’ll want to make sure you don’t take a deep loss.
4. Are they giving you a fair price?
It’s obvious, but it’s worth stressing again - don’t focus on how big the discounts are, focus on what the net price actually is. LTL freight has a very convoluted pricing structure with freight classifications, weight pricing, FAK provisions, minimum charge floors, etc. Try to negotiate discounts and relief from every fee and rate you can, and use the final net price from each LTL freight partner to determine which one is actually the most affordable.
Selecting a LTL freight partner is a very important decision for your business operations. It's something that should be done with proper vetting and a lot of thought. Don't rush into the decision, because LTL freight is a keystone in ecommerce operations. Making sure that you get reliable and affordable LTL freight service is necesssary to build a healthy, growing business.