For many small to medium sized businesses with shipments that do not require a full truck to carry everything, less than truckload shipping is the optimal way to get goods from the warehouse to the distributor. This shipment method is not only better for the environment, but can also save businesses significant amounts of money than if they were to have to use an entire truck simply for their goods. However, making the right choice out of the sea of LTL providers can seem overwhelming for many companies who are unsure of what to look for.
If this sounds like you or your company, here are some tips on how to choose the best LTL freight provider for your business.
• Determine the coverage area of the carriers.
This is especially important if you have goods that must be delivered to odd areas where larger trucks usually do not deliver to. Regardless, it is always important to determine whether or not the carriers will be able to reach the locations where you do business, and where you are planning to expand to in the future.
• Ask about tracking and tracing methods.
The right company will provide full transparency and will allow you to track and trace exactly where your flat of goods is at all times. Whether through software or a website that you can access anywhere, anytime, it is important to find out exactly how they do this so that you can ensure nothing gets lost or delayed, which could dramatically affect your business and sales.
• Be clear about regional or national needs.
For some carriers, regional shipments are considered less than 500 miles. For others, this number may be less than 1000 miles. Regardless, it is important to clarify to not only determine what you need, but also so that you can plan for any future expansion of your distribution territory that may require you to eventually find a new company if they are unable to provide for your needs as you grow.
• Do a test drive.
If you find a carrier that you feel comfortable with, it is a good idea to do a test run and see first-hand what you can expect from the carrier. This will give you an eye opening experience so that neither party has false expectations; this will allow you to address any concerns before signing a contract. A good period of time to do this would be approximately 30 days to give a fair representation of what type of service you can expect.
As you set out to find a carrier, think of it as adding a new partner to your business. Because of their vital role, you will need to select the right one for your business needs for more long-term success.