The bustle of the holidays already comes at a hefty price for shippers. Rates are at their peak. Labor costs spike. Inventory is chaotic. Shipping heavy freight just adds insult to injury.
Any processes or tactics you can swiftly take to catch a break on heavy shipments can be invaluable.
So, how can you send heavy shipments economically?
1) Spot Quotes
Spot quoting are quotes you obtain on a specific shipment. These quotes are usually only valid with the carrier for a single day - and sometimes even less than that. They can be a pain to organize as they require quite a bit of back and forth with multiple carriers, but you can often save a lot of money on a shipment through these quotes.
How? Carriers are looking to fill trucks in the most strategic ways they can. And the holidays make that process more critical for them due to the sheer volume. With this in mind, you can see how quickly an offered spot quote may be pulled away from a shipper if the carrier can fill their truck with another opportunity that has come through. Not too many shippers have time to wait with bated breath watching their email for responses or have the time to keep up with callbacks.
This is where shipping software can help. FreightPOP helps shippers obtain spot quotes with carriers smoothly. Customers can even access spot quotes from carriers they currently have negotiated rates with - and then easily compare those rates in a side-by-side view on our platform.
Having the right tools to do spot quoting year-round is useful but can really save you money during the holidays. Particularly with heavy freight, we have found that carriers often offer a better rate on the fly through spot quotes.
2) Volume Rates
Volume shipping quotes are used for LTL shipments that fall outside the normal less-than-truckload parameters, and where the shipment is not large enough for a full truckload.
Volume LTL rate quotes must be a minimum of 5,000 pounds. Frequently these rates are based on a longer transit time as carriers are looking to make the best use of space on a truck, shipping lanes, or other issues a carrier may be juggling. Make sure you check all the criteria when taking advantage of these rates, especially when you are processing your holiday rushes.
Our shipping software is capable of supporting volume rates when carriers provide them via our APIs.
3) Partner Rates
Another way you can save on shipping heavy freight is to take advantage of partner shipping rates. We provide LTL and truckload market rates and options that may be outside of your network. It is another reliable avenue, besides using your contracted rates, spot quotes, and general marketplace rates, with which to shop around for the best rate possible on heavy shipments.
4) After the holidays
There are several things you can do after the fact to help make sure you are getting the best rates on heavy freight.
You need to have an efficient claims process to follow up on lost money on shipments that go missing, are damaged, or are otherwise breaking a contract stipulation.
Due to holiday volumes (both your own and everyone else’s) and the severe weather that occurs during the holidays, you are going to have high instances of damaged freight and loss. Putting claims in with carriers is a cumbersome process that is easily “forgotten” by staff. And even when claims are put in, random deadlines can result in unsuccessful claims. (Please see our post Prioritizing and Simplifying Filing Shipping Claims for more on this.)
Some carriers let businesses down in transporting freight that is heavy, unusual in size, or has special requirements. You should keep a record of incidents so that you can review your carriers when your business is not dealing with hectic holiday volumes. This will inform your carrier selections going forward and help you better plan for the next holiday period.
You need to put in place a system to audit invoices so that you are not overcharged during busy times - and during the rest of the year as well. Human error, mistaken NMFC codes, and other such factors can lead to you receiving invoices at rates you did not agree to pay.
Shippers should have a way to follow up on unbilled customers. We have found that there are times that carriers have provided Proof of Delivery on shipments customers claim they never received. If you are providing customers credits before a full investigation, which is a bit more common these days with retail, you need to implement a process to re-bill them should Proof of Delivery be established.
Claims, analyzing, auditing, and customer re-billing are all features to our shipping software. If you would like to improve the rates you pay on heavy shipments, please reach out to us for a demo to see how we can help.
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