You are moving a shipment using an LTL service. A lot is riding on it: It’s the first impression you get to make on your customer. If it moves out on time your business will look like a well oiled machine. But if it not…you’ll look like the other guy. Even overlooking a seemingly small detail can trigger a chain of negative events with catastrophic results for your business. It can cost you valuable time, money, resources and worst of all, customers.
LTL Carriers are lean and mean operations...running on very tight schedules and on small margins so the window for your pickup is small. If anything goes wrong your driver isn’t going to wait around very long for you to figure it out. You need to be like Indiana Jones, one step ahead of the massive stone boulder trying to crush you then just rolling under the massive wall as it seals off the Temple of Doom.
Here are 9 things to think about that will help you avoid looking like the other guy. Keep reading, Dr. Jones.
1. Don’t Wait! Call in or schedule your pickups early. If possible, speak directly to the dispatcher to ask if they will make your pickup that day. They’ll appreciate your asking and at this early point they can be honest. Also, this gives you direct verbal commitment on your pickup. If it’s a new or unfamiliar carrier, ask if they service your area daily, if not, will they be there today?
2. Lock it in - Always ask for a pickup or confirmation # (if you are calling) to make 100% sure the person you spoke to actually put your pickup in. If you scheduled online, call to double-check they received your pickup and can make it to you that day. Ask for an ETA, yet another way to get a verbal commitment which you can refer back to if they run behind the estimated timeframe.
3. Closing Time - LTL Carriers street operation is constantly changing (new pickups, delays, traffic, etc.) so in order to operate efficiently they have to continually adjust their plan. Build in a little extra time (15-30 minutes) and let them know that. This creates a soft closing time that will allow some flexibility on both sides for the unknown.
4. Loading - Make sure you order any special equipment needed (liftgate) if you do not have a loading dock or hydraulic lift. Ask the rep or call to confirm that this equipment is in your area today to make your pickup. Many carriers only have one liftgate unit and it can only do so much in a day.
5. Space on the Truck - When you call in your pickup be accurate with your pallet count and dimensions, particularly if you have over-dimensional freight. Carriers have to make decisions on the fly all day based on how much room they have left in trailers and what they are picking up. If you call in the wrong number of skids or forget to tell them your freight is 10’ long you might be the other guy.
6. Clean Handoff - Be sure to provide all necessary information to the carrier/freight broker for your pickup. Does your dock require a release # to be given by the driver? Do they have to back in a certain door? Is there signage on your building that makes your location obvious? Did you provide a working phone# and backup cell# the dispatcher/driver can call with a question?
7. Shipment is palletize or crated - LTL Carriers will not accept freight that is not palletized or crated. There is very good reason for this i.e. It protects the freight and allows them to move the goods around using forklifts rather than the alternative (dragging, pushing, rolling). It’s in your best interest to package the shipment properly.
8. Check your height - If you have tall freight I'd suggest establishing this before a pickup is made to make sure you have enough room for the height of your product. Carriers will know the height of their own trailers. ***Important to note: the height at the trailer’s door is usually different and really is the only height that matters. If it doesn't fit in the door it doesn't matter how big the rear of the trailer is!
*Note on door heights: Swing doors give you more room than roll doors. If you google pictures of both you will see why.
**Note on dock heights: If your dock is high or your ceiling is low that reduces the amount of space you have to load into a standard trailer. There are ways around this...please get in touch if you have this issue.
***Note on Liftgates: Not all freight fits on liftgate - your best bet is to ask ahead of time. There are height, width, length & weight restrictions for all liftgate equipment...and they always use the safety first rule.
9. BOL - Have your accurate BOL printed and ready to go before the driver arrives.
At the moment of truth, any small detail that is omitted or overlooked can wind up with your pickup being missed. Follow these steps to the letter and you will have successful pickups every time.
Looking for a reliable, experienced freight broker who can take everything off your plate and always find you the best rates? Contact Chris.