HACKING INBOUND FREIGHT SHIPMENTS
You run a business. You have clients demanding product. You are really freakin busy. How do you make sure you have enough product on hand to fill orders? What can you do to make sure things run smoothly in your demand chain (coinin' that)? Well, the answer is A LOT actually! This blog post will tell you exactly what to expect with inbound freight shipments in the New England area and how to handle your LTL freight shipments like a freight boss. (Spoiler Alert: You can skip class today and just hit the easy button to have all this done for you)
Getting Your Freight Moved On Time
Your freight will not be on time if it doesn't get picked up. This is a common mistake with a lot of "hot" shipments that can leave you up the creek without a paddle the next day when you find out your shipment is still sitting at origin. Ask questions beforehand about whether the carrier you choose can make the pickup that day. There are a lot of factors to keep in mind that can cause a missed pickup:
Size of freight vs room on trailer
Shipper's close time
Time of month/quarter (End of either wreaks havoc)
Location of shipper in comparison to trucking company's operation
Shipper's requirements (Appointment, release #)
Run through this list before committing to a carrier make sure you have a strong match or you could be in a pickle. By the way, a great broker will do this for you!
Check the transit time and know the carrier you put the freight on. Some carriers are reliable up to 97% of the time with non-guaranteed LTL shipments while other carriers can only be relied upon for 2-3x their advertised transit times. Want to know which ones are good and which ones, ahem, totally suck? Hit me up and I will tell you even the carriers on my own list not to trust based on a decade of experience.
Standard guarantees are not that expensive (Typically $25-$50). It might make sense to spend a little extra to make sure you get the product on the advertised date if you are up against deadlines and due dates. Try to measure the cost of the upcharge vs potentially losing the client if you are late.
Getting Your Freight Delivered On Time
So Close, Yet So Far Away
Yes, there is a difference between getting your freight moved on time and getting it delivered on time. You might as well be rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic if you don't pay attention to the information going onto your BOL. There are a slew of issues that can result from improper BOL prep and many do not bare their ugly teeth until the final mile.
Appointments are great if you are requesting delivery to an unmanned warehouse, construction site, school, army base or anywhere with limited receiving hours or personnel. However, an appointment will often cause the shipment to be held at the destination terminal (especially for 1-2 transit day shipments) because it implies that the carrier cannot just go there during business hours and make a successful delivery. So only request this if truly needed and if you have an extra day with which to play.
Liftgates are expensive equipment so most carriers only have 1 or 2 per terminal. That said, they tend to only send the liftgate to certain area's on certain days to get the most bang for their buck with the high-demand equipment. A liftgate also implies to the carrier that this is not necessarily a regular shipper so often they will call for an appointment to be sure the freight can be successfully delivered. This can result in delayed delivery in extreme cases of a few days. If you need a liftgate it might also be a good idea to guarantee the freight to make you get it on time or at the very least make a phone call to the destination terminal to get a feel for their liftgate service.
The Devil Is In the Details
Giving inadequate or simply incorrect information on the BOL will not only delay your shipment but can result in added fees, such as Redelivery or Reconsignment or result in a forfeited claim. This can be the result of an entirely wrong address, missing a unit or dock number, a bad phone number or the wrong NMFC info. If the carrier attempts the delivery but you omitted a number on the address and the driver doesn't feel like tracking you down not only will you not get your shipment on time but you will have to pay Redelivery and/or reconsignment charges. It is salt in the proverbial wound (late product, pissed off customer, extra fees) so take pains to get it right on the front end!
Devil's At the Door
CHECK THE FREIGHT. I'll say it again because it's important and not even a broker can help you do this. Check your shipments very thoroughly before signing the delivery receipt. Open boxes, inspect tiny nicks and bruises and be sure there is nothing lurking beneath the surface before you sign clear. Once you sign the delivery receipt you waive the carrier's responsibility for the condition of the goods. Generally speaking you have 15 days to report concealed damage but experience will tell you that after 48 hours your chances of getting any money back are slim and even then the carrier is limited to only 1/3 the value. Crazy right? It's the price you pay for paying low prices for LTL freight. Get good at spotting damages or potential damages and don't be afraid to mark it on the DR. You can always refer back to that if you do find a damage after the fact and then you will have a leg on which to stand.
When you pull the covers back on an inbound LTL freight shipment you realize there is a lot going on and a lot that could go wrong. So, follow this list to make sure that you don't make any bad decision and hop in bed with the wrong carrier or make bad decisions while in bed with the right carrier. OR, get in touch with me and let me chaperone your freight and keep your good name out of the rumor mill at the office for good!