Being Cheap Can Be Very Expensive in a Tight Shipping Market

trucking rates shipping marketLet me ask you a question…

…if you needed to buy a pair of shoes, would you rather spend $20 or $100 for the same pair of shoes?

(This does, I promise, concern today’s tight shipping market!)

Like most of us, you’re probably thinking $20 of course. None of us – myself included – likes to spend more than necessary.

The conversation changes, however, if we say that the $100 pair of shoes will last 2 years while that $20 pair of shoes will last a month. Suddenly, the $20 pair of shoes aren’t the same. While they may appear the same, they’re obviously of a lower quality with a real cost of $240 for the same period of time! In this case, the $100 pair of shoes is the best deal, isn’t it?

While this scenario highlights the importance of quality, it also exposes the ever important consideration of value. Everything has a cost; the question is how much value are you getting for your spend?

It’s the Cost-Value challenge people and businesses face all the time. In today’s tight shipping market, this exact challenge bleeds many companies of their profits.

Why Every Company Must Evaluate the Cost-Value of Every Shipment

When there are more loads than trucks, freight costs rise. It makes sense. Every shippers’ desire to find the lowest freight cost in an effort to protect margins also makes sense.

The problem is, one big claim can ruin the margins across the company. For example, if you’re shipping $50,000 worth of product, is a $250 savings on freight-spend worth the potential claim using the lowest bidder? A serious claim will wipe out the savings there and on shipments to come!

In a tight shipping market like this, shippers need to look at costs differently. Rather than viewing each load as separate ‘events,’ the cost of a load should be viewed in terms of “total cost.” This would mean all initial and potential costs must be accounted for. Living with “hope” that bad things won’t happen isn’t a business strategy.

Taking the example above, the freight cost of entire $50,000 shipment would be evaluated to minimize the entire possible cost from point A to point B. This means decisions would be made based on the freight-spend, potential liabilities, and frankly any other potential factors that could incur cost. Admittedly, we can’t know the exact number, but we can look at real elements of service that minimize the chance of increased costs or reduce or eliminate risk.

It’s a strategic approach to shipping. This approach protects you, your customer and your customer’s customer. In the long-term, it saves you money and makes your business profitable in the long-term.

The Simplest Way to Evaluate Cost-Value  

No one knows how long this tight shipping market will last. Several factors have contributed to it, including:

  • The ELD Mandate
  • Increased manufacturing
  • Not enough trucks/drivers to handle capacity

The ELD Mandate is not going away; shippers better get used to it. Increased manufacturing is dependent on the economy and can change. This second factor is also related to the final one which is simply not enough trucks/drivers. This has been a challenge in the industry for years and doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.

This means businesses that want to thrive more than merely survive need to adopt a strategic approach that enables them to find the best Cost-Value relationship.

Shipping brokers offer the best way to apply this strategy. As brokers, they make more freight options available to you and your business, finding the best value for the lowest cost. Many offer additional services to create practical long- and short-term strategies to lower costs and increase efficiencies.

Now, I’ll admit, I’m a little biased. But I’ve also lived in both worlds. I’ve been a shipper and a broker and I have seen how value-based strategies protect margins better than “cheapest rate.”

Refrigerated Truckload Services

Refrigerated trucking demands a high on-time percentage. That’s why distributors of perishable foods and goods who need refrigerated truckload in Houston, TX, turn to Longshot Logistics for their refrigerated transport needs!

Refrigerated Transport

Frozen foods need to arrive frozen. Fresh produce needs to arrive fresh. Perishables need to arrive ready for sale.

Refrigerated transport makes this possible. Of course, this requires a capacity to meet every grower’s and distributor’s need. It also requires a high on-time percentage. When it comes to refrigerated trucking, late delivers simply don’t work.

Refrigerated Trucking Starts with Customer Service

For every refrigerated shipment to arrive on-time, it’s essential your freight broker and carriers clearly understand your need. Customer service representatives must take the time to know what your shipping, where it’s going and how best to get it there. They must also communicate consistently and, in our opinion, constantly to ensure you always know the status of your refrigerated shipment.

Frozen Foods and Perishables Need to Arrive On-time

Businesses that ship frozen foods, perishable goods and produce should vet their refrigerated truckload broker before arranging their first shipment. A business should be comfortable with their refrigerated transport shipper. They should also know what to expect in terms of communication, responsibility and capacity.

Fast refrigerated truckload quotes are great, but they don’t guarantee an on-time delivery or quality customer service.

Refrigerated Truckload in Houston and Across the U.S.

The best experience for a refrigerated shipment will come from a company that puts customer service first. A shipper should look for a company with a commitment to communicate (or even over-communicate!). Of course, on-time percentage is essential too. High capacity may be a consideration and one worth asking about as well.

If you have questions about your refrigerated transport needs, feel free to call Longshot Logistics. Our experienced representatives are prepared to answer your questions about every type of refrigerated service for all frozen foods, produce or perishable, whether you’re shipping out of Houston or from anywhere in the U.S. and Canada.

What Flatbed Trucking Services Do You Need?

Flatbed trucking servicesFlatbed trucking services come in many shapes and sizes. Flatbed may sound like a subcategory of truckload, but flatbed – especially flatbed, can be broken down further. Building materials, machinery, construction, farming and other equipment represent some of the freight that travels on a flatbed truck and many of these may have special needs.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at flatbed services.

Standard Flatbed Service. This is the most common type of trailer. Flatbed trailers can transport almost any type of freight anywhere it needs to go. In many cases it may be more secure than a covered trailer as all materials must be well secured with straps and chains.

Covered Flatbed Loads. Most trucking services can provide covers as an added service if the freight needs protection from the elements, dirt, grime or potential road debris. Heavy-duty tarps may be one option to cover the materials. Another option would be a trailer with a rolling tarp. This type of trailer is called a Conestoga trailer.

Over Height Loads. Step deck trailers offer a lower deck to accommodate freight that’s too tall for a  standard flatbed. This deck sits closer to the ground and often has a ramp to convenience. Often these type of trailers are used to transport construction and farm vehicles.

Extra Long Loads. For a  load like this, you need a stretch trailer. It’s just like a standard trailer, except for the cargo bed that extends. This adjustable bed prevents overhang and accommodates freight with long dimensions.

The Flatbed Trucking Services Every Shipper Needs

 Regardless of load type, every shipper requires their flatbed trucking services include one feature. It has nothing to do with the height, width or weight of their freight.

It’s customer service.

Nothing helps avert problems like good customer service. When looking for a flatbed broker, take a little extra time to learn about their customer service. This can save you money, time and a ton of headaches.

What does good customer service include?

To start, it features availability and communication. You should know who to call and what to expect when you call. Ideally, the freight broker will also be able to help solve problems created by severe weather, traffic delays and any of the many problems that can arise.

In a pinch, good customer service can make you look good in front of your customer. And isn’t that what every service is all about?

If you need flatbed services with an excellent customer service record, Longshot Logistics can help. Give us a call or send us an email here.

What to Expect for Flatbed Trucking Rates in 2017

as published on LinkedIn

flatbed trucking rates

Flatbed trucking rates might surprise shippers in 2017. According to transportation economist Noel Perry, trucking rates look set to climb between 5-7% through the year. This might seem odd since freight rates have been down since 2015, but several factors will lead to increases.

Lower rates forced a contraction of the market. Carriers stopped ordering new trucks. Production dropped at truck manufacturers. Where the demand for more lanes and vehicles had been big in the past, the low volume of shipping in recent years required carriers to cut back.

Now, as the supply of vehicles matches demand with what looks like an increase in shipping on the horizon, rates will naturally rise. As Mr. Perry mentioned in his forecast, “Now’s the time to begin thinking about managing in an environment that’s 180 degrees from the environment we’re in right now.”

Higher trucking rates, including flatbed trucking rates, appear almost certain for next year. With this in mind, what can you do? Maybe the simplest approach would be to increase your anticipated shipping spend by 7%. But really, who wants to do that? And frankly, that’s not what we recommend.

Here’s what we do recommend…

#1.      Coordinate a fleet of flatbed trucking services.

Start now and line-up flatbed carriers for all the lanes you know you’ll need. This will ensure you don’t waste time looking for a carrier and services when the need arises and urgency is high.

#2.      Review and reorganize your shipping plan.

What you did in 2016 or even 2015 may not be the most efficient distribution channels for you in 2017. Review last year and look ahead to this next year to find new efficiencies in your shipping program.

#3.      Plan to partner.

Perhaps the best way to offset or possibly even negate trucking rate increases involves finding a great flatbed logistics partner. For less than the cost of bringing on new staff, you can work with a team of trucking professionals who can help with steps #1 and #2, plus eliminate the extra work of handling claims.

And a partner gives you all these resources with a single phone call. That means you don’t have to spend time looking for answers. The experts are on the other end of the phone (or email, if you prefer!).

Whether you handle the work with your own internal team, or decide to reach out to a freight broker, take Mr. Perry’s advice and plan for a change. If you’d like to some help with this, call one of Longshot’s Logistics experts for a brief, no obligation conversation. Or click to contact us.

Benefits of Truckload Brokers

Truckload brokers deliver big benefits to companies of all sizes. For SMBs, a freight broker is like having a full shipping department. For large enterprises, a truckload broker can cut costs and simplify supply chain management with advanced reporting and strategic recommendations.

A good freight broker offers a complete range of services for truckload or both truckload and LTL shipping. With so many services, businesses of all sizes get customized logistics solutions. They deliver benefits like:

truckload brokersFast Quoting

A truckload broker has partnerships and access to hundreds of truckload brokers and owner/operators. Rather than call two or three carriers to get a quote, a business can get multiple quotes with a single call or email to its freight broker.

Lower Rates

Freight brokers negotiate rates with carriers so their customers don’t have to. It’s like a reverse bidding process where carriers bid for the customer’s business.

Powerful Shipping Software at No Cost

Truckload brokers use transportation management systems (also called TMS) to manage their hundreds of carriers and owners, their services, rates and tracking. All of the information in these systems is available to customers, but many brokers offers services to manage all freight expenses. TMS offer transparency into the process that makes this a big value-added feature for many companies.

Simplified Claims Processing

Sometimes freight gets damaged. When it does, a freight broker can help process the claim. Their expertise makes the process simple and painless. This allows companies the ability to focus on their customers.

Data-driven Logistics Solutions

Businesses of all sizes benefit from the reporting offered by a truckload freight broker. Track a single shipment, do an on-time performance review or evaluate the supply chain for an entire year. With this data, freight brokers can help customers develop new strategies to lower their shipping costs.

RFP Assistance

Freight brokers work with many carriers but are not committed. Their benefit comes from helping their customers. So with their logistics expertise, they can help companies with their logistics RFPs to find the best carrier and arrange the best services for every shipment.

Where to Find Truckload Brokers

You can find truckload brokers online. Once you do, we recommend you pick up the phone and make a call. This allows you to get an immediate feel for the company’s expertise and customer service response.

Many freight brokers have designated account managers who will be happy to meet with you in person or virtually. Invest a little time today to find a freight broker, and you’ll save yourself hours and dollars on all your freight in the future.