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.”

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.

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.

How To Avoid Truckload GRIs

No more truckload GRIs Every year it seems the truckload industry introduces another round of general rate increases (GRIs).  2016 was no different.

While GRIs may seem inevitable, they’re not.  Our customers didn’t see their rates rise this year.  That’s the advantage of working with a 3PL.  Our business model doesn’t require GRIs.

Here’s why:

Leverage

Our database contains thousands of truckload carriers based around the United States.  When they partner with us, they know they have to compete to win your business.  In this way we get aggressive rates we pass along to you.

Access to so many carriers also means special services like hazmat or refrigerated truckload (“reefer”) aren’t unique.  We have our pick of carriers.  These often includes carriers in your location – that helps keep costs down too.

Logistics Software

We use a proprietary logistics software to quote, manage, track and analyze every shipment.  This means we can get more done quickly.  A lean and efficient office allows us to keep overhead down.

We use the software to organize carriers, consolidate invoicing and expedite claims.  It allows us to create freight quotes fast and track shipments with multiple carriers immediately.  All of this translates into valuable time savings.

Through technology we turn the old saying “time is money” into a fact.  In this case, that money is the money you save.

Industry-experience

A professional staff makes all the difference.  They understand your questions and logistics needs, can create money-saving strategies and prevent costly problems.  You might even find truckload isn’t the most cost-efficient way to ship your specific load.  Partial truckload may make more sense.

Experience is the reason a live voice answers your call.  When you call us you won’t find yourself connected to an industry newbie.  You’ll be on the phone with someone prepared – and able! – to give you answers.

No More GRIs

Partner with a 3PL and you’ll say good-bye to GRIs.  A stable of carriers ready to bid on your business combined with logistics strategies will give you control over freight costs.  Plus, a 3PL can get it done faster and easier.

For more information on how a 3PL can help you business click here.

How to Maximize Supply Chain Savings

Truckload rates look to rise and impact supply chain costs even as volumes are down for the first part of 2016 . supply chain truckload shipping

If you’ve shipped truckload, maybe price pressures have brought you a little savings.  Now’s not a time to take a wait and see approach.  Take advantage of the slight dip to maximize your supply chain savings.  Here’s how…

Do a Comprehensive Logistics Review

Many companies have big savings hiding in their supply chain.  A comprehensive logistics review will reveal them.

This analysis goes beyond rates.  It looks at what shipped, how it was shipped and where it was shipped.  The information uncovered creates opportunities for strategic thinking to reduce logistics costs.

It also identifies areas where savings exist.  Claims is an area we often find huge savings opportunities.  Partial truckload shipping in place of LTL and truckload is another area of big opportunity.

You won’t find any of these without the review.  If you haven’t analyzed your supply chain in awhile, click here to contact us and learn more about Longshot Logistics’ complimentary logistics review.

Identify Customer Requirements

Now it’s time to plan.  Start by evaluating your customers.  Do any have special requirements?

Some of these might be hazmat, reefer, or flatbed.  Some customer’s may need additional services.  If you can anticipate these in advance, then you can make sure you’ve got the services lined up and priced to your need.

It also gives you an opportunity to find other areas of cost-savings.  Will you ship more truckload or LTL?  Does it make sense to find a carrier who can do both?  Will you ship local, regionally or cross continent?

Based on the answers to these questions you can build a plan in advance to lower the costs.  This way you don’t have to negotiate rates when the best direction of your focus is meeting your customer’s delivery schedule.

Find a Supply Chain Partner

Ok, so you’ve identified areas of savings and planned for future needs.  Now use that information for leverage.

Find a logistics partner who will help you strategize, build the plan and secure your rates.  If you decide to go carrier direct, you’ll have to do this yourself.

If you look to a third party logistics partner, or 3PL for short, they’ll do the work with you.  A 3PL will do the analysis, review the data and help you plan for the future.

Another advantage of the 3PL is their database of carriers.  Rather than relying on one carrier, they give you access to dozens.  In some cases, they have a database of thousands.  In instances like these, carriers actually bid on your business.  That keeps your rates low and helps to avoid GRIs.

For example, Longshot Logistics is a truckload 3PL who can provide complete logistics management and LTL services as needed.  For more information, contact us.