What is LTL freight?
Less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping is the transportation method where a carrier combines multiple loads into a single trailer. Shippers use it when they don’t have enough freight volume to fill an entire truck container and want to save shipping costs. Compared to other types of transportation, LTL trucking can be a useful solution for small businesses and individual shippers. When you’re sharing the truck capacity with other shippers, you only pay for the space you actually use.
How does LTL shipping work?
Usually, an LTL shipment is one to six pallets of goods or other units. Unlike regular truckload freight, less-than-truckload shipments are priced differently. All of the commodities fall into 50 different freight classes or codes. These classes determine the final cost of transportation, load dimensions, weight, density, and destination.
Who would benefit the most from LTL shipping?
- Small businesses. If you are an entrepreneur and you don’t have a need to constantly deliver tons of goods, LTL is the solution that will match your needs the most. Using space in the truck shared with other customers is much more cost-efficient than renting a whole truckload and filling only half of it.
- Individual shippers. Whether you are moving to another house or office, buying bulky furniture, or sending oversized items, less-than-truckload shipping is a perfect choice for this inside delivery.
What are the benefits of LTL freight shipping?
No extra spends
According to stats, over 15 percent of road trucks are filled with freight on less than 55 percent. The fact is, full truckload shipping can cost you a significant amount of money, unlike LTL. Less-than-truckload allows you to pay just for the space you use.
There is no need to stress about where your load is moving and what is happening because professional LTL services allow you to track all the check-ins, stops, unloading, etc.
It’s simple for shippers
Apart from cost-efficiency, LTL shipping is easy to arrange on your own, thanks to various online shipping services. You don’t have to deal with brokers and wait for responses from multiple entities. When shipping LTL, you can use a self-service website and schedule your shipments fast and easily.
How to Choose LTL Shipping Services
Most shipping companies offer LTL shipping services. It is the most sought-after by smaller businesses thanks to its affordability and accessibility. But just because it’s accessible doesn’t mean that every company will give you the same quality of service. This is a list of characteristics you should find in a reliable LTL shipping service:
There are many LTL companies that offer similar LTL services. Make sure that the one you decide to work with has built a good reputation among their clients. You can opt to work for a “younger” LTL company, but you can’t guarantee reliable services.
Cargo Securement Guidelines
Before signing contracts with an LTL company, learn about their cargo securement guidelines first. Check if the LTL company puts importance on the safety of the goods they are shipping the same way you do, and check the process they follow to ensure that your goods are loaded and unloaded properly. You want to be sure that the LTL company you work with will manage your cargo responsibly to avoid damages and missing packages.
Not all businesses have the equipment to load and unload cargo. A liftgate is a type of equipment used by warehouses and freight companies to lift cargo off the ground and load them into their trucks. These are usually attached to the rear of a freight truck or trailer. Making sure that the LTL shipping service you’re planning to use has an available liftgate will save you a lot of headaches, stress, and time during shipping days.
As the client, you have the right to see each service charged to you by your LTL service provider. This is important because you need to track your expenses for product deliveries, as well as have a guide for when you need to inquire from different LTL providers.
If certain charges have value descriptions, always make sure to ask your provider’s representatives. Keeping tabs on how much you spend in each LTL carrier will help make sure that you are not eating away at your profits.
Check the LTL company’s reviews or ask their customers about the reliability of their services. Ask about their pick-up and delivery times, and whether or not they are punctual when it comes to deadlines. Late deliveries can hurt your business. Not only can that hold you back from being productive and meeting deadlines, but it can also affect your relationship with your clients. Customers love it when their orders arrive right on time. So your LTL provider should be able to meet this demand.
Cargo insurance is something we are all guilty of neglecting. But shipping one or two boxes at a time is different from shipping out client orders. When it comes to business, you will most likely be sending items in bulk. Because your products will be loaded and unloaded multiple times during transit, things can get lost or broken.
Any damages or lost packages will mean more loss in profits. You need to make sure that the LTL company’s insurance covers the full cost of your cargo. So that in case of mishaps during transit, you won’t suffer heavy losses. Sending out packages to friends and loved ones may not need much thought, but it’s a different story when it involves your livelihood.
Bad delivery experiences can lead to bad reviews, and bad reviews can immediately spell a bad month of sales. So don’t go for the first LTL service you see. Always shop around and make sure that the LTL company you will be working for checks most – if not all – of the characteristics we listed above.
Small businesses benefit greatly from LTL shipping services. They are able to fulfill customer orders without having to rent out an entire truck. This saves time, money, and frustration for the sellers and their customers.
But shipping out paid products isn’t as simple as sending a few things to friends and loved ones. As a business owner, you need to make sure that the items arrive to your clients safely and on time. That is why we presented a few characteristics that you should look out for when choosing an LTL service provider.