Shipping freight is a numbers game. There are a bunch of players and a lot of moving pieces to manage that require a logical mind and a lot of patience and sometimes a stiff drink. The goal is to get your items from A to B in a cost effective timeframe, at the lowest cost. Freight costs can be expensive, there are a lot of things that can go wrong that can cause costs to skyrocket. Having the best tools to get the job done is key.
Here are a few things you can do to help avoid costs from piling up:
1. Double Check the Freight Class
The way carriers calculate freight class is in a constant state of flux. There has been a shift away from the old system of using NMFC Codes to determine class, and a push towards Volumetric Pricing or density based classes. There is a split in the industry and some carriers are sticking with the old ways and others are switching.
This makes it difficult to know which carrier uses which method. Running the numbers a few times to be extra sure is not a bad idea. No method is infallible, but double checking your work is never a bad thing.
2. Proper Packaging
One of the easiest ways to cut costs is to make sure your shipment is properly packaged. Carriers are smarter than ever about how they load their trucks. Any shipment that stops them from getting the best use out of the truck can cause the shipper to charge for the unusable space.
If your item can be put on a standard pallet, in boxes and shrink wrapped with nothing poking out over the sides of the pallet will make your life as well as the carrier's job a whole lot easier. This is also a great way to cut down on potential damage that might happen during shipping.
If you can combine multiple shipments into one you can easily reduce the overall costs to ship. Yes, it’ll cost you more to ship multiple pallets at one time compared to the one, but lumping them all into one shipment will most likely cut the costs of shipping them all individually.
Consolidation is also a great way to cut the chance of damage. It's a lot easier for a carrier to lose one box than it is for them to lose a pallet full of boxes.
4. Keep Good Records
One of the easiest ways to avoid headaches and rate hikes is to hold onto all paperwork related to the shipment. Whether it’s the BOL, the packing slips, or any and all manufacturer's specification sheets you might have will help to fight any variances the carrier might attach to a shipment.
Having all the information from the beginning of the shipment life will cut down on the likelihood of you getting the freight class wrong, which will lead to less variances and ultimately less charges.
5. Use a Broker
Using a broker is always an option when it comes to shipping freight. They have a deep knowledge base on the industry and strong relationships with the carriers which can lead to better rates.
This is not always the case, but consulting a broker can help lower costs, if not directly, than through the knowledge of the industry that you can gain from talking with them.
If you have questions about how best to book freight for your business, you can always reach out to us directly.