LTL & Less-Than-Lovely Experiences: Why your LTL shipments might be delayed

It’s no secret the transportation market has changed. Well, if you’re in the logistics and trucking forums, anyway. Unfortunately for most small and medium business owners not in the inner circle nor with the time to read up on the industry news, navigating transportation services can be cloudy at best–and infuriating at worst.

What’s changed?

Shipping demand has increased. Customer expectations for speedy service are both common and high. Meanwhile, new regulations and an aging population of truck drivers have put the squeeze on shippers and carriers to follow the rules and keep drivers in the seat.

With space in a moving truck in high demand and pressure to make every mile count, many LTL customers find their packages falling off the priority list.


How can this delay your LTL shipment?


1. Competition 

Most LTL shipments are brokered out through the same nationwide companies. Depending on a deal cut between the broker and the carrier, you could find a cheaper price with one broker over another, but it’s likely the package will end up on one of the same trucks.

When you request a quote from a broker, they shoot you back a breakdown of the cost. This quote, however, is not set in stone. Like a carpenter coming to your home for some renovations can give you an estimate, there’s always a chance the final price will be different. (Luckily in transportation industry, you and the broker agree to the price before a truck is even sent out.)

However, agreeing with a broker does not guarantee a carrier or truck able and willing to take the price. Truck space and miles are valuable with demand rising. A carrier has a variety of options on how and where to fill their truck.

If your LTL is in an unfortunate location, carriers might refuse it for FTL or more convenient cargo.  


2. Delayed Trucks

Ports are busy places. Warehouses can flood with trailers.

For that reason, every carrier has “free time” included in their quote. It’s then promptly followed by their detention rate.

If the truck scheduled for your LTL shipment is delayed by another appointment, your cargo could get bumped to another day. 

Think of it this way: Tessa has a to-do list of five tasks, and she is given eight hours to complete them. She completes her first two tasks in four hours and heads to an office store to pick up a delivery. The store is packed and the customer service rep asks her to wait–they aren’t ready for her yet.

So, she waits. What was scheduled for a thirty minute trip becomes three. With one hour left , Tessa can’t complete the remaining two tasks. She calls her boss, who tells her the remaining two tasks will be rescheduled.

And your LTL ends up on a later truck.


What can I do? 

1. Strategize 

Do your shipments need to go through that specific port? Is there a warehouse in a more convenient city? Can you make any tweaks to your shipping patterns to increase the appeal of your LTL?

If your cargo is feeling snubbed, see what is within your controls to make it more appealing to carriers. If you have a trusted carrier, talk to them about your situation and ask what improvements they would advise.

2. Shop around

While there is a high demand on trucks and shippers, no reasonable business would turn down an offer to assist and meet a potential new client. If you’re looking for a new warehouse location or need a partner in a new city, make several calls.

Identify key qualities you want in a transportation partner. Compare.

Which leads to an important resource to make your life easier:

3. Communicate 

Much like outreach to a new company or asking advice from a trusted carrier, it is important to communicate. If you notice your shipments are routinely being delayed, get an explanation. It could be that the price you’ve set with the broker is too low, or that the broker didn’t know it was a high priority and thus bumped it to the next day.

Ultimately, remember it’s a two-way street. If you aren’t getting clear answers or timely solutions from your partner, it might be time to consider other fish in the sea. 



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