Learn a few simple ways to get your LTL shipment to its destination on time, for the lowest rate with the least amount of worry.
#1: Avoid Unneeded Accessorials
Many LTL shippers become upset when freight carriers add accessorial charges that were neither requested, anticipated or needed.
These charges can show up on your invoice unexpectedly for a number of reasons. Most often they are the result of a contract that lacks an explicit provision preventing the carrier from tacking on additional charges without approval.
To prevent unnecessary accessorial charges, we recommend adding the following statement in the special instructions section of your bill of lading when completing your booking.
Any accessorial request not on BOL must be approved by <your name and phone number>.
This statement will be printed on the BOL you submit to the carrier, providing protection against unnecessary accessorial charges, and clear written evidence to dispute such charges if carriers add them without approval.
The bottom line: Adding a simple disclaimer sentence to your bill of lading’s special instructions section will preempt unnecessary accessorial charges.
#2: Prevent Reclassifications
It’s disheartening to receive an LTL invoice for an amount higher than what was quoted. Often the blame can be placed on inaccurate freight classification. Many LTL shippers don’t understand freight class or fail to calculate their shipment’s class accurately.
It's crucial to assign the most accurate freight class and provide the National Motor Freight Classification number with every LTL shipment you send to avoid delays and carrier charges associated with correcting the BOL.
There are two ways to calculate freight class, either by calculating the density or using a commodity classification.
The commonly used density calculator method uses the weight and dimensions of a shipment to determine its overall density, with denser shipments placed in lower classes.
This method is helpful, but can easily return an inaccurate classification. Also, knowing the freight class does not provide you with an NMFC number, which is the best tool you have to protect against carriers classifying your LTL shipment themselves.
The second method, which Fleet recommends, is classification by commodity. This type of classification must be done by a freight expert with access to a freight class directory that provides NMFC numbers and classifications for a wide range of commodities.
If you are unfamiliar with your commodity class please reach out to a Fleet freight expert
for help. You can also learn more about freight class by downloading our white paper.
After calculating the freight class with help from an expert, you can keep the NMFC number on-hand for future bookings.
On the Fleet freight forwarding platform, simply insert the number in the NMFC # field when processing your quote. If you proceed with booking your shipment, the NMFC number will transfer to the BOL.
The bottom line: Assigning the correct freight class is crucial to avoiding reclassification charges, so be sure to include the accurate NMFC number on your booking. If you need help, contact a Fleet freight expert.
#3: Ensuring on-time delivery
There’s no fool-proof way to completely guaranteed on-time delivery, but you can follow some basic LTL best practices to raise your likelihood of getting your freight delivered on time.
Plan for delayed pickups
Even if you pay extra for a guaranteed delivery time, you can never be certain of the pickup time. Depending on the location of your LTL shipment, it’s best to factor in at least two days for pickup in case your shipment is pushed by the carrier.
Understand the meaning of ‘transit time’
Too often shippers incorrectly assume the transit time listed on a quote begins from the moment they book their shipment. Rather, the “transit time” refers to the time between pickup and drop-off.
If there’s a three-day estimated transit time on your quote, that means your shipment will be on the road for three days from the time it is picked up to the time it is dropped off. To figure out when your shipment will be delivered, you must add an additional two business days to the total transit time to account for pickup and delivery.
If you need a guaranteed delivery date, pay for a guaranteed rate
Transit estimates for standard LTL rates only provide a possible delivery time. If you need a shipment to arrive on a specific date you must select a guaranteed rate booking. Without this special delivery protection, you risk your shipment falling victim to unforeseen delays that carriers regularly experience while moving standard LTL freight.
Book in advance
If you give your carrier ample time to allocate a truck for your pickup, you improve the chance that your shipment will be retrieved on your preferred timeline. Fleet always recommends shippers complete their bookings a full day before they want shipments picked up.
Same-day pickups are possible, but it’s difficult for the carrier to guarantee, and you might find yourself subject to additional fees.
The bottom line: Understand how transit times are calculated for LTL shipments; book in advance when possible; and always book guaranteed rates if your shipment needs to arrive by a certain date.