When a shipment doesn’t take up an entire trailer, less-than-truckload shipping—or LTL shipping for short—allows shippers to only pay for the amount of space they need. As such, LTL shipping can be a cost-effective way to move small amounts of freight, ensuring shippers aren’t blowing money transporting empty air. But like any shipping method, LTL options do have their quirks and pitfalls, and knowing how to avoid these is critical to optimizing costs.
Here are a few best practices to follow to ensure you’re using LTL shipping options to their full advantage—and maximizing your savings.
Choose the correct freight class
While LTL shipping may be the cheapest option, it does require a high level of precision to get right. Choosing the wrong freight class can result in hefty additional charges—and angry carriers. For LTL carriers, in particular, knowing the exact weight, density, and dimensions of freight is paramount because they need to know how much space they will have left in the trailer. If one shipper’s freight turns out to be much larger or heavier than anticipated, they may have to reject another shipment planned for the same truck—costing them money.
This makes it critical for shippers to do their due diligence around freight classification. Providing the accurate dimensions, weight, and density of a shipment means there won’t be any surprises at the loading dock—or on the invoice. Not only is improperly classified freight likely to be charged at a higher rate than the shipper expected, but they may be slapped with accessorial fees as a result. This can include overlength fees (when freight takes up a lot of space in the trailer) and reclassification and reweight fees (when shipment details like dimensions, weight, and class are missing or incorrect).
Avoid unnecessary charges
Incorrect classification isn’t the only mistake likely to result in unwanted accessorial fees. When a shipper isn’t careful about how freight is labeled or neglects to communicate certain requirements to the LTL carrier in advance, the good rate they got on the shipment can quickly be canceled out by a mountain of additional charges.
Common accessorial fees in LTL shipping can include:
- Blind fees: When the receiver’s name is not listed on the bill of lading
- Sort and segregate fees: When a driver is forced to do additional handling, like moving items between pallets
- Special requirement fees: When special freight handling requirements—such as shipping to a private location or liftgate—aren’t discussed with the carrier upfront
Mistakes and oversights can be doubly expensive in that they can sometimes result in delays at the loading dock. That can spell late shipments and all the problems that come with them.
Use the right tools to get the best LTL shipping rates
Between finding the right classification, avoiding accessorial fees, and accounting for differences in how carriers define their pricing, LTL shipping can be complex.
CTSI-Global’s powerful logistics solutions make it easy. Whether you’re looking to establish or renew an LTL contract, get a spot quote, or just determine if LTL shipping is the most cost-effective option for any given freight. We have the expertise, data, and modeling capability to help you optimize your LTL strategy—and unlock the best rate every time.
Stop paying for space you don’t need. Contact us today.