Josh Christie is the VP of Marketing & Recruiting at D&L Transport
Less-Than-Truckload, or LTL, shipping is a $100 billion market with an annualized growth rate of 4.8% between 2017 and 2022. Not just the steady growth, but even through rough spots in the economy, LTL rates have remained solid. With most traffic handled on annualized contracts, fewer competitors, and less aggressive price competition, it can be a great way to expand your Freight Agent business. Here’s how to make LTL work for you.
LTL vs. FTL — What’s the Difference?
Less-Than-Truckload, or LTL, shipping is generally an excellent way for shippers to replenish inventory and lower their shipping and warehousing costs. The benefits also include paying only for the amount of space needed.
For freight carriers, the benefits are increased efficiency by quickly filling trucks to capacity. Plus, they can charge a higher amount for the full LTL delivery service they are offering, increasing profit over FTL shipping.
LTL’s downside for shippers and carriers is longer and more complex deliveries as the truck moves from one delivery point to another. Plus, those deliveries can result in shipments being loaded and unloaded frequently, exposing them to potential loss and damage. Then, for carriers, there are the added details for minimum and maximum weights, mapping out effective delivery routes, and determining if last-mile delivery will be required to a residential address.
LTL for Freight Agents
As an Agent, LTL requires keeping on top of quite a few more shipments. That’s where a transportation management system (TMS) can make all the difference.
It’s all about the details. You’ll need every tool available to keep up with the increased activity and detail required to pick up and deliver LTL shipments.
Plus, working with smaller shippers can grow your business while developing your expertise in this expanding area. This brings in more clients, and good word spreads about your expertise and high-quality service.
10 Keys to Successful LTL Shipping
As with so much in the transportation industry, it’s all about the details. That is particularly true with LTL shipments. So here’s our insight into what it takes to be successful with LTL shipments for your customers:
- Packaging. LTL shipments will be moved several times before they arrive at the destination. That means their packaging needs to be tip-top to minimize damage.
- Pallets. While you can ship without pallets, that exposes the shipment to damage and loss. It’s best to use pallets and correct packing, with the heaviest boxes on the bottom and lighter boxes stacked on top. And always wrap the pallet to ensure nothing falls off in the multiple moves during shipment.
- Correct Weight. Don’t guess the weight of the shipment. If the shipper can’t measure the total pallet weight, measure the boxes separately. The carrier will charge a re-weigh fee and increase the shipment cost if it’s overweight.
- Correct Class. To avoid rate discrepancies, you must add a complete description of the commodity with the class, including NMFC®. When NMFC® is not listed, the load classification is subject to the carrier’s discretion and often leads to a change in class.
- Accessorial Fees. The Agent needs to confirm with the customer if any accessorial fees or charges are required. Here’s a short list of costs to consider.
- Liftgate pick-up/delivery.
- Limited access.
- Over dimension/length.
- Appointment needed.
- Protect from a freeze.
- Time Estimates. It’s essential to ensure your client understands that you’re providing schedule and time estimates rather than guarantees. The multiple shipments within an LTL truckload can result in delays along the way.
- Confirm the Shipping Address. Always confirm the shipping address. Missed deliveries and redeliveries add to the cost and delay the shipment.
- Bill of Lading Accuracy (BOL). The bill of lading is a legal contract between the shipper and the carrier. Therefore, it needs to have all the details accurately recorded.
- Inspection on Delivery. The shipment must be thoroughly inspected before signing the BOL. Once signed, it signifies a delivery with no damage, and any damage found later cannot be pursued with the carrier.
- Freight Insurance. Don’t ship without freight insurance. LTL is subject to far more handling and can experience damage. In addition, while carrier liability can be pursued, it typically has a limit.
LTL Shipments — We’ve Got What You Need to Succeed
Is your current Freight Agent Program up-to-speed with LTL shipments? Do they provide the support and systems you need to expand into this aspect of logistics to serve your existing clients better and add new ones? The good news is that D&L can provide precisely what you need.
D&L has a dedicated LTL team focused solely on Agent support. Our team was established to provide a resource to our Agents for LTL load accuracy and ensure profitability. Learn more about our LTL team and new LTL Platform.
For insight into our Freight Agent program, check out our BETTERLIFE™ with D&L video series. We talk to our Agents and select subject matter experts to help you navigate the challenging world of the Freight Agent.
Of course, we feel that our Freight Agency program is the best in the business. To see for yourself, look at our Agent Opportunities page. You can also hear directly from our successful Agents. Then, get in touch, and we can get started.
Call toll-free: 866.559.0203. Or complete the form at D&L Agent Requirements.
D&L Transport. Your Family in Freight.