LTL Shipping: 10 Common Mistakes

Author PhotoBlueGrace Logistics

LTL shipments can be a perfect augment to your shipping abilities, especially when you don’t have enough freight to send a full truckload but don’t want to delay a shipment. However, as with anything, the more moving parts you have, the more opportunities there are for error.

LTL mistakes are pretty common and they can add up quickly, eroding your shipping budget. However, these mistakes are easy to avoid when you’re insightful.

Here is a list of the ten most common mistakes shippers make when shipping LTL freight and how to fix them.

1. Going it Alone

LTL is complex. While the spirit of independence is great, it can also create a near-sightedness within an organization’s operations. In order to save money, many shippers attempt to manage all of their LTL shipments on their own, which presents opportunities to make mistakes.

The strong relationships that 3PL’s hold with LTL carriers also lead to highly competitive rates that are then passed to you.

Solution: Partnering with a 3PL that specializes in LTL can take the bulk of the responsibility off your shoulders. They know to ask the right questions that provide the best solutions and carrier options. The strong relationships that 3PL’s hold with LTL carriers also lead to highly competitive rates that are then passed to you. Beyond the competitive rates, working with the right 3PL that has a strong TMS system can simplify your LTL freight shipping process even more, allowing you to get back to focusing on your day to day operations.

2. Not Insuring Your LTL Freight

Theft, traffic accidents, and natural disasters, etc. are all potential hazards to damage freight, leaving your company to pay for the damages.

Solution: Just like your car and your body, insurance is there to cover the result of a “what if” becoming a reality. Having the right amount of coverage can give your company peace of mind while your shipment is in transit, as well as protect your profit margins should the worst come to pass.

3. Poor LTL Packaging = Damaged Products and High Costs

Although shipping freight will always run the risk of damage, LTL shipments go through multiple locations, being loaded and unloaded from a number of different trucks until reaching their final destination. This poses a higher risk for damage if not packaged properly, which results in high claims costs, and unhappy end customers.

Solution: Proper packaging will protect your freight during shipment, making sure everything gets to its destination in the best possible condition. This helps to avoid the claims process that isn’t just expensive, but also time consuming.

4. “Where’s this LTL shipment going again?”

It happens to the best of us. Data entry errors can easily result in costly delays of your shipments.

Solution: Double check your shipping addresses (both beginning and final) before any shipment is scheduled. It sounds obvious, but you might be surprised by the number of shipments that end up in the wrong location because of this.

5. What Happens when You Assume when Shipping LTL

Delivery schedules are nice because it gives you a time frame as to when your package will arrive at its intended destination. A common mistake shippers make is to assume that freight will arrive by the estimated delivery date.

Solution: Employing a visibility software solution or utilizing those of a 3PL partner can give you accurate, real-time data that allows you to see where your shipment is during all phases of transit. This allows better communicate of information to your customers.

6. Don’t Stick to One Mode for LTL Transportation

Many shippers believe that air freight is always faster. That’s not always true.

Solution: Every mode of transportation has its strengths and weaknesses. Depending on where it’s going, ground freight can actually be faster, more cost effective and more efficient than air freight. Explore all your options and choose the best one for your freight.

7. The “Set it and Forget it”

Shippers tend to trust their carriers implicitly and believe that shipments will be fine once it’s loaded on the truck.

Visibility is key.

Solution: Visibility is key. Having software that allows you to follow the progress of your shipment and get up-to-date notifications of the delivery process will allow you to adjust your supply chain accordingly.

8. Paying Too Much For Shipping

Rates fluctuate on the regular, and are influenced by a number of ever changing factors. Shippers can easily blow their shipping budget by shipping freight with the wrong carrier.

Solution: Shopping for rates can be a time consuming endeavor. Use a technology platform that allows you to compare all the rates of carriers in one place so you can pick the right carrier at the right price.

9. Choosing the Wrong LTL Service

When deadlines get tight, mistakes happen. Too many mistakes can leave a customer with a bad taste in their mouth.

Solution: It’s good business to ensure that your customer’s shipping expectations are met. Do your best to not only find the best rate for you, but also the best solution for your customer’s needs. Sometimes paying a little extra on your end is best if it keeps a good customer coming back for more.

10. The Cost of Guessing your LTL 

This is one of the most common errors shippers can make and is one of the most easily avoidable. LTL carriers charge based on dimensions, weight, and density.

Solution: Make sure you collect your freight dimensions and certify them if possible. Armed with that, it’s easier to refute a re-class fee if the carrier decides that your package isn’t in spec.

Being Proactive vs. Reactive with LTL

Keeping these 10 things in mind will help your business be better prepared and proactive in your LTL freight shipping strategy and execution.