If you’re looking for a carrier to support your next freight shipping, you need to know there’s more than just a matter of price, there are many factors to consider when choosing a carrier. First, you need to evaluate your unique situation and set priorities according to your special needs. Your decision should not be based on cost, it also needs to take other variables into consideration that may affect your performance, your experience, and your shipping KPIs.
To help you with the selection process, we have highlighted some of the most important factors to consider when you’re selecting a carrier.
- Reliability and Safety: It’s important to take all safety measures before giving away your freight. Before doing business with a carrier, you must be able to trust that your back is covered by a reliable company, and the service is going to be successfully fulfilled. One way to verify if a company is trustworthy is by checking the motor carrier’s safety and performance. You can find this information by typing the name of the company or using the U.S DOT # on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration page. In here you will find the number of vehicles the company own, miles traveled, the number of drivers, inspections, safety rating, total crashes, the national average, carrier operation, among other important information. With these details, you are going to be able to determine if this company is reliable enough to do business with. Without a consistent carrier, a shipper’s reputation can easily fall. It’s important to verify the level of service, how long the carrier has been in the marketplace, their reputation, etc.… In the end, you need more than cheap rates, you need a stable partner to enjoy peace of mind and keep growing your business.
- Responsiveness and Good Customer Service: Great communication is a must! If you have an urgent inquiry, if you need to make some changes before delivery, or if you missed something and want to add it as a novelty, you need to have omnidirectional communication with your carrier and have feedback right away. Make sure to check if the carrier you’re choosing provides updates, notifies you when an issue arises, delivers on time, etc.
- Shipment Tracking: A good carrier will be constantly informing you about your freight location and status, this will help you stay aware of any delays or route changes. Also, shipment tracking can help you reduce expenses, and will help you make timely decisions along the way.
- Type of Services: This goes back to the first question, what do you need? Do you have a time-sensitive order, and it needs to meet a deadline? If so, it’s important to understand the type of LTL services available and make sure your carrier can perform both. If you have an order with specific timeframes to meet, then you’ll need a guaranteed service (this mode only guarantees delivery and not pickup), if you have enough time, then you can go ahead and ask for a standard service. Make sure to double-check if this company is providing the services you’re looking for, and if they have all the requirements to meet your needs.
- API Capabilities: It’s important to verify the technology the carrier has to offer, and one appealing capability to look up is the possibility of connecting your system with theirs so you can have real time information, updates, quoting, dispatching and more in one place.
- Geographic coverage (Regional, Nationwide): It’s important to understand the area your carrier covers, and the experience working in those places. You need to verify if your carrier is experienced operating in those locations, and make sure they can handle the traffic lanes you’re requiring. As a small recommendation, when you’re working with short lanes, choose local carriers, they are effective and efficient. With this pro tip you will save money and time.
- Transit times: You’re happy with the price but are you’re overlooking this important factor? This could cause you late deliveries and issues along the way. It’s vital to know the regular transit times a carrier works with and if they usually stick to the plan and deliver on time. This will be tied to the specific needs, but a partner with different options and the possibility to deliver quickly will be useful.
- Liability: Having a responsible carrier with decent liability will save you from bad times. This liability covers damage or loss which occurred due to negligence in the shipping process and each carrier ensures only a certain amount of liability. It’s recommended to acquire full-coverage freight insurance to avoid total loss in case of damage or theft.
- Sustainability: Now more than ever it’s important to support companies that are working towards an environmentally conscious business model. Even though this is not a factor considered most of the time, this is something that it’s important to look at and see! If the carrier demonstrates commitment to reduce their carbon footprint and prioritize sustainability and environmental awareness throughout their shipping processes, this is a company that is working to improve and be friendly with the planet.
- Additional services: If your freight has special handling requirements, equipment, or any accessorial, make sure to check before if this carrier can have your back, and if there’s going to be an added cost. This will help you avoid additional charges on your final invoice.
It’s vital to not only look at prices but also make sure the carrier you’re about to select can meet your needs in a timely manner, focus on value, and not only price. There are many variables to consider before giving your freight to a company as we show you here, so we encourage you to plan ahead to have the time to evaluate, check references and match the information found. If you need help choosing a carrier, at GLT we have carrier compliance processes and we make sure they can meet your needs along with a team of experts that will give you the best advice to your specific needs.