Being a successful brand is more than making a superior product. You also have to manage your costs. That can mean mastering things unrelated to your core strength, like inventory, quality control and marketing. When it comes to planning and executing freight shipments, managing your costs comes down to these four things:

  • Negotiating the best rates with carriers
  • Preparing shipments with accurate detailed information including class and weight
  • Accessing accurate, up-to-date location data to avoid unplanned accessorial changes
  • Auditing shipping invoices to catch and correct overcharges

That sounds easy enough, but few small- to medium-sized businesses can devote resources to maximize all four categories. Working with a third-party logistics (3PL) firm can offer the expertise you need to get better at planning and managing your freight spend. A 3PL that can broker shipments and give you access to a transportation management system (TMS) can empower you to leverage better prices and be more competitive.

Negotiating the best rates with carriers

Many small- to medium-sized businesses can and do negotiate excellent rates with carriers, which saves on their bottom line. However, a 3PL can do even more for you. A 3PL is in the business of connecting carriers with freight. Because of the volume of business they supply, they gain extra leverage to negotiate discounted rates. While your pre-negotiated rates may be cost-effective in specific lanes, working with a 3PL may help you save money in others. Even better, a TMS makes it quick and easy to price any shipment. Within seconds, you’ll have a side-by-side comparison of your current rates with those supplied by a TMS so you can choose the best price and service option and get your freight moving.

Prepare shipments with accurate class and weight

Preparing an LTL shipment with the correct weight and classification seems fundamental. But errors happen frequently. Often, the causes come down to inexperience, inattentiveness or a lack of time. Because an LTL shipment is composed of multiple components – from multiple sources, it’s easy to see how inaccurate information by the shipper can disrupt a carefully planned load. Unfortunately, inaccurate information can lead to many unexpected fees, such as a misclassification fee, a reweigh fee, a redelivery fee, etc.,   that add to the bottom line costs. However, a high-quality TMS will be programmed to flag shipments when the data doesn’t add up, so you can make corrections in the bill of lading before it’s too late.

Plan freight shipments with access to accurate location data

Not every destination has a dock at a warehouse that’s located in an industrial park right off the interstate. Carriers can and will encounter situations that add time and labor to the delivery, and that shows up in accessorial fees. Here are a few examples of the types of accessorial fees, and how they’re incurred by location.

  • High Cost Pickup/Deliver: Congested urban neighborhoods, limited space for parking and unloading, remote area, etc.
  • Limited access fees: Can occur in a non-commercial area or a commercial area if a carrier encounters road restrictions, equipment restrictions, security restrictions or inspections at sensitive sites.  Examples of limited accesses locations can be but not limited to:  a prison, school, farm or hospital.
  • Liftgate fees: Incurred when a site lacks a loading dock.
  • Residential and inside service fees: When a destination is a residence, it requires extra time, labor and equipment.
  • Diversion fee: Upon arrival, the carrier is directed to bring the shipment to a different address.

If this data is missing in the bill of lading, you’ll not only be paying unplanned accessorial fees, you’ll also encounter surcharges and perhaps even delivery delays. It’s not possible to avoid accessorial charges. The good news is a TMS has the ability to flag locations that would likely trigger accessorial fees. Having access to better data will go a long way in reducing unplanned costs.

Avoid surprise charges and rest easy that you’ve paid the accurate rate

When it comes down to it, accessorial services are an added cost to carriers. If you don’t identify the accessorial charges while setting up the shipment, carriers will charge for the appropriate service after the service has been performed. In which case an “invoice correction” fee will be added, making your shipment more costly than if the accessorial service were requested at the start. Lesson learned — always request the accessorial service at the time of shipment creation. However, if you feel you’ve been charged for a service that was never performed, a good TMS, and the operations team behind the scenes, has your back. For starters, you’ll have the information to protect you, warning you of potential overcharges. A good TMS also has a pre-audit function, which assures you that you are paying the correct charges so you don’t end up wasting time down the line resolving these irritating issues.

Let SAV help you win at freight pricing

With an intuitive and user-friendly TMS, not only will you realize cost savings in rates, but you will also receive cost savings in labor. Companies using a solid TMS have reported saving countless hours of labor cost and frustration.

Work with the SAV Transportation Group, and you can start to compare, price and create LTL freight shipments using our SaaS solution. Our highly intuitive TMS is designed by logistics professionals, so you’ll have everything you need at your fingertips to generate freight shipments at the best prices. Request a demo today.