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The PartnerShip Connection is your small business resource for industry tips, trends, and opinions in the world of shipping. This blog is co-authored by various members of our PartnerShip LLC staff.

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Freight Shipping Documents 101


PartnerShip Bill of LadingIf you’re new to freight shipping, there are a few documents you will come across frequently that you may be wondering what they are, why they are used, and what the differences of each are. For instance, what’s the difference between a freight bill and a bill of lading; what do BOL and POD stand for; and what is a weighing-and-inspection report? Knowing these documents and their purpose can help avoid misunderstandings that might undermine an otherwise mutually beneficial business relationship between you and your third party logistics provider, carriers, suppliers, or even customers.

What is a Bill of Lading?

The bill of lading, or BOL as it often called, is a required document to move a freight shipment. The BOL works as a receipt of freight services, a contract between a freight carrier and shipper, and a document of title. The bill of lading is a legally binding document providing the driver and the carrier all the details needed to process the freight shipment and invoice it correctly. The BOL also serves as a receipt for the goods shipped. Without a copy signed by the carrier, the shipper would have little or no proof of carrier liability in the event the shipment was lost or destroyed.

When you schedule a shipment through PartnerShip, the BOL is automatically generated based on the shipment details entered during the quoting and shipment creations process. You are welcome to use our BOL or you can use your own if your order system already generates one. Either way, the BOL should be provided to the carrier on pick up and will be delivered to the consignee on delivery.

When composing a BOL, it is important to provide weight, value, and description of every item to be shipped. The BOL spells out where the freight will be collected, where it will be transported, and any special instructions on when and how the freight should arrive. Traditionally, the BOL also serves as title to the goods thus described; in other words, it can serve as an official description of loan collateral.

What is a Freight Bill?                                        

Freight bills, or freight invoices, are different from bills of lading in that they do not serve as a key piece of “evidence” in any dispute. The freight bill is the invoice for all freight charges associated with a shipment. While freight bills should match up closely to their BOL counterparts, they can also include additional charges (such as accessorials), information, or stipulations that serve to clarify the information on the BOL. When you are looking for an “invoice” to examine as part of a shipping analysis, you will generally use the freight bill rather than the original BOL since it will have the freight cost information on it.

In effect, freight bills are similar to other invoices for professional services your business might collect. Although they may seem less important during the freight shipping process, they should be retained long term. Because PartnerShip both automatically audits every one of our customers’ freight bills, we have been able to avoid many cases where human error or carrier mistakes would have led to erroneous charges on your freight bill. PartnerShip customers can easily access copies of their freight invoices online at PartnerShip.com.

What is a Proof-of-Delivery?

A proof of delivery, or POD, is a document that is used when a shipment is delivered. The consignee signs this document to confirm delivery. Some carriers will have the consignee sign the BOL as confirmation of delivery, in other cases, carriers will use their own delivery receipt (DR), or even a copy of the freight bill. The consignee, when accepting delivery of the goods, should note any visible loss or damage on the delivery receipt (or whatever is used as the POD). It is your right as the freight shipper to request a copy of the POD at any time.  PartnerShip is available to help customers retrieve PODs upon request, and we’ll soon provide access to carrier PODs through our own PartnerShip.com website.

What is a Weighing and Inspection Report?

A weighing and inspection report, or W&I report, is a document you may encounter less frequently. The W&I report comes into play as part of a carrier’s process to inspect the freight characteristics of a shipment to determine that it accurately matches the description that is on the BOL. If the actual shipment weight is different (i.e., weighs more) than the weight that is shown on the BOL, then a W&I report is completed noting the change.

When a customer receives a freight bill with charges greater than what was originally quoted, often times this is due to this sort of weight discrepancy.  The customer has the right to request a copy of the W&I report from the carrier if needed to confirm the re-weigh was performed and is valid. Again, PartnerShip is available to help customers retrieve W&I reports upon request, and we’ll soon provide access to these carrier documents (pending carrier availability) through our own website.

What is a Cargo Claims Form?

A cargo claims form, or simply claims form, is a document that carriers will require a customer to complete if there is any sort of shortage, loss, or damage "claim" with a shipment. A claim is a demand in writing for a specific amount of money that contains sufficient information to identify the shipment received by the originating carrier, delivering carrier, or carrier in which the alleged loss, damage, or delay occurred within the time limits specified in the BOL.

Claims should be filed promptly once loss or damage is discovered. Time limit for filing a claim is 9 months from date of delivery, or in the event of non-delivery, 9 months after a reasonable time for delivery has elapsed. If a claim is not received by the carrier within this time, payment is barred by law. A claim may be filed by the shipper, consignee, or the owner of the goods. Be certain to clearly show the name and complete address of the claimant. If you need help filing a claim with a carrier, feel free to contact PartnerShip and we'll help you the process to ensure your best interests are protected. Claims forms are available online at PartnerShip.com for most of our freight carriers.

PartnerShip is here to help

I hope this brief freight document primer was of some help to you. As always, your friends here at PartnerShip stand ready to help our customers every step of the way through the shipping process. We know you have a business to run, that’s why you can count on PartnerShip to help you get the best shipping rates, the best carriers, and the best service for your LTL freight, truckload, expedited and tradeshow shipping needs. If you need access to any blank forms or documents for shipping, such as a bill of lading (LTL or Truckload), cross-border documents, or carrier claims forms, be sure to check out our Shipping Forms on PartnerShip.com (under the TOOLS menu). 

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By Scott Frederick

PartnerShip Employees Reflect on 25th Anniversary


PartnerShip 25th Anniversary EmblemIn case you missed it, PartnerShip is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. In March of this year we produced a thank you video for our customers. For this video, we recorded a message from PartnerShip president and COO, John Finucane, as well as some short video clips of our office and employees. I think the video turned out very nice, and we actively showcase it on 25th Anniversary Thank You Page, and on the PartnerShip YouTube Channel

Although we didn't include it in our final customer thank you video, during our March video shoot we also interviewed a few PartnerShip employees and asked them to reflect on the company, our culture, and our 25th anniversary. We received some great, heartfelt comments from the brave employees that stepped in front of the camera and microphone; so I'd like to share them in this special video presentation. This is a true testament that PartnerShip is a great place work - with a genuine focus on customer service, teamwork, family values ... and having fun while doing it.

If you're interested in joining the PartnerShip team, please visit the Careers page on PartnerShip.com to see what opportunities may be open within our organization.

By Scott Frederick

PartnerShip Customer Service FAQs


PartnerShip FAQsI recently asked Jennifer Hammersmith, customer service manager for PartnerShip, what are the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) that the PartnerShip customer service staff receives from our customers and prospects? While this was not a scientific poll by any measure, her staff of customer service representatives (CSRs) came back with the following list of FAQs, along with an answer for each.

Can I get a quote?

Absolutely! We try to make it easy and painless for anyone to get a free, no-obligation quote from PartnerShip. If you're comparing rates, tell us the rate or rates you have so far, and we'll quickly tell you if we can beat them. You can call for a quote over the phone at 800-599-2902 option 1, you can get one online at www.PartnerShip.com/Quote, or you can even Live Chat us for a quote.

Can you get a PRO tracking number for me?

Yes, if you booked a shipment through PartnerShip, you can call us at 800-599-2902 option 1 for the tracking number or to obtain tracking information. You can also track your shipments online using our simple Track Shipment tool.

Can you tell me when my freight is going to deliver?

We will do our best based on the information provided to us by the carrier you selected for your shipment. If you use our online Track Shipment tool, there is an "Estimated Delivery Date" field which contains the carrier's projected delivery date. If you log in to PartnerShip.com, you can get ETAs for all of your shipments in one report using our Shipment History tool.

Can you give me my username and password for the PartnerShip website?

For security reasons, our CSRs can only provide you with your username and a new, temporary password. You can also use our online Forgot Username or Password? tool and we will send you the missing credentials in an email.

Is there a fee to be in your program?

Absolutely NOT. There are no fees or hidden costs when you enroll in a PartnerShip shipping program, or when you use a PartnerShip shipping service. Our association shipping programs are limited, however, to actual members of the associations for which PartnerShip is endorsed. But the only real difference between our association programs and our standard shipping services are the FedEx small package discounts will vary by association. Other than that, all of our freight shipping services (LTL, Truckload, Tradeshow, and Expedited) our free of charge and available to anyone. It's really just about PartnerShip using its buying power to get you the best rates we can.

Can you schedule a pickup for me?

We sure can! PartnerShip has direct phone lines with all of the major carriers, and we're always happy to help you schedule your pickups. We can also schedule LTL carrier pickups online through our in-house TMS software. Or if you'd prefer, you can schedule LTL carrier pickups online as well by logging in to PartnerShip.com and using the Pickup Request tool which is shown after you quote and create your shipment online. Whether you ask PartnerShip to schedule your pickup, or if you do it yourself, you'll want to make sure you provide clear instructions and "dock hours" for when you'd like your shipment picked up.

It is almost close time and the driver is not here yet to pickup my freight shipment.  Can you find out where the driver is?

Late pickups can be frustrating, but they occasionally happen as drivers get detained with earlier pickups, encounter trailer capacity issues, are caught in heavy traffic, etc. Typically there are no online tools to help with pickup statuses. As always, PartnerShip is happy to help if we can by calling the carrier and trying to secure a time commitment from the carrier's dispatch team. However, often times it makes sense for you to call the carrier directly in the event you need to work out a new time or solution. If you are comfortable doing that, we can help setting up the call if needed.  

You quoted me $______ but my invoice was for $_____  more than that.  Why is the cost so much higher than the quote? 

In most cases a difference between your final invoice and the quotes costs is a result of weight differences. For instance, when you requested your quote, you may have indicated 500 pounds. However, after the carrier picked up the shipment, they "re-weighed" it and determined it actually weighs 550 pounds. This could impact your price slightly. Other factors that may result in a higher invoice cost are generally due to accessorial fees that were unaccounted for in the quote. For instance, maybe your customer requested liftgate delivery service at time of delivery, or maybe your freight was "oversized" (generally, greater than 12' in length). For these reasons, it's always best to provide the most detailed and accurate information to PartnerShip when you are getting a rate quote.

What is the freight class for my product?

If you're new to LTL freight shipping, determining your correct "freight class" may seem a like a challenge. No worries, you can call your friends at PartnerShip and we'll help you determine the correct freight classification for your shipment. If you'd prefer, you can also use our Find Your Freight Class form to request our assistance online. 

There you have it ... unscientifically some of the most frequently asked questions of the PartnerShip customer service staff. Did we miss any questions you may have? If yes, drop us note by visiting our Contact Us page (or click the button below). Thank you for allowing us to assist you!

Contact Us

By Scott Frederick

The 2014 Summer Fancy Food Show


Summer Fancy Food ShowPartnerShip, as in years past, exhibited again at this year's Summer Fancy Food Show - North America’s Largest Specialty Food & Beverage Event. The event was held in New York City from June 29th - July 1st and featured 180,000 products including confections, cheese, coffee, snacks, spices, ethnic, natural, organic and more. The show also boasts 2,400 exhibitors from 80 countries & regions.

Highlights from the show included:

  • The 2014 sofi Awards Ceremony – a red carpet awards ceremony acknowledging the best innovations and tastes of the past year. Check out who took home the gold this year.
  • Business Builders – a free "match-making" program for exhibitors and attendees
  • Numerous educational programs – ranging from “The Business of Specialty Foods to “The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2014”
  • Exhibitor Showcases – the over 2,000 exhibitors always bring new, innovative products that make this show what it is
In addition to the above show highlights, PartnerShip also gave away a $100 gift card to one lucky entry from the show. Congratulations to Cara from Texas Hill Country Olive Company for being our lucky winner.*

Since PartnerShip is the endorsed company that manages the Specialty Food Association Shipping Program, is an important relationship-building event for us. Harry Centa, senior program manger for PartnerShip, attended the show to spread the good word about the PartnerShip services and discounts available to SFA members for small package and freight shipping. Harry also had a chance to take a few great pictures at the show that capture the sights, energy, and fun that this show offers year in and year out. See our Flickr slide show below for the highlights.

*The winner will also be notified directly.

Independence Day Carrier Closures and Holiday Facts


PartnerShip and our carrier partners will be closed July 4, 2014 in observance of Independence Day, but we will reopen for normal business hours on Monday, July 7. For questions about these closures and how they may affect shipments - or if you'd like us to notify specific carriers of the days/hours that your inbound receiving will be closed - please contact us at 800-599-2902 or send an email to sales@PartnerShip.com.

We all know what makes the 4th of July great: fireworks, hotdog eating contests, parades, and cookouts, just to name a few. But at PartnerShip, we wanted to share some lesser known facts with you about the United State and its birthday. The infographic below lists some interesting facts about Independence Day that are sure to make you the hit of your barbeque this year.

From everyone here at PartnerShip – enjoy the fireworks and have a safe 4th of July!

Special Report: New DIM Rules Will Impact Small Package Shipping


DIMpricingAs we covered in an earlier post, FedEx announced that dimensional weight (DIM) pricing will apply to all ground shipments, effective January 1, 2015. UPS recently followed suit and announced they will be making the same change. This means that instead of charging by weight alone, all ground packages will now be priced according to size as well. This is a significant change from the rating structure in place today and it could ultimately mean an additional increase in your small package shipping costs. 

To help you determine what this pricing change will mean for you and your business in 2015, we've put together a special report. Click here or on the button below to download your free copy, and be on the lookout at the end of the year for our comprehensive white paper on the 2015 small package general rate increases (GRI). 

Download the DIM Weight Pricing Special Report

As noted in our special report, one of the best ways to offset these upcoming small package rate increases is to secure additional discounts through your association or industry group. PartnerShip offers association members discounts on select FedEx® services. If you’re not sure if you qualify for one of our small package shipping programs contact us and we’ll find the solution that’s right for you. 

Association Members Can Take Advantage of Exclusive Offers From FedEx Fridays


FedEx Fridays Espresso Square 052314As part of our alliance with FedEx, we recently introduced a special promotion called “FedEx Fridays” for members participating in an association shipping program managed by PartnerShip. When members enroll in one of our association shipping programs by August 15, 2014, they’ll be automatically signed up to receive an exclusive offer every week from FedEx Fridays. Members already participating in one of our association shipping programs are also able to take advantage of these rewards. Offers can include Starbucks® and iTunes® gift cards, discounted offers from FTD and LivingSocial, and much more.

FedEx Fridays is a great way to reward association members enrolled in a PartnerShip shipping program and celebrate their hard work and accomplishments. We’re looking forward to participating in this campaign with FedEx and giving back to our association customers. Even after the promotion ends, members enrolled in one of our association shipping programs will continue to receive significant discounts on select FedEx® services.

PartnerShip works with over 120 major trade associations, across many industries, to provide their members with time- and money-saving tools to help them be successful in all facets of shipping and logistics. If you belong to an association we work with, take advantage of our free shipping benefits today and get in on FedEx Fridays. If you’re not sure if you qualify for one of our association shipping programs contact us and we’ll find the solution that’s right for you.

Case Study: Clean Truckload Savings


Clean Truckload SavingsBusiness Overview

Midwest-based anti-bacterial soap and cleaning products manufacturer with strong growth secures large customer on the West Coast.  Their customer is now placing full truckload orders on a monthly basis.  

Business Challenges

The soap manufacturer tries to use LTL carriers to fulfill its West Coast orders but encounters issues with double-stacking damage, expensive shipping rates, and poor delivery service. They switch to a broker-based solution but the carrier selected for service lacked the professionalism they wanted for their product delivery, and does not provide exclusive use of the trailer. Current annualized shipping cost for this monthly truckload move is over $50,000.  The shipping coordinator also wears many hats and does not have the luxury of time to talk to numerous carrier representatives in person or over the phone. She has a preference for quick, business-direct email communications.  

PartnerShip Solution

PartnerShip reviews the soap manufacturers’ truckload shipping needs.  The PartnerShip truckload brokerage manager researches current carrier agreements and national load boards to find a low-cost, reliable, and safe carrier option. PartnerShip negotiates new rates on shipper’s behalf, saving them over $100 per load.  The PartnerShip account representative – respectful of the shipping coordinator’s time – details the proposal in an email. All follow-up communications are also email-based as preferred by the shipping coordinator. 

Additionally, the shipper is signed-up for the PartnerPerks™ customer loyalty program where they can earn up to $100 in gift cards per quarter (they are currently using the gift cards to help fund their internal employee-wellness program).   So far the soap manufacturer is saving nearly $2,000 annually on this one, monthly truckload move to the West Coast. They are also pleased with the carrier and driver that are routinely handling the move, and service has been perfect. They especially appreciate the regular email updates on the status of the load – from pickup to final delivery. Their West Coast customer has even increased its orders!

If you'd like to create a successful truckload case study of your own, request a FREE shipping analysis or a FREE truckload rate quote from PartnerShip today.

  Get a FREE Shipping Analysis!     Get a FREE Truckload Quote!

By Scott Frederick


Does building better pallets result in better shipping?


PalletBy now we all know the basic elements of freight shipping: boxes, trucks, and pallets. Over time, trucks are made to be faster and more efficient, and boxes are made bigger and stronger ... but what about pallets? Is anyone attempting to change or enhance this overlooked aspect of the shipping equation? Is there even a way to improve on the standard wood and nails format that is seen on shipping docks across the country?

Turns out - as reported on by NPR - plenty of pallet companies around the world are thinking about this very matter. One company in particular, CHEP, has been incorporating better materials and new engineering to make their pallets stronger, easier to move, and inevitably more expensive. However, innovation also came with the way this company sold their pallets to customers - by not selling them at all.

Give a listen to this short 4 minute NPR sound clip to see how CHEP “built a better mousetrap” and changed the way we looked at the shipping industry and the components that drive it:

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PartnerShip Ramps Up New Truckload Brokerage Services


PartnerShip Truckload ServicesAs announced last week, PartnerShip has recently expanded its service offerings to include full-service truckload solutions. Through our new Truckload Brokerage Services offering, we're able to deliver competitive rates and – even more importantly – valuable truck capacity to our customers. Services include full or partial dry van, flatbed, refrigerated and other specialized equipment options.

“We surveyed our entire customer base early last year, and truckload services were identified as a strong area of need,” said John Finucane, president and chief operating officer for PartnerShip. “For the past few years, our focus has been on providing our customers with high-quality, low-cost small package, less-than-truckload (LTL) and tradeshow shipping services. Adding a more robust truckload service makes PartnerShip a complete small-, medium- and big-shipment logistics partner for our customers – many of which don’t have the resources or expertise to secure competitive rates or equipment on their own in this tight-capacity market segment.”

Developing a competitive truckload services offering was no easy task. Although truckload comprises the largest portion of the domestic freight transportation market (truckload Truckload Brokerage Managerrepresents 38% of the $800B total), it’s also very fragmented, with many small carriers and brokers competing for limited drivers and trucks to pickup and delivers their loads. Building relationships with carriers and developing a sound “on-boarding” process is critically important. That is why PartnerShip recently tapped Polly Gordon to assume the role of truckload brokerage manager and to lead a staff that focuses exclusively on finding carriers, reviewing their safety and performance records, and securing the most competitive truckload rates for its customers.

“In a short period of time, we’ve signed service agreements with hundreds of national, regional and specialized truckload carriers,” said Polly. “We also actively participate in major industry ‘load boards’ where PartnerShip can post loads, find carriers, and determine market rates for pretty much any shipping lane in North America. We’ve found that a combination of direct carrier relationships and load boards provides us the intelligence and tools we need to secure capacity and very competitive rates with thousands of carriers for our customers – all backed with the PartnerShip trademark of fast-and-friendly customer service.”

Carrier Procurement RepAnother key individual supporting PartnerShip Truckload Brokerage Services is Mike Rankin as carrier procurement representative. Mike is responsible for working directly with carriers to assist them with the PartnerShip on-boarding process, facilitate rate quotes, and execute the movement of loads.

Carriers interested in working with PartnerShip can send an email to Carriers@PartnerShip.com or call 800-599-2902. Businesses interesting in trying PartnerShip Truckload Brokerage Services can obtain a free, no-obligation rate quote at any time by visiting www.PartnerShip.com/TLquote (or just click the button below).

Get a FREE Truckload Quote!

By Scott Frederick
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