As recently reported by the Journal of Commerce, revenue rose 3.9 percent at the 25 largest U.S. less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers in 2013 (see table below). In 2013, these 25 LTL carriers collectively brought in $29.5 billion in revenue (nearly 90% of the $33 billion industry total). Overall 11 of the top 25 carriers grew at a faster pace in 2013 than in 2012 (compared with only one that did that in 2012).
As the largest LTL carriers continue to command more of the overall marketplace, small businesses must be resourceful when looking to source LTL freight services so as to not get "squeezed" on price due to a reduction in the number of market players. Businesses should take the following six (6) factors into consideration when finding the most efficient LTL freight services.
- Transit Times - How fast do you need to get your shipment to your customer, or to receive your shipment from your vendor? Long-haul carriers tend to have slower transit times in regional lanes, while regional and multi-regional carriers are much faster in these lanes, but may not provide service in longer haul lanes.
- Geographic Coverage - Once you get beyond the top 10 LTL carriers, most of the remaining players provide only regionalized direct pickup and delivery services. Understanding carrier coverage areas helps you optimize which carriers are best suited for the service.
- Service Performance - On time pickup and delivery performance is not always the same. Often this depends on where you're business is located relative to the nearest freight terminals. Long-haul carriers traditionally have been known to provide low 90% delivery reliability, while regional carriers tend to provide reliability in the high 90% range. Almost all of the LTL carriers will guarantee delivery or provide deliveries that are "faster than standard" for additional fees.
- Liability Insurance Coverage - Most LTL carriers will provide liability insurance coverage to shippers at a rate of $10 per pound. Although harder to find, best-in-class coverage limits tend to be around $25 per pound. On the other end of the spectrum, some regional carriers will offer liability coverage as low as $1 per pound. However, there are many other factors that come into play such as freight classifications, whether your product is new or used, etc.
- Financial Stability - Most of the remaining LTL carriers in the industry are pretty stable from a financial standpoint. However, there are a few carriers that continue to struggle with profitability and debt issues. Anyone who may recall when industry behemoth Consolidated Freightways closed its doors in 2002 will understand the importance of not having your freight in the hands of a financially unstable carrier.
- Pricing Factors - Lastly, and perhaps most importantly for many small business, is price. When working with LTL freight carrier, there are many factors that will determine your true cost of transportation. These include:
- Discounts, base rates, and net price - most LTL carriers provide pricing in the form of discounts off of base rates, which will vary by carrier. So, a 68% discount from one carrier might actually be less expensive than a 70% discount from another. The main point to consider when comparing LTL carriers is not what the discount or the base rates are, but rather what is the final net price to you.
- Minimum charge floors - generally a flat fee under which the carrier will not discount its price. Some carriers offer big discounts, but set the minimum charge floor high which may result in less of a discount on smaller weighted shipments than you anticipated.
- Freight classification - there are 18 different classes ranging from 50 to 500. These classes are based on the density of your product and will definitely impact your overall price.
- FAK provisions - if negotiated, "freight-all-kinds" provisions may allow you to ship products with different classes under a single class from a pricing standpoint.
- Weight - volume discounts may occur as your shipment weight increases. For shipments that are over 5,000 pounds, or greater than 750 cubic feet, it's often better to negotiate a "spot rate" rather than ship using an LTL carrier's standard pricing.
- Accessorial fees - extra services performed by the carrier generally add additional fees to your overall freight bill. The fees that carriers charge for these services can often be radically different. Some of these fees can be "waived" if negotiated with the carrier (as PartnerShip often does).
There are other factors not mentioned above that need to be considered when choosing an LTL freight carrier as well, such as equipment specifications (e.g., liftgate, trailer size, etc.), scheduling flexibility, and tracking capabilities, to name a few. It's easy to see why, what may seem like a simple service of picking up a shipment and delivering it, is often more complex than meets the eye.
Generally speaking, there is almost never just one LTL freight carriers that fits every need you may have. Unless you have spare time on your hands, your best bet is to work with an established 3PL partner (like PartnerShip) that can do the "heavy lifting" for you so that you can stay focused on running your business.
Need some help evaluating your freight shipping? Need help finding the right LTL freight carriers? Let PartnerShip provide you with a free, no-obligation shipping analysis to get you started.
PartnerShip will be closed on Friday, April 18th in observence of the upcoming Easter holiday. From everyone here at PartnerShip - have a safe and happy holiday, and thank you for being our customer!
PartnerShip just wrapped up week number 5 of our "25 prizes in 25 weeks" promotion to celebrate our silver anniversary of helping small businesses save on shipping! The entries continue to come in and we are happy to announce our first five winners:*
Week 1: Gene from Texas A&M Univ. at Galveston Bookstore
Week 2: Sara from UIC Bookstore
Week 3: Jessica from Panola College Store
Week 4: Jerri from Saints Bookstore
Week 5: Angela from On Campus Marketing
Congratulations to all our winners who received a "PartnerShip 25th Anniversary Prize Pack," and thank you to those that provided us with some great pictures of their businesses (as shown to right).
We still have 20 prizes to give away over the next 20 weeks so be sure to enter if you haven’t already. Click here to enter our raffle if you are our customer or any other small business that would like to get in on the action. On our promotional website you can watch our 25th anniversary thank you video, learn more about PartnerShip, take a walk down memory lane, and, of course, enter for a chance to win a PartnerShip Prize Pack with some fun prizes such as t-shirts, piggy banks, mini basketball hoops, and more!
Check back here at The PartnerShip Connection Blog for more winners in future weeks - or better yet, click the button below to subscribe and never miss a post!
*Winners are also contacted directly.
At PartnerShip, we love everything about shipping - including trucks, boxes, and the loading of boxes into trucks! That's why - as your Freight Headquarters - we just had to share this "Truck Loader" game that we recently found online.
The game allows you to load your own freight on a truck through a series of mind bending mazes and puzzles. We invite you to spend your lunch (not worktime, of course) stacking boxes and loading trucks - we promise, it's more fun than it sounds!
You can play the Truck Loader game in the window shown below. Since PartnerShip is no stranger to friendly competition (e.g., Minute To Win It, Corporate Challenge, Fantasy Football), be sure and post your best level or time results in the comments section below. Good luck, freight stackers!
Yesterday PartnerShip released a new and improved freight quote form. The new form makes it easier for our customers to get a free, no-obligation rate quote for a variety of freight shipping needs, including:
- LTL Shipments ... for standard or guaranteed less-than-truckload freight shipments (typically between 150 and 4,999 pounds).
- Tradeshow Shipments ... for exhibit freight shipments going to or from a tradeshow, conference, or expo - or to the advanced warehouse.
- Expedited Shipments ... for shipments that require faster transit times, or time-definite delivery.
- Truckload Shipments ... for partial truckloads (sometimes called volume shipments) and full truckloads.
The new form reflects the growing demand that PartnerShip customers have for freight services that go beyond standard LTL shipments. Over the past few months, PartnerShip has expanded its carrier alliances to include dozens of new and reputable service providers that specialize in full truckloads, flatbeds, refrigerated trailers, time-definite delivery, and international shipments. Now our small business customers can quickly access these capabilities at very competitive rates using a single, quick and easy-to-use form.
If you're already a PartnerShip customer, then make sure you log in first before using the new quote forms to ensure a very personalized experience (and saving you some keystrokes along the way). If you're not sure what shipment type you have, you can always start with the “LTL Freight Quote” option. If your shipment is truly an LTL freight shipment, you will instantly get our lowest prices for standard and guaranteed delivery services with the industry’s most reputable carriers. If your shipment qualifies for tradeshow, expedited or truckload pricing, then your information will be carried over to a new form to complete the request. Of course, if you know you have a tradeshow, expedited, or truckload shipment, you can now go directly to that form and immediately start the quote process.
Whether you're new to PartnerShip, or one of our many loyal customers, we encourage you to use the new PartnerShip rate quote forms for all of your freight shipping needs. Of course, you can still reach out to us over the phone, via email or through live chat if you prefer. In every case, you can always expect great rates, consolidated billing, easy-to-use tools, and friendly service from PartnerShip - your shipping connection.
PartnerShip employees recently lended a hand to Soles4Souls to help provide shoes to Boston’s less privileged. Now, PartnerShip and Soles4Souls have entered into a new type of alliance - PartnerShip will be the endorsed Soles4Souls shipping provider and will coordinate the shipping from the donor drives to the nearest warehouse location. PartnerShip will also help Soles4Souls manage their transportation between warehouse facilities and shipments to shoe distributions in the U.S.
Soles4Souls, Inc. is a nonprofit social enterprise that advances the fight against global poverty by monetizing used shoes and clothing to create sustainable jobs and fund direct relief efforts around the world. The organization collects new and used shoes and clothes from individuals, schools, faith based institutions, civic organizations and corporate partners, then distributes shoes and clothes both via direct donations to people in need and through qualified micro-enterprise programs designed to create jobs in poor and disadvantaged communities.
Soles4Souls collects approximately 2,000,000 shoes each year through 5,000 to 7,000 donor drives taking place in any given year. A single donation drive may generate fifty pairs of shoes to three thousand pairs or more. The donors that sponsor the shoe drives are then responsible for paying freight cost to ship the shoes to the nearest of approximately 17 warehouse/distribution points around the country. Once the shoes reach one of the warehouse locations, the shoes are graded into A, B and C grades. They are then inventoried and eventually shipped to their micro-enterprise providers who pay for the freight (typically 53’ containers).
PartnerShip is excited and honored to be a small part in such a worthy cause and look forward to providing shipping solutions for Soles4Souls donors – the lifeblood of this important organization.
If you would like more information or would like to donate today, visit Soles4Souls.org. You can also visit the official Soles4Souls shipping page to set up a donation shipment at PartnerShip.com/Soles4Souls.
In case you missed it, we recently uploaded a new video to the PartnerShip YouTube Channel. The video, which is narrated by John Finucane, president and COO of PartnerShip, contains a few comments regarding the PartnerShip 25th Anniversary, our history, and a thank you message from all of our employees. If you haven't seen the video yet, we invite you to watch it here below.
The video also appears a couple of special web pages we have created specifically for our customers. One web page is for our college store customers, since they helped us get our start in the freight management business 25 years ago. The second web page is for our non-college store customers that span pretty much every other industry imaginable. Both web pages contain a copy of the video message above, and each has an entry form for customers to enter for a chance to win a small "PartnerShip Prize Pack" over a 25-week period of time. You can view the web pages and enter the weekly raffle below.
The main theme with both of the web pages above is that all of the employees here at PartnerShip are thankful for our customers, their business and their continued loyalty. We have fun doing what we do, and we hope it shows by the extraordinary service our customers receive when working with PartnerShip.
As a way to say thank you to our customers for 25 great years, PartnerShip is giving away 25 prizes in 25 weeks! Entries have been pouring in and this is the first week we are giving out a prize for this promotion. Our first winner is ...
Gene from Texas A&M Univ. at Galveston Bookstore!*
Congratulations to Gene, who won a PartnerShip 25th Anniversary Prize Pack which includes some fun items for his store! And to everyone else who didn't win this week, don't worry, you still have 24 weeks to take home a prize!
If you're a college retailer or supplier and have yet to register for this promotion, click here now. If you're one of our many customers that are involved in other industries, please visit PartnerShip.com/25th. On either of these web pages you can watch our 25th anniversary thank you video, learn more about PartnerShip, take a walk down memory lane, and, of course, enter for a chance to win some fun prizes such as t-shirts, piggy banks, mini basketball hoops, and more!
Come back The PartnerShip Connection Blog frequently - we'll be posting the weekly winners of this giveaway at the end of each month.
*The winner will also be contacted directly.
PartnerShip® is a leading shipping solutions provider to small businesses across North America and - as the only endorsed NACS and CAMEX shipping provider - the college industry remains an important customer segment for us. That is why we annually have a large presence at CAMEX - the collegiate retailing industry's meeting place for the past 80 years.
CAMEX 2014 was especially important to PartnerShip as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary this year. Once again, we sponsored opening night on Friday, hosted a special customer appreciation party on Saturday night, and used a coffee bar style booth to serve up coffee and cookies on the trade show floor Sunday through Tuesday.
Here are a few video and picture highlights from this year's event.
CAMEX is a great way for PartnerShip to say THANK YOU to our many college industry customers for their business and loyalty over the past 25 years! The following video/slide show contains pictures submitted by numerous college stores that either attended our 25th Anniversary Customer Appreciation Party at CAMEX 2014, or those that visited our 25th Anniversary College Store Appreciation website at www.PartnerShip.com/25years
PartnerShip also has shipping programs and services for non-college industry small businesses, retailers and suppliers. With over 17,000 active customers across North America, our customer base has become very large and diverse. We ship everything from shoes to auto parts, and everything in between. So, if you're one of our many non-college industry customers, we want to say THANK YOU for your business as well. In fact, if you visit www.PartnerShip.com/25th, you can watch our short thank you video and sign-up for some fun prizes we'll be raffling off throughout the year.
The new and improved PartnerShip.com website recently celebrated its one year anniversary (after being re-designed and re-launched Feb 4, 2013). Now that the cake is gone and the balloons are empty - it's time to focus on making more improvements.
To get updated ratings and input from our customers, we recently polled the many users that log in and use PartnerShip.com tools on a regular basis. Since our customers' time is precious, we threw in the added incentive of a $50 gift card which we randomly awarded to one of the survey respondents. Congratulations to Tammara at Marauder Bookstore for being our lucky winner.
Overall we had a very good response to the survey with a great cross-section of businesses located all across North America. We received some good quantitative and qualitative feedback from the survey which will help us ensure we are making the right adjustments and improvements to PartnerShip.com going forward. Although the survey results are proprietary to our management team, here are a few take-a-ways we can share publicly:
- 52% of the respondents think the website is "Excellent" overall, while another 45% think the website is "Good"
- Additionally, 64% of the respondents are "Extremely Satisfied" with PartnerShip services, while another 32% are "Satisfied"
- The PartnerShip Home page, navigation and resources were viewed favorably by most respondents, while many of our secured Tools received exceptionally high grades
- Most respondents felt the website was simple and easy-to-use, and that being able to quickly obtain rate quotes for multiple carriers and services, and then create the needed shipment documentation, were the highlights
- Ideas for improvements included being able to submit instant pickup requests to carriers online, enhancing tracking details, and adding more shipment history reporting features (I'm happy to report, many of these enhancements are in development as I write this blog post)
The feedback, suggestions and ratings in this most recent website survey will definitely help point us in the right direction - so thank you to those who participated! If you missed out on the survey, feel free to send a note to marketing@PartnerShip.com with your feedback, suggestions, testimonials, or complaints at any time.
Scott G Frederick