Freight Shipping Blog

Shopping the LTL Brokers - How Do I Get the Best Price?

Posted by Rob Snowdale on Tue, May 19, 2009 @ 09:47 AM

Simply defined an LTL Broker is a non asset based (does not own or operate tractors & trailers) service company who has pricing agreements directly with LTL carriers and offers LTL pick up and delivery services through these carriers at a mark up. They bill you directly and then settle with the LTL carriers.

Using LTL Brokers as an alternative to dealing directly with an LTL carrier can in some cases provide the best LTL rates. That's what everyone wants...the world's best freight quote on every shipment, right? I am amazed at how much time and effort some small to medium sized companies spend daily in making several phone calls or accessing several web sites where they can shop their shipments for the cheapest possible discount freight quote du jour.

Far too many of these daily shoppers end up sub optimizing the competitiveness of the LTL quote they end up selecting. They are told or otherwise assume that the LTL Broker can offer a better freight price because they can use their collective volume of business to negotiate deeper pricing with the LTL carriers. This is true for the Mom & Pop shippers out there. Unfortunately a surprising number of those companies who spend hours browsing or calling for today's best discount freight quote greatly underestimate the power of their own collective volume of business when competently and professionally represented directly to the LTL carrier group.

A professionally negotiated "Core Carrier" LTL program tailored to client specific business rules and service requirements can generally deliver more competitive pricing than most LTL Brokers can offer to companies who ship as little as $30,000 to $50,000 a year or more in LTL shipments. A Core Carrier program reduces the number of LTL carriers, and properly utilizes and leverages all available inbound, outbound and third party LTL volumes. When these programs are backed up by the discipline of Route Guide implementation, Non Compliance reporting, and freight bill audit and payment services the payback is impressive. The payback can easily be measured by more competitive pricing and freeing up and redeploying  staff time spend burning up the net or dialing for dollars.

While LTL Brokers may have blanket pricing from the LTL carriers, that blanket pricing in combination with a mark up often is not your best discount freight option. The LTL carriers won't always give blanket pricing and when and if they do they are smart enough not to allow resellers to erode their client base by giving them deeply discounted pricing.

If you are dialing for dollars everyday you might want to consider contacting a transportation spend management firm who can design, deliver and implement a managed Core Carrier LTL program for you and support you in managing that program. Even after paying the management firm's fee, the savings in your LTL costs alone could be as much as 20% to 30% or more.


Think you're paying too much for your LTL Freight?  View DSi's LTL Rates in real-time to compare.          


Topics: ltl carrier, ltl carriers, ltl brokers, ltl broker

LTL Freight Consolidation, Can it Work for You?

Posted by Rob Snowdale on Tue, May 19, 2009 @ 09:36 AM

Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate, that's the mantra in today's freight shipping environment. True, it's currently a buyers market and most LTL carriers are willing to entertain a rate reduction in this, the worst freight recession most carriers have seen in a very long time. The effort to achieve discount freight rates with qualified LTL carriers who can meet or exceed service requirements is a balancing act that's been going on since deregulation. Unfortunately, many small to medium size companies and the personnel they charge with managing their freight spend have become one-trick ponies when it comes to exploring alternate means to achieve discount LTL freight rates for their domestic LTL distribution costs.

LTL carriers can only negotiate to a point. Having seen so many LTL carriers exit the market place with little or no warning, we all need to hope that those remaining LTL carriers will have sufficiently understood their internal operating costs to refrain from pricing themselves into extinction.

So you have completed your bid process and negotiated the LTL trucking carriers to their rock bottom freight rate, what's next? Some companies have seen a savings from putting a couple of 15,000 lb shipments together on a truckload carrier who will deliver both shipments en route. This methodology can be a great cost saver but for most companies who have a decent volume of LTL shipments it is underutilized and only the obvious opportunities, those that jump of the page, get looked at for freight consolidation.

LTL freight consolidation done right requires technology to master the countervailing intricacies of geography, due dates, trailer utilization, and the intersecting price points of LTL carrier rates and truckload carrier rates. Other factors such as driver hours of service availability, loading and unloading time and due dates need to be factored into a complex algorithm that ultimately produces good load planning that saves money and delivers on time. Effective freight consolidation can't be done on a piece of paper or by looking at a map.

We recently completed a project for a client shipping frozen product on pallets from Distribution Centers located in FL, OH and AZ. The client shipped 75% of their product as LTL and the balance shipped as full truckload, or where they could piece together a few larger shipments, as truckload with stop offs. We implemented our LTL freight consolidation or load optimization software for the client receiving multiple uploads daily from their order entry system. All orders carried a due date. In a matter of minutes the software calculated trip miles, driver hours, unloading times, trailer space utilization, LTL costs vs. truckload and stop off costs and a number of other parameters. The load planning provided by this software consolidated costly refrigerated LTL shipments into considerably less costly multiple stop truckloads that preserved the integrity of the due dates. After implementing this software the client's improved mode utilization mix sees them shipping 27% direct LTL, 5% full truckload and 68% truckload with stop offs. The average savings through load planning and LTL freight consolidation vs. direct LTL was 38%.

You won't find another 38% coming from further negotiations with LTL freight carriers. How much of your LTL carrier freight spend might lend itself to this application?

Learn about DSi's freight shipping services.

Topics: ltl freight consolidation, freight consolidation, ltl consolidation

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