10 Common Mistakes Freight Shippers Make
From missed pickups to poor packing, there are plenty of ways that things can go wrong within the realm of freight shipping. Distractions, rushing too quickly, or sometimes simple naivete can lead to costly errors which can happen to anyone—whether you’re a seasoned logistics veteran or you’re just starting out in the industry and you’re not sure how to ship LTL freight.
Luckily, the most common shipping mistakes are usually avoidable, especially when you know how to ship freight safely and what issues to look out for. Here are the most common mistakes in LTL shipping, plus some freight shipping tips to help you avoid the worst-case scenarios.
1. Poor Packaging
You may not be able to control how your goods are handled in transit, but you can definitely control how well protected they are before they leave your hands. Your shipment is only as safe as the medium you pack it in, and packaging your items poorly is all but guaranteed to leave you with damaged freight. Following your company’s freight packaging guidelines, always use the proper materials for the items you’re shipping based on their size, weight, shape, fragility, and value.
2. Forgetting About the Weather
You could package your freight perfectly, and yet if you don’t protect it from the elements, all of your hard work is wasted. Shippers without well-covered loading docks are susceptible to goods damaged by wind, rain, snow, or even heat and sun, depending on your products and climate. Keep your packing and loading area protected and seal your packaged shipment from as much exposure to the elements as possible.
3. Not Inspecting for Damage
On the flip side of the previous issues, not checking received freight for damage can leave you on the hook for costly replacements, especially if the shipment is then traveling on to another customer. Plus, signing for and accepting damaged freight without inspection means you have a far lower chance of being able to make an insurance claim once that damage is discovered.
4. Classifying Freight Incorrectly
With seemingly as many classification codes as there are stars in the sky, one can be forgiven for mixing them up from time to time. However, using the wrong NMFC code leads to a host of problems, including inaccurate quotes, raised shipping costs, reclass fees, and even damaged shipments caused by mishandled goods. Knowing your NMFC codes will go a long way toward protecting both your shipment and your wallet.
Helpful hint: Flock Freight’s transparent quoting platform makes it easy to classify your freight correctly the first time, avoiding re-class fees altogether.
5. Passing on Insurance
It may feel like an unnecessary cost, but trust us: insurance is critical. If your items are stolen from a truck or terminal, or if they’re damaged in a traffic accident or natural disaster, you’ll spend a whole lot more money replacing your entire shipment than you will insuring it against potential disaster.
6. Mistaking a Delivery Schedule for a Delivery “Guarantee”
If your shipping quote lists a scheduled delivery date without expressly noting it as “guaranteed,” don’t make the mistake of assuming it will arrive exactly on time. Shipping schedules are estimated and always subject to change. If your freight needs to arrive somewhere at a specific time, make sure you find a method that gives you complete control over your delivery schedule—like FlockDirect!
7. Delaying a Freight Claim
In the unfortunate event that loss or damage does occur, how quickly and accurately you file a claim for those goods will make or break your ability to recoup your losses. Make sure you file as soon as you realize there’s an issue. Also a major error: not taking pictures of your damaged freight. Photographic evidence can prove critical toward justifying your claim.
8. Estimating Your Freight’s Size & Weight
Whether you’re using information provided by customers or you simply think you have a keen eye, not actually measuring your freight is a one-way ticket toward incorrect classification and higher costs. This is a hugely avoidable shipping mistake—taking a bit of time at the outset to gather hard data will save you grief in the long run.
9. Shipping Without Pallets
If you skip securing your freight to pallets, you run the (very high) risk of your items flying loose and free all around the back of the truck or van. Though you may only have a few items to send out, palletizing them is a very simple way of avoiding loss or damage.
10. Misplacing the Bill of Lading
Your BOL is like your shipment’s ID card: It has every piece of critical information that needs to pass between you, the carrier, and the recipient. Without it, there’s no receipt for your goods, and your shipment is stuck in limbo. Additionally, missing or incorrect information on the BOL can delay its delivery and even cause damage to your freight.