The top 5 mistakes freight shippers made in 2019
Freight shipping can be a tough gig, especially when you’re under pressure to get more products in your customers’ hands—with timelines that seem to shrink by the day. As we turn our calendars to 2020, it’s important to acknowledge what you did well and what areas you can improve.
There’s no better place to learn than from other people’s mistakes, and that’s why we’ve compiled the top five mistakes freight shippers make. Avoid these five mistakes to start the new decade on the right foot by optimizing for safety, minimizing freight damage, and improving your bottom line.
1. Not using a TMS
Do you ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? Or that you’re drowning under quotes, tracking numbers, and paperwork? Many freight shippers can get by without a system, but after a certain point, you need software to facilitate your workload.
A transportation management system, or TMS, gives shippers more capacity to do LTL shipping right. A TMS will help you handle tasks like:
- Freight class calculation
- Freight tracking
- Warehouse organization and planning (when paired with a WMS)
Don’t make the mistake of managing your freight on paper or via email. A TMS not only keeps all of your information in one spot, but it also helps you find low-hanging fruit for cost savings, route optimization, and reporting. It’s the only way to know how you’re doing as a shipper; plus, it makes your life easier!
2. Choosing incorrect packaging
Freight damage costs shippers millions of dollars every year. While some damages can’t be avoided, plenty could have been mitigated with proper packaging. All it takes is one careless warehouse worker to ruin several pallets of freight. That’s why it’s so important to choose the right packaging from the start. If you want to avoid headaches during the freight claims process, make sure you package everything according to best practices.
By the way, if your insurance company notes that the freight was packaged incorrectly, they aren’t likely to approve your freight claim. Try palletizing your cargo, securing all loose products, wrapping your pallets in plastic, and using a weather-proof seal for starters.
3. Selecting the wrong NMFC freight class
The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) uses a freight’s size, weight, and contents to determine the shipping cost for that freight. Although the NMFC standardizes freight costs, it’s still on you to determine the proper freight class for your shipment. Get it wrong and you’ll either overpay or owe more than planned.
You don’t want to waste time or money on issues, like freight class, that could be avoided.
Everything starts with an accurate bill of lading. Carriers use the bill of lading to help you determine the price to move the freight. If you list the wrong freight class on the bill of lading, it creates problems both for you and your carrier. Select the correct freight class to only pay what you need, and not a penny more.
4. Not inspecting for damage
Damaged freight is a part of life for freight shippers. But you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you accept freight without inspecting it first. Shippers should always, always inspect freight for damages.
This is critical because, once you sign for the freight from the carrier, you’re accepting it as-is. You’ve already confirmed on the delivery receipt that the shipment is damage-free. If you go to your carrier or insurance company and claim damages, you’re going to have a hard time proving you didn’t cause those damages. Bottom line: you’re out a lot of money if you don’t inspect freight for damage.
Instead, inspect every shipment before you sign it. If you do see damage, make sure to photograph it. You’ll need to present it as evidence when filing your freight claim. Now, this might mean you spend more time inspecting the freight. But this simple step could still help you save potentially thousands of dollars in pesky freight claims.
5. Waiting to file claims
Let’s say you have a damaged shipment. That’s not ideal, but what’s worse is having your claim denied. Unfortunately, this happens if you wait too long to file your claim. After all, life moves fast in the freight world. If you file a claim in April that dates all the way back to December, too much time has passed for anyone to investigate that claim.
When in doubt, fill out your freight claims ASAP. Remember to include photos and go into detail about the damage. Make sure you follow the directions to a tee when you file your damage claim. This will increase your chances of winning the claim and recovering lost funds.
Great freight from the start
Freight shipping isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean you have to repeat old mistakes. Learn from other shippers’ missteps so you can come out as a top dog for 2020.
Oh, but if you want to avoid these five huge headaches, you can always use a digital freight broker like Flock Freight. Our FlockDirect service offers shared truckload (STL), a mode of freight transportation that pools multiple shipments onto one multi-stop truck. STL gives LTL shippers transparent tracking and improved freight protection, all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40%. See what all the fuss is about.