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Factors That Determine LTL Quotes

12.30.2019 | By Todd LaFond | 6 min. read

6 factors that determine your LTL freight quote

When booking your freight for delivery, you want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck—and that all of your necessary costs are laid out for you from the get-go. Your LTL freight estimate affects your transportation budget, which in turn has a big impact on your freight spend management.

So what components actually go into your LTL freight quote, and why do carriers charge what they do for transit and delivery? Here are six important factors that carriers weigh when issuing transport rates, so that you can keep them in mind when booking your next shipment.

Shipment weight

This one may seem obvious, but your shipment’s weight is a huge determining factor in how much you’re quoted for your LTL rates. In general, for freight to qualify as LTL, it must weigh less than 4,000 pounds. But instead of paying less by shipping lighter, you’ll actually receive a lower LTL freight quote when you ship more weight per hundred pounds—called a “weight break.”

It’s important to understand that different carriers offer different weight breaks. When you receive your proposed LTL rates, they may reflect the different weight breaks offered by each carrier bidding for your shipment.


Your freight’s density is calculated using its weight combined with its dimensions. After you determine its weight, measure your shipment’s cubic footage. The weight divided by its dimensions will give you the freight class that will go into determining your LTL freight quote.

Similar to above, the higher your freight’s density, the lower freight class it will receive (more on that below) and therefore your quote will be lower as well. As a rule, carriers prefer to ship items that take up less space as compared to their weight, because they’re able to fit more items into their truck at a time (which, in turn, increases the carrier’s revenue). Therefore, a lower shipping price acts as an incentive for you to get your freight as small and heavy as possible!

Freight class

As explained above, two major factors that go into determining your freight class are weight and density. Other qualities taken into account include:

  • Packaging
  • The value of your items
  • Whether your freight is easily stowed
  • Special handling needs
  • Liability (i.e., how likely it is that your freight may be damaged in transit)

In general, the lower the freight class that you receive, the cheaper your LTL freight quote will be.

Points of origin & destination

You can expect your freight quote to be higher as the distance it travels increases. Your carrier is roping in the driver’s time and wages, equipment costs, and other factors. If you’re shipping to a location that may have more limited access, like a rural destination, your rate will also reflect the higher level of delivery difficulty.

Also understand that some LTL carriers only operate within a specific region. If your freight needs to cross multiple zip codes, or outside of a given carrier’s region, it’ll be handed off to another carrier—and this process, called “interlining,” repeats as necessary until it reaches its final destination. All of this can affect your LTL rate.

Accessorials & fuel prices

If your freight requires any special or extra services, called “accessorials,” your LTL quote will factor in those items. These could include:

  • Residential deliveries
  • Long-haul fees
  • Trailer requirements
  • Limited access deliveries
  • Special equipment (e.g., a liftgate)

A fuel surcharge fee is also commonly added to LTL shipping estimates to cover the cost of fuel required to take your freight from pickup to delivery.

Carriers & negotiated rates

Carriers are in charge of setting their own weight breaks, LTL freight estimates, and accessorial fees. Therefore, your variance in quotes will reflect the specific carriers opting to transport your goods.

Working with a freight broker that has negotiated rates with specific carriers can give you a little more predictability when quoting your LTL shipment. And some carriers go so far as to negotiate discounted rates exclusive to their business—like Flock Freight®!

Through our Flock network of vetted and experienced carriers, Flock Freight can offer rates to all company sizes and types that are typically available only to larger businesses. Plus, the Flock Platform’s proprietary algorithm includes an LTL freight quote calculator that accurately determines your freight class and provides visibility into any required accessorials upfront—leaving no unpleasant surprises come pickup or delivery time.

Explore multiple rates that fit your budget and delivery timeline—quote your shipment with Flock Freight today.

Embrace Automation

Without exacerbating concerns of robots taking over the world, it’s a simple fact that automation speeds up LTL shipping considerably. Large companies stand to benefit the most from automated processes—using everything from moving conveyors to labeling machines can get your freight out the door faster and at less cost. Though some small businesses may not yet be at the volume that requires significant automation, there are still small things you can do to take the pressure off of your employees.

Think about the parts of your shipping prep routine that take a good amount of time, and figure out whether your industry has tools that can help you complete those tasks faster. From machines that stretch-wrap your freight for you after loading it onto a pallet, to software that remembers and auto-fills the weight and dimensions of your most frequently shipped items, there are myriad ways to automate your processes and save time. This frees up your employees to concentrate on higher-leverage tasks.

Get organized

From warehouse storage to packing and assembly to staging areas, how well you’re organized directly affects the ease and efficiency of your LTL shipping process. One easy way to do this is with product grouping—sorting and shipping items of similar freight classes together. Doing this helps erase some of the risks of claiming multiple freight classes in a shipment, such as reclass fees or even outright rejection of your delivery.

Another organization tip: Before your freight is picked up for transit, have it ready to go and staged in a logical way. The faster the carrier gets your items loaded in the truck, the faster they arrive at their final destination, alleviating any concerns of late delivery fees.

Understand & determine your accessorials

Perhaps the most commonly unforeseen—and entirely preventable—added costs that an LTL freight company faces are accessorial charges. These fees are tacked onto your bill for any extra services that a carrier provides during shipment. If you don’t know ahead of time that you’ll need some of these services, you’ll receive an unwelcome surprise when it comes time to pay for delivery.

To maximize your LTL shipment’s efficiency, always plan out what extra services or equipment your freight will need to safely travel from your warehouse to its final destination. When your carrier knows ahead of time what they’ll need to provide for transit, everything moves much more smoothly, and you’ll already know the full cost of delivery before booking your shipment.

Outsource your logistics management

One of the most frustrating and time-consuming aspects of LTL freight is the end-to-end management of the shipping process. From finding the right carrier, to booking at a fair price, to accurately creating your bill of lading, there are a number of components that an experienced freight broker can handle for you, relieving you of the hassle and allowing you to concentrate on your products. That’s where Flock Freight comes in!

A broker like Flock Freight will have established relationships with vetted carriers who work specifically with your freight classes. Our Flock Platform helps you quote and book quickly at the most competitive prices, and lets you determine all required accessorials at the outset for full transparency. 

For maximum efficiency, book FlockDirect™️. Our cutting-edge algorithm matches your LTL shipment to the right carrier and route that delivers your freight via full truckload service. Shared truckload pools multiple shipments heading in the same direction on to one multistop load. Your shipment skips the hub-and-spoke terminals and instead travels directly to its destination.

Quote your next shipment with FlockDirect today, and experience the Flock Freight difference.