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Do I Need A Freight Appointment?

02.03.2019 | By AJ Todd | min. read

When you order something online or receive a shipment from an acquaintance, it’s important to anticipate when the package will arrive. Very few people have time to wait around listlessly for a knock on the door or for a phone call from the carrier.

This is easy when you’re ordering something from an eCommerce site, but what happens if a shipper is delivering your much-anticipated producT?

Shipping delivery appointments make freight delivery much easier. This gives customers a short window of time for when you can anticipate the delivery.

When you set up a delivery time with your LTL carrier, it helps you better organize your time. However, there are cases where there isn’t a pressing need for time – during a weekend, for example – in which you plan to be at your residence for most of the day. In these cases, a shipping delivery appointment isn’t needed.

Depending on your flexibility and the demands of your schedule, you should be able to make a personal assessment and determine whether or not you need a freight appointment.

However, it helps to be as informed as possible about the delivery process so that you can make the best possible choice for your schedule.

In this post, we’ll discuss how deliveries are timed, the different methods of delivery, and ways that your shipment might be delayed. Hopefully, armed with a full understanding of the shipment process, you’ll be able to determine whether or not you should set up an appointment time for your delivery.

Delivery Appointments and Notify Before Delivery

There are generally two ways for distribution centers to deliver packages. Your delivery company will ask you to choose between a delivery appointment and “notify before delivery.” See how the scheduling process works with both to see which option is right for you.

Delivery Appointments

When you sign up for a delivery appointment, you are choosing a specific window of time to accept the delivery. People generally set delivery appointments when they are under some sort of time constraint or need to have the shipment prepared for sale at a precise time.

However, when you set a shipping delivery appointment it requires a lot of planning and careful management of your schedule, and also by that of the consignee (the person or business who is receiving the shipment).

Usually, these appointments can’t be set until the freight has arrived at the destination terminal. For freight carriers that to deliver multiple packages within a day, and that have to carefully plan the logistics of their trip, they need to have all of the goods they’re expected to deliver before figuring out the most efficient way to conduct the drop-offs.

If you’re going to set up a delivery, there are a few things you should do to make sure that the freight is delivered in a timely and efficient fashion.

  • Contact the consignee before setting up a delivery time. If you fail to do so and guess at the appropriate time, it’s possible that the delivery will not be made. If the freight carrier is forced to wait around for someone to pick up the goods, they may have to move on to the next destination and circle back later.
  • Make sure the carrier has a full understanding of the appointment. Sometimes there are unanticipated factors that carriers won’t account for. The consignee needs to make clear to the individual who schedules the appointment what the delivery location is like and if there is a dock that allows the freight to be unloaded, for example.

It’s also important to note that once drivers have left the terminal with a truck full of freight, they will not return.

They have very busy schedules and need to make a lot of deliveries, and if your specific good has not made it to the terminal in time, then it is not their responsibility to circle back and pick up your goods because you’ve made a mistake. If they did, it would set off a domino effect in which all of the day’s deliveries would be late, which would be unfair to other customers and consignees and hurt the supply chain.

Special Instructions

Finally, as the individual arranging for the shipping delivery appointment, be sure to note if there are any special instructions that pertain to the delivery. While delivery appointments allow you to set a specific time for the delivery, the reality is that each delivery has different requirements once the goods have reached their endpoint. This may include special handling instructions or anything else that makes the delivery unique.

Notify Before Delivery

Compared with a shipping delivery appointment, signing up for a notification before the delivery means that the possible window of delivery is much larger. Instead of a four or two-hour timeframe, the goods can be delivered between the standard 8 am – 5 pm timeframe.

Before the carrier arrives to the destination, the dispatcher will call the consignee or recipient of the package and give them an estimated delivery time, usually within the next hour or so. That gives the consignee time to return to their residence or place of business and prepare the location to receive the delivery.

There are a few downsides to this, particularly on behalf of the carrier. Sometimes, a consignee will not answer the phone or respond to text messages, and when the truck arrives to the destination, they won’t be there to accept the delivery. When delays like this occur it greatly increases the amount of time the driver will spend making deliveries. One unresponsive consignee can push back all of the following delivery times.

If you opt for a notification before the delivery, there are a few things you should do to be considerate of the driver’s time and the time of other recipients.

  • Make sure the consignee is expecting the delivery for the day you’ve scheduled it. It’s the responsibility of the one arranging the delivery to make sure that all involved parties are aware of the time constraints and the windows of time in which the delivery might be made.
  • Make sure that the recipient’s location is prepared to receive the delivery. If the carrier arrives to the destination and is unable to unload the package given the conditions of the delivery location, this will cause delays that push back the delivery time of everyone else’s freight on the truck.

Reasons Your Shipment Might Be Delayed

Whether you make a shipping delivery appointment or if you sign up for notification before the delivery, it’s possible in both cases that your shipment will be delayed. It’s the reality of logistics that things sometimes go wrong. There are unaccounted for variables on every single trip, and while drivers and their dispatchers are well-versed in avoidance strategies, it’s always possible that a particularly disruptive circumstance may arrive.

There may be issues in warehousing, freight forwarding, or inclement weather that cause delays.

However, while there are plenty of variables on the road that can disrupt a delivery, there are also many mistakes that can be made by the person scheduling the shipment that can delay the process. It’s important to be scrupulous when filling out paperwork so that the driver knows exactly what is expected of him or her in terms of timeframes and drop-off requirements.

Unexpected Road Conditions

Technology has made carriers master logisticians. They know the best possible route before the shipment leaves the terminal and can map out with precision the most efficient route the truck should take. However, no matter how well-prepared the driver and the dispatcher are, there is always the possibility that something unexpected will happen on the road.

  • Road Closures. There are countless reasons that roads can be closed. The most common is repairs or other forms of construction, but sometimes there are envoys or spilled goods that need to be cleaned up. Whatever the case may be, there is always the possibility that the efficient route that the dispatcher has figured out will have to be rerouted.
  • They’re impossible to predict. There are times – such as inclement weather events – when the chances that an accident will occur increases, but by and large they are the ultimate x-factor and bane of efficient delivery. A bad accident can stop up a freeway for hours and miles, and if a delivery truck is stuck in that backup there’s virtually nothing the driver can do except wait it out.


Inclement and dangerous weather , such as heavy rainstorms, intense hail, or snowstorms, can greatly delay a shipment. During these weather events, a delivery driver is forced to slow down dramatically. For the safety of the driver and in order to make sure that the freight in the truck is not harmed, many carriers insist that their drivers adjust their speed until the weather event ends or they drive through it.

If you’re experiencing a bad weather event in your area, take this into account when you’re expecting your delivery. If you’re afraid that your freight might be experiencing a delay which would disrupt your schedule, get in contact with the carrier and try to verify if this is in fact the case.

Holiday Seasons

There are several points during the year when freight delays are more likely than others. One of these points is the end of the year, during the holiday season . It’s easy to guess why delays occur around this time. With so many people ordering goods and shipping things across the country, packages take much longer to arrive to their destinations because trucks are often overloaded.

When scheduling a delivery during this time of year, anticipate possible delays and make your order well in advance. This way, if you have to wrap a gift or prepare a shipment for another destination, you won’t have to grapple with frustrating delays.

Paperwork Errors

While it’s not unheard of that a carrier makes a mistake while filling out paperwork, it’s much more common that the person arranging for the delivery makes a mistake while filling things out. It’s vital to double and triple check all necessary paperwork before sending it off to the carrier. Even a single, tiny error can lead to large-scale disruption that prevents your goods from being delivered on time.

  • Customs Paperwork. When a delivery has to cross an international border, such as one between the US and Canada, the carrier must furnish proper customs paperwork in order for the goods to be transferred into the new territory. This paperwork allows the new territory to keep notes on the goods that are traveling within their borders. If paperwork is improperly filed, it’s common that shipments can be delayed at the border, and sometimes entire trucks are forced to wait while the problem is sorted out.
  • Import and Export License. If you’re exporting goods to a new territory, it’s important to make sure that you’ve acquired the appropriate licenses that allow your shipment to enter the territory. There are strict rules that prevent unlicensed goods from entering new territories, and if you think your shipment might require such a license then it’s important to obtain it as soon as possible. Get in contact with your carrier, who should be able to clear up any questions you may have regarding licensing.

The bottom line

There are various factors that affect whether or not you should opt for a notification before delivery or delivery time. In most cases, a decision can be reached by examining your own schedule and figuring out what works best for you. It’s in the best interest of both you and the carrier to have your goods delivered in an efficient fashion. Take the correct steps to ensure that you or the consignee will be able to receive the delivery at the appropriate time.

It’s also important to take proactive measures to prepare for possible delays. Be aware of the possible conditions – such as inclement weather or the holiday season – that might prevent your shipment from arriving on time. Double and triple check paperwork to make sure that you’ve properly identified the shipment and all of the requirements of the delivery. If you take these simple steps, you should be able to time your shipment and receive it at your convenience.

If you have any more questions about shipping delivery appointments, please contact us today for more information!