Comparing Freight Shipping QuotesWritten by Neal Willis
Shippers often contact multiple LTL freight carriers to find the least expensive freight rate. It’s important to keep in mind that carriers price freight according to many different dynamics. In order to obtain the most accurate freight rate quote possible, a carrier needs to know several pieces of information about the shipment, including the freight class, shipment weight & dimensions, and origin & destination address. You will also need to know if any special equipment and/or additional services are required of the carrier at the origin or destination point, such as lift gate or inside delivery.
Freight class is determined by the NMFC and can be found in their classification guide. Most LTL carriers and 3PLs can help you determine the appropriate commodity class if you don’t know what it is.
Weight & Dimensions
The weight of the shipment provided to the LTL carrier should include all of the packaging and/or pallets that accompany the freight. Additionally, you’ll need to know the dimensions of the freight, which includes the packaging and/or pallets along with the total number of pallets/pieces.
Origin & Destination
In addition to the street name and numbers, the carrier needs to know if the location from which they’ll be picking up or delivering is commercial or residential. A residential delivery costs more for the carrier to perform than a commercial delivery. A carrier may be able to simply back up to a dock while the shipper and/or consignee handles the loading and unloading of the freight for a commercial delivery, whereas residential deliveries generally require the use of a carrier’s equipment, such as a lift gate, and usually take more time to complete due to the narrow roads within residential neighborhoods.
Special Services & Equipment
The carrier needs to know if any special services and/or equipment is needed at pickup or delivery. Not to mention the costs of maintenance associated with the actual equipment itself, the use of such equipment generally costs the carrier more to operate as it demands more time at pickup and/or delivery. For example, even though a shipment is being delivered to a commercial address, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a lift gate isn’t needed. If the shipper or consignee doesn’t have a forklift to offload a heavy freight shipment, the carrier will need to lower it off the truck with a lift gate, which requires the driver to spend more time making the delivery.Once all of the rate quotes are received back from the carriers for a shipment, the shipper can then determine which carrier they’d like to handle the shipment. While cost may be an important factor, shippers should also compare transit times along with rates. In a situation where product is needed rapidly, if the least expensive carrier has the longest transit time, then it might be worth it for the shipper to spend a few dollars more on a carrier with a better service record.
Carriers routinely provide shippers with an estimated standard transit time for shipments. It’s important to note that transit times provided by LTL carriers are only estimates and are not guaranteed. Unless expedited or guaranteed service is specifically selected and/or requested, the standard transit time is simply an estimate that’s indicative of the time it normally takes the carrier to deliver a shipment in a particular lane based on historical transit time performance in that given lane.
Freight shipping quotes can be obtained by several different methods. Most LTL carriers provide shippers with the ability to obtain rate quotes online from their website, and shippers generally have the option of being able to call or email the carrier for a freight rate quote. No matter the method used to get a freight quote, it’s not nearly as important as the accuracy of the information provided to the carrier for computing it.