Small Business, Big Shipments: How to Choose the Right LTL Freight Shipping for Your Business

You need to make a shipment for your business, but you don’t quite need the space of an entire truckload. 

You’d love to be able to avoid having to pay for shipping space that you don’t really need. Especially if you’re a small or new business, the costs of getting your goods or raw materials where you need them to go can be an enormous expense. 

After all, shipping costs have recently hit a record high in the United States. 

You don’t want to have to drive up the prices of your goods or make cuts elsewhere. 

With LTL freight shipping, you won’t have to. 

LTL stands for “Less Than Truckload,” and it allows you to essentially “rent out” space in a truck’s cargo. It’s the ideal shipping method for freight that’s at least 150 pounds but less than 15,000 pounds. 

What should you look for in an LTL freight service? 

Keep on reading to find out. 

1. Ask About Insurance

The first question that you ask a potential freight service should be about the kind of liability insurance they have to offer. 

You don’t want to be held financially responsible if your goods get damaged in the shipment process because of someone else’s poor driving and decisions. 

Here’s the thing: sometimes, an LTL service will only offer carrier liability of up to 25 cents per pound.

Depending on the value of the goods you’re shipping, this may not be enough for you. The carrier is the one who determines the kind of liability coverage they’ll offer. 

That’s why you should also consider freight insurance. With freight insurance, you don’t have to show that the carrier was at fault in order to be protected. Most LTL businesses offer freight insurance for an additional, but reasonable, charge. 

You should also make sure yours does — and that you invest in it. 

2. Speak to Past Customers 

If you really want to be certain that you’ve chosen a reliable carrier, you should get in touch with a few of their past customers. 

Even if you see glowing reviews and recommendations online, make sure you speak to someone over the phone to ensure that your expectations will match up with the reality. 

Ask if the shipments were delivered on time, and if they were offered guaranteed delivery. Understand how much care was taken in protecting the packages, and how they arrived at their final destination.  

You should also ask about how the customer was kept in the loop throughout the shipping process. Is there any way for them to track where their goods were during the shipping process? 

If mistakes were made, how did the freight company attempt to make things right? Were they slapped with any charges that they weren’t initially informed about? 

Talking to past clients will give you a good idea of whether or not you’re truly making the right choice. 

3. Ask About Additional Services Offered

Especially as LTL freight service has become increasingly popular in recent years, companies are offering additional services to keep up with the competition. 

When you’re considering an LTL freight business, you need to know if they can help you to deal with special circumstances. 

Ask if they have liftgates on hand. These are essential if you sometimes ship freight that weighs more than 100 pounds to a location that doesn’t have a shipping dock. 

You should also ensure that the company is able to offer you expedited shipping. This is especially important around the holidays, when last-minute orders are the norm, not the exception. You also want to be able to provide the best possible service to your top customers. 

They should also offer inside delivery and pickup. Sometimes, an LTL employee will need to go inside a building to deliver a shipment or even load the freight on the truck. 

Now is also the time to ask about limited access services. Essentially, this means that the LTL freight forwarder is able to pick up and drop off at locations that are tougher to get to. 

Think things like construction sites, schools, rural areas, and malls.  

4. Know Your Budget

If you’re considering using LTL freight shipping, you need to be certain that you’re truly saving on the costs of parcel shipments. 

In order to make an accurate assessment, there are a few factors you’ll need to consider. Understand the base rate, and ask if you’re eligible for any kind of discount. 

You should also consider the minimum charge required by each company, as well as the freight classification of your goods. Consider your shipment’s weight, any tariffs, and how the shipping distance will impact your price. 

Only then will you be able to truly determine if you’re getting the cheapest LTL shipping prices. 

Make the Right Choice About LTL Freight Shipping Companies with These Tips

As you’ve learned from this post, there are quite a few things you need to think about when you’re deciding not only if LTL freight shipping is right for you, but also the specific company you should work with. 

In many cases, freight shipping both saves you money and allows you to offer more options to your customers. 

Looking for more advice about how to cut your business’s operational costs? Want tips on negotiating with suppliers or understanding the kinds of products your market wants the most? 

We’ve got you covered. 

Make sure you bookmark our blog so you can stay a step ahead of your competitors in the small business world. 

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.