Month: February 2019

What is LTL

what-is-ltl

The last few years have brought a boom in the e-commerce sector and with it a huge increase in the need for affordable shipping for small and medium businesses. These businesses have products that need shipping that exceeds the limits of parcel delivery but doesn’t quite warrant an entire 18-wheeler.  This is where LTL comes in.

LTL is a term used in the trucking industry that causes some confusion for people new to shipping their goods.  “Less Than Load”, or LTL shipments, are more than 150 lbs. but won’t fill a tractor-trailer truck which is usually between 26 and 53 feet long.  Parcel carriers such as the US Postal service, UPS, and FedEx ship smaller packages and for larger shipments, LTL is used. (UPS Freight and FedEx Freight are LTL shippers.)  For the largest shipments when the shipment will take up the entire truck, FTL, or Full Truckloads are used.

   

Size of Load

LTLs generally range from 150 lbs to 10,000 lbs but there are some carriers that may accept larger shipments.  They may also be under 150 lbs when the items to be shipped are lighter but irregularly shaped or large and would be difficult to ship via parcel post. Carriers often look at what would be most cost-effective for the customer.  

 

Delivery Time

The fastest way to ship something is using an FTL.  FTLs are direct shipments and the difference between using those versus LTL is like the difference between using an express elevator or an elevator with several people getting off on different floors.  LTLs have more than one customer’s goods on the truck which saves money, but the more stops they have to make, the longer the shipment will probably take.

 

Pricing

LTL carriers have set minimums for the cost of shipping with them.  To determine the cost, the carrier will look at the weight, size, value, distance, needed floor space, and if actions are needed such as residential pickup/delivery, inside delivery, or if there’s limited access for delivery.

 

Handling

With parcel, conveyor belts are typically utilized which means there’s a lot of shipment handling before it reaches the destination.  With LTL, there is less handling involved but there will be other freight on the truck so it may have to be moved around and there’s a chance it will need to be transferred to another truck.  FTL gets the least amount of handling but unless its a large shipment, it may not be cost-effective to use.

 

LTL gives companies the ability to ship products quickly and affordably by sharing the ride and costs with shipments from other businesses and includes the flexibility to ship almost anywhere.  

 

Direct Freight Services is a load board that allows users to use their mobile device or computer to search for loads and post trucks.  With helpful features like full credit reports, load filtering, when to expect payments, and broker authority information, Direct Freight is an essential tool for owner operators looking to move freight. Visit DirectFreight.com to find out more.

 

What to Look for in a Load Board

what-to-look-for-in-a-load-board

For shippers, freight brokers, carriers, and drivers, a good load board is an essential tool for running a thorough and efficient company.  Whether posting all loads or rounding out service areas, the right load board can drive the success of a business.

 

Who Needs a Load Board?

Shippers use load boards to find dependable carriers to work with for short term or long term shipments.  Even for shippers who already have a regular carrier that they work with, a load board can keep things moving if there’s an unexpected increase in shipments or if there are any issues with a current shipper.  

Freight brokers are only as good as their client lists.  This means they need to have many trusted contacts around their service area so they can do their jobs―keep freight moving.  Freight brokers rely on load boards to make the connections they need to get cargo from Point A to Point B as safely and efficiently as possible.  Even with a large pool of clients and carriers, a load board is a great tool for filling in any gaps in coverage.

For carriers large and small, load boards can not only keep trucks rolling but one of their main benefits is filling deadhead miles (return trips) so routes are being operated efficiently without empty trucks driving around.  For example, if a carrier ships a full freight load from Boston to Newark, they can search the load board for a shipper who needs to ship from Newark to Boston or somewhere along the route. This not only brings in more revenue but it also makes more efficient use of gas, equipment, and manpower.  

For truck owner/operators, a good load board is the key to running an operation.  A load board provides vital information on available loads such as origin, destination, trailer type, load size, weight, company name, and pay rate.  Some of the better load boards include credit reports so drivers know who they’re working with and when they can expect to get paid.

What Makes a Load Board “Good”

It should be easy to use.    Load boards don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to be effective.  They should have a simple, easy-to-use interface that doesn’t require excessive clicks to locate the load or truck databases.  

Web-based is best.  Web-based load boards are always up-to-date, loads are posted in real time, there’s no costly software to buy and update, and they can be accessed from anywhere, even on smartphones and tablets.  Look for load boards that offer an app to streamline the process so it will always be on your phone.

Avoid “free” load boards.  Free load boards rely on ads for revenue and they don’t always have the same security in place that paid sites have, which can open users up to fraud.  They also aren’t as driven to have the most up-to-date technologies that paid sites do.

It should have useful features.  Things like current fuel prices, location and destination, cost of tolls, weather reports, a mileage calculator, credit reports, and load filtering can streamline services and simplify the process.

Alerts are important.  Being alerted when trucks are available or updates on loads saves time.  Text or email alerts give users an edge over those who need to spend time searching the site looking for updates.

It should have a free trial.  Most good load boards are confident in their product and will let users give it a try before they commit.  Trying out several free trials gives users the ability to find a load board that has all the features they’re interested in.  

 

As the old saying goes, “Time is money” and any time that freight sits on a loading dock waiting for a driver costs money.  A good load board makes all the difference. Decisions can be made quickly and confidently and the time that freight is waiting to be delivered is minimized.

Direct Freight Services is proud to be one of the leading load boards in the country.  They’ve been matching shippers and carriers since 1997 and have developed a load site that makes the process quick, easy, and effective.  Loads or trucks can be posted on the site for free but the subscription price of $34.95 allows the user access to ancillary features such as credit reports, route planning, weather conditions, text and email alerts, and other features that give a custom experience to every user.  Visit DirectFreight.com today for a free 15-day trial subscription and see what Direct Freight Services can do for your business.     

 

Shippers: How to Select the Right Freight Brokers

shippers-how-to-select-the-right-freight-broker

Freight brokers are an important link in the consumer goods supply chain. They’re the go-betweens linking supplier with destination, bringing freight that needs to be shipped to its final destination.  They not only connect shipper with carrier, they take care of negotiations, deadlines, payments, and solve any problems that may occur en route.

Using a freight broker is not a necessity in the shipping industry but many shippers prefer to because doing so gives them more time to concentrate on the daily functions of their business and less time on shipping details.  

Those details can be many and the road can be unpredictable (breakdowns, weather, unexpected traffic) so how do you know you’re choosing a freight broker that can handle it?  The answer: Do your homework!

  1. Check credentials.  They should be licensed through the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration).  You can go here to find out if they are.  Through the licensing procedure, they will be required to be bonded and insured.  The insurance is for property damage and the bonding is to protect you from fraud or other illegal activities by the broker.  
  2. Look for a broker with experience shipping the types of freight you have and experience shipping to the areas you need it delivered.  They will better understand the challenges of your sector of the industry.
  3. Make sure they have the right insurance.  Just because they’re insured, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be covered if there’s a problem.  They should have general liability insurance as well as adequate cargo insurance to cover the freight they’ll be shipping for you.
  4. Ask about their procedures for vetting their carriers.  They’ll be entrusting them with your goods so make sure your potential broker does his or her due diligence to make sure that drivers have plenty of experience, are fully insured, have excellent safety records, use well-maintained, reliable equipment, and if they have enough trucks to handle the job.
  5. Look at other certifications and affiliations.  Most good freight brokers will be part of the TIA (Transportation Intermediaries Association) and you should check their standing with the Better Business Bureau as well.
  6. Check the technologies they use.  They should be using a thorough tracking system that uses GPS to track shipments in real time.  They should also use up-to-date billing software. After you’ve signed a contract is not the best time to discover they do their bookkeeping in pencil in a ledger and send out handwritten bills.
  7. Run a credit check.  Avoid brokers with bad credit.  You don’t want someone with liens, bankruptcies, or who are slow to pay to be the one in charge of negotiating your deals and paying for your shipments.
  8. Be completely clear with them on the What, Where, When, and How of your shipping needs so the broker knows if he or she can handle the job.  
  9. Look for experience in the industry.  Freight brokering is a growing field so many freight brokers are new but the longer they’ve been in the business, the more contacts and relationships with carriers they’ll have.  
  10. Check references, preferably ones in your area who ship similar freight to yours.  Be sure to ask pertinent questions about the broker’s ability to make on-time deliveries, how the broker handled any problems, and how satisfied they are with the freight broker.  
  11. Find out if they work internationally.  You may only ship in the States now but what happens if you get some new customers “across the pond”?  If your broker only works nationally, you may have to go through the whole vetting process again for international shipments.  Save yourself some time and go with one that will help your company grow.
  12. Look for good communication skills.  Your freight broker and dispatchers will be negotiating and dealing with customers on behalf of you and your company.  They should be clear, articulate, friendly, and knowledgeable.
  13. Get it all in writing.  Make sure that when you find the right freight broker, you get a detailed written contract.

 

Taking the time to find the right freight broker is well worth the extra effort.  After all, you’re entrusting them to make a fair deal and to get your freight to where it needs to go safely and efficiently.  

Direct Freight Services is a vital tool used by shippers, freight brokers, and carriers alike.  It includes a thorough, easy-to-use and up-to-date load board that keeps freight on the move. Sign up today at Directfreight.com and see you Direct Freight can start working for you!  

 

Sources:

https://li-public.fmcsa.dot.gov/LIVIEW/pkg_carrquery.prc_carrlist

https://www.tianet.org

https://www.bbb.org

Why Trucking Companies Need to Hire Women and How They Can Retain Them

why-trucking-companies-need-to-hire-women-and-how-they-can-retain-them

In the U.S., the demand for licensed truckers has never been higher.  With the shortage of truckers expected to climb to 175,000 by the year 2024, now is the perfect time for anyone in search of a good-paying job to enter the trucking industry, especially women.

 

Ripe for Growth

Traditionally, driving a truck was considered a man’s job and attracted few women. Fortunately, times are changing, albeit at a snail’s pace.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017, 6.2% of truckers on the road were women, up from 4.5% 15 years ago, a small number when you consider that women make up 47% of the total U.S. workforce.  The trucker shortage combined with women looking for good-paying jobs is the perfect recipe for a female explosion in the trucking industry.

And why not?  Women can be a huge asset to any shipper.  Men cause 6.1 million vehicle crashes per year while women only cause 4.4 million.  Men are more willing to take risks than women which means their accidents are typically at higher rates of speed than those of women, who usually get into accidents at lower speeds causing less damage.  Shipping companies that regularly hire women know this, as well as the fact women tend to be better at completing paperwork and better at customer service. Women truckers do so much more than fill an empty truck seat.  They are a valuable and virtually untapped resource for trucking companies looking for reliable, long-term employees.

 

How can trucking companies attract more women to their company?  

As a carrier, attracting more women to your company means valuing and appreciating them and looking at things from their perspective.

  • Your place of business should be professional and welcoming to both men and women.
  • Include women in your recruiting ads.  Women should feel the ads are not merely aimed at men because this may be an indicator that women are not welcome.  When evaluating your ads include any print or radio ads as well as your presence on social media like Facebook and Twitter.  
  • Promote women into leadership roles.  Other women will see that women are valued in your company.
  • Offer good pay, benefits, and bonuses.  
  • Guarantee time at home.  One major reason the trucking industry suffers from a high turnover rate and lack of recruits is the hours away from home, keeping truckers from having a more predictable home life.  Many companies are trying to combat this with shorter routes and flexible schedules so employees can have a more balanced home and work life.
  • Have female trainers.  Having a female driver on the road with her during her training period may be encouraging.
  • Make diversity training mandatory.  Unfortunately, there are still drivers who show little respect for women in the field. Diversity training may help female drivers, but knowing that your company offers this kind of supportive training may attract more female applicants.
  • Understand safety concerns.  Safety is a major concern for women on the road, especially for those doing long hauls.  Things such as parking in well-lit spaces at truck stops that are open 24/7, always locking the doors, and carrying pepper spray are things that male truckers should do also but may not really think about.  Offer seminars and training on how to stay safe out on the road.

 

If the trucking industry is going to be able to keep up with consumers’ hunger for goods, it needs to shatter the stigma of truckers being big, burly men.  Actively recruiting women to enter into trucking careers is the obvious solution to the growing trucker shortage and changing the field so it fits the needs of many will bring in more recruits looking to enter into a good career.

At Direct Freight Services, we help shippers find carriers to bring loads to their destinations.  From short routes to cross-country, Direct Freight gives shippers the tools they need to find reliable truckers to carry the load.  For drivers and carriers, Direct Freight’s database of currently available loads will keep your trucks rolling. Go to Direct Freight today to find out more about how this vital tool can help you.  

 

Sources:

www.trucking.org

https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.htm

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/13/heres-what-its-like-to-be-a-woman-truck-driver.html

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t01.htm

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2017/10/12/mythbusting-why-are-women-paying-more-than-men-for-car-insurance/#7b4bffd45e00

Truckers: How to be Your Own Boss

 

truckers-how-to-be-your-own-boss

Having your own rig and being your own boss is the ultimate dream for many truck drivers.  When you’re the boss, you can set your own schedule. When you’re the boss, you control hauling prices.  When you’re the boss, you don’t have to put up with disrespect from your employers, employees, or dispatchers.  However, being the boss can also bring with it longer hours, more stress, and all the responsibility if things go wrong.  Is being an owner/operator right for you?

 

Look at Yourself  

Be honest.  Do you have the drive it takes to work the long hours?  Will you do all of the necessary paperwork on time and on a regular basis?  Do you have the discipline to do what it takes to make your business a success?  Do you enjoy interacting with people? Being your own boss in any industry is hard work and when things go wrong, the buck stops with you.  Any company problem is your problem, even if your company is just you and your truck. If there is a breakdown, you’re out of commission and money stops coming in until your truck is back on the road.

 

Look at Your Home Life  

Do you have children?  The job can take you away for days at a time, most likely more than it does when you’re working for someone else.  Do you have a significant other that can help with responsibilities at home? Are you a single parent or have shared child custody?  Having a family without enough support can impact the volume, locations, and types of jobs you’re able to take, which may make it difficult to build up your routes and clientele.  Being your own boss may bring you some flexibility with your hours but it’s more likely that you’ll have to put in more hours, especially when starting out.

 

Look at Your Health  

Are you healthy enough to endure the long hours driving a truck?  Are you required to take medication that will impede your ability to stay alert on the road?  If you’re currently a full-time driver, you should know how you’ll physically handle the job. Life on the road can be unhealthy due to hours of sitting and the abundance of unhealthy food on the road.  Staying in shape takes dedication and persistence and is important for your longevity on the job.

Just because you drive a truck doesn’t mean that you need to own your own rig and work for yourself.  For many, the responsibility of driving a truck for someone else is enough. When things go wrong, someone else deals with it.  Some drivers prefer a regular paycheck and the security that goes along with working for someone else.

   

 

How Do You Get Started?

Plan

Start with details like what area of the country you’d like to cover, what types of loads you’d like to haul (flatbeds, refrigerated trailers, HAZMAT, etc.) and what type of business you’re registering for.  Do you have your own truck? If not, will you be renting or buying? These are added costs to your business that you’ll need to take into consideration. One of the most important aspects of starting your own operation is choosing the right business insurance that not only covers your business but also your truck and the loads you’ll be hauling as well.

Seek Help

Talk to a lawyer and an accountant for legal and tax assistance.  Hiring an accountant to handle your books may cost you money but it will allow you more time out on the road doing what you do best.  Making a mistake on your taxes can cost money. A good CPA will make sure that all your i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, that your taxes are well managed and you don’t have a huge bill when tax time rolls around.  

Now What?

Now that you’ve taken the plunge and have leased a truck, registered your business, and have all the appropriate licenses and insurances lined up, where do you turn next?

You need loads.  You need an easy-to-use, intuitive load board, like Direct Freight Services.  Enter a little information, like your origin location, the type of trailer you carry, and how far you’d like to travel, and Direct Freight will return a list of available loads and relevant information.  The number of deadhead miles is also listed so you can make arrangements for a return load to maximize your earnings. With Direct Freight, you can also input the details of your truck so shippers or freight brokers can find you.

If you’re ready to hop into that driver’s seat and be your own boss, check out Direct Freight at www.directfreight.com or call (888)894-4198 and see how Direct Freight can help!