5 Key FTL Best Practices Every Small Business Should Use

Full truckload freight transportation (FTL) is a popular mode of shipping where your cargo or freight is the only one on the truck. This is different from less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping where your freight shares the space with other shipments.

With full truckload shipping, the entire trailer is reserved for one dedicated shipment — whether there is more room or not. Because of this, FTL shipping opens the door to several advantages. 

Why Choose Full Truckload Freight Transportation?

Choosing full truckload shipping opens the door to a host of benefits over alternative modes of transportation.

FTL Shipping Can Be More Economical

The full truckload freight transportation process can be more economical for larger shipments that require the entire space of a truck. And this could help reduce costs when shipping.

FTL Shipping Has Fewer

While LTL shipments have stricter weight and size requirements, this isn’t the case with FTL shipping. The full truckload freight capacity is greater and has fewer weight and size restrictions.  

FTL Offers Faster Delivery

Full truckload freight will typically arrive at the destination quicker because the entire truck is dedicated to a single load. In contrast to LTL shipments, FTL truckload carriers will make no other stops, drop-offs, or pickups along the journey, which helps freight carriers optimize freight transportation.

FTL Shipping Is Usually Safer

Because of the full truckload freight management, shipments are generally safer and have fewer opportunities for damage. This is due to the fact there are no truck changes with regional and national carriers.

While full truckload shipping offers a full range of benefits, it’s imperative for you to know how to unlock the full potential of each shipment. As the leading FTL and LTL shipping carrier, the team at On Track Freight Shipments has listed a few of our top best practices to get the most out of FTL freight management

Top 5 FTL Best Practices

#1 Have a Reliable Carrier for FTL Shipments

First things first, the speed, safety, and efficiency of your FTL shipment is only as good as the FTL carrier you select. As a result, one of the most important best practices to optimize operational performance is to have an established relationship with a reliable carrier. 

Ensure the Carrier Offers Nationwide Logistics Services

And this couldn’t be more important for today’s tight market. Make sure your preferred carrier in your carrier network offers the FTL nationwide logistics services you need today and may need tomorrow. 

It will save you time and money as well as optimize truckload freight performance to have a preferred carrier you can trust. Offering FTL and LTL shipments, your preferred carrier should have access to a wide array of high-performing carriers to meet your needs.

#2 Understand How Shippers Calculate Shipping Rates

When you’re shipping FTL freight, it’s important for you to understand how FTL rates are calculated. Across most industries, supply and demand determine rates. And supply and demand are even more important in the world of FTL shipping.

Unlike smaller shipments moved through the LTL transportation option, FTL rates aren’t regulated by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA). The NMFTA manages freight class, which is essential when shipping LTL.

Because it’s not regulated by the NMFTA, it can be difficult for shippers to know whether the quoted FTL rate is on par with the industry. Here are a few of the top factors shippers should understand that can impact FTL rates.

Mileage Impacts Freight Quotes

Mileage is extremely important and plays a vital role in determining FTL rate quotes, but it’s not a straightforward calculation. Even so, longer distances will usually incur higher rates due to the increased driver time and fuel required. However, not all lanes cost the same.

Fuel Surcharges

Fuel surcharges, based on the market price of diesel fuel, can directly impact the FTL rate. As such, carriers and logistics providers regularly adjust rates to reflect changes in fuel prices..

Trucking Lane

The trucking lane is any route a carrier covers in the schedule. And the trucking lane can vary based on freight moving in and out of an area. 

One point of reference is cities with a higher ratio of trucks to available freight can be less expensive compared to a location with more freight volume than drivers.

Market Capacity

The demand for trucking services and the availability of trucks can directly impact trucking rates. This factor can be dictated by:

  • Pandemic
  • Cost of living
  • Sales of equipment
  • Employment factors
  • Natural disasters
  • Etc.

The Attractiveness of the Load

Every FTL shipment is unique and has a different level of attractiveness based on the carrier. Loads with easier scheduling appointments, ease of access, and availability of backhauls will usually be more desirable, which could mean lower FTL rates.

Flexibility and Timing

What are the available time and day windows for drivers to deliver and pick up? Usually, more flexible and accommodating loads will be less expensive. As such, consider integrating flexibility when planning future loads to potentially generate savings.

Accessorial Charges

Accessorial charges are costs that can be levied during the transportation of your freight that requires extra work or services, such as when a customer doesn’t have a dock door. If you know extra services are required, you can save time by communicating these special needs upfront.

#4 Increase Lead Time for Carriers

Another one of the top FTL freight management best practices is to make sure you maximize lead times. A longer lead time boosts your ability to secure the best carrier option for delivery dates, service, and shipping rates. 

In fact, longer lead times can prompt more timely delivery and help you to save money. Having longer lead times can also help promote greater levels of accuracy and ensure your freight is successfully delivered at the desired time. 

For example, if you have a lead time of five to six days on your current shipments, you may have sufficient time to accurately arrange shipments. By extending the lead time between the order and deal, it will be a more cost-effective option. 

#5 Employ a Transportation Management System to Optimize Freight Performance

Whether it’s an FTL or LTL shipment, using a transportation management system can open the door to immense savings and efficiencies. Because of this, using an innovative, computerized system remains one of the top best practices.

A transportation management system (TMS) is an appropriately developed software that simplifies analyzing past and current shipments for full truckload and less-than-truckload shipments. 

TMSs actively record data to empower you and your team to best forecast and plan shipments as well as identify gaps. Utilizing this tool can help your team more effectively schedule shipments while monitoring freight performance. 

In the end, the key to having an efficient operation is to leverage technology to manage shipping and carriers.

Contact On Track Freight Systems 

At On Track Freight Systems, we are the leading trucking carrier for FTL and LTL shipping. We offer fast, next-day LTL shipping and FTL freight solutions throughout the New York and New Jersey metro areas. In addition, we offer a range of national freight transportation solutions:

Contact us today for tailored logistics and transportation rate quotes.