Why the Lowest-Cost Carrier May Not Be the Best Option
With the traditional RFP season just around the corner, it’s time for shippers to begin evaluating transportation providers. It's enticing to automatically award your business to whichever carrier offers the lowest rate, but that's not always the best option. Cost is king, but there are many other criteria to consider when evaluating a provider, including communication, customer support, and safety.
This blog post will discuss why the lowest freight rates may not always be the best.
The adage is often true: you get what you pay for. To offer low rates, a business typically has to cut corners. For transportation providers, this can mean hiring drivers who don't have much experience or a less-than-stellar driving record.
If you've ever worked at a job where you felt underpaid and undervalued, you know how tempting it is (consciously or subconsciously) to underperform. Truck drivers are no different. This can lead to mishandling freight, less productivity, and a lack of efficiency. When drivers feel they're being treated and compensated fairly, they're more likely to stick with the company and provide consistent, quality deliveries.
Novice, underpaid drivers who don't deliberately act carelessly can inadvertently cause freight damage due to a lack of experience or training. Tenured drivers typically know what it takes to get a job done right. They're more prepared and may proactively connect with brokers on the important details ahead of time, like where to park or enter the facility.
Reputable transportation providers invest in safety through technological advancements, training, or teams dedicated to permitting and route planning. These programs make it more likely that your freight will be delivered safely while also protecting others on the road. Low-cost carriers may not have the capital to invest in these programs, which, in combination with hiring novice, underpaid drivers, is a recipe for safety issues or freight damage.
Poor Customer Support
Another way transportation providers can cut corners is through customer service. If you run into a problem with your freight, the last thing you want is to find yourself waiting for hours on hold or sending emails requesting the status of your shipment with no response.
Many carriers offer a single, dedicated point of contact. If you have questions about your load, you can contact them any time and get the answers you need. A singular point of contact will establish a relationship with you, understanding your needs and anticipating challenges that may come with your particular commodity or industry.
Additionally, many top trucking companies provide access to a customer portal, including 24/7 load tracking information and important paperwork. These technological advancements offer round-the-clock visibility into your shipments whenever and wherever you need it, empowering you to make better business and planning decisions.
Low-cost trucking companies typically don't have the means to invest in these technologies or the systems that monitor driving practices and hold drivers accountable. Don't be afraid to ask carriers what platforms they use to ensure your freight is safe.
Many reputable third-party logistics providers like Armstrong offer these value-add benefits as well. Brokers partner with companies like Transflo, project44, and MacroPoint to provide real-time visibility into a shipment.
Delays and Long Transit Times
Carriers that try to reduce costs by running old equipment or skipping preventative maintenance are more likely to have issues on the road. While new equipment isn't immune to a breakdown, outdated equipment with wear and tear is much more likely to fracture. New equipment doesn't mean much if it isn't properly maintained, and the problems only escalate as the equipment gets older. Regular maintenance helps ensure reliable and safe performance over time, meaning a better and more consistent delivery experience.
If a company is hesitant to invest in new equipment, they'll run older-than-average equipment that a better carrier may have retired because it wasn't safe or reliable anymore. Programs like RMIS and MyCarrierPackets provide safety and insurance compliance data, giving you a better idea of what you can expect with a carrier.
Equipment includes more than just the tractor and trailer. The additional equipment like straps, tarps, and chains that travel with the driver must also be considered. Good quality equipment helps with timely and efficient loading and securement. How many straps and chains does the driver typically have to secure your loads properly? If your freight is being shipped in a dry van, will it be protected with a pad or blanket wrap if it doesn't fit onto a pallet?
Service You Can Depend On
Each time you rely on a transportation provider to move your loads, you extend them credit. Once you place your shipment in their hands, you relinquish control of your product, and there's no way to guarantee it'll land at your customer's doorstep safely and on time. Fortunately, selecting the right carrier isn't guesswork and doesn't have to be a hassle.
For the best chance of a successful delivery, leverage a freight broker. Third-party logistics providers like Armstrong invest time and money in building reputable carrier networks. We understand that our services are only as good as our carriers, and we do our due diligence in making sure we lean on providers that can be trusted.
With our network of 60,000 closely vetted, reliable carriers, we have the expertise you need to move your loads. Reach out to us today and get a quote from your next dedicated account manager.
About Taylor Borum
Taylor joined Armstrong in 2021, serving as the team's Marketing Coordinator. A native of North Carolina, she moved to Charlotte in 2018 after graduating from Appalachian State University with her bachelor’s in Communication Studies. She's a passionate writer, having curated a diverse range of blog posts, articles, press releases, feature stories, webpage copy, social media posts, and more.