One of the most frustrating parts of LTL freight shipping, or freight in general, is when a shipment is delayed and running late. Delays can cost customers money, time, and sanity, and though we at FreightPros do our best to ensure the least amount of delays as possible, the bottom line is that ALL LTL shipments are inherently estimated on their transit times.
What this means is that though your LTL shipment SHOULD arrive two days after it’s picked up (Be sure to remember transit times do not include the day the freight is picked up) sometimes due to lane capacity, mechanical malfunctions, or a host of other reasons your freight could be delayed.
But what if you have freight that absolutely MUST get to it’s destination on time, or else the sky will fall and the end times will be upon us? WELL, that’s where guaranteeing your shipment comes in.
A “guarantee” is an additional service offered by most carriers similar to a limited access fee, or even a blind shipment charge. We discussed earlier that all LTL shipments are normally saddled with estimated transit times, but when you select the “guarantee” service it guarantees that your shipment will be delivered on time, or else there will be no charge and the shipment will be free.
Now, before you start guaranteeing ALL your shipments there are a few things to keep in mind. First, because this is a risk for the carrier and any sort of delay could result in not getting a penny of payment from you or your freight broker, it’s important to confirm that the carrier offers the guaranteed service for the particular lane that you’re shipping.
If you’re using a standard LTL system such as ours, you’ll find that we automatically audit the carriers that are available for the service. However, if you are receiving your guaranteed LTL quote from the carrier directly, you’ll need to confirm that the carrier offers the service in that particular lane for the amount of freight that you’re going to ship.
Once you’ve confirmed that your guaranteed shipment is possible, it’s time to select exactly which guarantee you’d like to use. The standard guaranteed delivery is a 5pm guarantee. Not surprisingly, this means that your freight must be delivered by 5pm on the estimated date of delivery or else there will be no charge. This is the most common and most used guarantee.
Another commonly used guarantee is the 12Noon guarantee. Same as before, when this service is selected the carrier must deliver your freight as planned by Noon or else…
There are a few different carriers that offer 3pm guarantees, but those are often few and far between, and you’ll have to determine if your carrier offers such a service. Keep in mind that the price will go up as the guaranteed time goes down. For instance, a 12Noon guarantee will likely cost more than the 5pm guarantee due to the increased possibility of an LTL carrier missing the 12Noon delivery time.
Once you’ve decided your guarantee time and confirmed that your carrier will honor the guarantee, you’ll need to get a guaranteed rate quote and corresponding quote number. Your freight broker can help you with this or if you’re dealing with the carrier direct you’ll need to contact their rate department. Similar to LTL volume quotes, the most important part of a guaranteed quote, is the quote number and it’s placement on the BOL used.
If the quote number and instructions of the guarantee (including delivery date and time) are not on the BOL used by the shipper, the carrier will not honor the guaranteed quote in the future. It’s also a good idea to keep in mind that a shipment in transit cannot have the guaranteed delivery service mid-trip, so its imperative to make sure the correct BOL is being used at the time of pickup.
Once you’ve got your guaranteed quote and your quote number on the BOL used at pickup, you’re essentially good to go, save for one last catch. Just because a shipment has a guaranteed delivery service applied to it, that guarantee does not apply to the pickup.
This means that your shipment must pick up as scheduled for the guaranteed to be honored. For example, if I have a shipment picking up on Monday on a 2 day transit, I could guarantee that shipment to deliver by 5pm on Wednesday.
However, if the truck breaks down on Monday and the pickup is missed, the guaranteed delivery will no longer apply for Wednesday. Because the pickup was missed and moved to Tuesday, the guarantee will only apply to the transit days from Tuesday, meaning delivery would be honored for Thursday.
Perhaps one day the LTL shipping business will be able to offer concrete transit times for their services (and we’ll all sleep better), but until that day comes we’ll have to make due with the guarantee option. So remember, if you have a shipment that can’t afford to be late don’t leave your business in the hands of drivers or terminal dock workers. “Guarantee” it and sleep well knowing your freight will be where its supposed to be when its supposed to be there!