Watch our video on Avoiding Holiday Shipping Delays! The fourth of July has come and gone, and hopefully you avoided any firework incidents. Yesterday, the Women’s World Cup captured the country’s attention, as well as some pretty great hardware. Today it’s back to work, back on the grind; same old tune. Even the best of us can take an hour or two to get back in the swing of things after a long holiday weekend, and freight is the same way. That’s why you’re likely to see some holiday shipping delays with your LTL. Holiday delays are to be expected any time the mad rush of the populace decides to rev the engines, hop on the interstates, and get out of town. Airports during Christmas. Memorial day traffic. The list goes on… This year was especially ill-timed when it comes to holiday shipping delays. Because the 4th of July fell on a Saturday, many freight companies took Friday, July 3rd off. This planned shutdown put a stress on the capacity of the few carriers that were working on Friday, in both LTL and full truckload shipping. The stress in capacity results in missed pickups, or pickups pushed back to Monday. Think of freight shipping as a traffic jam. Every time you tap the brakes, things slow down a bit behind you. A freight shipment not picked up on Friday becomes a shipment picked up on Monday, but that pushes a Monday pickup back to Tuesday, and so on and so forth, all down the line. Call it the domino effect. The good news is that brokers and carriers alike see this coming, and plan for holiday shipping delays accordingly. That sometimes means shipping freight on Wednesdays instead of the end of the week. Or perhaps, pushing that same freight shipment until mid-next week, assuming of course that it’s not time-sensitive. Expedited shipping is not really any option here. It should take no more than a few days for things to straighten themselves out in terms of shipping, so be patient if your freight is delayed a day or two. By Wednesday or Thursday of this week, most delays should have worked themselves out. Get with your broker if you have questions about transit times, estimated vs guaranteed, and all sorts of other options for time-sensitive freight. As always, planning results in freight that avoids holiday shipping delays, and gets freight where it needs to be on time. cc image courtesy Jordiet via Flickr
Watch our video on Avoiding Holiday Shipping Delays! The holiday season comes each year and each year we are unprepared for its intensity. You could be trying to ship a mattress, or even ship an engine for all we know. Face it, the holidays are crazy. Call it a mix of too much family, alcohol, and commerce, but the holidays, year in and year out, bring the pain. Unfortunately, this holiday craziness spreads into the shipping and freight industry as well. Here are some things to keep in mind and to watch out for as the holidays approach… Frozen Freight Be cognizant of this, especially in the Northeast as winter storms roll in. Standard trucks can protect freight down to the freezing point of 32 degrees, but if you’re worried about your shipments freezing its important to find trucks that are heated. Often times there are additional charges associated with these heating services, but much like a guaranteed shipment, if something does freeze and ruin, you will not be responsible for the charges. As freight is moved from terminal to terminal, keep in mind that shipments will be sitting in warehouses that are often times unheated, so this “heating” service applies to more than just the back of trucks on the highway. Weather Delays Winter is coming! Winter is coming! This is shipping and as winter comes so comes transportation delays of every shape and size. The LTL and TL freight industry is an interconnected web that stretches across the entire country, so just because its not snowing in California doesn’t mean your freight from New Jersey is not fighting the cold. Delays are a part of the freight shipping world, and though we do our best to avoid such delays, when weather hits there’s sometimes little that can be done. Severe weather, be it freezing rain/ice or February blizzards, can shut down roads, and if the storms are particularly severe (knocking out power etc.) they can even shut down whole terminals. Keep this in mind as you ship around the holidays. Plan and coordinate your freight shipments to account for any possible delays. If you know you’ve got to ship something to Colorado in the middle of January, there’s a pretty good chance that freight is going to be delayed, so ship it a few days early. Approach your holiday shipping like you would a holiday vacation – get cozy with The Weather Channel and try not to lose your cool! Holiday Work Schedules As much as we like to think freight carriers are non-stop, automated, shipping machines, they are in fact human based enterprises.. not robots. This means they have families and vacations and crazy uncles like the rest of us, so keep in mind that while you’re taking the family down to Mexico for a Corona-inspired Christmas, some dispatchers will be doing the same thing. Carriers will often work skeleton crews as the holidays approach and more and more people need off work. Expect delays as dock workers, drivers, dispatchers, and even customer service agents take time off the for the holidays. All this is not to say that you can’t ship freight until the freeze thaws and April brings showers. On the contrary, we know lots of business depends heavily on holiday consumer spending. But as you move your goods from buyers to sellers or vendors, be proactive in avoiding costly winter delays. Don’t forget, at the end of the day, patience can be the most useful tool a freight shipper can have.