TL and LTL Freight Differences Part II

Part II of FreightPros video on what to watch out for when you start using a new mode of transportation. LTL and TL freight have some key differences and this video helps walk freight shippers through those fundamental differences.

Transcript:

Hi. We’re back with part two of our video series on the difference between the basics of LTL and truckload shipping.

The first segment started to run a little bit long, so we broke it into two parts. In this second segment, I’d like to talk about just some of the basic service differences between LTL and truckload.

Again, this might be obvious to people that have done a lot of shipping with both modes. But someone who’s not ever done truckload or not ever done LTL– it might not be as obvious.

So the first difference is with expectations of communication. And now, on the truckload side, we have a ton of communication directly with the dispatch for a particular carrier, or even sometimes with the driver.

So if we need to get specific information on where that driver is, if there’s any delays, we can oftentimes either call right through to that driver or at least have a dispatcher that can get that driver on the other line and get us information back very quickly.

On the LTL, it’s not as easy as that. We still can call into a terminal, but generally we’re talking to a customer service person that doesn’t always have direct access to that driver on the fly.

It depends on the LTL carrier. But particularly, the bigger carriers, national carriers– it’s not like we’re calling through and giving direct instructions to the driver on the spot.

They can relay a message. But often, it takes some time and it’s not nearly as simple as that communication goes on the truckload side. Now, one of the other differences we run into, again, might seem elementary. But on the truckload side, we get people that request a lift gate on their truck.

Now, liftgates do exist on full trucks. However, they’re very few and far between. They’re really hard to find. And the price to utilize a full truck with a liftgate is usually much, much more costly than adding a liftgate on the LTL side.

Now, with the LTL carriers, the majority of them– not all of them, but most of them– they have plenty of trucks that are equipped with a liftgate in their fleet. And that’s something that could easily be added on if you’re going that LTL route.

And then another common thing is o often get a request for a pallet jack or some type of a dolly. Now, most LTL carriers will already have that on their truck. Truckload carriers– again, not the norm, not expected, not standard.

If that’s something you are expecting, make sure you ask for that up front, because it might be a special request that that driver has to go and locate a pallet jack to complete your service.

The next issue that we often run into are expectations with the bill of lading, or as we say for short, the BOL.

The bill of lading on the LTL side– it’s imperative, if you’re using a broker in particular, that you use the broker’s bill of lading that they give to you, or at least a bill of lading with that broker’s bill to information. When they’re quoting you a price, it’s based on their rates.

Now, what happens is if you use your own bill of lading with the improper bill to information or you don’t have your bill of lading and the carrier shows up and they just give you a bill of lading and say, hey, fill this out, we need this to move your freight, what’s most commonly going to happen is the carrier’s going to bill you directly.

You’re not to get those discounts and probably not that quote that you got from your broker. And it’s going to be quite a shock, because oftentimes, that pricing is four or five times as high as you might have gotten from going to a broken directly or if you have a proper bill to on that document.

Now, on the truckload side, it’s much more common and it’s more of an industry standard where the shipper will actually provide the bill of lading. In this case, the communication is very different.

The truckload carrier, they know that they’re building a broker or they’re billing a customer. Since there’s only one load, most commonly, moving on their truck, they know who the bill to party is before they show up.

Whereas, on the LTL side, imagine if they’re driving around and picking up 20 different people’s freight, the only way that they know who to bill is when they get back to the terminal, that bill of lading that’s attached to each shipment, to each pallet for each customer, they look at the bill to for that and then reconcile the billing information after that.

Now, finally, the other big difference, I would say, between LTL and truckload is speed and price. So LTL shipping, if you have– we say 10 pallets or less. But really, there’s a break there– somewhere between 15 to 12 pallets or less– it’s probably going to be cheaper to look at the LTL route.

We’ll talk about volume shipments in a different segment. But going an LTL route probably makes sense. Once you get above that 12 to 15 pallet range, it’s worth getting a quote on the truckload.

There’s a price break there where it might make more sense to you, the truckload carrier. And then obviously, speed– so with truckload, your freight is most commonly moving from point A to point B very directly.

And it’s going to be a quicker option that an LTL carrier, even if you’re shipping in, say, the same city. We’re based here in Austin, Texas. If we shipped out a pallet today that picked up from our location and was going across town to a customer of ours, it would be until the following day until it was delivered.

The LTL carrier will take that freight back their terminal. They’ll unload it, reload it onto a delivery truck, and then deliver it to the customer at the ending location the following day.

Whereas, truckload, if the mileage is right, you can often get things delivered in the same day. So those were some basics related to the differences between LTL and truckload. Now, there’s hundreds of more topics I could have talked about.

I just wanted to address some of the common things that we run into as a broker when dealing with our customers again and again, and things that we particularly noted for shippers that just start doing one of these modes or the others, and commonly, when they had previously been doing one of the other modes.

So hopefully this was helpful. Look for more videos from us. And I hope you enjoyed this first series in our segment of videos from Freight Pros. And again, I’m Chris Clever, president of Freight Pros. Find us at FreightPros.com. [MUSIC PLAYING]

Want to learn more about LTL and Truckload freight? Check out our freight shipping guide, available for free download.

Chris Clever

Chris is the president and founder of FreightPros. Chris has been involved in the transportation industry for over ten years and focuses on strategy and new business initiatives to help drive FreightPros to become the most progressive freight broker in the industry.

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