FTL Freight: Best Practices For Finding Competitive Rates

Posted by Fernando Correa ● Apr 12, 2023 3:38:14 PM

Finding competitive rates when shipping FTL (Full Truckload) is a hassle. Fuel prices, market trends, and labor capacities are always changing, making it difficult to find low prices consistently.

So if you’re struggling to locate carriers that offer competitive rates, this guide is for you.

Below, we’ll discuss the benefits of FTL shipping and how you can find the best rates while ensuring your goods arrive safely and on time.



What is FTL Freight? Why Should Shippers Prioritize It?

What is FTL freight

FTL freight refers to when shippers use an entire truck to transport goods. 

This differs from LTL (Less-Than-Truckload), which is when shippers share space in a container with other companies.

These are some reasons why you should prioritize FTL shipping:

  • You save money 
  • It's more flexible
  • It's efficient
  • It protects fragile goods
  • A reduced chance of theft


1) You Save Money

The primary reason why many shippers are prioritizing FTL is because of cost savings.

Let's say you have a high volume of goods that you need to ship to a single destination. It makes more financial sense to do everything in one go instead of relying on PTL (Partial Truckload), which can be more expensive. 

FTL is also cheaper because there aren't associated shipping costs such as:

  • Delivery fees
  • Redelivery fees
  • Appointment pickup
  • Oversized or odd-shaped pallet fees


2) It's More Flexible

FTL is more flexible compared to other shipping methods. 

For example, if you're shipping odd-shaped or oversized goods, LTL might not be suitable if it can't fit on a pallet.

But when using FTL shipping, you aren't limited to one trailer type. You can choose from a box trailer, curtain trailer, mega trailer, refrigerated truck, flatbeds, or intermodal. This flexibility allows you to ship uniquely shaped products easily.


3) It's Efficient

If you're making a time-sensitive delivery, FTL shipping is your best bet.

The shipment will go to its desired destinations using the optimal route. There are no stops or alternate routes to drop off other people's packages. This makes FTL the most efficient delivery method, even if you aren't filling the entire truck.

FTL shipping can also go anywhere in North America. It doesn't matter if you're shipping to Northern Alaska or Southern Mexico; FTL shipping will take your goods where it needs to go.


4) It Better Protects Fragile Goods

A major problem inland shippers have when choosing PTL solutions is safely delivering fragile goods.

Let's say you're transporting cups and glasses while another company is transporting heavy machinery in the same truck. This can cause problems if the crew mismanages your goods.

But since you have the entire truck to yourself when you're using FTL shipping, you keep pit stops to a minimum, meaning that the trucking crew won't handle your products as much. This increases the chances of your product making it to its destination in one piece.


5) A Reduced Chance of Theft

When a truck drops off other people's products, it has to make more stops, which increases the chances of driving through crime hotspots.

This is a significant problem with PTL shipping. You can't design the safest possible route to avoid hotspots.

But when you have an entire truck to yourself, your products travel the shortest, safest, and most efficient route possible, reducing the chance of theft.



How do Shippers Find the Best Rates for FTL Freight Services?

best rates for FTL freight services

The most efficient way to find the best FTL shipping rates is to use an industry-specific freight solution platform such as Cargobot Direct. It allows you to:

  • Create a preferred network of carriers per lane
  • Access networks of pre-screened, licensed, and rated carriers
  • Choose from FTL shipment options such as vans, flatbeds, reefers, and step deck trailers

From here, you gain a complete view of available carriers and their rates, so you can make the most informed decision possible.



What Common Factors Impact Shipping Rates for FTL Freight Services?

shipping rates for FTL freight services

Thinking about shipping your goods with FTL freight solutions? Awesome! Here are a few factors to watch out for that might impact shipping rates:

  • Fuel prices
  • Distance
  • Transit times
  • Labor capacity


1) Fuel Prices

Fuel prices affect the costs of everything. But this effect is amplified when you're carrying a large truckload of goods. 

Also, the price of fuel, especially diesel, fluctuates wildly during the year, making it difficult to project the costs of future shipments.


2) Distance

Distance is another important factor because the longer a truck is on the road, the most fuel it consumes.

Different carriers have different policies regarding distance travel, but they'll sometimes charge extra if you're traveling outside their service area, so this is something to watch out for.


3) Transit Times

You must rely on expedited freight carriers when you need something delivered quickly. These carriers are more expensive because they specialize in transporting your goods in the shortest possible time frame.

So the less time-sensitive a delivery is, the less you'll pay.


4) Labor Capacity 

The last factor is labor capacity. Like any industry, shipping runs on supply and demand. The fewer drivers on the market, the more you'll pay in shipping rates.


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How Can Shippers Ensure Goods Arrive Safely and on Time?

shippers goods arrive on time

Here are some best practices that'll increase the likelihood of your goods arriving safely and on time:

  • Use trusted partners
  • Stay connected with your goods
  • Opt for specialization 


1) Use Trusted Partners

The best way to ensure your goods arrive safely and on time is to work with trusted partners. 

This doesn’t just refer to carriers, but everything from manufacturing to storage and fulfillment. 

So you always want to do your due diligence and talk to a carrier’s previous customers, look at their insurance policies, visit their facilities, and contact their customer success team.

When you use Cargobot Direct to build relationships with carriers, you don't have to do much of this hard work. We have already pre-screened, licensed, and reviewed carriers. 

All you have to do is pick one that meets your shipping needs best. You can even contact customers that previously used a carrier's service and learn about their experiences.


2) Stay Connected With Your Goods

Staying connected with your package even after it has left your hands is another way to ensure your goods reach their target destination safely.

You want to monitor the movement of your product in real-time so you can make alternative plans if there's a delay.

When you use Cargobot Direct, you can monitor the progress of your goods in real-time and communicate with carriers in transit.


3) Opt for Specialization 

If you're transporting expensive or unique items such as fine art, bottles of wine, or dangerous goods, opt for a carrier specializing in what you're transporting. 

For example, if you're transporting meats and other foods that need to be below a certain temperature during transportation, opt for a carrier that only transports meats.

With these specialized carriers, they'll know how to wrap, store, package, and handle your goods so that it doesn't break or go off.

It might be more expensive, but you're protecting yourself against having to replace an entire truckload of goods because the carrier didn't know how to handle it.


How to Combine Top Rates While Maintaining High-Quality Standards

Best FTL freight rates

Many freight shipping companies make the mistake of going for the lowest price possible without considering other factors like security and management processes. 

So if you’re looking to combine the best rates while maintaining the quality of your shipping standards, implement these best practices:

  • Don't skimp on security
  • Ship FTL on off-peak days
  • Develop relationships with FTL carriers
  • Increase delivery times


1) Don't Skimp on Security

Some carriers will offer low rates but skimp on security. Sure, they'll have the basics like strong locks, but there aren't cameras, tracking devices, and kill switches that shut down the truck's hydraulics system.

So when shopping for an FTL freight partner, ask what security measures they implement when transporting goods.


2) Ship FTL on Off-Peak Days

Another good way to access the best rates while maintaining high-quality standards is to ship on off-peak days.

You're getting the same quality you would normally, but at a discounted rate.

These off days are typically Fridays because most stores try to get their inventory stored in their warehouse on Thursday and ready for sale on Monday. 

So if you can, opt to ship on off-peak days.


3) Develop Relationships With Certified, Experienced FTL Carriers

Instead of jumping between different carriers, why not develop a relationship with a handful of dependable, trusted options? If you're a regular customer and constantly shipping truckloads of goods, they might offer you lower rates.


4) Offer Dependable, Fast Delivery Times

The quicker you need a carrier to deliver a product, the more you'll pay. So we recommend planning ahead and increasing delivery times to cut down on costs.



Find Competitive FTL Carrier Rates with Cargobot Direct


One of the most efficient ways to find competitive FTL rates is by going beyond a traditional TMS and using an industry-specific freight solution platform like Cargobot Direct

By creating a preferred network of carriers per lane and accessing networks of pre-screened, licensed, and rated carriers, you can easily compare rates and make informed decisions using one digital platform.

With Cargobot Direct, you can choose from FTL shipment options like vans, flatbeds, reefers, step deck trailers, and more. You can also monitor the progress of your goods in real-time and communicate with carriers in transit, giving you peace of mind that your goods are in safe hands.

So if you want to find the best rates for your FTL freight services, consider using Cargobot Direct to access a complete view of available carriers and their rates. Streamline your shipping process and save money on your FTL shipments while maintaining high-quality standards today!


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Topics: Cargobot Direct