Common Shipper Mistakes in Securing Bulk Carrier Freight Rates

Posted on October 22, 2020 by Betty King

If you’re a shipper looking to transport bulk freight, you are understandably looking to get the best bulk carrier freight rates possible. But getting a quote you’re happy with isn’t just the result of asking different carriers and freight brokers for pricing. There are things that you need to bring to the conversation as a shipper to enable carriers and freight brokers to give you their best rates. In this article, we’ll look at some of the most common mistakes shippers make during the quoting process and show you how fixing those mistakes can improve the bulk freight rates you receive.

Bulk carrier freight rates: 5 common mistakes

Mistake #1: Not providing enough information about your bulk freight product

bulk-carrier-freight-ratesThe biggest reason why you won’t receive a carrier or broker’s best bulk freight quote is that you don’t tell them enough about your product. This lack of information leads to uncertainty, which transportation providers will need to bake into their rates.

Now, a quality freight broker or bulk carrier will work with you to acquire the product’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) and other key information. In other words, they’ll coax what they need out of you to the extent possible. But, as a rule, the more information you can give, the better. This includes information related to the type of tank or trailer required (or types that are not acceptable), incompatible prior products, loading and unloading hours, loading and unloading facility specs (e.g., how much hose is required), and driver responsibilities while on-site (does the driver simply sit in the truck while unloading or loading occurs? Or is more expected of him or her?).

Mistake #2: Not providing liquid bulk temperature requirements

This technically falls under mistake #1, but it can be an extremely disruptive mistake that is worthy of a separate callout. Picture this: you book your load with your chosen transportation provider. The driver loads your product into a liquid bulk tank and heads off to the delivery site. Upon arrival, the driver is told that the product needs to be delivered at 95° F and is currently only 72° F. The driver must then head back out to a tank wash facility, have the tank steamed and then return to the delivery site to unload at the proper temperature.

While not a terribly common occurrence, the above scenario can and does happen. It is a potentially a very costly one in terms of additional costs and time – especially if the nearest tank wash is far away and the driver runs out of HOS. It’s also a scenario that could be avoided completely by informing your transportation provider of product temperature requirements so that in-transit heating units can be used to transport temperature-sensitive liquid products if necessary. and deliver them at the desired temperature.

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Mistake #3: Not providing enough lead time for bulk freight loads

“Hello, I have a load that needs to be picked up today and delivered tomorrow, can you do that?” Questions like these will not often lead to successful shipments in the bulk freight world. Unlike dry van trucking, the bulk shipping world is very specialized. There are fewer bulk trucking companies and bulk equipment is harder to come by.

With this in mind, be sure to give your bulk carrier or freight broker at least 2 or 3 days (at a minimum) of lead time when booking your load. This allows your transportation provider to the secure the equipment and driver necessary to haul your product, plan for tank washes, etc. It also can result in better rates for you as it allows your carrier to fit your load into its upcoming schedule. And, if you’re working with a freight broker, you’re also giving the broker time to shop your load to carriers on your behalf.

Mistake #4: Overpromising load details

As with many industries, repeat shipping business can result in lower bulk carrier freight rates. Receiving a quote for 30 loads across a month will likely yield you a lower cost per load than a single one-time shipment.

But it’s important to be up front and honest about your intent. If you’re going to commit to several loads, then honor that commitment (barring unforeseen circumstances). Your transportation provider is not only going to price your loads based on volume, it’s going to reserve equipment and adjust schedules to support your business. So, if you end up only shipping a few loads instead of the amount initially agreed upon, you’re negatively impacting several people on your transportation provider’s side – as well as your reputation.

Mistake #5: Focusing solely on bulk trucking price

Everyone is looking to reduce costs these days, and you’re no exception. You want to be careful, however, that you’re not sacrificing service quality and safety at the expense of a good rate.

It’s common practice these days for some shippers to blast out RFPs to dozens of companies, pick the best rate and hand the product over. But there’s a lot that can go wrong with this model. For starters, shipping with an unknown provider without properly vetting it first (e.g., safety record, certifications, freight carrier insurance) can be a costly – and even hazardous – mistake should something go wrong.

There is also the “you get what you pay for” aspect, too, where the unknown carrier never shows up or performs poorly. As a freight broker, we’ve received many callbacks from people we quoted who ended up choosing a provider that came in with a lower quote. These callbacks all have the same thing in common: the shipper ended up regretting the decision due to service issues with the unknown provider.

Work with an expert

At the end of the day, bulk freight shipping is a specialized service. There’s a lot of expertise involved in doing it right – and a lot of headaches that can arise when it’s done wrong. Establishing trusted relationships with transportation experts that know your product, your facilities, and your people is always going to be a more effective and safer way to operate than blindly choosing providers you’re unfamiliar with. There’s simply too much at risk with bulk freight.

If you’re looking for a freight partner with true bulk freight shipping expertise, consider Bulk Connection for your next load. We have over 30 years of bulk experience and one of the largest networks of bulk carriers in North America. We pride ourselves on fair rates with no surprises. To learn more about shipping bulk products with a true expert, contact us today.


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This entry was posted in Bulk Transportation by Betty King