Freight rates depend a lot on supply and demand. When too many loads compete for too few trucks and drivers, you pay extra to get the space you need. In the ebb and flow of capacity, certain days of the week and month can make a big difference in how much you’ll pay to get your load on a truck.
You can’t always choose exactly when to ship freight. But keeping an eye on the best and worst days can save you money.
The best days to ship
Friday: This is an especially good choice for loads you need delivered on Monday. By Friday, many drivers have used up nearly all their allowable hours of service (HOS). A driver who picks up your load on Friday can keep it moving while those hours last, use the weekend for the mandated 34-hour rest period, and then start with a fresh set of hours on Monday.
Tuesday: Since Monday is a big day for deliveries, you’ll find plenty of trucks ready for reloading on Tuesday. You’ll also find lots of drivers ready to take new loads, with ample hours still left on their HOS for the week.
Days to avoid
Monday: When all those bulk deliveries arrive at the start of the work week, it’s hard to get the tanks cleaned, repositioned and reloaded fast enough to put them back on the road the same day. So capacity can be especially tight on Monday.
Holidays: Just like the rest of us, drivers like to take days off for Christmas, Thanksgiving and other important days. Many production plants close for holidays, too. But if you’re running a 365-day-a-year operation, and you’re deciding when to ship freight, avoid the days when most people are taking it easy. You’ll have trouble finding drivers, and you’ll pay extra.
End of the month or the quarter: As companies hustle to make sales quotas and get that product shipped, they put extra pressure on the transportation marketplace. If you don’t absolutely have to ship at the close the month—and especially toward the end of March, June, September or December—it’s best to avoid those days.
Bad weather days: Obviously, a truck that crosses paths with a blizzard or hurricane won’t reach its destination on time. So be sure to keep an eye on approaching weather systems.
How to Hit the Best Shipping Days
Of course, you don’t always get to choose when to ship freight. Just-in-time production schedules, urgent customer needs and other factors might dictate that you get a load moving without delay. But there are things you can do to concentrate more of your shipments on the days that make the best economic sense.
Two useful tactics are to plan ahead and (for inbound shipments) keep some buffer inventory on hand. With a little extra time and extra product, you gain better control over the timing of your shipments.
A bulk freight broker can help you take advantage of the best shipping days if you provide some flexibility. Instead of stating a date when the load must ship, or when it must arrive, try to give your broker a multi-day window when the load can ship. With some room to maneuver, your broker will find the capacity you need and get your freight moving on days that offer the best available rates.