A Comprehensive Guide to Selecting the Right Freight Carrier

Deciding on the right freight carrier is an important decision to make. Four selection criteria can make it easier. They are reliability, price, capacity, and customer service.

Who is classified as the carrier?

When it comes to freight shipping, the carrier is the entity responsible for transporting goods from point A to point B.

A carrier can be a trucker, a railroad, an airline, or a combination of any of these services.

How many classes of carriers are there?

There are generally four classes of carriers that provide different levels of performance, price, and shipment services. These include the common carrier, contract carrier, private carrier, and specialized carrier.

Common carriers are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and offer services to the public regularly.

They provide comprehensive services, including pick-up, delivery, and tracking of shipments from point A to point B.

The rates for common carriers may vary depending on the size and weight of the shipment, as well as the distance being traveled.

Contract carriers operate under an exclusive agreement between themselves and their customers.

Generally, these carriers specialize in certain types of shipments and are available only to their exclusive customers.

Rates for contract carriers are typically higher than those of common carriers due to their exclusivity.

Private carriers offer transportation services only to their employees or owners of the business.

These carriers do not have to abide by FMCSA regulations; however, they must adhere to any specific state regulations in place.

Private carriers are often the least expensive option since they do not have to pay for operating costs associated with other classes of carriers.

Specialized carriers are responsible for transporting cargo that requires special attention or care.

This type of carrier is often necessary when transporting hazardous materials or oversized items, and they generally charge a premium price for their services.

What are examples of carriers?

The most common freight carriers are trucking companies, railroads, air freight companies, and ocean freight companies.

Trucking Companies: such as UPS Inc, FedEx Corp, XPO logistics, J.B. Hunt Transport, Schneider, etc.

Trucking companies provide door-to-door service, making them a popular choice for many shippers.

The advantage of using trucking companies is that they can usually deliver goods faster than other modes of transport.

Railroads: BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, Canadian national railway, etc.

Railroads are a great option for transporting large quantities of goods over long distances.

They provide cost savings, increased capacity, and improved safety and reliability compared to other modes of transportation.

Air Freight Companies: FedEx Express, UPS airlines, DHL Express, Lufthansa, etc.

Air freight companies offer fast delivery times, but often come at a premium cost. Air cargo services are best suited for items that must be delivered quickly and/or securely.

Ocean Freight Companies: MSC, Maersk, CMA CGM Group, Hapag-Lloyd, Cosco shipping, etc.

Ocean freight companies are great for transporting large quantities of goods that are not time sensitive.

They also provide cost savings as well as improved reliability compared to other modes of transportation.

Where to find the carriers?

For most individuals and businesses, you book the carriers through freight forwarders. Freight forwarders not only book the carriers for you and also take care import or export custom clearance for your shipments.

Top 5 freight forwarders in US are:

If you’re shipping domestic freight, you need a trucking company to carry the goods. You can either work with a trucking company on your own or use a freight broker.

If you choose to work with a trucking company on your own, you can book trucks on the below popular load board website.

    If you prefer to work with broker, here is the popular truck broker list.

    • C.H. Robinson Worldwide
    • Total Quality Logistics
    • Coyote Logistics
    • Worldwide Express
    • Echo Global Logistics

    What are the carrier selection criteria?

    The selection criteria for freight carriers will depend on the type of goods being shipped, as well as the destination. Generally speaking, when choosing a carrier, it is important to consider factors such as:

    Reliability: Ask potential carriers about their track record in terms of reliability and punctuality. Consider their experience in the industry, customer reviews, and the quality of their services.

    -Price: Shipping costs can add up quickly, so it is important to compare rates among carriers. Make sure you understand the rate structure and any additional fees or surcharges that might be charged.

    -Capabilities: Does the carrier have the capacity to handle your shipment? Will they be able to transport the goods to their destination promptly?

    If shipping hazardous materials or items requiring specialized handling, make sure the carrier has the necessary equipment and training.

    -Customer Service: A good freight carrier should provide excellent customer service, from pick-up to delivery.

    Look for carriers that offer real-time updates on shipments, are easily accessible for questions, and are knowledgeable about regulations about freight.

    How to select the right carrier?

    The first and most important is whether or not the carrier is reliable, experienced, and licensed to provide its services.

    Research online reviews and do your due diligence to ensure that you choose the best option for you.

    You also want to consider the cost of the services offered by the carrier. Different carriers offer different rates, so take the time to shop around and compare prices.

    It’s also important to understand all of the fees associated with each carrier, as well as any additional fees they may charge.

    In addition to price, you should consider the speed and efficiency of the carrier’s service.

    Look at their delivery times, track record of successful deliveries, and any additional services they offer that could make your life easier.

    Finally, consider the terms of service of the carrier. Make sure they are compatible with your business’s needs and that you’re able to agree on payment terms.

    You should also read through the carrier’s policies on insurance coverage and other factors to ensure that you’re both comfortable with the agreement.

    What is a carrier test?

    A carrier test is a process used to evaluate the suitability of a particular carrier or transport service provider for the shipment of goods.

    The test is conducted by analyzing the carrier’s service capabilities, reliability, customer service record, safety record, pricing and reputation in the industry.

    The information typically revealed through a carrier test includes the carrier’s capacity, equipment availability, turnaround time, and route accuracy.

    Additionally, a carrier test will also check the shipper’s credentials, including customer service records and customer feedback.

    All of these factors are important for ensuring that a chosen carrier will be able to successfully complete your shipments promptly, and without any potential issues.

    Finally, a carrier test will also take into account the carrier’s ability to respond to changes in the market, such as seasonality or shifts in demand.

    This will ensure that the carrier is well-equipped to handle any sudden changes in shipping requirements.

    How do you negotiate with carriers?

    Negotiating with carriers can be a tricky process, especially for those new to the freight industry.

    To get the best rate from a carrier, it is important to understand the types of discounts available and to be comfortable negotiating the terms of the agreement.

    The most common discounts include volume discounts, fuel surcharges, and accessorial charges.

    Volume discounts can be obtained when larger orders are placed with a carrier and fuel surcharges may be available depending on the distance and size of your shipment.

    Accessorial charges are additional fees for services such as liftgate, residential delivery, and inside delivery.

    To get the best rate possible, it is important to ask questions and seek out the best deal. It is beneficial to compare multiple carriers to see who can offer the best price and service.

    Additionally, it helps to establish a good working relationship with your carrier since they may be willing to negotiate better terms and more flexible schedules over time.

    Finally, be sure to review the final agreement to make sure you are getting the best rate.

    Negotiating with carriers can take time, but it is a worthwhile effort to get the best rates possible for your shipment.