LTL 101:Limited Access Charges

Limited access charges were created to compensate LTL carriers for additional time spent at a shipment’s pick up or delivery locations and constraints that can result from these specific locations. Limited access is defined as meeting any of the following conditions:

  • Not open to the walk-in public during normal business hours
  • Not having personnel readily available to assist with the delivery or pickup function
  • Not having access to loading dock or platform
  • Sites where carriers are delayed with security related inspections and processes prior to freight tender

Did you know: Some of these high security locations will ask for a driver’s license and drivers have the right to refuse to do so? This causes the carrier to find a driver who is willing to do so, which in turn causes a domino effect or constraint on the daily operations of that particular terminal.

In order to avoid unexpected charges it is best practice to ask the consignee if they have a dock or way to unload the freight and ask them if they need a liftgate for delivery. Liftgates are commonly associated with limited access and if the consignee advises they don’t need a liftgate let them know that if the driver offers a liftgate and if it is used or signed for even though it was not used, there will be an additional fee charged to them.

Limited access fees can be assessed on both commercial and non-commercial delivery sites. Charges and what constitutes as a limited access will vary based on carrier, but here are some of the most common examples:

  • Camps, Carnivals, Fairs
  • Churches, Mosques, Synagogues, Temples
  • Schools (not including colleges and universities)
  • Colleges and Universities without a dock
  • Medical/Urgent care sites without a dock
  • Prisons
  • Individual / Mini Storage Units
  • Mines, Quarries, Natural Gas or Oil Fields
  • Golf Courses, Country Clubs
  • Nuclear Power Plants
  • Military Bases/Installations
  • Parks, Farms and Rural locations
  • Courthouses
  • Daycares
  • Hotels, Motels, Retirement/Nursing Homes
  • Restaurants
  • Cemeteries
  • Convents
  • Amusement Parks
  • Construction Sites
  • Outdoor Flea Markets

Google Maps is a great tool that can be used to help explain whether or not a location has limited access. However, please keep in mind that even though the location is easy to get in and out of and they may have the necessary equipment to unload they may still be considered limited access. Some great examples of this are as follows:

  • Farms: While they are easy to get to and have equipment, they usually take the driver off his/her usual route which causes delays for the other shipments on the trailer
  • Mini Storage Units: The driver will have to use a smaller trailer with or without a liftgate and thus make fewer deliveries that day because of the space available on the trailer, so the charges are there to compensate for this
    • Carriers normally have fewer trailers with liftgates which makes this even more difficult when the volume of limited access or liftgate shipments goes up

Keep in mind: Commercial buildings with docks are normally clustered in the same area, a carrier can easily make multiple pickups or deliveries in a business park in the same time it may take to make one limited access delivery.


Training Tuesday:Accelerating Sales – Part 2

Last week we addressed 5 of our top tips on improving sales success. This week we have 5 more suggestions for improving your success on sales calls.

1.Listen carefully. Here’s a basic rule for a successful sales presentation: Talking 50 percent of the time is too much. Instead, ask questions to direct the conversation 10 percent of the time and listen intently 90 percent of the time.

2. Ask directive questions. Memorize the 5 or 10 most pertinent questions you can ask. Make sure they are open-ended and use the answers to ask follow-up questions.

3. Remember to sell benefits. Although sales trainers have been preaching selling benefits versus features for decades, this technique is often overlooked in the heat of the presentation. If there is any one greatest selling violation, it is the failure to sell benefits. In fact, many salespeople don’t really understand what true benefits are. Be certain you do.

4. Use trial closes. You can often create these in advance of a meeting, then use as many as you need. The best trial closes are frequently open-ended questions that offer a choice and start with a who, when, why, where, or how.

5. Play the numbers game. For seasoned pros, sales is like gambling with the odds stacked in their favor. If you play it often enough, you’ll end up a winner.

If you utilize these methods, in combination with some tried and true methods you’ve perfected, you should be able to quickly accelerate your sales success.


Intermodal 101:Relationship with 3PL

In general, the relationship between a shipper and the 3PL should be based on a “Win/Win” setup.  Achieving this setup will enable each party to capitalize on the offering of the other party.

The 3PL will work with capacity providers to establish consistent equipment availability when and where needed.  They will negotiate the optimum rate that meets the shippers’ requirements.  The 3PL operates at many different levels of service as indicated by the desires and needs of the shippers.

The shipper will provide the needed information to allow the 3PL to put together the most beneficial program. The shipper will provide information concerning both the ship from location and the ship to location, such as contacts, loading/unloading hours, first come first server or by appointments. This information enables the 3PL to more closely coordinate the pickup and delivery as transit will allow. The shipper will provide any shipment scheduling information they can to further enhance the 3PL’s ability to make the scheduled pickup and delivery.

The shipper will also provide the 3PL direction on what they value most: cheap transportation rates, fast transit, schedule delivery guarantee, transit time required per lane, etc.  Knowing more about each of these items will help the 3PL put together the best plan to meet the customers’ needs.

Next time, we will talk about intermodal freight characteristics that you should be looking for to see what makes good intermodal freight.  Hint…everything!


Training Tuesday:Accelerating Sales – Part 1

Almost all companies, from the smallest to those in the Fortune 100, frequently – if not continually – face the challenge of getting sales fast: next month, next week, even “tomorrow.”

Sometimes you should rely on the tried and true methods, but sometimes you should shake things up. Often the well-established selling principles may need to be shelved.

Here are some of our key tips for improving your and your company’s sales results:

1.Set clear sales objective. Determine what sales you are being asked to make in this situation and then set a strategy for getting them. Make a plan and put it in writing, even just a couple sentences will do. Refer to your plan every day and don’t hesitate to make revisions when necessary.

2.Be certain you have pre-call credibility. Proper pre-call credibility will telegraph what benefits the buyer can expect from your sales call and get him to look forward to meeting you, or to at least listen and learn about what you have to offer.

3.Make use of sales support. Use every ounce of sales and marketing ammunition available to you: telemarketing appointments, email, pre-call letters, literature, testimonials, referrals, leads, ads, etc. Test them, then use what works and discard what doesn’t.

4.Skim the “cream” of your customers, prospects, and suspects. Make a list of prospects most ready to buy. Sort them into groups and then target them in priority order.

5.Rehearse. Even if you’ve sold the same product or service for years, one or two mistakes can kill a sale. Practice, record your presentation and review, role-play with your team; practice and perfection will pay.

Check back next week for more of our top tips to quickly improve your sales success rate.


LTL 101:Density and Prices

Density is very important in selecting freight class. Some carriers will rate based on density if the commodities’ National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) is a density based item.

With these NMFC density based rating carriers the general rule is anything under 48 inches high will be calculated as 48 inches and anything over 48 inches but under 96 inches will be calculated as 96 inches for density purposes.

Please see the actual wording from one of the carrier’s rules tariff below:

Density – Method of Determining

  1. Where rates are applicable according to the density of articles as tendered for shipment, the word ‘density’ means ‘pounds per cubic foot’ (PCF). The cubage of loose articles or pieces or packaged articles shall be determined by multiplying the greatest straight line dimensions (not circumferential) of length, width and height in inches, including all projections, and dividing by 1728 cubic inches (one cubic foot) to determine the number of cubic feet of the article. The density shall be determined by dividing the weight of each article, piece or package by the cube of such article, piece or package.
  2. A vertical dimension (or height) of not less than 48 inches (given the article does not exceed 48 inches in height), or 96 inches if the article exceeds 48 inches, shall be used in determining the cube of any unity on top of which other freight cannot be loaded because of:
    1. The nature of the article; or,
    2. Packaging or lack of packaging, used; or,
    3. Palletization in ‘pyramided,’ ‘rounded off’ or ‘topped off’ manner; or,
    4. Specific instructions by the shipper on the bill of lading, or by labels on the freight (Do Not Stack label or cone), or by the consignee, to the effect that no other freight is to be loaded on top of the article, including, but not limited to, the following: Do not stack, top load only, do not top load, top freight, etc.
    5. If the load bearing surface occupies less than 50% of the surface area (greatest length and greatest width of the article).
  3. The weight per cubic foot relates to the density of each shipping package or piece and not to the shipment as a whole.


Say you were shipping 1 pallet of sheet steel, or NMFC 175120, which is a density based item.So how could this affect your shipment?

  • The dimensions are 144” L x 45” W x 18” H
  • The total weight is 550lbs.
  • This equates to 8.1 PCF & Class 100
  • In turn, sub 6 would be selected for this NMFC (175120-6)

However, if you change the dimensions based on the carrier’s rules tariff above, you now have the following:

  • The dimensions are 144” L x 45” W x 48” H
  • The total weight is 550lbs.
  • This equates to 3.1 PCF & Class 250
  • In turn, sub 3 would be selected for this NMFC (175120-3)





Training Tuesday:Sales Traits Part 2

Last week we discussed several sales traits and the signals to improve them that you may be getting from your prospects and customers. This week we’re covering five more of these sales traits and signals.

Handling Resistance. If you’re running into a lot of resistance, the best thing you can do is work on analyzing needs and talking about benefits. When customers ask the same question over and over – even though you feel you’ve addressed it – you may be focusing on a benefit that doesn’t matter to them, and failing to find out their true concerns.

Selling Pressure. You’re coming on too strong if, when you attempt to close, customers become defensive or raise objections that seem irrelevant. When a customer starts defending a competitor they were unsatisfied with, that customer is telling you to back off. And if it seems the longer you’ve known a customer, the harder it is to get an appointment with them, the message is “stop pushing.”

Compatibility. Customers tell you you’re compatible by greeting you warmly, calling you when they think you can help them, and showing an interest in you that goes beyond “strictly business.” If new prospects quickly become unwilling to see you, customers are rude to you and keep you waiting, or customers keep calls short and straight to the point and refuse your invitations to lunch or recreational activities, be concerned about compatibility.

Trust. If customers don’t trust you, they may show it by withholding information you need, especially sensitive information such as budget constraints or involvement with competitors. They may ask you to put everything in writing or require proof, in the form of technical documentation and third-party references, of everything you say. If they’re calling the home office to check up on you, you haven’t gained their trust.

Account service. Simply put, this means getting in touch with your customers often enough to know about any changes that might impact future orders, and being available to handle little glitches before they become big ones. If you’re weak in this area, you may be getting these signals: Business from new customers drops off after the second or third order, or you lose sales to a competitor, even though you believe your product is better.

These are all important sales traits to work on and listening to the signals from your customers will help you determine your strengths and weaknesses. Improving these skills will improve your overall sales success.


Intermodal 101:Role of a 3PL

As a refresher, a 3PL is a Third-Party Logistics provider. This means that a 3PL essentially acts as an intermediary between the shipper and the carrier to ensure that freight is transported correctly, efficiently, and cost-effectively. The 3PL will work with the shipper to create the optimum shipping plan using several different means.

The 3PL will coordinate with the shipper and determine if there is a need/opportunity to lock in intermodal pricing where it makes sense to do so.  This could be lanes that have the following characteristics:

  • Require equipment commitments from the rail providers
  • Need to move at predictable pricing, so they can budget the transportation costs.
  • Have static transit requirements that must be met

At the same time, the 3PL will look for lanes may have a higher level of flexibility available to them.  The shipper may be more willing to ride the pricing up and down as it changes throughout the year.  To take advantage of this, the freight should:

  • Have more flexibility to the expected delivery date
  • Be a commodity that may be able to tolerate longer transit times
  • Lane should have consistent equipment availability within 48 hours of request

In the next update, we will discuss the advantage of bringing in a 3PL to assist with shipping.


Training Tuesday:Sales Traits Part 1

Do you provide customers with the kind of sales and service they expect? It not, they’ll let you know about it – not directly perhaps, but through indirect messages related to each of the sales traits below.

1.Professionalism: If customers keep you waiting in the outer lobby or look at their watches while you’re talking to them, they’re commenting on your professionalism. If they seem hesitant to discuss their needs with you, or don’t return your calls, you probably have not made a businesslike impression. You have two opportunities to establish your professionalism – in the initial contact and in the way you continue to keep in touch.

2.Analyzing needs: If customers seem bored and restless during presentations because what they hear isn’t relevant to them; customers interrupt you with questions that sound impatient or brusque because they see that you don’t know enough about them to propose appropriate solutions; you lose sales to competitors, even when you’re sure your product performs better, because our competition does a better job of finding out what the customer needed.

3.Talking in benefits: If customers are truly interested in what you’re discussing, they will be attentive, and the conversation will continue after the formal meeting is over. If, on the other hand, they’re nice and polite, and ask good questions, but leave with a simple “Good presentation,” watch out! This is a sign that you probably didn’t do that well.

4.Technical Competence: If you avoid talking about the technical aspects or avoid the customer’s technical people because you’re afraid you’ll be tripped up by their questions, or if you had an easy time getting in the door but a difficult time scheduling further appointments, this is usually a sign that you are lacking in technical competence.

5.Asking for the order. If you don’t move customers towards a buying decision, or ask for their business, the dialogue and interest will fade away. Making a lot of calls, but not many sales, the prospect’s interest fading away, or leaving a sales call without feeling accomplished, are all signs that you may not be asking for the order at the right time.

Next week we’ll discuss some additional sales traits that you should already possess, and the signs you may get that signal a need to improve them.


LTL 101:Damaged Freight

LTL 101: Damaged Freight

Damaged freight is an unavoidable part of transporting freight, and while frustrating and challenging, there are things you can do to help mitigate the loss. Check out our tips on dealing with damaged freight below.

1: What do I do when I receive damaged freight?

Sign the delivery receipt as damaged… I repeat, SIGN THE DELIVERY RECEIPT AS DAMAGED!  If the receipt is signed as “clear”, it is almost guaranteed that your freight claim amount will be reduced to a settlement, or worse, denied altogether.

Below are a couple things to remember when signing for damages:

settlement, or worse, denied altogether.

Below are a couple things to remember when signing for damages:

  • Notate all damages – If only one item is notated damaged, more than likely the carrier will only refund that one item
  • Subject to Inspection” is NOT a valid notation – This notation is not enough to hold the carrier liable. When in doubt, notate “Damaged.”
  • If you must, refuse the freight – In cases where the driver will not let you sign or check for damages, refuse the freight.

2: Does the carrier need to be notified?

In short, yes, the carrier needs to be notified. Proper notations on the delivery receipt constitute as notifying the carrier.  If damages are noticed after the delivery, the carrier should be notified ASAP, and MUST be within 15 days of the delivery.  In most cases, any damaged shipment where the carrier was notified later than 15 days after delivery will be immediately denied by the carrier.

3: What do I need to file a damage freight claim?

When filing a freight claim, the more documentation, the better.  However, there are a few key documents that you should include with every freight claim.

  • Completed freight claim form
  • Product invoice/sales invoice
  • Proof of delivery/delivery receipt
  • Original Bill of Lading
  • Carrier freight bill (for freight charges)
  • Repair cost invoice (if applicable)

4: What should I do with the damaged freight?

Through every freight claims process, the freight needs to be available for the carrier, usually for inspection or salvage pickup.  This means the freight needs to be held onto until the freight claim is resolved.  DO NOT throw away the freight, including the packaging as this could result in the carrier denying the freight claim.

Your options are as follows:

  • The consignee can accept the freight and sign the POD as damaged/short and hold the freight until the freight claim is resolved.
  • The consignee can refuse the freight and have it shipped back to the shipper (usually Free Astray) where the shipper will hold the freight until the freight claim is resolved.
  • In some rare cases, carriers will dispose of the freight themselves if given the okay by the customer due to a complete loss of the product.
  • The carrier WILL NOT hold onto the damaged freight during the freight claims process and storage charges will accrue if disposition is not given to the carrier in a timely manner.



Training Tuesday:Fixing Sales Talk Mistakes

“Open mouth, insert foot.” It’s a saying used to describe what we feel happens when we say something that we should not have said because it could potentially be interpreted as inappropriate, hurtful, embarrassing for either party, or just awkward. In sales, you can occasionally say something and immediately want to take it back.

There are a few reasons this typically happens:

* We’re so excited and nervous to be talking to the customer that we get on a roll and can’t seem to stop ourselves

* We get defensive when we hear an objection – about our company, office, or service, and we rush to give an explanation

* We become uncomfortable or impatient with the silence after we ask a question, and we start speaking without waiting for an answer

* We say something we know didn’t sound right, but instead of stopping to regroup, we stumble on to the next potentially bad comment

The problem with this is that we can never fully take back those words. More importantly, we can’t predict a customer’s reaction to them.

What can you do when you’ve said something you wish you hadn’t?

  1. Offer a sincere apology. Give a genuine “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” followed by specifics of what you said or did.
  2. Use humor. With the right person and context, self-deprecating humor is helpful and almost always works.

Admitting that you did or said something wrong can be powerful in building a new customer relationship. We’re all human and we all make mistakes. Your customer knows that. Sometimes demonstrating the ability to admit your mistakes, and trying to remedy them, makes a customer want to work with you even more. It lets them know that you’ll be honest with them going forward.

We all make mistakes. Very few are fatal. Apologize when you make them. Learn from them and make it your goal to make fewer mistakes and more sales.