Best ROI in Freight - A Manufacturer's Perspective

September 13, 2018
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Best ROI in Freight - A Manufacturer’s Perspective

by Matthew D. Futter

Just-in-Time manufacturing requires an enormous investment of machinery, warehouse space, and of course personnel. Schedules are tight, and there is no room for even a tiny delay.

Planned manufacturing can be done in batches, with maximum efficiency, and by keeping overhead low, you can get much better pricing by planning a little bit ahead.

Transportation works the same way.

You can order an entire truckload on short notice. If you are willing to pay substantial premiums, you can almost always get someone to move what you need carried, even if they have to drop another load. But it will cost you. A lot.

You can ship less-than-truckload on the major-name carriers. A dozen or more of them operate fleets of their own trucks. Most of them will drive to your facility once, three times, even five times a week, to pick up your smaller shipments. Sometimes you may face a trip charge, a special fee for their sending out a full-size truck to your location, to pick up your smaller freight shipment and drive it to your destination. They also keep a lot of overhead in the form of that dedicated truck fleet.

First they might even cross-dock it, consolidate it, and carry it away from your ultimate goal, to take it to a central location where they want to run a full load across the country. You can pay less for this in dollars, but you will pay more in time. It depends on what you have more of, and what you can afford to invest in the shipment. But you still get door-to-door service, on-demand, when you need it.

It is a bit like traveling by airplane. If you have all the money in the world, you can charter an entire airplane on demand, to take you where you need to go, when you need to get there. We're talking tens of thousands of dollars, literally, for smaller planes. If you were to charter a larger plane, you could easily pay $50,000 for a single trip. It would be fast, direct, and even luxurious, but it is VERY expensive.

At the other extreme, you can walk into the airport on the day you need to fly, and buy a ticket right there. You can often fly, if there is room, but you may not have much of a choice over what you pay, where you sit, and even which airline can get you there, or even get you close. It is a gamble, and you cannot count on getting what you want, but you can try, if you can pay and be flexible with the details.

Split the difference by looking ahead, a few days, weeks, or even months, at your travel plans. If you spend the time on research, you can find fair rates around, and even some great rates for certain dates or places, where the airline sets the schedule and tells you what might work. The more time you can spend, the less money you might have to hand over.

Or hire a good travel agent, and you invest in expertise that can save you both time and money, while still getting the results you want. Experience can be worth much more than you think.

Back to truck transportation. If you can look ahead a few days or a few weeks, at shipping something across the state, or across the country, you can usually get just what you want, if you know how to do it right. Call on your agent, at a company like ARI Logistics, with offices in multiple cities and partners in even more; give them your pickup window and your preferred budget. Instead of gambling or throwing piles of money at the situation, you hire wisely, listen to what your expert tells you, and offer to pay a little for their advice. Hire their experience, their network, and sometimes even their equipment. If they don't have a truck driver on hand who can move your freight, they have people to call. Lots of people, from all over.

Need to deliver somewhere remote? Let your freight pro find someone who wants to get back home for the weekend; that driver will move mountains to get your freight delivered in time to relax for a day or two, where they are most comfortable; and they know the area, so you get double the expertise for the same amount of money.

Need to pick up from a busy city, where drivers are in high demand? Call someone with one of the largest networks in the business, so they can check every corner of the state, or even nearby states, to find you a driver who is available to move what you have to ship.

Need to watch your budget? Give your trusted shipping partner a target rate that you can afford. They only get paid when your shipment arrives, so they work on your behalf, protecting your interests. They're only happy when you are happy and your shipment reaches its new home safely. This is a partner who will watch your back, share your values, and listen to what you need. This is the best kind of company to move your freight, and these are some of the best people whom you can entrust with your time-sensitive shipments. A little planning, a lot of expertise, and affordable rates -- these are what separate the passionate experts from the "just in business" competition. Anyone can move freight. Not everyone can get yours there while giving you the peace of mind to focus on everything else you need to do.

Hire wisely. Ask a few questions, listen to how they respond. Find what you need with a company you can believe in, such as ARI Logistics. Then get back to work on the rest of your business, while they dig into your freight move, doing what they do best. With your new trusted partner, you can get more in return than what you invest.


With more than a decade of experience in manufacturing and freight management, Matthew D. Futter is now a writer and researcher as well. Read more of his work here.

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