Hot Tips for Freight Shipping in the Cold Winter Months
The great Benjamin Franklin once famously wrote, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Well, nothing against one of our founding fathers, but I think it’s safe to say he forgot to add the inevitability of winter to that list. While for most people winter simply means busting out scarves and ice scrapers, the freight shipping industry is more affected by the weather than almost any other.
On average, carriers in North America lose in excess of $2 billion dollars every year between the months of November and March due to weather-related claims. Between harsh road conditions and sub-zero temperatures, it’s nearly impossible for shippers to avoid some form of delays, shortages, or supply chain headaches. However, by planning ahead and preparing your business for the coming season, you can minimize the effects of old man winter’s wrath.
Freight Buddy has survived many a winter in the shipping industry. Thus, we’ve learned a few things over the years that could prove to be helpful to you, our reader. So, without further ado, here are five piping hot freight shipping tips to help your business make it through the cold winter months.
1 . Plan ahead and expect delays
A good rule of thumb is this: if you can’t drive your car on the roads, neither can the truck drivers carrying your goods. Even if you live in a southern state where you rarely ever see an inch of snow (and when you do, it shuts down the entire city), the majority of the rest of the country is dealing with icy roads and frigid temperatures. A shipment between two warm climate areas such as Florida and California might still need to travel through hard-hit states like Kansas and Colorado. Even if the weather doesn’t slow your delivery down, winter also brings with it the holiday season and its accompanying peak volume and additional personnel vacation days—so get out your calendar and plan accordingly.
Hot tip: Plan your shipments as far out in advance as you can. This may seem obvious, but it’s almost always better to get what you need two days early rather than two days late. Trust us.
2 . Consider the goods you’re shipping
Not all cargo is as hardy as a Canadian in January. Some goods, such as perishable foods, liquids, and chemicals, are very susceptible to freezing. Other items, like precision machinery for example, have lots of small parts and can easily get locked up, causing irreparable damage. This can all be avoided with a little careful thought and planning on your part. If these are the items you need to ship, you basically have two options: pay a premium for a temperature-controlled truck, or wait until the spring thaw.
Hot tip: When in doubt, pay extra for temperature-controlled shipping. If your items are at all sensitive to temperature extremes, it’ll be worth every penny. There’s nothing worse than knowing you saved a few bucks on an unsalvageable shipment.
3 . Keep everybody in the loop
Winter delays are often inevitable, so there’s no excuse for hiding it from the rest of your team. Whether it’s a vendor or a customer, be up front and honest with them from the get-go about any possible challenges for their delivery. If they know what to expect from the start, it makes any future communication (good or bad) that much easier to relay. Also, don’t ever promise early deliveries. You know the old adage: under promise, over deliver. Well, this is a great example. Don’t set your customers’ expectations too high during these rough shipping months unless you want to deal with their frustration and anger after yet another missed delivery window.
Hot tip: Utilize tracking systems. If your carrier offers tracking on their shipments, take full advantage. If it’s going to be late, at least it won’t be a surprise. Plus, it’s always a comfort knowing exactly where your items are in the world. Just don’t forget to share that information with everyone involved!
4 . If you have the space, stockpile
There’s a reason so many animals in nature gather months-worth of food before winter hits. If you wait until it’s too cold to go outside, you’re not long for this world. The same mentality applies to freight shipping. If you have a general idea of the goods you’re going to need for the season and you have the extra space, store it. While obviously this doesn’t work for every industry, particularly perishable goods and made-to-order items, but for many it does. If you’ve been in business for several winters already, you should have a pretty good idea of what you’ll need. If you don’t have space directly on-site, a warehouse or distribution center in a nearby city or state will be much easier to ship from than across the country.
Hot tip: Rent out local storage space for the season. Most major cities have options for large business storage. Purchasing nearby space for your excess goods could save you a ton of money (not to mention frustration) by not having to pay for things like expedited or temperature-controlled shipping.
5 . Work with an experienced freight broker
We can’t recommend enough the value of partnering with a professional third-party logistics company such as Freight Buddy. Our home of operations is in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, so we know a thing or two about shipping during wintertime. Not only can we help you find the best possible rates, but we can use our vast resources and experience to assist you every snowshoed step of the way. Whether that’s providing you with advice for properly insulating your goods, or helping you find a carrier that offers the seasonal services you require, Freight Buddy will make sure you can navigate any unforeseen challenges winter is sure to throw at you.
Hot tip: Consider using guaranteed shipping. It may cost extra, but if you really need your item ASAP, this is the way to go. When a carrier sees a “Guaranteed” sticker on your shipment, they make sure that your goods are the first loaded onto the truck, and the first to get taken off. It may not stop a blizzard, but it’s the next best thing.
Don’t get left out in the cold
There you have it. With these five hot tips at the tips of your fingers, your business is sure to thrive until spring. When the cold winds are howling but you need something shipped, we hope you’ll come knocking at Freight Buddy’s door. We’ll keep the fireplace lit for you.
If the thought of leaving the warmth and comfort of your home sounds a bit too daunting, go ahead and grab a free freight shipping quote on our website, or give us a toll-free call at 800.578.6009. Let Freight Buddy be the remedy to your winter freight shipping blues.