E-commerce is blowing up, and so is the demand for shipping companies. While many e-commerce merchants aren’t shipping enough product to fill an entire trailer for a full truckload, they have enough product to look into using less than truckload companies, also known as LTL trucking.
If you’re a driver, you will want to know the best LTL company to work for, so continue reading as we discover the best LTL freight carriers and what each offers.
And when you’re finished, check out the other articles in our ‘LTL shipping’ series:
- What are the different types of LTL freight carriers?
- How is pricing determined for LTL shipping?
- What are the best LTL trucking companies?
Quicklook: Best LTL Trucking Companies
- Best For Individual Carriers: Uber Freight
- Best For International Shipping: FedEx Freight
- Best For Regional Shipping: Pitt Ohio Freight
- Best For Employee Satisfaction: UPS Freight
- Best For Customer Service: Yellow Corp Freight
5 Best LTL Trucking Companies
Many LTL trucking companies are on the market, offering different benefits and perks. Today, we will look at five LTL freight carriers and what they bring to the table for shippers and drivers.
Uber has an app where LTL freight carriers and shippers can connect with the tap of a button. If you have a freight truck, sign up, and after you’re approved, you have access to the load board and begin booking appointments.
Best For: Individuals looking for flexible work options
- Hassle-free booking
- Free quick pay
- Know before you go
- Name Your Haul
- Facility Ratings
- Uber Freight Plus
- All-in-one App
- Filter loads and find ones that will keep you local or send you out on a long haul
- Feedback from carriers and drivers about facilities is rated and shared so carriers can decide if they should pick up the load
- Rewards program that where discounts on truck parts, maintenance, and more can be earned
- Learns your preferences for routes and cargo types to send you alerts when similar ones are available
- Carrier may not be fully equipped to handle special deliveries, causing delays
- Drivers and shippers report difficulties when dealing with customer service
- No price negotiation
- Carriers report long load and unload wait times
If you’re looking for a national and international carrier that is reliable and trusted, FedEx Freight is the way to ship. The website is straightforward, and the app is easy to use. They offer several shipping options ensuring you’ll find one to fit your needs.
Best For: Shippers needing international coverage
Services: Ocean freight forwarding, International 1-5 day express delivery, Expedited and specialized freight shipping
- International Air Freight Shipping
- Freight International Services (FIS)
- Expedited Shipping
- Large Volume LTL shipments
- Import and export shipments in up to 130 countries and territories
- FIS team monitors LTL shipments to Mexico and Canada, conducting follow-ups with customs as needed to avoid delays
- Get freight shipped nationally overnight or same-day
- Get discounted rates by using empty truckload space for non-urgent shipments
- Shipping rates are typically higher than other carriers
- Charge for pickups
- Fewer offices
This company has been in the industry for over forty years and has an excellent reputation among regional LTL freight carriers. Pitt Ohio is your company if you need next-day regional deliveries in North America.
Best For: Shippers needing coverage anywhere in North America
Services: Heat Track Freeze Protection, Fast Track Expedited Services,
- Freeze Protection
- Direct LTL delivery within Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions
- Fast Track
- Protects products that can freeze between October 1st and April 30th with heated trailers
- Shipments arrive on time and in good condition
- Expedited shipping guaranteed and fees refunded if it is not delivered on time
- Limited coverage area
- Uses partner LTL trucking companies for more coverage
- Some workers complained that equipment upgrades are needed
When it’s time to find a carrier for employment, UPS Freight is one name that continues to make a loud statement. Their workers are unionized and therefore receive higher wages than other drivers for other LTL freight carriers.
Best For: Drivers looking for a full or part-time job
Services: Coyote Less Than Truckload
- Coyote LTL
- Coyote Intermodal
- Coyote Cross Border Ground Freight
- Program identifies the best truck to use for your shipment
- Reduces carbon footprint during long hauls
- Sources shipments to trusted carriers for coverage in Canada and Mexico
- Higher shipping fees than other carriers
- Saturday deliveries cost more
- Charge for pickups
Yellow Corp Freight
YRC Freight comes in at the top of the class when it comes to resolving issues. The customer service phone number is not buried on some obscure webpage. They are easily accessible and welcome feedback to help them improve. There aren’t many less than truckload companies who can boast the same.
Best For: Shippers who need a responsive customer service team
Services: Specialized Equipment, White Glove, Reverse Logistics
- Specialized Equipment
- Reverse Logistics
- Wide array of equipment for specialized shipping needs
- Fragile items are delivered inside, unpacked, and assembled
- Team dedicated team covers the entire return process keeping it simple for customers
- Poor operating ratios
- Declining revenues
- Recent leadership changes cause speculation around the company’s future
What Is Less Than Truckload (LTL) Trucking?
Less-than-load or less-than-truckload companies service businesses needing to ship small batches of goods routinely. Smaller shippers use LTL freight carriers because they are more efficient for transporting small loads, saving money.
How Does LTL Trucking Work?
When you’re not filling an entire truck and just shipping palettes of inventory, your goods will be placed on a truck with other small loads headed to the same area. This truck will make multiple stops, but it is more cost-efficient than shipping individual parcels.
How To Choose an LTL Trucking Company
When researching LTL trucking companies for your shipping needs, there are a few factors to consider. Let’s look below at those factors and how they influence your decision-making process.
The costs of getting your products from point ‘A’ to ‘B’ involve a few basic elements. However, LTL trucking companies can offer 65-75% or more off. Remember, you are renting space on the truck, and the more you consume, the deeper the discount. But the shipment’s weight, volume, and density can rack up extra fees.
Tariffs for LTL freight carriers contain density rules like Cubic Capacity, which addresses the lighter shipments that use more space than reserved for a standard pallet. The Linear Foot Rule demands shipments taking up ten or more linear feet be charged 1000 pounds per linear foot.
Similarly, the Oversize rule is for shipments with a dimension reaching more than twelve feet. Irregular shipments will result in additional charges, so if you fall into this category, be sure to mention it when shopping for quotes to gain an accurate sense of your costs.
Other fees charged by LTL trucking companies are limited access charges. If your shipment’s destination does not have a delivery dock or labor to unload the merchandise, you will end up paying for that service.
Do you know what freight class your product falls under? If not, it will cause delays and miscommunication around pricing. The higher the commodity class, the more you pay for shipping, so become acquainted with the different classes and where your goods fit on the list.
Also, if you’re shipping food, there are special accommodations to be made for transportation, and the company you’re working with should have temperature-controlled trucks for this reason. Be sure to inquire about the fees associated with shipping those items.
Each of the LTL freight carriers has its list of accessorial fees, so be diligent and ask lots of questions when conducting your research. You want a company that offers the best overall costs for your company’s needs.
LTL freight carriers can provide national, multi-regional, regional, or sub-regional services. Each has a specific coverage area, and the distance your goods need to travel will determine which coverage to choose.
National LTL trucking companies will transport shipments from one coast to another and border-to-border. Multi-regional carriers provide more coverage than regional companies by servicing two or more regions. If your shipment is only traveling through a few states, multi-regional is the way to go.
You should look into regional LTL freight carriers if you only operate within one service area. Sub-regional carriers only service particular areas within a region and are perfect for short-distance travel.
There are times when a national carrier may not deliver to a particular area and enlist the assistance of a regional or multi-regional carrier. This common industry practice is referred to as interlining and extends a carrier’s coverage area. If you ship items to Canada, find a company that crosses the border or works with another shipper who will.
Find out whether the company you want to use employs this practice, as liability coverage can differ between carriers. When your packages exchange hands, you want to know the LTL carrier’s partner company will provide the same customer service and product protections you expect.
Pick Up Times
Preparation is key to sending your shipment out in the most cost and time-efficient manner. If additional equipment is needed to complete the delivery, LTL freight carriers should know ahead of time.
You want to have the product and any further information ready to make the process as smooth as possible for everyone involved. It’s standard in the industry for LTL trucking companies to require at least a two-hour advanced notice for pickup.
Many carriers also ask for a two-hour pickup window and keep a tight schedule to ensure on-time delivery. Be sure to have the bill of lading (BOL) ready to hand the carrier, too!
A BOL receipt will serve as a contract between you and the LTL company. It shows the freight services being provided, and you can avoid any costly adjustments made to the paperwork by filling it out accurately.
Liability & Insurance
Unfortunately, damaged shipments are part of the business. You need to be prepared for when it happens and choose a company whose limit of liability will cover the value of your merchandise.
No one likes to suffer a loss, but the LTL freight carriers have insurance if such an accident occurs. Ask the company how they calculate the maximum payout for a damage or loss claim.
That max payment is their limit of liability and determines whether the LTL company can cover your losses should they damage your product.
Great Customer Service
Several issues may come up while conducting business, and you need to know your shipping company is accessible and responsive. How many avenues can you use to reach a customer service agent?
Visit the website to see if they have an email address or live chat for customer service. LTL freight carriers who use more advanced technology in their business will likely have more than just a phone number to call if you encounter a problem.
But a smaller company that only uses an over-the-phone customer service model can be very responsive. It all comes down to how you, the customer, are treated. Sometimes, smaller companies have a very personal relationship with the companies using their services and go above and beyond to find a resolution.
Larger LTL trucking companies may have a more impersonal approach, and your issue may get lost in the pile of other matters the carrier is resolving. So, do your research, call around, read reviews, and ask questions.
At the end of the day, you want a customer service team equipped to handle standard shipping issues and potential problems specific to your product.
Exceptional Reliability & Performance
These evaluation metrics can give you insight into the performance standards of LTL trucking companies. The carrier should pick up and deliver shipments within the windows of time provided.
Their reliability in terms of performing pickups and deliveries according to the allotted schedule will be assessed and reported. However, because the evaluation metrics are self-reported, their reliability is questionable.
This information is still important. Asking other shippers who have conducted business in the area will give you a better idea of the carrier’s performance.
Think about your delivery needs and whether they require additional equipment to be completed. That means being aware of the capabilities and special needs the building or area you are shipping to has.
You can then inform the LTL freight carriers you are comparing to determine how equipped they are to handle special deliveries. Doing so will avoid delays and additional costs you didn’t have to incur.
Which LTL Trucking Company is Best For You?
Choosing one option from the list of LTL trucking companies can feel overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for or which questions to ask. However, we hope you are now armed with enough information to start researching LTL freight carriers and find one that suits your business needs.
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The best LTL company to work for is the one that offers the benefits that fit best with your lifestyle. If you want to stay close to home, then a sub-regional carrier will be right for you. A national carrier will be a better fit if you love long drives.
FedEx Freight, Old Dominion Freight Line, and XPO Logistics are always head-to-head for the top spots in terms of the largest LTL carriers.
As the e-commerce industry continues to rapidly grow, LTL freight carriers are in high demand, making it a profitable time for the industry.
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