3PL 101: Dry Van Full Truckload

Jun 16, 2021
A Beginner’s Guide to Third-Party Logistics: What You Need to Know

Taking the next step to grow or scale your business can be a tricky task. You know that you need to scale your shipping and logistics, but you’re not sure what methods are best for you. For many businesses in the same position, dry van shipping is a popular option among carriers and shippers. Dry van truckloads, also called “dry van trailers” or “box trailers,” are enclosed boxes generally used for shipping non-perishable goods with fully closed and sealed trailers. While dry van is the most common method of freight shipping, it is important to understand the basics of dry van shipping and what to look for when selecting a logistics partner. Here are some basics that will help you design your dry van strategy.

What to Look for in Your Dry Van FTL Provider

The way you ship can make or break you. You’ve put in the time and sacrifice to set your business up the right way. Now you need a logistics partner to help you take the next step. Finding a trusted partner not only scales your logistics operations, it also optimizes costs and ultimately expands your brand’s reach into new markets. There’s no shortage of 3PLs out there, so you have to choose your partner carefully. The ideal partner has capabilities that align with your goals, vision, and mission. Before formalizing a partnership, ask yourself and your team these questions to make sure you know what you are looking for:

  • What locations are you shipping from, and how consistent are your truckload lanes?
  • What documentation do you need to provide for handling your shipment?
  • Does your freight require special equipment?
  • Does your shipment require anything beyond standard truckload service?
  • Will your shipment be crossing any borders? What services do you need to cross them?

Once you answer those key questions, you’re ready to evaluate your options based on key performance indicators (KPIs) and customer testimonials from trusted sources. You may want to consider KPIs that include:

  • Communication
  • Punctuality
  • Condition of goods delivered
  • Fallout percentage
  • Transports management system updates
  • Customer service
  • Billing process and accuracy

For a full breakdown of these categories and what to look out for in each one, read our article on Carrier Performance Metrics.

Understanding How Rates Work

Here are some things to consider when as you make key decisions about your shipping partner:

  • Mileage: This can be a tricky calculation. Longer distances may still come with higher costs, but you also need to consider the time of year, road conditions, and other hazards that may be faced on the road.
  • Lane(s): This is a complex calculation that combines your location of origin, your destination, and the volume going in and out of those locations. Cities with a high ratio of trucks to available freight may be cheaper to ship from than other locations with higher volumes than drivers.
  • Market capacity: This refers to the relationship between van availability and the demand for services.
  • Accessorial charges: These are costs that can be incurred during a shipment for additional work required, such as detention or special handling.
  • Seasonal variances: Rates often change during certain times of the year. Knowing your industry challenges is half the battle here. Retailers, for example, see a push to meet the holiday rush at the end of the year, while the produce industry will see their variance happen in the spring and summer months with large quantities coming from high produce-producing states.
  • Order attractiveness: Some carriers charge more for orders that go in or out of undesirable facilities. Availability of backhauls, ease of scheduling appointments, and ease of access are all examples of what might make an order attractive (or unattractive).
  • Timing: This includes lead times needed for processing orders, availability of drivers, weekdays vs weekends, and other factors around the scheduling of the shipment.
  • Contract type: Working with the shipper on a regular basis or on recurring orders makes your costs more predictable, while one-off orders will drive up your costs.
  • Fuel costs (whole trip): This is based on the price of diesel fuel, which can fluctuate and will need to be tracked.
  • Accessorial charges: These are costs that can be incurred during a shipment for additional work required, such as detention or special handling.
  • Service: If your order requires extra attention, communication, inspection for damage, specific expertise, or has strict deadlines, or if your shipment demands a higher service level, you can incur a higher cost.

Knowing the full burden of your full truckload (FTL) prices will help you manage costs more effectively and set you up for a fruitful partnership with your 3PL.

Understanding the FTL Services

No matter what industry you’re in or what you’re shipping, you need to understand the many options available to you that will help you increase your ability to meet your customers’ needs and successfully scale your business. An ideal 3PL partner specializes in helping you source same-day, scheduled, or contractual capabilities within our carrier network of 48’ or 53’ dry vans. Our service offerings are based on industry standards including weight capacity, pallet capacity, and standard lengths, widths, and heights of vehicles. The fate of your business will be decided by your ability to consistently make shipments and keep your customers happy. Your dry van strategy and how you leverage your logistics partner are a huge part of that success. Understanding the basics of how to evaluate dry van FTL providers, the cost structures associated with those providers, and what vehicle options are available to you are essential to helping you take your first steps to scale your business. Ready to learn more about First Call Logisitcs’ dry van services? Reach out to First Call Logistics for a quote today!

Simplify your Next Shipment with First Call Logistics

Building and managing cost-efficient supply chains is a full-time job. First Call’s rare combination of in-house assets, expert problem-solving and track record of stellar customer service makes us the 3PL of choice for business partners with a wide range of shipping needs.

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