Small Business Brief

Shipping & Transportation

7 Questions You Need to Ask Before Hiring a Shipping Company

There are more than 100,000 trucking companies scattered across the U.S. There are also more than 350,000 independent owner-operators that specialize in handling the shipping needs of businesses throughout the country.

This means your business shouldn’t have any trouble at all when you need to obtain the services of freight shipping companies. There are more than enough of these companies to go around.

But you shouldn’t trust just anyone to tackle freight shipping for you. Instead, do your homework and find the best freight shopping company in your region to provide you with shipping services.

You can track down the right company by asking the right questions to the freight shipping companies you’re able to find. Make sure they’re capable of providing good answers to the questions before bringing them on board.

Here are 7 questions to ask prior to hiring a shipping company.

1. How Long Have You Been in Business?

The first thing you should ask freight shipping companies is how long they’ve been in business for. While there are lots of companies that have been providing businesses with shipping for years now, there are also many fly-by-night operations that pop up in the trucking industry.

The absolute last thing you want to do is trust an inexperienced company to ship your company’s products for you. You could very well be trusting them with a load that contains hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars worth of products.

Look for shipping companies that have been in the shipping industry for at least 5 to 10 years now. This will let you know that they know what they’re doing when they ship your products for you.

2. Do You Have Experience Shipping Products Like Mine?

What exactly are you going to be shipping through a freight shipping company? Do you need them to handle:

  • Electronics?
  • Vehicles?
  • Hazardous chemicals?
  • Clothing?
  • Perishable items?

Whatever the case might be, the company you hire should have more than just general shipping experience. They should also be very knowledgeable when it comes to shipping your specific types of products. This will ensure that they arrive safely at their final destination without any complications.

3. What Kind of Shipping Services Do You Offer?

Are you going to be shipping a full truckload of goods, or do you have a relatively small shipment that will only fill a portion of a truck? Regardless, the freight shipping company that you choose should be prepared to provide you with the services that will suit you best.

Some of the most common shipping services are full truckload shipping and less than truckload shipping (also known as LTL shipping). They’re ideal both for those who have full truckloads that they need to ship as well as those who have small shipments that will fit inside of a truck along with items from other companies.

There is also a shipping service called intermodal shipping that is slightly more complicated. It involves using more than one mode of transportation to transport goods. For example, your products might start off on the back of a truck before being placed onto a ship so they can be sent overseas.

If you require this type of shipping, you’ll need to find a freight shipping company that can provide it to you. Many smaller companies might not be able to offer intermodal shipping as an option.

4. What Type of Equipment Do You Use to Ship Freight?

Most freight shipping companies use a variety of different types of equipment to ship products for their customers. From small trucks and tractor-trailers to trains and ships, there are so many pieces of equipment that can come in handy when shipping goods.

In a perfect world, you should strive to work with a company that has access to all these different types of equipment. It’ll allow your shipments to arrive at their final destination quickly once they go out.

5. What Is the Time Frame for Your Shipments?

Speaking of sending your shipments out quickly, you should ask the freight shipping companies you speak with to estimate how long it’ll take for the shipment you make to arrive.

These days, time is of the essence for most companies. Your customers depend on you to ship items as fast as you can to them. Therefore, you need a freight shipping company you can trust to ship your products within a reasonable time frame. 

6. How Much Do Your Shipping Services Cost?

Cost shouldn’t necessarily be your No. 1 concern when you’re shipping products for your company. Obviously, you want to spend the least amount of money as you can on shipping. But you don’t want to do it at the expense of your products or your desired time frame.

Work with companies that can provide you with a freight quote ahead of time. This will allow you to compare quotes from different companies while you’re also comparing things like their experience levels and their services.

7. Can You Provide Insurance on My Shipments?

Any time you ship something, you want to be 100 percent sure that it’s going to be safe and protected.

You can do this by working only with highly skilled and experienced freight shipping companies. But you can also do it by making sure that shipping companies have purchased the necessary insurance policies for the products they ship.

Ask companies what types of cargo insurance they have and how it’ll protect you and your company’s products if you choose them.

Always Interview Freight Shipping Companies First

When you’re looking around at different freight shipping companies, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all your options. You might be tempted to simply pick the shipping company that offers the best price and what seems like reasonable services.

But by interviewing shipping companies and getting to know them better, you can find the company that’s truly right for your business. It’ll help you avoid unnecessary headaches later and make shipping less of a hassle for you.

Working with the right shipping company is one way to save your business money. Read our blog for more money-saving tips for your tight budget.