What Asking For a "Truck in Hand" Means For Receiving Coverage From a Broker

Semi truck parked in the trailer yard

You can’t trust just anyone with your shipment. Your deadline is important and your customer is waiting. And so, you’re asking if we have a “truck in hand” for your freight.

If we do, you can depend on us, if we don’t you can’t. It’s that simple. . . Or is it?

Here at ATS Logistics, we’ve been operating as a freight brokerage since 1989. During this time we’ve worked with many companies and moved freight all over the world. As such, we understand that when you ask for “truck in hand capacity” you’re really asking for something else. 

In this blog, we’ll explain :

At its conclusion, this blog will give you far better insight into how your pain points, the things you truly care about, can be addressed by moving your freight with a brokerage. Let’s get into it. 

What Asking for a “Truck in Hand” Tells Us

As a freight brokerage, when we’re talking with a potential partner, like you, and they ask us “do you have a truck in hand?” at that moment we understand several things.

You Value Reliable Service

First and foremost, this tells us that as a key stakeholder in your company’s shipping process, you value the quality of service you're given and trust just as much, if not more, than you do the rate. We understand that you have customers of your own, these customers have deadlines and goals, budgets to meet, families to see and dogs to walk.  

Your customers shouldn’t be left wondering when their shipment will show up because of a lack of planning and execution on your transportation provider’s part. As such, your provider must do everything in their power to put you at ease with your decision. 

They’re experts and you’re depending on their expertise. It’s that simple.

That said, we know it can be difficult to trust a third party, an organization you’re unfamiliar with. Below, we’ll break down what we know are the pain points at the root of the question “do you have a truck in hand?” so that we can put your mind at ease. 

You’ve Been Burned Before

On the whole, the transportation industry is massive. Because of the nature of our free-market economy, if you have a truck, the desire to make a living and the drive to make it happen, you can.  

With hundreds of thousands of trucking companies and carrier partners across the nation to choose from, there are plenty of bad seeds. Some companies simply shouldn’t be in the business of moving freight. 

These organizations focus solely on maintaining their bottom line as they ignore the concerns of their customers, fall through and show up late with regularity. 

This industry, for good companies, isn’t about making a bunch of money on a single transaction. Successful brokerages are focused on maintaining great relationships that produce smaller monetary gains, many times over. 

If you’ve been burned before and were left scrambling for a last-minute solution, it’s not because your partner didn’t have a truck in hand, it’s because they didn’t have your best interests in mind.  

You Don’t Trust a Brokerage’s Process

The third thing that’s conveyed to us when you ask for a “truck in hand” is that you simply don’t trust a freight brokerage’s process. And, frankly, we don’t blame you. 

Too often freight brokerages are given a bad name by those companies who simply don’t have the resources to stick to their quoted pricing and stand by their commitments

A good brokerage will explain their process for acquiring your best-fit truck, and provide quality service you can rely on. 

Peace of Mind is Important To You

Like many industries, your industry is hectic, and many things can feel out of your control every day. For this reason, you’re asking if we have a “truck in hand” so that you can verify that we’re truly able to meet your needs. You may ask for the driver's name, truck number and track record to put your mind at ease so you no longer have to worry about your shipping solution

All of this is justified. You deserve peace of mind, you deserve consistency. As a brokerage, we work with companies every day who have the same concerns as you. These companies move freight regularly throughout America’s highways. 

At one point or another, these companies had also been burned. They came to us searching for the peace of mind that you’re looking for right now. And rightfully so.

You’re On a Tight Schedule

You’re cutting it close this time. You know you’ve got a shipment coming up and you need to deliver for your customer. There’s simply no room for delays and you need to know that when you tender your load to your provider they’ll come through. As such, you’re asking us if we’ve got a “truck in hand”. Is there a truck nearby that’s ready and waiting for your shipment? 

Although, as a freight brokerage, we don’t own or operate the trucks that show up to service your shipment, the relationships we maintain and the visibility we employ when working with carriers is just as valuable. 

Semi truck parked on the highway

Why Asking For a “Truck in Hand” Can Be Detrimental

Although asking for a physical truck in hand for your shipment may seem like the most feasible option for your business, it can prove detrimental in the end. 

The ways that this can negatively impact you can be broken down in three ways.

  1. You may pay higher than the market rate
  2. Your load may get less attention
  3. You lose out on building a lasting relationship of trust

1 . You May Pay Higher Than The Market Rate

Having multiple people sourcing for your load when you ask for a “truck in hand” on your lane at a particular time can often lead to increased pricing as you unintentionally drive your rate upward.

This price spike is tied to the fact that when asking multiple brokers for a truck in hand - which is impossible to provide until they present your load to their carrier network - you’re offering your load multiple times to the same pool of carriers, thereby driving competition, and cost, up. 

Additionally, asking your broker for a “truck in hand” may increase your rate as they need to price your load higher to entice a wider network of available trucks. These are trucks that, since they’ve seen your load multiple times, understand that you are more interested in acquiring a solution than securing a reasonable price. This understanding leads to price increases since the drivers who can guarantee capacity recognize their bargaining power. 

2. Your Load May Get Less Attention

When you ask a transportation company for a “truck in hand” the carriers they turn to may become less motivated to service your freight. Since these companies have other loads that have already been tendered in your area, they’ll pay attention to those shipments first. 

Carriers like guaranteed freight. For this reason, carriers are less likely to agree to a load when a broker is looking for multiple options since this can sometimes lead to a service failure on a broker's part as they find a better option. 

In the end, your freight may end up on the back burner as your deadline approaches due to competing tendered freight from other customers. As such, you’ll end up paying more than you would’ve if your broker did not have to sit on your freight as they try to find a “truck in hand”. 

3. You Lose Out on Building a Lasting Relationship of Trust

Although it may be difficult, the more trust you put into your relationship with your transportation provider the better. 

In the best instances, these relationships become mutually beneficial partnerships that are far more rewarding than any one-off, frequently overpriced, shipment tendered on the promise of a “truck in hand”. 

Solid relationships between brokers and their customers can lead to better pricing, market insight and greater supply chain efficiency.

Drop deck trailer loaded with construction equipment

What a Freight Brokerage Does to Secure Your Truck 

One thing that will truly help you as you continue to build trust in your brokerage is to understand exactly how they secure your truck. Although it’s never a “truck in hand” situation where capacity is guaranteed, when done correctly, a brokerage’s process is just as effective. 

    1. Reach Out to a Preferred Carrier partner

As soon as you bring your shipment requirements, location, destination and delivery timing to your freight brokerage their work begins. This starts by bringing your unique specifications to their network of preferred carriers. 

These are carriers who have a longstanding history and well-entrenched relationship with your brokerage. They have been working alongside your brokerage for many years, have been reliable and are continually improving their processes. 

Sometimes, like in the case of ATS Logistics, companies have a sister company that is granted the first right of refusal on all loads. This means that as soon as they’re given a shipment to service, these brokers present it to their corporate partners who have asset capabilities. This can become a great resource for these brokers as they have this relationship to leverage when capacity is tight and timing is important.  

   2. Present Load to Their Extended Carrier Network

If for some reason, your load cannot be serviced by any of your partner’s preferred carriers, the process of finding you a truck continues. Next, a good brokerage will bring your capacity request to their wider network of carriers in your area. These are carriers who have worked with and come through for, your freight brokerage in the past. They’ve been vetted for reliability, safety and best practices. 

There’s no need to test drive someone new, a good brokerage only uses carriers who are vetted for safety, reliability and a number of other criteria. This helps to promote a healthy and consistently dependable supply chain.  

   3. Bring Load to Carriers Outside of Their Network

If, after presenting your load to their preferred and wider network of carriers your brokerage isn’t able to find you a truck, it’s not time to panic. This industry is all about relationships. As such, your freight brokerage, if they’re good at their job, will have an extended pool of contacts throughout the industry who they can turn to for a truck. 

Although these carriers are outside of their usual network, a freight brokerage will always do their due diligence before assigning carriers a shipment of any kind. 

How a Good Freight Brokerage Follows Through For You

   1. Provides Accurate & Timely Information

Although they simply can’t have a “truck in hand” a good freight brokerage will always provide accurate information regarding your shipment. This includes, where your truck is located, when it will arrive and when you should expect to hear from them next. 

This type of process provides clarity and trust in what can otherwise be a nerve-wracking process. 

   2. Communicates & Sets Appointments with Shipper & Consignee

From the moment you tender your freight with brokerage until the second it’s delivered, communication should be key. When working with a good broker you should never feel like you’re in the dark on the progress of your shipment or when your truck will arrive. 

In addition to this, freight brokers oversee the logistics of your project. This means that they take charge of setting appointments between the shipper, truck and receiver of the shipment. Doing so ensures that nobody is surprised when a truck shows up at their facility. 

When working with a good broker, deadlines are kept and communication is fluid. 

   3. Resolves Issues That May Arise 

The final and most important way that a trusted broker will come through for you is by handling all the issues that pop up while your freight is under their care. They are the ones who pick up the phone and leverage their expertise when something unpredictable happens.

This means that even if the trucking solution they booked for your shipment falls through, they will handle it swiftly and competently as they find you a secondary solution. 

“Truck in Hand” Food for Thought

Even if you don’t end up using ATS Logistics for your next shipment, we want you to have all the information possible when making this crucial decision. 

Now that you have a better understanding of how asking for a truck in hand can have unintended outcomes for your business and what a freight brokerage can do to secure your truck and follow through for you, you’re ready to continue your search.

You would be remiss to make your purchasing decision based solely on truck-in-hand capacity, or any metric, alone. Things fall through all the time, this happens with asset carriers and brokerages alike. It's what your partner does when this happens that makes the biggest impact on your business. If you’d like more information on how ATS can meet your shipping needs, reach out. We’re always happy to help in any way we can.

Tags: Freight Brokerage, Flatbed Shipping, Project Logistics, Dry Van Shipping, Spot Rate Pricing, Asset-Based Carrier, Terminology

Christopher Matuska

Written by Christopher Matuska

Christopher has been with ATS Logistics as a national sales representative since 2018. During this time, Christopher has developed relationships with his clients that extend beyond the business of freight. Trust, transparency and communication are all things that Christopher works to foster in his relationships with clients as he works to put their needs first every time.

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