In the trucking industry, there are very few loads that don’t have some degree of special requests, such as:
- Specific pick-up or drop-off time
- Driver certifications (TWIC, background check, etc.)
- Hazmat or tanker endorsement
- Extra stops
Transportation providers with access to a wide network of trucks and drivers will be able to accommodate most requests for an additional fee. As the shipper, you may be able to save money and time by properly asking for what you need. And while it’s always a good idea to say please, there are a few more industry-specific details you should know.
The drivers and staff at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS) have been working with shippers to deliver as specified since 1955. While we always do our best to accommodate requests, we have learned a few tips that simplify things for us and for our valued customers. These increase the odds of success on every load.
Read on to learn:
- The process for making special requests for freight handling and transport
- The best resource to handle any type of request
- When to make special requests
With this information, you’ll be prepared to find a carrier who can meet your specific handling needs.
Freight Shipping: How to Make Special Requests
Special requests, especially those that require a driver to obtain supplies or prepare ahead of time for your shipment, should be communicated as soon as possible to your point of contact at your brokerage or carrier.
Here are three tips for making special requests of your transportation provider:
1. Make the Request in Writing
Written requests eliminate potential confusion or miscommunication. Even if you made the request over the phone, follow up with an email laying out the details, and make sure the request is on the load tender. Specifying these requests in writing creates a paper trail you can refer to later.
Communicating via email or text also means you can include visual aids. A picture is worth a thousand words, and pictures, diagrams or CAD drawings can help your carrier understand what they will be dealing with and make recommendations.
2. Be Specific
It will be most helpful to the provider if you explain the problem and your proposed solution. For example, if your over-dimensional shipment can’t get wet, specify the dimensions of the freight so that the driver is prepared with the correct tarps.
Specifying the problem may also help your transporter find an alternative solution that works better or saves you money.
For example, instead of requiring 8-foot tarps, specify the measurements of your freight — that may let the provider use their network and experience to find a driver with another size tarp that will fully cover your freight.
It may seem disingenuous to suggest being both specific and flexible. But by being specific with your needs and flexible about the solution, you’re likely to get the best deal possible.
3. Plan Ahead
When making requests, allowing your carrier or broker 24-48 hours of lead time makes it easier for them to find a driver willing to accommodate your needs.
It may be possible to accommodate requests at the last minute, however, this usually means extra fees. For example, if you need a driver with a specific certification, someone may have to be rerouted from an existing load — which is more expensive than finding an available driver with that certification.
Trucking companies have vast experience with special requests. Your freight is unique and valuable. Matching expectations before transit starts will help the entire process go more smoothly.
Following protocol for special requests also involves contacting the appropriate party. While it may be tempting to work through the driver, that’s not always the best solution for executing requests.
Who Handles Freight Shipping Requests?
For best results, make special requests of your contact at the carrier or broker instead of the driver.
The driver’s responsibility is to pick up the load as specified, secure it and transport it to the destination. They are not necessarily the one who sets the price for tasks, makes changes to the terms of the load or figures out the solution for special requests.
Working with your point of contact protects both you the shipper and the driver in case of dispute. This also makes sure everyone involved in the transaction is treated fairly. For example, your representative can help you obtain insurance if needed, set a fair price for additional driver tasks and make sure the driver has securement straps, tarps and other tools as needed.
Your point of contact has a responsibility to both the shipper and the driver. By working with them, instead of the driver, you will ensure all paperwork is accurate and both parties are protected.
Trucking is a dynamic industry, and last-minute changes are common. If you need to make changes when the driver is onsite, your carrier representative is still the most qualified to make them.
The rule of thumb is that routine conversations about the haul, such as loading, securement and directions, can be with the driver. Conversations about the terms of the load, or scheduling and location changes should be routed through your point of contact so they can find the solution.
Save Money on Cargo Shipping and Handling Costs
While trucking companies are used to accommodating special requests, most of these accommodations come with accessorial charges — especially those that involve driver time or effort.
Most drivers are paid for the distance they drive each day. When they spend time tarping, waiting around or making more stops, they are essentially losing income. Accessorial charges compensate them for that time.
This is part of the benefit of planning. Asking a driver who already has the appropriate tarps to cover a load means less lost time than asking a driver who has to obtain the tarps and learn how to use them.
With the request and budget in place, your load is ready for transport!
Prepare for Successful Cargo Shipments
Drivers take pride in their role in transporting freight to its destination. With proper notice, they can also accommodate your special handling needs.
If the freight is considered critical and requires special handling, most drivers will be willing to meet the shipper's needs. The shipper should remember to use proper channels for the ask, be prepared for accessorial fees and plan ahead if possible.
Not all carriers will be able to handle every request. If you have specific freight shipping needs, the Freight Carrier Selection Checklist can help you vet potential carriers and find the one best suited for you.