What is Multi-Stop Truckload Shipping?

The trucking industry is full of unique services dedicated to making the lives of shippers and receivers a little bit easier. You frequently ship freight to multiple customers but recently this process has become tedious and difficult to manage. 

You know that there are other service options available but sometimes the value of these services isn’t immediately evident. And so, you’re here hoping to learn a bit more about multi-stop truckload shipping. 

Here at ATS, we’ve worked with plenty of customers who use multi-stop shipping as an integral piece of their supply chain as it helps them stay on schedule and maximize their budget. 

As a result, we understand that this process can seem confusing to an outsider. That said, you, like our customers before you, deserve to know how this service can help your business thrive. 

In this blog, we’ll explain: 

  • What multi-stop truckload shipping is
  • When multi-stop shipping should be used for your business 
  • How multi-stop shipping impacts transportation costs
  • What you can do to become a master in multi-stop shipping

What is Multi-Stop Truckload Shipping?

Multi-stop truckload shipping is a method of full-truckload (FTL) shipping utilized when a shipper needs to make multiple drop-offs along a specified route. Instead of completing the entire shipment on one drop, this service plugs many stops into the truck’s overarching route. 

For instance:

Let’s say you’re a shipper who has multiple customers, located at varying intervals along a section of interstate between Phoenix and Las Vegas. This 300-mile strip of Interstate 11 is the prime route through which you’re consistently making deliveries to each of your customers. 

As such, you understand this section of your supply chain and have excellent relationships with each of these parties. Since your customers are located consecutively, along Interstate 11, you decide to congregate all of your product onto a single truck and make multiple stops along the route to Las Vegas. 

Dropping products at numerous locations along, or around, a fixed “lane” is the primary purpose of multi-stop truckload shipping. 

Instead of sending out multiple smaller shipments, multi-stop shipping grants you the ability to utilize a designated truck for a larger quantity of freight. This cuts down your cost, increases visibility and sparks convenience in an otherwise complicated process. 

53 foot freight shipment

When Should You Use Multi-Stop Services For Your Shipments?

Using multi-stop services for your shipments could be a great option if you have multiple customers/consignees spanning the length of a designated lane. If you’re a shipper who’s constantly battling against the transit timing and visibility issues of using multiple smaller trailers, multi-stop shipping may be for you. 

It’s important to note that, for this process to run as smoothly as possible, you need to maintain consistent communication between all parties. This will help to make sure that when your truck shows up to drop freight, nobody's caught off guard. 

Additionally, multi-stop services and the distribution of freight at each stop must be outlined in the shipment’s bill of lading. If this vital information isn’t outlined, you may run into logistical issues stemming from missing items or lost freight. 

How Do Multi-Stop Shipments Positively Impact Price?

Multi-stop shipments — when handled properly — can be a highly cost-effective solution for the businesses that use them. This is attributed to two main aspects of this practice:

1 . You Avoid The Cost of Booking Multiple Trucks

In a transportation market that’s as tight as it has been in recent years, booking multiple trucks to move smaller amounts of freight simply isn’t as cost-effective as doing so with a single truck, driver and trailer. 

Due to the ongoing driver shortage and continually rising demand for trucking solutions, the average cost to book a truck has skyrocketed in recent history. As such, finding more than one truck to deliver separate shipments to various locations will, in most cases, cost heavily.

2.  You Reduce Your Vulnerability to Liability Claims

Because your freight isn’t sharing a trailer with shipments from other companies, it’s subject to far less handling and — since you’re in charge of its route — you’re given far better visibility over its touchpoints. Both of these facts help to cut down on the likelihood of freight getting damaged or lost while in transit. 

Although these are both excellent examples of how multi-stop shipping can help to reduce the price you’re paying, when not properly planned, this service can also hurt your budget. 

If you’re not working with a transportation partner who has a demonstrated history of handling the logistics of this service, it may come back to haunt you. 

Often, shoddy communication during drop-offs can lead to costly delays that lead to unexpected payments in the form of accessorial charges.

Because of this, you’ll want to make sure that you have all the pieces in place to successfully and efficiently work multi-stop services into your supply chain. Loading the trailer first-in last-out will help you achieve this. 

How Do Multi-Stop Shipments Negatively Impact Price?

Although multi-stop shipments can, in many instances, bolster your bottom line, this isn't always the case. Often, adding multiple stops to your shipment will increase the price you pay as truck drivers become less apt to accept your load at single-stop price points. 

This is tied to the fact that multiple stops add time to the overall duration of a trucker's commitment to your shipment making it necessary for them to fully commit to your supply chain for the specified duration. 

Note, the amount of extra money you pay per stop typically decreases as more stops are added to a load. As such, you should expect to pay upwards of $300 for the first added stop your shipment needs to make and less than $300 per every subsequent stop. 

Your Next Step Toward Multi-Stop Mastery

Now that you have a better grasp on what multi-stop truckload services are and how they can make an impact on the lives of those who use them, you’re ready for the next step in your shipping adventure. 

Ask your transportation provider if they provide multi-stop truckload service and — if they do — whether it would be a good fit for your supply chain. 

To help you better understand some of the other shipping options available to save you time and money, read this blog on the advantages of using drop trailers for freight shipping. Doing so will get you one step closer to becoming the master of your shipping budget. 

As always, if you’d like more information about how ATS can help you meet your shipping goals, or whether multi-stop truckload shipping is a fit for your business, please reach out. We’re always happy to assist you. 

Tags: Transportation Solutions, Freight Brokerage, Dry Van Shipping, Multi-Stop Shipping, Terminology

Mike Zarns

Written by Mike Zarns

Mike started with ATS in 2011 and was onboarded as a carrier representative covering loads. A year later, he transitioned into sales, and in 2015 he moved into management. Mike has a passion for helping customers and employees by finding unique solutions to their problems.

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