Same-Day Shipments: Do's, Don'ts, & Tips for Success

A dry van truck traveling quickly in a metropolitan area

Let’s come right out and say it: Nobody wants to be in a position to need to ship same-day. 

But the reality is that these things happen. A carrier drops the ball, or another supply chain hiccup scrambles your plans. 

You know that same-day shipments deserve the same level of quality service as any other. But how can you select the right carrier for your same-day freight, and what can you do to ensure success?

Transparency, communication, flexibility, and realistic expectations will serve you well as you work with a carrier to get your same-day shipment out on time.

Like many transportation providers, Anderson Trucking Services, Inc. (ATS) handles its fair share of same-day freight. For decades, we’ve helped shippers like you find solutions to these unexpected needs.

In this article, we’ll walk you through some of our top do’s and don’ts for finding same-day coverage on your freight. 

Along the way, we’ll offer our expert tips so that by the time you’re finished reading, you’ll feel prepared to handle any same-day shipping scenarios you encounter.

What Should Shippers Look for in a Same-Day Carrier?

The truth is, if you’ve found yourself in need of a same-day carrier, you probably don’t have the luxury of shopping around. 

When time is of the essence, your best bet is to select a carrier from your existing network that has the capacity and capabilities to handle your same-day freight. 

Still, you don’t want to just throw a dart at your network and hope for the best. Here are some qualities to consider when looking for a same-day provider: 

  • Experience. Both with same-day freight and with your company. What has your experience been with this carrier? How often do they handle same-day freight? The more experienced a carrier is with same-day shipments, the better equipped they’ll be to solve problems on your behalf.
  • Type of transport. If your same-day shipment is a flatbed load, you’re not going to give it to a carrier that only has reefer trucks, right? Pick a carrier that has the capacity to place your freight on its best-fit vehicle.
  • Network size. Larger networks drive faster solutions when challenges arise. You’ll want to look for carriers that value both quality and quantity in their networks.
  • Communication. Choose a carrier with whom you’ve had clear, consistent communication in the past. You’ll feel better knowing your carrier will keep you updated.

Same-Day Shipping Tips

A same-day shipping situation can be stressful, but with the right mindset, shippers can set themselves up for success and prevent potential snags in the process. 

We’ve put together a list of our top five do’s and don’ts for shippers as they navigate the search for same-day coverage. 

These simple best practices will allow you to put your best foot forward in same-day shipping scenarios and remain proactive — even when unforeseen circumstances have disrupted your plans. 

  1. DO: Trust your network
  2. DON’T: Assume more is better 
  3. DO: Provide all the details ASAP
  4. DON’T: Expect a bargain
  5. DO: Stay flexible

A truck travels toward a sunset

DO: Trust your Network

You built your carrier network on a foundation of reliability, trust, and responsiveness, carefully vetting each new company before welcoming them into your inner circle. 

Now’s the time to let all that hard work pay off. 

These carriers are in your network for a reason, right? So, rather than looking outside your network for a hero carrier to handle your same-day freight, lean on your relationships with carriers you already trust.

If a carrier says they don’t have capacity for your same-day freight, you can turn to another reputable provider in your network — or even ask that carrier for a recommendation of other companies they’d trust. 

In the transportation industry, relationships are everything. When you return to tried-and-true partners, you’re more likely to receive better responsiveness, better rates, and an overall better experience. 

DON’T: Assume More is Better

Some shippers make the mistake of assuming the more transportation providers to which they give a same-day load, the better their chances of finding coverage. 

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Instead, smart shippers operate under a different assumption: The more you put a load out, the more you’ll spend — and the less likely you are to find the coverage you’re seeking.


Yep: It may seem counterintuitive, but there’s no upside to giving your shipment to every load board and broker under the sun. Doing so will typically increase your costs, and will be detrimental to your ultimate goal of getting the load covered.

While shippers should send requests for quotes (RFQs) to multiple carriers to ensure they have options, don’t muddy the waters by bringing in too many possibilities.

Request quotes from just a few trusted transportation partners to keep the process cost-effective and efficient. 

Related: 3 Advantages of Receiving Multiple Quotes for Your Freight Shipments

A flatbed carrying an oversize load travels at speed

DO: Provide All the Details ASAP

As soon as you know you need same-day coverage, reach out to carriers with all the relevant information for that shipment. 

Offering a shipment first thing in the morning is the best-case scenario for everyone involved, but in general, the sooner you can get in contact with your carrier, the better. 

It’s important to come to your carrier with all the details for your shipment in hand, so you both can spend less time on logistics and get your freight rolling fast.

As with any shipment, carriers take many factors into account to determine whether they can cover your same-day load, including but not limited to:

  • Freight type
  • Truck requirements
  • Miles
  • Lane
  • Timeline, including pickup and delivery windows

If there are any special considerations for your load — if it’s a hazmat or high-value load, requires driver assist or extra stops, or is an over-dimensional (OD) shipment, for example — mention that right away. These factors will make it more difficult to find coverage, so the earlier they’re known, the better. 

DON’T: Expect a Bargain

Shippers can expect to pay more for same-day shipments than they would for their regularly scheduled freight. 

Why? Shippers only turn to same-day solutions when they have no other alternative, and the truth is that carriers can and do leverage that urgency to raise rates. 

Furthermore, the less attractive your load is to drivers — like if it’ll take them to a remote location for drop-off and force them to deadhead back — the more you’ll pay for coverage.

A toy flatbed carries several rolls of U.S. currency 

Raised rates are not ideal, of course, but it’s the cost of doing business when freight must move that day. Better rates can sometimes be achieved if shippers can offer alternative options, or accept alternate plans from their carriers. 

Related: What Does Same-Day Shipping Cost?

DO: Stay Flexible 

The more flexibility you can offer your carrier, the better. Before you pick up the phone to call your carrier, ask yourself: What can I (or my company) do to give my carrier as many options as possible?

As fellow industry professionals, carriers do understand the stress and urgency shippers feel when forced to seek out same-day solutions. 

While carriers empathize with shippers in these circumstances, shippers need to be open to alternatives. 

Often, these alternatives — such as shifting a delivery window or waiting to ship until the following day — make it easier for the carrier to find coverage and prevent the shipper from paying even more. 

So, if your supply chain can handle the temporary stress of a change in plans, you may find that flexing on some of the particulars is the best choice for your overall operations. 

Work with your carrier to determine what tweaks can be made to ensure your freight moves without an undue burden on your budget or carrier resources.

Related: Why Is Same-Day Freight Shipping More Difficult? (Explanation & Planning Tips)

Looking for a Carrier for Your Same-Day Freight?

If you’ve read this far because you have a same-day load you need to move, don’t panic. 

You’ve already built a network of reputable carriers, so when unforeseen issues force your hand, you have some great options right at your fingertips.

It’s important to resist the urge to send your shipment out to every load board and broker you can think of, as this can be counterproductive to your goal of moving that freight, fast. 

Instead, request quotes from two or three trusted carriers as soon as you know you need same-day coverage. Be sure to provide them with all the details on your shipment up front, so they can get back to you with an accurate quote much more quickly. 

Once you select a carrier, you’ll work with them to determine the best course of action for your freight. The more flexibility you can offer in terms of time and creative alternatives, the more likely you are to save money and get your load to its destination as efficiently as possible. 

A shipper talks to their carrier over the phone

Needing same-day coverage is a tough spot to be in for any shipper, but as long as you stay as flexible as possible with your plans and grounded about the realities of your situation, you’ll come out on the other side no worse for wear. 

Wondering if the carriers currently in your network are up to the challenge of same-day shipping? Check out our Transportation Provider Scorecard!

This free tool provides a user-friendly framework to help you vet your current providers. You’ll be able to easily visualize which carriers are exceeding expectations, and which could use further review. 

If you have any other questions about shipping same-day freight, feel free to reach out to the ATS team. We’re always happy to answer shippers’ questions and provide the knowledge you need to make solid decisions for your business.


Amanda Garner and Cory Link

Written by Amanda Garner and Cory Link

Amanda and Cory are both part of the ATS Logistics Team. Amanda has been with ATS in various positions for over 15 years. Today, Amanda is an operations manager overseeing the ATS Logistics Vans department. Cory has also been with the company for over a decade. He manages a group of National Sales Representatives. As co-authors, Amanda and Cory offer expert perspectives from both the Operations and Sales sides of ATS Logistics.

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