Why Is Same-Day Freight Shipping More Difficult? (Explanation and Planning Tips)


Whenever your freight needs to move urgently, things get more complicated. 

You see, transportation companies have a lot to deal with, even at the best of times; truck drivers require loads to haul, shippers need a reliable solution, equipment must be purchased, maintained and replaced and all federal regulations must be intimately observed. 

Getting all the pieces in place to move cargo successfully takes time. Typically, 24-48 hours of it for legal shipments. 

So, when a shipment needs to pick up on the same day it is presented to a provider, the rate of securing a viable solution rises.

That said, just because you’re giving a transportation company less lead time doesn’t mean your shipment needs to fail. Nor does a same-day load need to drive your budget into oblivion. 

Anderson Trucking Service (ATS) has answered the call of many same-day shipments over the past 65-plus years. Sure, these shipments are harder to cover. Sure, they usually cost more than they would have with a little more notice. But, most of the time, securing a same-day solution is far from impossible. 

In this article, we’ve outlined what experience has taught us about same-day shipping to give you a better understanding of why these shipments are more difficult. Additionally, we’ve also included some tips to help you execute your same-day shipments smoothly in the future. 

What is Considered Same-Day Freight?

Same-day freight, much like it sounds, is a load that needs to be picked up within a relatively short timeframe following a request. Although a shipment is considered “same day” when service is requested within 24 hours of its required pickup time, most same-day shipments are those with 12 hours of notice or fewer

In these situations, a transportation provider’s job gets invariably more complex, raising the price of getting these loads moved by up to 30 percent.  

Why is Same-Day Freight More Difficult To Move?

Same-day shipments are challenging for one major reason: the number of viable transportation solutions in an area shrinks, without exception, on short notice. 

Think about it: in order to connect a shipment with the correct solution, a transportation company has to find an available truck driver near its origin

This can’t be just any truck driver, though. No, this driver needs to have enough hours of service (HOS) remaining to get to the pickup location and, ideally, haul the load a good distance following retrieval. 


Additionally, the trailer that the driver is pulling needs to be the right one for the commodity in question, and that driver’s securement equipment (straps, guards, tarps, chains) will have to be right for the job. 

Add all of this together — coupled with the fact that most drivers schedule their loads out days into the future  — and providing same-day service can be like searching for a needle in a haystack

Realistically, a shipper’s ability to find a driver to haul their same-day load comes down to the amount of money they’re willing to spend. Truck drivers, who only make money by hauling freight, are highly motivated to fill their time with the highest paying loads possible. 

As such, same-day shipments seldom go without a solution when the price is right — leading drivers/carriers to abandon a lower-priced shipment in order to haul a more urgent (and lucrative) load. 

What Types of Shipments Are More Challenging to Move Same Day?

Because same-day shipments force transportation companies to work with fewer options, leaving them less time to line everything up, there are several types of shipments that aren’t same-day serviceable. 

Namely, over-dimensional shipments — which require route planning, expert drivers and proper permitting — usually can’t move on the same day they’re requested


High-value cargoes (loads valued above what the standard $100,000 of cargo insurance held by most trucks will cover) are another example of this. Due to the high-liability nature of these shipments, carriers need to carefully examine and assess the risks associated with moving them — making it unlikely that these loads are rushed to move.   

What Types of Shipments Are Easier to Move Same Day?

Legal flatbed and truckload dry van shipments are the easiest to secure same-day capacity for. These shipments take less organization, oversight and planning than more complex loads — like oversized shipments — warrant. 

Dry vans, for one, are some of the most bountiful trailer types on America's roads, moving everything from food and beverage products to manufacturing materials and hazmat goods. For this reason, finding a last-minute dry van trailer is far easier than locking down a more specialized heavy haul or open-deck trailer. 

As a result, retail and general merchandise shippers (on the dry van side) and manufacturing companies (with legal open-deck freight) usually have the most luck finding a same-day solution.


4 Tips To Make Your Same-Day Shipments More Successful 

Even though same-day shipments are more challenging, and usually a bit more expensive to facilitate, they’re not impossible. Also, just because you’re operating on a tight schedule shouldn’t prevent your load from delivering on time. 

That said, keeping your supply chain running smoothly when same-day shipments can’t be avoided will be easier if you take these four tips to heart:

  1. Avoid appointment times
  2. Work with a versatile transportation company
  3. Take proactive measures to expedite your procedures
  4. Be flexible with your trailer type requirements

1) Avoid Appointment Times

Appointment times at either end of a load can be restrictive to trucking companies and their drivers. Though pickup and delivery appointments can be planned for with enough notice, meeting them in urgent situations is incredibly difficult. 

As a result, same-day loads are usually priced even higher when appointment times (particularly for delivery) need to be met. Try to avoid them wherever possible. Communicate with your consignee and try to avoid an appointment requirement. 

If appointments can’t be avoided, it’s also good practice to have an appointment pre-set for your truck driver. Doing so, at the very least, will allow them to plan out their schedule better. 

2) Work With a Versatile Transportation Company

When timelines are tight and freight needs to move quickly, working with a provider that has multiple ways to meet your needs is imperative. Individually, freight brokers and asset-based carriers have unique strengths — each providing transportation services in different ways. 

For same-day shipments, though, asset-based carriers that also have brokerage authority are most effective. These companies have more than one way to find quick capacity — using either their network of vetted carriers or the fleet of assets they own. 

As such, their ability to find a truck in various ways makes them fleet-footed in times of urgency and a worthy partner for same-day shipments. Alternatively, working with a large freight broker that has close relationships with large asset fleets is another great option.

3) Take Proactive Measures To Expedite Procedures

The last thing you want to deal with is a loading delay on your same-day shipment. Forcing drivers to wait around while loading crews struggle to get them moving can lead to detention charges and (when your trucker’s HOS are running low) significant delays. 

Sometimes, the truck driver arranged to pick up your freight same day won’t have a full clock to use. This isn’t their fault, though, and they expect to be compensated for the hours they spend on your shipment — whether they’re hauling your load or waiting at a facility. 

So, it’s important to get them loaded and moving as soon as they arrive for your same-day pickup. There are plenty of proactive measures you can take to expedite your loading processes. 

Here are some common tactics to consider:

  • Expand the size of your loading areas to allow more trucks in at a time.
  • Stage products so that they are ready for loading as soon as your truck arrives.
  • Consider adding part-time workers or getting other employees to assist with loading.

For more tactics for navigating tight deadlines and being proactive during busy times, check out this article on Peak Season Shipping

4) Be Flexible With Trailer Type Requirements

As previously mentioned, fulfilling a same-day request leaves transportation companies with fewer options for doing so. So, as a shipper in this position, it’s helpful to relieve this burden by giving them some flexibility to work within. 

For example, if you have the ability to sideload your cargo (that is typically sent in a dry van) allowing your carrier to search for an available van, a reefer (with the temperature control unit turned off) and a Conestoga widens their pool of options and allows them to price more competitively. 

Flexibility can go a long way regardless of your deadlines. This impact only multiplies on urgent same-day loads. 

So, keep an open mind when your provider suggests sending your freight on a 53-foot step deck trailer rather than the 48-foot flatbed you requested. You’ll like the advantages of doing so. 

Give Your Same-Day Freight To The Right Providers

Sure, shipping freight same day is never convenient. Doing it right, though, is far from impossible. 

While those four tactics listed above are a starting point, it’s also important to work with great transportation providers throughout these moves. 

Finding reliable transportation providers, with the ability to get these shipments running smoothly, is another thing that is easier said than done. 

The sheer number of transportation providers leaves many companies feeling overwhelmed and wary when the time comes to select one.  

To help you make this decision, and ensure that your providers have the ability to follow through for you when time is of the essence, download our free freight carrier selection tool today

This 30-question checklist was created to give you a leg up throughout the carrier vetting process as you strive to become the supplier that always delivers for your customers. 

Finally, if you’d like to learn more about ATS’ same-day shipping capabilities or how our infrastructure and relationships make servicing these loads all the more possible, contact us today.

Tags: Spot Rate Pricing

Jason Halgrimson

Written by Jason Halgrimson

Jason began his career as a national sales representative with ATS in early 2019. A year later, as sales manager, Jason leaned into his passion for developing sales professionals and began building his team from the ground up. Jason enjoys the fast-paced environment working in a brokerage presents and continually strives to cultivate lasting business relationships where value and quality service reign supreme.

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