How To Become Your Freight Carriers' Preferred Shipper

As a small or mid-sized business (SMB) shipper, it’s important to establish a positive reputation with your carriers — especially in a market where drivers are increasingly hard to come by. SMBs who ship freight are now taking measures to stand out from other businesses and earn preference with less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers. Having access to reliable shipping methods can make a world of difference during times of limited capacity — and gaining favor with your carriers is a great way to make it happen.

Read on as Unishippers explains what a preferred shipper is, why it’s important and the three steps you can take to become one.

What is a preferred shipper?

A preferred shipper — also called a shipper of choice — is a client of freight carriers that takes priority over other clients by streamlining the freight dropoff and retrieval processes. After all, freight drivers are people just like you, and they prefer working with clients that make their lives easier. If your driver is constantly waiting on you to prepare your shipment, for example, they may start retrieving your freight at the end of their route instead of early on — which, in turn, slows down your deliveries.

In other words, a preferred shipper enjoys benefits with freight carriers — and often gets to choose from a wider carrier network — due to streamlined shipping practices and a positive reputation.

Why should you become a preferred shipper?

Becoming a preferred shipper helps give your business the leverage it needs to stay ahead of other SMB shippers — especially during times of tight capacity. Shipping companies that gain favor with LTL carriers are able to expand their carrier networks and bring more consistency to their shipping process. In some cases, carriers with longstanding, positive relationships will even provide special offers and discounted rates.

Three Steps To Become a Preferred Shipper

Now that you know the benefits of becoming a preferred shipper, it’s time to take action. If you’re ready to improve your LTL shipping experience, follow these three steps to earn the goodwill of your freight carriers and put your business ahead of the competition:

1. Show your drivers you care

Drivers are your main point of contact with freight carriers, and it’s no secret that they prefer to work with SMB shippers that make their visits as enjoyable as possible. Anything you can do to make the shipping process easier for drivers will put you in good standing with the carrier. The following courtesies will show freight drivers that your business is easy to work with:

  • Providing ample space for parking and loading
  • Granting break room and bathroom usage
  • Keeping your facilities convenient and accessible

2. Communicate and plan ahead

Keeping your carrier in the loop will help both parties avoid hiccups along the way. Communicate any changes or special instructions on your end as early as possible so that your carrier has ample time to adjust their scheduling and staffing needs to accommodate you. Additionally, planning ahead to ensure your freight is properly packaged and ready for shipment is a must. When freight is poorly packaged, it can cause delays, fees and frustration with the carrier. Make sure your loading area is clean and free of obstacles for optimal load efficiency.

3. Understand freight carrier challenges

Remember that you’re not the only one navigating the freight capacity crunch. After all, many of the shipping challenges your business faces directly correspond to issues LTL shippers are grappling with. Some examples of freight carrier challenges include:

  • Fluctuating fuel costs
  • Shrinking delivery windows
  • Driver shortage
  • Rising risk of damaged goods

While you may not be able to solve these problems for your select carriers, understanding their experiences and frustrations can help you stand out as a mindful and considerate client.

Work With a 3PL for Strong Carrier Relationships

Having a reputable third-party logistics (3PL) provider like Unishippers by your side makes it easier for freight carriers to work with you — and it’s an excellent way to get on the preferred shipper list. Plus, you get access to negotiated rates, a wide carrier network and personalized consultation for your freight shipping needs. Start today by requesting an LTL freight quote from Unishippers.

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