Copper Run never has and never will confirm a shipment with a truck, until after our customer has confirmed the shipment with us.
But once our customer has confirmed a shipment with us, we are almost always successful at confirming the shipment with a truck.
So, when do we have a truck? …
WHEN WE ISSUE A QUOTATION?
Almost never – Why?
Brokers issue hundreds of quotations every day, every week, every month. Many quotations are for freight that:
- Has not yet been fully defined in terms of weights or dimensions,
- Will not move for several days or weeks,
- Will not move until the buyer has agreed to the shipper’s price and terms,
- Is part of a shippers bid for future business, that may or may not materialize,
- Is being requested to measure buyer or seller all-in price competitiveness,
- Never move, or
- Are assigned to other brokers.
As much as brokers would like to have every price quotation turn into booked business, that is not the way the freight transportation industry, or any industry, works. So not only would it be a waste of resources to book a truck for every shipment quoted, it would be impossible: carriers would simply not accept bookings for unknown future dates, or for unconfirmed / unassigned shipments.
Having said that, Copper Run often has a carrier, or small selection of carriers, in mind for a shipment when we provide a quotation, based on the lanes and services for which those carriers excel.
WHEN WE ISSUE A QUOTATION FOR A SHIPMENT THAT WILL MOVE THAT DAY?
We often have an idea who we might use, but never a confirmation – Why?
For reasons similar to those described above, except with a compressed time frame.
Until Copper Run has actually been assigned a shipment by a customer, we are unable to provide a written confirmation to a carrier for that shipment. And without a written confirmation with a carrier, we have no truck.
It is not possible to put the chicken before the egg.
What we can do is, specifically in cases when we believe there is a good chance we will be assigned a shipment for which we are providing a same-day quotation, contact a carrier and ask that capacity be set aside, on a first-right-of-refusal basis, for that shipment.
If our quotation is successful and we have not had to release the carrier’s capacity in the meantime, then we will very quickly be able to lock in the arrangement. However, if our quotation is not successful, we will have to immediately release the carrier: if that happens too many times, then the ability to make these types of arrangement will be curtailed.
WHEN WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN A SHIPMENT CONFIRMATION WITH LOTS OF ADVANCE NOTICE?
Perhaps, but timing is everything – Why?
Most brokered shipment arrangements are made with carriers in the period 48 to 12 hours before the scheduled pick-up time. The primary reason for this is that most carriers do not know where most of their unassigned trucks will be earlier than 72 to 12 hours before they arrive there. And they cannot plan for taking shipments to fill excess capacity until they know where and when they will have that excess capacity.
There are exceptions, such as carriers who specialize in certain lanes and always expect to have excess capacity in those lanes, or carriers to have to get to or from specific locations to provide on-going pre-arranged service, and Copper Run uses these carriers when we have shipments that match.
However, most of the time we have to wait until that 72 – 12 hour window to finalize our confirmations.
This is particularly true in short lanes. In very short lanes, the planning and booking time frame can be quite compressed: a carrier might book a Toronto-to-Detroit shipment first thing in the morning and, as a result, put themselves in the position of needing a return Detroit-to-Toronto shipment for pick-up just 7 hours later, that same afternoon.
WHEN WE HAVE SUCCESSFULLY PROVIDED A QUOTATION FOR A READY-NOW OR SAME-DAY SHIPMENT?
As soon as we can, but there is a limited supply of capacity on short notice, and it is therefore often more costly – Why?
We cannot confirm shipment with a truck until our customer has confirmed the shipment with us.
In the case of a same-day-ready quotation, the popular and productive 72 – 12 hour booking window has passed before we have known of the shipment or had the opportunity to book. So while we can usually find a truck, it requires all of our focus, especially on days when there is limited remaining capacity.
In same-day-ready shipment situations it is important to look at the projected delivery time. In many instances, the delivery will occur on that same date whether or not the shipment picks up on the same day or on the next day. This is particularly true of shipments that will be enroute over the weekend.
If a same-day-ready shipment can be picked-up on the following day, then the transaction moves back into the desirable 72 – 12 hour window, with little or no difference in the actual service provided.
If a broker says he has a truck booked on, or even committed to, your shipment at the time of providing a quotation in competition with others, take a long, hard look. Ask for the name of the carrier and the name or the driver, and use your judgement.
WHEN WE HAVE PROVIDED A LIMITED-TIME SPOT RATE FOR A SAME-DAY PRODUCE-IMPACTED OR LAST-MINUTE EXPEDITED SHIPMENT?
Yes – Why?
When the produce harvest is in full swing, rates are elevated and can fluctuate rapidly, even minute-by-minute. So we have to issue spot rates, and we have to have a truck on hold that has agreed to take your shipment for that rate. When we call you with this type of rate, we will confirm with you that we have a truck, but that we can only hold that truck for 10 minutes, or less, before we have to release it for someone else’s shipment.
So we will need your price confirmation very quickly so that we can proceed with confirming the shipment with the carrier, or we will lose the truck, and the spot rate price. Remember, we are trading a commodity on your behalf, so we need your price confirmation before the market moves on.
The same circumstances apply in the case of last-minute expedited shipments. In this latter case, the time pressures originate from time and truck availability limitations, rather than from price volatility.