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Southern Field Division
While any customer may feel trepidation as they determine the best choice to coordinate the transportation of their freight, sensitive freight may prove the most challenging.
“Sensitive freight” can cover a range of load types, such as freight that is temperature-sensitive or delicate. Regardless, the customer’s concerns likely include uncertainty about expectations and selection of the right freight agent for the situation.
As the executive vice president of Landstar’s southern sales division, I’ve witnessed the collaborative process of load coordination from both the agent and the customer perspectives.
The Devil’s in the Details
A freight agent should always provide customers with a strong, well-documented strategy that minimizes unexpected challenges. For example, the agent should outline basic information about the freight carrier’s loading and unloading procedures, the carrier's contact information, and hours of truck operation as regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Additionally, a detailed explanation of the planned route is imperative — including notations about any potential problem areas, plans to mitigate those factors and plans for handling issues if they arise, such as a vehicle breakdown. Lastly, inspection of the route or delivery site can, in some cases, determine proper loading and unloading procedures and help prevent potential damages or precarious situations. So, a customer should be informed if there is a plan for scouting the route before transport and, if so, what that plan involves.
Communication is Key
Unfortunately, the relationship between a customer and a freight agent can be undervalued or overlooked, as customers may be more focused on learning about the capacity provider that will be directly handling the load than they are the agent. However, the truth is that the quality of communication between the agent and customer can determine the outcome of a move that requires special handling. That’s why the line of communication should remain consistent from the planning stage to execution and through completion. An agent needs to understand all of the customer’s requirements for sensitive freight and stay open to changes; a customer, on the other hand, should be informed of potential cost-saving opportunities and understand backup plans. Both parties are looking for consistency, reliability and dependability. If a problem arises before, during or after the movement of sensitive freight, both customer and agent need to trust each other to find an efficient solution. With clear communications, the agent manages the process so that the business capacity owner-operator or driver can concentrate on safely delivering the freight on time, while the customer has the freedom to focus on their own business.
Trust and Verify
Communication is one step toward trust, another is credentials. Does the agent have a solid reputation in the industry? Ask peers and check credentials. The customer may want proof of certain certifications such as quality management systems or voluntary participation in programs like the U.S Department of Environmental Transport Partnership, SmartWay®. Simply put, when looking for a trustworthy freight agent of the highest caliber to coordinate the transportation of their sensitive freight, a customer should take a comprehensive look at all that agent has to offer: credentials, communication, experience and a verifiable history of exceeding expectations.
Landstar agents have all of that plus access to a vast network of experienced owner-operators, and Landstar provided tools and resources to ensure both the agent and the customer have what they need to succeed with every load.