What are the different types of LTL carriers?

In the LTL freight world there are different kinds of carriers. Often these carriers will look the same. In general they all provide the same type of transportation but can be categorized based on the area they serve or the way they move your freight. A smart shipper is aware of the nuances and uses this knowledge to make informed purchasing decisions for his or her company.

LTL carriers by nature move small shipments, typically 12 linear feet or less, from one place to another. By understanding the differences in carriers you can make good decisions for your business.

Local Carriers

Local carriers typically operate in a small geographic area. Usually within 100 miles of a specific metro area. Local carriers tend to operate smaller fleets and offer less special services when compared to larger carriers. Carriers in this space usually don’t have the resources to invest in sophisticated technology. Many times local carriers will provide last mile delivery for larger carriers. The customer service experience can often be more personal in nature. Employees tend to perform multiple roles (customer service, dispatcher, OS&D.) These carriers are good choices for shippers that are moving freight locally in a metro area.

Regional Carriers

Regional carriers operate in a specific geographic region. For example, the Southeastern United States, Midwest, Northeast, Southwest, etc. These carriers will offer service across several states often with the option of next day service in some markets. Regional carriers have more trucks and other assets then local carriers. Since they have more resources they often have more sophisticated systems. The customer service experience with regional carriers tends to be personal in that you can still talk to someone in the terminal. That said, at the regional level some functions may be centralized at the corporate office and jobs may be divided among different roles. Regional carriers are good options for companies moving freight in a particular region. Sometimes regional carriers can give lower rates in the areas they work.

National Carriers

National carriers operate in each of the lower 48 states across the US. Many national carriers will also offer service into Alaska, Canada, and Mexico. National carriers may also offer offshore services to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the USVI. These carries have a significant number of assets and can have very sophisticated systems to support their expansive networks. Typically national carriers offer all special services you could need. National carriers have many hubs and terminals across the country. Often national carriers have a centralized customer service center. The service level with a national carrier can be a bit impersonal. Also, it can be very difficult to talk with someone at the local terminal with a national carrier.

Thanks for reading this article. We hope that it will help you work better with your carriers. At BAM Freight we work with all LTL carriers on a regular basis. As an agent for Globaltranz in many cases we have our own national account customer service teams which can result in faster answers to your shipment questions. If you need help with your LTL or truckload shipping give us a call today!

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Dave Stevens

Dave Stevens

Transportation Executive with experience in developing processes and controls for early stage start up companies. Specialties include: Sales, Marketing, Transportation, Trucking, Brokerage, Project Transport and Rail Operations.,Organizational Design, Process Development, Accounts Receivable Management, Leadership, and Business Start-ups.

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