Just as in any industry, profession or field, there are some trucking companies that are better than others. As a customer you want to get the most professional, highly qualified and efficient company that you can to haul your freight. You also have to be able to find a company that can provide the service that you need within your budget. A balance between the level of service and the cost of the contract is always a delicate balance but one that is essential to find a trucking company you can partner with into the future.
There are some key indicators of a possible problem with the company if you notice one or more of these red flags. There may be a good reason for a single mistake or inaccuracy, but if you see a pattern it may be a good idea to keep looking for a trucker to haul your freight.
- Phone is not answered in a timely or professional way.
In a great number of small trucking companies there are only one or two people that are actually working and making decisions. In a very small single owner operator company you are dealing with just one person that is doing everything with regards to handling customers, driving and basically running the company.
There is nothing wrong with working with a single owner operator company. These individuals really know their business and often provide above average service that can be fully customized to your needs. However, if they are difficult to get on the phone on a regular basis it can be a frustrating business relationship.
- Information seems confusing, missing or inaccurate.
In larger companies you may be talking to several different people in your efforts to decide if this is the company you want to hire. You typically will work with a sales or marketing rep, but you may also speak to a manager or a representative that comes out to your business for a meeting.
Sometimes you may note a difference between what the representatives of the company are saying. You may also hear different options recommended by different people and, when you ask for clarification, the answer seems to be lacking or blames the other person for making a mistake. Again, a misunderstanding or a change on the request on your part is the not the concern, it is confusion and inaccurate information received by various company reps.
- Inability to set specific times for pick-up, unloading and transport.
A well run trucking company of any size will be able to provide accurate information on loading and unloading times as well as the actual transport time over the route. At the very least they should be able to provide the actual dates and general times within a range of hours. New technology allows trucking companies to keep real time information on where each and every one of their trucks is at any point in time.
- Company offers services that are priced very differently from others.
A big red flag should be flying if you find a trucking company that is offering a price that is markedly lower than the competition. Those companies that are priced well above the others are typically not an issue since they are immediately knocked out of consideration. The low ball types of estimates from a trucking company can signal a rep or owner/operator that doesn’t understand the actual cost of doing business or one that is desperate for clients. Researching the reason for this desperation is important if you are considering that low bid offer.
- No contract, estimate or pricing documentation provided.
Professionally owned and operated trucking companies of any size from single truck businesses to those with fleets, will all require a signed contract before taking on a job. The contract will include the cost, the loading and delivery information, extra costs covered by the shipper and those covered by the trucking company, as well as information about payments, insurance coverage, scope of the contract and all the services that will be provided by the trucking company.
Besides watching for these red flags, a bit of online research is also highly recommended. Check online forums, follow up on references provided by the trucking company and be sure you have the trucking company that you trust. There are excellent companies out there; all you need to do is be aware.
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