The Good, the Great, and the Guaranteed

What Guaranteed Delivery Means For Your Freight Shipment

Peter Prior
Oct 23, 2019 · 5 min read

When preparing freight shipments, one of the first things you likely think about is when it must arrive at its destination. LTL carriers all estimate transit times for their deliveries, always doing their best to arrive sooner rather than later. But these shipments exist in a world of “should,” where packages should arrive by a certain time. However, the transit time is subject to a host of reasons why it could be delayed, from a missed pickup earlier in the day to lacking truck availability between the freight’s origin and destination.

Guaranteed freight offers you a way to avoid having to deal with these uncertainties. When you choose guaranteed freight service, your shipment will be delivered by the stated date and time on the bill of lading or there will be no charge and the shipping cost is often free for the shipper or they’ll receive a refund on the guaranteed delivery charge. These shipments also get priority loading and unloading status at terminals — a life-saving feature during one of the busiest times for freight due to holiday shopping and Black Friday in Q4.

While choosing guaranteed may sound like a crucial service for your business, there are some important things to remember when choosing between different freight service options.

Shipments involving certain circumstances greatly benefit from a guaranteed delivery. In these instances, it provides the most peace of mind and ease for your supply chain, especially during the Q4 rush:

  • Other shipping activity relies on your shipment arriving by a specific date. For example, your company designs and produces little airplane pins. You’re shipping a batch to a company that plans on including them in promotional gift bags for an upcoming event. If these pins don’t arrive on time and before the bags need to be shipped, they’ll be left out of the bags and there goes some great brand exposure. They also may want to return the items at an additional cost to you.
  • Shipping to a retailer with strict delivery window requirements. These MABD (Must Arrive By Date) shipments often include the chance of incurring additional fees if the delivery time is missed. When your customers enforce a chargeback due to a missed delivery, you could be out around 3% of the value of the purchase order. That can really add up quickly.
  • When your customer needs a JIT (Just-In-Time) delivery for their production schedule. Many manufacturing companies operate on a strict schedule where components are needed at precise moments. This keeps their process running smoothly and avoids hefty storage fees for items received too early and delays or shut downs when items arrive too late. This type of delivery window is also crucial for new construction as well as repair or replacement operations.

Now you may be asking yourself why you shouldn’t just book every shipment with guaranteed service. The most obvious reason why not is cost. There is an up-charge for guaranteed service that provides the benefit of an exact delivery. There are also some types of LTL freight shipments where guaranteed service is not an option. For example, oversized shipments and freight containing hazardous materials will likely be excluded due to their need for special handling and restrictions from certain modes of transportation. The delivery region also has an impact — service to some remote areas may not be available for guaranteed service due to accessibility concerns such as lack of detailed maps, inaccurate signage, or poor road conditions.

Scheduling a guaranteed shipment around a holiday also requires extra considerations. Guaranteed delivery must happen during business hours and on business days. Never assume that a guaranteed delivery can happen on a holiday. If you’re scheduling a shipment around a holiday and want to guarantee its arrival, speak with your freight provider first and about their policy for that particular holiday before finalizing your shipment.

Guaranteed service is not always an option with certain LTL carriers. Mothership has solidified partnerships with the most reliable LTL carriers in the nation and will only dispatch guaranteed shipments to carriers who have a proven track record of handling these shipments well. We take away the guesswork prior to booking, and you’ll never need to confirm this handling time option with the carrier.

With your firm delivery date in mind, you’ll need to know the time of day your shipment will be delivered. Standard guaranteed delivery is shipment arrival at destination by 5pm. This is the most commonly offered and most used guarantee. It follows the idea of delivery by “end of business day.” Another typical option is delivery at 12pm guarantee. Yet another is choosing a delivery window (e.g. between 1–3pm). The specific needs of your shipment and your end customer will dictate how to best decide the timing.

When filling out your bill of lading (BOL) for the shipment, make sure the specifics of the guarantee are correct. You’ll want both the delivery date and time on the BOL to avoid any confusion with the shipment. With Mothership, we automatically create carrier-specific BOLs with this information specified, saving the shipper time and clearly displaying these important details.

One more critical note about preparing your guaranteed freight: it’s only guaranteed after carrier pickup, and the pickup day doesn’t count. So if your shipment absolutely must arrive by 5pm on Friday, consider scheduling your 2-day transit guaranteed delivery for pickup Tuesday at the very latest. That way, if on the very rare chance that the carrier misses pickup that day, your shipment will be picked up on Wednesday and arrive just in time on Friday.

Mothership offers an array of shipping options to best suit the needs of your business and get your shipment where it needs to go. And for your next guaranteed delivery shipment, our new carrier partnerships have made it possible to offer the lowest rates we’ve ever seen. So why wait? Get your instant quote and join the freight shipping revolution!

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