Cleveland trucking spot rates

How to Get the Best Cleveland Trucking Spot Rates

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that last-minute spot loads in the truckload market are once again falling as the shipping demand is becoming more aligned with available truck capacity. This is great news for B2Bs and retailers alike. Still, how can you be assured you’re getting the best Cleveland trucking spot rates? Here, our Cleveland trucking team offers some insight.

Contract Rates vs. Spot Rates

For those who may be unfamiliar, most truckload freight is moved via contract rate. This is when shippers and trucking companies strike a longer-term agreement to regularly move a given volume of goods between Origin A to Destination B at a predetermined, per-mile rate that may/may not be adjustable.

Spot rates are more of a one-off deal, but they still comprise about 20 percent of the truckload freight market. They can include (but are not always) same-day and next-day deliveries. These rates are based on existing supply-and-demand for trucks available to make one-time or inconsistent load volumes slated for specific origins/destinations. Some regions/markets can be much more volatile than others, but the spot trucking market in general tends to be much more capricious, with rates negotiated closer to deadline by the load, the lane, or the time. High load volumes + tight trucking capacity = Higher spot rates.

Companies that tend to rely on Cleveland spot rate trucking usually have lower volumes, inconsistent timing, varied destinations, and special/non-standard load requirements.

It’s worth noting that while news of dropping spot rates is definitely welcome by many shippers, it comes on the heels of rates that have been historically high. Ultimately, you still want to make sure you’re getting the most for your money.

Tips for Scoring Great Cleveland Trucking Spot Rates

Rate negotiation factors are fairly standard, but being prepared and knowledgeable can help ensure you’re getting the best possible deal.

Side note: Best doesn’t always mean cheapest. If you get the lowest price, but it results in a missed pickup, damaged products, or hidden charges, it’s going to cost you much more in the long run. When on-time, intact delivery matters, your trucking partner becomes an extension of your brand. Make sure they have a reputation worthy of the trust you’re placing in them. 

Beyond that:

  • Provide accurate, detailed shipping information. Most Cleveland trucking companies and 3PLs will set spot rates on the basis of the unique shipping requirements needed for the load. You can typically get an instant quote by offering up a few basic figures. But the more details you can provide, the more accurate your original estimate is going to be. That allows you to quickly see the rate, and determine whether you’re getting the best deal. Beyond the origin & destination city and pickup date, have an idea of the equipment type you need (flatbed, box truck, trailer, etc.), the commodity type and weight, and any special attributes or requirements (drop trailer, hazardous materials, driver assist, multi-stop, floor-loaded, equipment age restrictions, etc.). If you need a very specific pickup/delivery time (as opposed to being more flexible), that’s likely to impact your spot rate.
  • Try to lock in spot rates in advance. Sometimes you need same-day spot rate quotes. Other times, you may have lead time of a few days or more. Just know that the closer to your pickup date, the higher your spot rates tend to be. If it’s at all possible, try to lock these in as early as you can.
  • Understand market volatility. The trucking spot rate you were quoted last week may be different from the one you get next week – even if you’re moving an identical volume and type of goods. It’s not even unheard of for spot rates to vary from morning to evening. If you don’t secure a spot rate in advance, make sure you check back with the provider for the latest rate. Similarly, if your shipment details change, loop your carrier in ASAP so you can get an updated quote. Even if the price ends up a little higher, having all those details ironed out beforehand will reduce your risk of accessorial charges.
  • Schedule pickups/deliveries during regular business hours, if possible. Expect that rates will be higher outside of business hours – especially if it’s a holiday.

No matter which Cleveland trucking company you choose for your spot rate deliveries, verify exactly what the cost entails. For the most part, spot rates include the cost of fuel, but you should ask whether the rate is all-in to be sure.

If you have additional questions about Cleveland truckload shipping rates, contact On Time Delivery & Warehouse by calling (440) 826-4630 or sending us an email.

Additional Resources:

Trucking Boom Is Hitting the Brakes as Freight Demand Slows, April 13, 2022, By Lydia O’Neal, The Wall Street Journal

More Blog Entries:

Why Do Cleveland Truckload Shipping Rates Change So Frequently? Oct. 30, 2019, Cleveland 3PL Trucking Blog

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