10 Essential Questions to Ask Long Haul Trucking Companies
- It doesn’t matter if you're an individual looking to have something transported from point A to point B or a company in dire need of shipping services. The wide variety of options available can make this process pretty confusing.
- The trucking industry is vast, and numerous companies seem to offer the same services, at least on paper. But do they all have the capacity to handle the pressure that comes with long-haul trucking?
- Some do, some do not, but when you’re the client, and someone who isn’t that connected to the trucking industry, it can be difficult to assess which companies are the right ones for what you need.
- But rest assured, you can single out the long haul trucking companies that are experienced and reliable from those who are overwhelmed by market demands.
Long Haul Trucking Basics
Long haul trucking or LHT, as it is commonly abbreviated, refers to trucking trips that are 200 miles or more in lengths from origin to destination. Since this service automatically implies a long drive, it also brings forward a set of particularities trucking companies must address to ensure a safe shipment of goods.
If you are looking for professional long-haul trucking companies for your transport, we’ve prepared a set of questions you can ask contenders to determine if they’re up for the task.
What Is Their Experience in the Business?
We’re all for giving rookies a shot at stardom, but it’s still important that the company you hire has some experience in the trucking industry.
As we said, long-haul trucking brings forth its set of difficulties, so it’s only natural to want a company that has at least a few successful years under its belt. You can find a lot of information about these companies online, though we’d still recommend that you ask about their experience when meeting them in person.
The key to a successful collaboration is healthy communication, so be upfront about your curiosities regarding their service. Ask about how many years they’ve been active, what their experience with LHT is, and if they’ve had previous issues or lawsuits, or even customer complaints.
How Is the Company Doing?
If you plan on hiring a trucking company for several shipments over a long period, you’ll want to make sure they’ll be around to complete the job. Don’t avoid asking the companies about their financial situation. It’s your right to know if the partner you’re doing business with is in trouble.
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You can even ask detailed information if your business is on the line. It’s possible that a one-time shipment won’t be enough to get you these answers, but if we’re talking about a long-term contract, then any hesitation on their part is a big red flag, and it usually means that you should keep looking.
How Much Can They Handle?
We’re currently experimenting with a nationwide shortage of truck drivers, so a question regarding the company’s capacity is legitimate. Most long-haul trucking companies promise that they will find you the right drivers and equipment, but if they cannot do so, they might have a difficult time delivering on their promises.
It’s always better to work with companies that have several drivers on staff and generous fleet size. Moreover, you want to ensure that they have drivers with long-haul experience, and trucks good enough to handle this type of shipment. You don’t want to wait around for that one driver with long-haul experience to become free. You want your transport to take place as soon as possible, without any delays.
What’s Their Relationship with the Customers?
You can tell a lot about a company from the way they communicate and treat their clients. There’s an art to customer service that goes well beyond having a phone line always open for complaints and queries.
For instance, is the company accessible at all times? Nobody wants late-night phone calls, but if you encounter an emergency with the shipment, you’d feel better knowing there’s a way to get in touch with the company.
Ask what the company customer retention rate is. That will tell you if the firm in question is a “one-time deal” only, or if they go the extra mile to keep clients happy.
How Do They Treat Their Drivers?
The people directly responsible for delivering your goods are the drivers, and you want to make sure the company that hires them also treats them right because that can ultimately influence their performance on the job.
As a long-haul company, do the drivers receive proper training for driving such long distances? Do they have insurance? Do they know what to do in case something goes wrong? Are the drivers adequately compensate and, therefore, motivated to do the job? These are things you should know.
Do They Have Any References?
While you can find plenty of reviews online for most long-haul trucking companies, it’s still a question you should ask.
A good company will never bat an eye whenever a potential client asks them for a reference. They’ll most likely be more than open to share the contacts of other happy clients so that you can rest assured the company is trustworthy. So don’t forget to ask the representative for some references from other clients, and contact them for a talk.
Ask them openly about their experience with the company, if there were any problems, and how they were resolved.
What Are the Payment Options?
It’s important to know how the company will expect to be paid before you shake hands on any deals. In some cases, they will ask for a deposit or a partial payment before the shipment, as a guarantee that you won’t back out of the deal. Regardless, you should know this information beforehand, especially if it’s a large sum of money you don’t have on hand at all times.
Also, steer away from companies that ask for full payment upfront. It’s an uncommon practice, and those who practice this might not be as reputable as they appear to be. The entire sum should only be deposited once the shipment has reached its destination.
Are Their Estimations String-Free?
Most long-haul trucking companies offer estimations on what the transport will ultimately cost. They factor in all the particularities of the shipment such as cargo size, drive distance, and other elements needed for transportation, and calculate how much money you’d have to pay at the end of the process.
It’s a great method through which you can compare multiple companies and see which one offers the better deal. But before asking them for an estimate, make sure there are no strings attached to it. These estimations should be free, and nobody should ask you to pay for them.
Do the Estimations Account for Everything?
A rather important detail to clarify from the get-go is what those price estimates cover. Tell the company that you also want a rundown of what goes into the forecast, and press to see if there are any additional costs left aside.
It’s unfortunate, but the practice of hidden costs persists. Companies can give you a great estimate for your long-haul transport at first, only to come along and drive up the price because of the additional costs. You’ll have to give them details of the transport for the estimate anyway, so make sure they include them in the final price.
Is There Anything You Need to Do?
Here is one of the most overlooked question, and it’s easy to understand why that happens. When looking for a long-haul trucking company, you’re mostly thinking about what they will have to do, and you forget that you may need to play a role in this process as well.
For instance, if you are hiring the company to move a vehicle, do you have to prepare the car for shipping in any way, or will the company handle that for you? Should you take an insurance policy on your cargo? Do you need to present any document? Must you be physically present at freight pick up or drop off?
Ask the company about what you need to prepare or do to avoid being blindsided when it might be too late.
The Right People for the Job
Long haul trucking needs or not, we’re always ready to step in and handle your shipping needs. A-1 Auto Transport is a company with decades of experience transporting good nationally and internationally. Distance is never a problem with us, so contact us today!
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.