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Managing Return Freight

4 Shipping Tips For Trade Show Displays

Based on the specific circumstances, there are so many subtle nuances to consider when arranging and scheduling your return freight. These are just a few scenarios that could cost you if they aren’t handled correctly.

1. How much Freight do you have?

If it’s a full, dedicated truck, there is much less that can go wrong. Understand that the cheapest quote is not always your best option. Make sure the carrier you select is familiar with the ins-and-outs of trade show freight. A driver that does not know about the marshaling process, the wait times and the importance of checking in on time, can cost you a lot more in the long run if that driver gets tired of waiting to be dispatched, decides to leave and your freight gets forced by the General Service Contractor.

If you are shipping LTL, make sure the contents of your freight are crated, or otherwise fully protected. LTL carriers make money by carrying as much freight as they can on every trailer, so your freight will likely get stacked inside the trailer or something will end up stacked on top of your freight. Labeling pieces as “fragile” or “Do not stack” does not mean stacking will not occur during one of the many times your freight is handled at those terminals along the way. To make sure nothing gets stacked on top of your fragile items, you have to make it easier for them not to stack anything on top of your freight. Using pallet cones can do this. And if you don’t have any pallet cones? Try strapping anything on the top that will make the piece of freight no longer flat on top. Carpet tubes, empty cartons, rolls of carpet or pad work well for this purpose.

2. Does that LTL carrier seem like a good deal?

If you’re presented with multiple shipping quotes from multiple carriers, it may seem logical to book the cheapest one. You may figure, hey the trade show is over now, if anything goes wrong, it won’t matter now. To a certain extent, this is true. But, keep in mind why you are selecting the cheaper option: to save unnecessary expense. That last thing you want is to have that backfire and end up costing you more than the other, safer options.

Since LTL carriers make their living with volume, they do not want to wait in line at the marshaling yard for hours on end to pick up your freight. They will have many other appointments that day. When this happens, your freight gets “forced” by the General Service Contractor. Depending on which option you selected when you completed your BOL (bill of lading), it may go back to the General Service Contractors warehouse, or be rerouted on a carrier of their choice. If it goes back to the warehouse, you will be charged shipping as well handling fees in line with your drayage costs and still have to arrange another pick up at that warehouse. If your freight gets forced onto another carrier, understand the General Services Contractor is not going to shop around for the best rate on your behalf. They will load it onto the house carrier and your shipping invoice will include their mark up. In this scenario, it would be better to contract directly with the house carrier and avoid the mark up.

Remember to check the box on the BOL that says “In the event your carrier does show up, reroute via the General Service Contractors Choice” That way, if your freight gets forced onto another carrier, that carrier is the one you have already contracted with. It is easy to see how by doing this, you are receiving the exact same service as the exhibitors that contracted shipping through the General Service Contractor without paying their mark up.

3. How much does it weigh?

When completing your Outbound Bill of Loading, you will be required to “guess” the weight of each piece. Because LTL carriers will calculate your freight costs based on either cubic dimensions or weight, whichever is higher, it is important not to estimate the weight too high. If you try to make an educated guess and that guess is higher than what it actually weighs, guess what? You will be charged a rate based on the higher, inaccurate guess rather than what it actually weighs. The LTL terminal will automatically weigh everything because they need accurate weights for each trailer travelling over the road. Since they are going to weigh everything anyway, use a figure that’s obviously incorrect. If you think that crates weigh 1000 pounds, guess that it is 100 pounds.

4. Avoid misrouted or lost freight.

Finally, label every visible side of each piece with at least one shipping label. When your Freight is loaded out after the Show, you need to make it simple for the person loading your freight onto the truck, or you may just end up receiving freight that belongs to the booth next to you and vice versa.

Also, before you leave take a photo of each piece to show how it was packed and what each piece looks like. If you are shipping LTL, your freight will visit terminals along the way where it will be unloaded and reloaded multiple times. The freight may be split up and consolidated several times before it gets delivered back to you. Having those labels helps the carrier warehouse staff identify your freight so nothing gets left behind. But errors happen and that may still happen from time to time, so having those photos will help the carrier warehouse staff locate any missing pieces. These photos are also useful if you need to file a claim for shipping damage.

These are just a few tips that come from spending a lifetime in the exhibit industry. Each situation is unique and needs to be evaluated and responded to independently. Team One Display Services, Inc. has learned to instinctively react to every unique situation with the safest, most economical solution on behalf of our customers. For more information or to get help shipping your display simply call 866-544-9683.