How to deal with hidden shipping fees

Any business that’s involved in transportation, logistics and shipping depends on sticking to their bottom line. In many instances – shipping costs make up a significant hunk of their operational costs. If you’re not actively shopping for the best possible deal, your bottom line will most certainly suffer. 

That’s why it’s so important to understand precisely what you’re being charged for. Unfortunately when it comes to delivering packages, parcels and shipping – you can fall victim to pesky, unnecessary and cumbersome hidden costs. 

In order to make sure that you’re not endlessly obsessing over invoices, we’ve put a simple guide together so that you know exactly what to look for when you get your next quote. Hopefully, this will help you avoid some of these unnecessary costs and do a better job of keeping a handle on your bottom line. Let’s jump right in.

Customs and duties

Customs and duties fees are something we’ve come to expect, but that few of us factor into our overall expenses. Make sure that if you do have to send or receive something through customs or duties – that you know exactly which goods you’ll be charged for. You’ll especially want to try to avoid things like flat rates that aren’t specific to your shipment. Many companies will charge higher customs and duties fees as a hidden cost, not expecting vendors to look out for them. Make sure that whenever you hire someone to ship something over a boarder, that you’ve got a line-item of what you’re paying for.

Additional fees

Ah, yes – the notorious ‘additional fee.’ This could simply be, well – anything. It’s like a service fee where no one knows what you’re really paying for; largely because you aren’t paying for anything. You’re just paying. Make sure that if you’re charged ‘additional fees’ that you discuss precisely what these fees are with the charging company in order to make sure that fee isn’t included in your bill. While certain additional fees are necessary – most aren’t. Make sure you get what you’re paying for.

Rate hikes

Never just assume that a shipping provider will keep their prices constant. In some cases, they frequently change. If you’re using a certain vendor, be sure that you’re performing twice a year rate checks to see where they’re at. At times you may want to go rate shopping to see if you’re getting the best deal. While this is a little extra work – the cost savings can be (in many cases) significantly less. Don’t let your own complacency erode your bottom line. 

Cargo insurance

Shipping and transportation companies will try to inflate your cargo insurance without you knowing it. Make sure that any insurance you pay for covers precisely what you’re shipping and nothing else. If you’re not careful, your bill can end up being quite a bit pricier than you anticipated. 

If you stick to these pointers, you’ll be able to save yourself a significant amount of money in the long run. If you don’t, you may find your bottom line receding ever so gently over time. If you want to learn more about how you can control your costs and have dependable, reliable and safe shipping, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to help. Until then – good luck!

Why on-time delivery should be a staple of your business

Whenever a customer orders something from a business, they almost always want to make sure they receive their order as quickly as possible. Delays and hiccups and not only add expense and unnecessary stress – but can be frustrating to both you and the customer. If a delivery is too late – it can severely impact your relationship with that customer and jeopardize future business. 

It’s for that reason that we think every business should make on-time delivery a core tenet of their operation. And that’s not the only reason. Today – we’re going to talk about some of the benefits of on-time delivery and how it’ll help change your business for the better. Let’s jump right in!

Satisfied customers

Like we said above – happy customers means a thriving, happy business. On-time delivery does one, simple thing – it makes sure the customer is satisfied with the delivery aspect of doing business with you. If you can guarantee and successfully follow through with something like on-time delivery, it can often mean the difference between losing a customer instantly and keeping them for life. First impressions mean a lot. 

And that phenomenon has a compound effect. That means less refunds, more positive reviews, more customers and most valuable of all – an increased chance of earning ongoing, lifetime customers. Simply put, on-time delivery is a straight-forward way of ensuring exactly that. 

More efficiency

As a business leader, we know that you’re always on the lookout to do more with less. Not only will on-time deliveries keep your customers happy, but your team will be happier, too. You’ll spend less time and fewer resources dealing with customer service calls or going on annoying goose chases for missing shipments and the like. It will also help with overhead – as more accurate deliveries give you a better idea of precisely what you need to keep in stock and in your inventory. This will allow your entire supply chain to operate more efficiently. 

Building new customers

The old saying goes ‘if you’re not growing, you’re dying’ and if you’re not scooping up new customers whenever possible, you’re putting a time limit on your own business. When customers look for a product or service – they’re looking for businesses that can get them exactly what they want, when they want it and exactly how they want it. Especially in today’s digital world, getting access to goods online is all about immediacy. Stay on top of your on-time delivery service and when that time comes – you’ll have a line out the door looking for what you’re selling. 

One-time delivery – we feel – should be a central tenet of any business looking to survive in a modern economy. If you’re struggling to ensure that your delivery is on-time, give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss some options with you. Until then, good luck!

Should you outsource your shipping service?

Whether you’re a startup or a well established business, shipping costs is an ongoing problem for owners to grapple with. Should you handle it on your own or should you outsource it to a third party courier service? If you’re one of those business owners who finds yourself caught out in-between what you should be doing, then today’s post is for you. 

Businesses are ultimately successful due to their operational efficiency. And one of the greatest inefficiencies in said business is shipping and delivery. One of the best ways to improve your bottom line is to outsource your shipping to a courier service and today, we’re going to talk about how that can benefit you. Let’s jump right in. 

Less delivery expense

Flat-out, right off the top – your expenses will be dramatically reduced. You won’t have to have a fleet of vehicles. And with that, comes freedom from gas costs, transportation, paying drivers and general wear and tear. Now, instead of worrying about logistics, your team can focus on production and other important tasks that can increase company sales. 

Far less risk

One of the biggest challenges about handling delivery in-house isn’t simply the logistics of it; it’s the actual risk and liability associated with it. Not just for your drivers, but also for any kind of damage or misplacement of packages. Then there’s the insurance costs and even training expenses associated with running your own in-house shipping operation. And all of this will be gone should you choose to outsource. 

Deliveries are faster

Most any reputable courier service will not only be dependable in terms of delivering your packages, but they’ll be faster, too. Outsourcing means your customers can expect their products to be delivered at a faster speech which, well – reflects well on you and your business. 

Customer support

One of the things that courier services excel at is customer service. Your customers will be able to track their package to the ‘t’ – knowing exactly where their goods are at a given time. In the event they’re dissatisfied or if there’s an issue, they’ll be in touch and in contact with a 24/7 network that can address their problems for you. 

Hopefully the tips above will help make your decision as to whether you should outsource your shipping operation a little bit easier. Not only will it help reduce costs, but it’ll relieve the burden of a lot of unseen costs that accompany running things in house. If you have questions or would like to know what a Tampa Courier Service can do for you, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation. Good luck!

Five features of a courier service that will add value to your business

Especially in a pandemic economy, parcel delivery at both the commercial and personal level has become more and more common. With more reasonable fees and the convenience of getting something from one place to another in less time has led to an increased demand for delivery services. 

Today, we’re going to explain how courier services bring advantages to your company, but before you agree to any deal with a service provider, you’ll need to make sure that they have the kinds of features and qualities that can help enhance your business. Here are some of the things you’ll want to look for when looking for a courier service. Let’s jump right in!

Excellent directional skills

Making sure your provider has exceptional routing skills is vital when making your decision. Poor routing can adversely impact delivery time and can hurt your reputation. So make sure that they have an extensive and thorough route planning system. Especially if you’re in the business of emergency deliverables and medical shipments where minutes can mean everything, you’ll need to make sure this is in place. 

Records

If there’s one seemingly mundane skill that actually sets great courier services apart from ok courier services – it’s how they keep their records. From contacts, to names and everything in-between, accuracy and speed begins and ends with proper records. A good courier company will use things like instant signature capture, package tracking in real time and even stock availability. This will help make sure that your customers can rest easy knowing that their goods will get to where they need to get to. 

Time management

Time is what defines a courier service’s value. Every delivery they make needs to be meticulously and efficiently so nothing gets delayed. As your business grows, so too will the demand placed on your shipping capabilities. A good courier service will be able to address customer demand in a timely way. They’ll assign the right kind of vehicles for shipments. Driver allotments and training will also serve as an indicator as to whether that courier provider is the real deal or not. 

The latest technology

Like we said above, there’s no courier service worth hiring if they don’t have the latest tracking technology. Nothing makes a buyer crazier then the inability to track the location and know the status of their delivery. Make sure that if you’re going to outsource your delivery services – that the company you choose is using the latest and greatest technology. 

Value

There is a lot of truth to getting what you pay for; but business is always about the pursuit of genuine value. The motive for outsourcing your shipping is to cut down on expenses on things like transportation, distribution and delivery. If hiring a vendor doesn’t help accomplish that, then what’s the point? Always make sure that your provider is willing to provide you with real, genuine value. 

Hopefully, these tips will help make choosing a courier service for your business a little bit easier. If you’re in the market for a courier service in the Tampa area, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation. Good luck!

Shipping your fragile items part-2

So we didn’t intend for this to be a series, but after reading over our ‘how to pack fragile items’ blog a few weeks ago, we wanted to circle back around to throw in a few extra tips because we felt like we missed a few. 

Like we said then, and we’ll say again now – shipping fragile items can be stressful and if not done properly can be expensive when something goes wrong. Here are a few more things you can do in order to make sure your fragile goods get to where they need to get to safely and in-tact. Let’s jump right in!

Always wrap your items

Regardless of what kind of packing materials you’re using – bubble wrap, chips, newspaper or whatever – make sure that you wrap your item before you put it in the box. This simply adds a second layer of protection. The one caveat we’ll put out there is that if the object has jagged or sharp edges, make sure you wrap those individually and be sure to not wrap them too tightly. That could damage your item further if something goes wrong. 

Don’t leave room in the box

Pack your items tight. The more space there is to move around in the box, the more likely it’ll break. Be very liberal with the amount of packing peanuts/materials you use. While you pack the item, have someone hold it straight up so you get the needed materials all around it so it’s in its box nice and snug. Like we said – it might seem like you’re overdoing it by going nuts on packing materials but trust us when we tell you – you’re not.

Mark it as fragile

Seems pretty darn obvious, right? Well, you’d be surprised. Just because you tell the guy at the courier service that it’s fragile and just because you know its fragile doesn’t mean the next guy handling it knows that. Yes, most courier services worth their salt can, should and likely will label it for you, but don’t take that risk. Label it yourself. If you want to make sure it gets noticed, buy a bright colored (red) tape for the label. That way, it’ll be more likely to get noticed. 

Hopefully these extra tips will help take the edge off when it comes to shipping your fragile items. While it might seem like a no-brainer, every little extra thing you do goes a long way towards making sure that your item arrives at its destination in its intended state. Not doing so, can elevate the risk. Good luck!

How to ship fragile items

Shipping fragile goods can be a nerve wracking experience. The idea of entrusting something breakable to a box, packing materials and to someone you don’t know isn’t always the most trust inspiring experience. 

But if you’re in a position where you need to make sure something sensitive gets to where it needs to go, then you should know how to do it correctly. If you follow some of these tips, then you should be able to ship your package relatively worry-free. Let’s jump right in!

Gather your materials

While we’re all about efficiency here at Affordable Courier, when it comes to fragile items – more is most definitely more. It’s better to buy too much packing materials as opposed to too little. While it might seem wasteful on its face, you can at least rest assured that you’ll most likely need to use these items down the road when you ship another package and frankly, the cost of buying too much packing materials pales in comparison to your item breaking. So make sure you have your materials, a sturdy box, tape and scissors. 

Orientation does matter quite a bit

Depending on what you’re shipping, the orientation of your item can have a big impact on its condition when it gets delivered. After all, there’s a reason many boxes have a ‘this side up’ marker on them. If your item is really top heavy, consider flipping it upside down. This is basic physics, as things that have more weight at the bottom tend to be easier to carry and move around. This also helps people generally abide by the indicators on the box. This isn’t a guarantee that’ll happen – but it’ll increase the odds for sure. 

Inspect everything you ship/receive 

Make sure you check your item for damage before it leaves to make sure everything on your end is in good shape. And just like with rental cars, it’s not a bad idea to even take before photos. Also be sure to check your box and packaging for any weak spots, holes or tears. It must be able to adequately protect the item. And lastly, make sure your item carries well by lifting it on your own. Everything might LOOK good on the outside, but you may notice issues when you move around. Make corrections as needed. 

The final thing you’ll want to do is to contact a reliable delivery service. Many courier services specialize in fragile goods and it’s probably going to be worth the extra few bucks to make sure that someone’s transporting it who knows what they’re doing. 

Hopefully these tips will help take the edge off of sending fragile packages. We get that it’s a stressful thing to do, but do it correctly and you’ll have next to nothing to worry about. Good luck!

Holiday shipping tips for 2020

With COVID numbers up and in-person shopping numbers down, Americans are going to be shopping online and mailing packages and presents to each other in record numbers this year. 2020 has been ‘different’ in general; but this holiday season – they’ll be really different.

Today, we’re going to share some holiday present shipping tips with you so that you’ll be prepared for what’s to come; making sure that you hit deadlines and are aware of some of the challenges you’ll be faced with this season. But don’t fret – as long as you stick to some of these tips, you shouldn’t have any issues getting your gifts to your loved ones in time for the holidays. Let’s jump right in!

Put your list together – then put together a list of shipping deadlines

If you’re someone who likes to procrastinate when it comes to holiday shopping; trust us, we get it! But this year, you’ll have to be on the ball. With supply chains slowed down, there will be more limited supplies of everything – meaning that if you’re not in on the rush for certain things, you’ll be left out in the cold. 

Make sure that when you see high priority items on someone’s holiday list, that you find out when that item’s particular deadline is for shipping. Not only will there be a lower supply, but it will take longer to get things from A to B. Make sure you’ve got your deadlines in hand and items purchased in time. 

Seek out strategies for shipping faster

Don’t just rely on the US postal service or UPS. Especially if you’re shipping local – give strong consideration to using a courier service. It may cost you a little bit more, but you can rest assured that not only will your package get exactly to where it needs to go; but it’ll also get there on time; perhaps even substantially faster than more traditional methods. The truth is – everyone is going to be a little backed up this year, but the USPS and UPS, specifically. Be open to trying something new. 

Factor in time for returns

The holiday season is a high-volume time for everyone in the postal/shipping industry. With this spike comes an increase in returns as well. While these companies all do everything they possibly can to cut down on these errors, they will inevitably happen. Be sure that if you’re shipping anything, that you factor in time for returns – which is usually an additional 5-7 days. That way if you get something that’s not what you ordered or what you had hoped for – that you’ll have plenty of time to react the way that you need to.

Package for safety

Make sure that whenever you’re sending anything, that you take the time to pack the package appropriately and safely. Like we said before – this is a high-volume time of year for shipping parcels and your package will be handled with many other people’s valuables. Whenever you’re dealing in higher volume, the more likely there is for something to go wrong. If it’s fragile – pack it carefully! If it needs to be facing a certain way – make sure it says it on the outside of the box. Make sure that you properly prepare your package to be sent on its way.

This holiday season will be unusually challenging for all of us in a number of ways. Hopefully these tips will help keep your holidays on track and as enjoyable and stress free as possible. Good luck and have a happy, healthy and safe holiday season!

Safely receiving packages in a very pandemic holiday season

Thanks to COVID-19, this whole year has been different. And the holidays? Well, with pandemic numbers creeping up again, our favorite time of year will most certainly be different as well. Making sure we adapt to this world (for now) is important though – and as is the case with many folks, safety is front of mind this year over convenience. 

Today, we’re going to talk about some of the things you can do when you ship your holiday packages – so that you and your loved ones can rest a little bit easier. Let’s jump right in. 

Have a safe zone for deliveries

Just like we’re sure you’ve done with food deliveries and the like – carve out a ‘drop zone’ of sorts for any deliveries. Delivery drivers will appreciate your taking the time to do this and it can include virtually anything – a drop box, a mat outside your home’s entrance, anything, really. By doing this, you’ll minimize face-to-face with other people and if you’re someone who sanitizes your packages – you’ll have a place where you can do that. 

Sanitizing package – yes or no?

We’d recommend that you take the precaution and use a simple disinfectant wipe on anything you bring into your home. And we get it – it definitely feels a little lame and your carrier will probably disinfect the package on their own without you having to do it, too; but it takes an extra minute of your time. It definitely seems like overkill and sure feels like it, but if you’re older, you’re probably better off safe than sorry. Just take the extra minute, and give it a quick wipe down.

Have a designated place for mail (and other things) inside your home

Whether it’s packages, delivery or groceries, it’s good to have a ‘landing pad’ of sorts inside where you can place things. That way you’ll have a place to wipe down anything you bring indoors. And of course – always make sure you wash your hands as soon as you’re done opening and disposing of any and all packing materials. The more you have an established plan as to how to fight COVID-19 and prevent it from spreading – the better for you and your family. 

Understand that we understand

This whole pandemic has taken a lot out of us. LIterally and figuratively. It’s changed a lot of how we do things. Staying home and doing your shopping online is the best way to go. And we’ll do everything and are doing everything we can to make sure deliveries are safe. Drivers are trained, safety measures are implemented and everyone is trying to do things in the safest way possible. 

Hopefully, these will help take your mind off everything a little bit this holiday season so you can get down to what matters most – and that’s spending time with your loved ones. Have a happy, healthy and safe holiday season, everyone!

Interview questions for a courier company

So sounds like you’re open to the idea of hiring a courier for your next delivery. That’s great – we’re sure you’ll enjoy the experience. But where do you start? What do you ask? How do you tell if one courier company is better than another?

Today, we’re going to talk about some of the things you should ask your courier service provider when you’re ‘interviewing’ them. This way, your decision will come into a little bit clearer focus as you go through the process. While we all generally do the same thing, we don’t all specifically offer the same services or specialties, so it’s important you know which company will fit best with you. Let’s jump right in!

What makes you better than your competitors?

A classic, but important question to ask! A company that has a reputation, a story and track record shouldn’t have any issue answering this question easily. For some companies – it’ll be the scope of services offered. For others, it’ll be guarantees, service or perhaps even pricing. Whatever answers they give, listen to your gut. 

Do you guarantee deliveries?

There are a lot of companies out there that’ll only provide you with a general window of when something will be delivered. While that’s fine for many kinds of deliveries, that’s not the case in others. Time-sensitive deliveries should all have guarantees from those services that they’ll be on time. Whether it’s sam-day or routine; a company’s word is their bond and you’ll want to make sure you select a company that stands behind theirs. 

What’s the size of your fleet?

To most, this is the kind of question that falls into the ‘who cares’ category, but it shouldn’t. Long story, short – the larger the fleet – the higher the odds your goods will get to where they need to get to when they need to get there. If the truck that was supposed to deliver your medical supplies breaks down out of nowhere – can your package be scooped up into another truck? How can companies be on time if they only have a small margin for error (only a few delivery trucks out there)? Companies can tell you a lot of things, but the size of their fleet can tell you a lot of things about the company. 

What kinds of technology do you use?

One of the primary advantages of using courier services is the degree of control you’re awarded through technology. Quite literally, you can have your package at your fingertips at all times. And to be sure – technology isn’t about what a company offers so much as what it says about the company – which is that they care enough about your experience to take on expense to make their service better for you. 

How do you train your couriers?

You’d be stunned if you knew how many unqualified drivers there are in our world. Imagine leaving medical supplies in the hands of someone not trained in HIPPA, who doesn’t know what they’re handling or how to handle it? You wouldn’t feel good about that, would you? Not everything is as simple as tossing a package in the back of a truck and driving it somewhere. It’s a responsibility and an obligation and in certain scenarios, timeliness, punctuality and professionalism can mean a lot more than whether you’re happy your package go there on time or not. 

Second, just like we said above; not only will it paint a clearer picture of what companies do well, but it will also give you a window into just how seriously they take customer service. Yeah, the price might be high, but in most cases, that can be a good thing. Go with the companies that care always. 

If you’re looking for a courier service in the Tampa Bay, FL area, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to give you a full run-down of what we offer and how we might be of help. Until then, we hope these tips help and good luck in your search!

Common package delivery issues

Just like any business, you’re more than likely to experience some sort of issue when it comes to the delivery of your packages at some point in your life. While some of those companies with big, national names bring with them a sense of comfort and familiarity, not all of them always live up to the billing. 

Today, we’re going to talk about some of the most common issues we hear about from our customer when it comes to some of their experiences with larger providers, and some of the ways courier services like ours mitigate these risks. Let’s jump right in!

Delayed order

It’s always important to plan when you order something – particularly if the parcel is important. But sometimes, life can throw you a curveball. When the unexpected occurs and time sensitive delivery deadlines aren’t met, it can cause an awful lot of trouble for you or your business. 

Courier services depend on being on time and making sure things get exactly where they need to be. In many cases, there are courier companies that specialize in certain areas like say, high-value deliveries or medical delivery. Many times, you’ll find that same-day services are available as well, which means you can get what you need almost as soon as you need it.

Damaged orders

There’s nothing worse than anxiously waiting for a package to arrive only for it to show up damaged. Not only is this damaging, but it’s a huge waste of money – not only for you, but also the vendor who sent you the package. You won’t get what you want, they’ll have to refund you and everyone’s walking away unhappy. And let’s make no mistake about it – calling the company to explain the situation, provide proof of damage and then having to wait for a replacement is an experience no one enjoys going through. 

With courier services, our drivers are accountable for their packages being delivered responsibly. Not only are they extensively trained, but you’ll also have lots of control from afar, as you’ll be able to track and monitor the progress of your package -so you’ll know exactly where it is from point A to point B. 

Inaccurate tracking

We’re big believers that you should know where your package will be and when. When it comes to bigger companies, you’re usually dealing with a ‘loosely’ accurate delivery timetable; which could mean it’ll be there ‘around’ a certain time. To put it mildly, there are many instances where that’s not good enough. 

We mentioned it above, but with courier services, you’ll get to track your package in real time. Not just a checkbox of the latest sorting center it passed through; but actual, real-time, “your package is sitting at the light at the corner or Williams and Riverdale St” tracking. It’ll help you better plan when to be available to receive your delivery and even more important, it’ll give you the peace of mind knowing where your package is at all times – especially when that delivery is valuable. 

Here at Affordable Courier, we’re happy to help you with any of your delivery needs. To learn more about our services, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation. Good luck!