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How to Cut Down on Detention Fees

Fill Empty Trucks

An accessorial charge is any transportation cost or fee in addition to the line haul. Examples include lumpers, extra stops, and of course, detention. Truck drivers generally receive two free hours at the shipper or consignee until they start to charge ‘detention’. Typically, detention costs a shipper or consignee around $50/hour.

Let’s Find Out How to Avoid Accessorial Charges

Shippers, learn how to avoid detention fees and related accessorial charges

If you ask a truck driver, there are three certainties in life: death, taxes and waiting. If you’re reading this article, chances are that your facility has a reputation of holding drivers. Just like in school, reputation means a lot in Freight and truck drivers seem to spend more time on social media than the average co-ed. Truck drivers are not a patient breed, and they will almost certainly spread the word about that shipper that cost them a full day in the July heat. As far as your bottom line, regularly dishing out detention can be avoidable. Because there are so many uncertainties and freight is often unpredictable, it would be silly to tell you that you can avoid paying detention altogether. However, here are some tips to help you cut down on those fees.

  • 1. Detention is completely negotiable.

    You know your facility better than the freight broker. Before you sign their contract, make amendments if you know your facility will need more than two hours to load or unload a truck. Whether your product is full of oversized dangerous goods or just palletized plastic, it doesn’t hurt to shoot for three free hours. If you are a valuable customer to them with a good working relationship, they will be more likely to have flexibility on these accessorial charges.

  • 2. Unload first thing in the morning, stage before lunch and load in the afternoon.

    Drivers often wait at a shipper because the product isn’t ready or packaged yet. Drivers typically aren’t empty on their previous load until lunch time, so spend the early morning unloading your deliveries. Then, focus on getting your product shrink-wrapped, staged and onto pallets instead of waiting for drivers to show up. When you get busy with empty trucks in the afternoon, your product will be ready and you will be able to focus completely on loading and not on staging.

  • 3. Have the paperwork printed before the driver arrives.

    Once loaded, legally a driver cannot leave your facility without his or her paperwork (bills, scale tickets, customs clearance, etc.). It seems silly, yet often times drivers get loaded immediately and end up sitting for hours waiting on their paperwork. Communicate with your dock staff to provide paperwork directly after the trailer is loaded/unloaded.

  • 4. Establish drop trailer programs.

    If you have extra space outside your facility, try to select the right trucking company to drop a trailer and handle a large project for you. You will load that empty trailer with your commercial goods whenever you can find time and without the rush. When the driver arrives, he or she will drop their current empty trailer and hook to the loaded trailer. It is a cyclical program and the driver is in and out in minutes.

  • 5. Schedule appointments and stick to them.

    Facilities that are first come, first serve often get a rush of drivers coming in at the same time. This overwhelms your dock staff and can lead to long wait times for drivers. Instead of five drivers waiting outside for you to open up, stagger appointment times throughout the day. You can always work drivers in if they are early and you have an open dock.