The process of hiring the right moving company can turn complicated pretty quickly. People who plan a cross-country move or corporate relocation have all their belongings and equipment loaded onto a truck to be carried over a few hundred or thousand miles to their new home. The relocation is challenging and brings lots of things for them to worry about. They want their things to arrive undamaged, with everything arriving at the destination and on time. On top of that, they don’t want to spend a lot of money to do it. That’s where national van lines and local movers come into play. They are moving truck rental and shipping companies that deliver long-distance moving services with the support of an individual network of local van line agents.
What long-distance mover van lines need to deal with are the logistics challenges. Even with minimal transportation needs, logistics can be a dismal task for a small team of employees. In most cases, it is even more cost-effective and easier for a van line to outsource its logistics to a 3PL (third-party logistics) provider to make their logistical operations flawless. 3PLs specialized in van line transport already know how to streamline your processes, set the right price, and meet all your needs. This will allow your employees to bypass the steep and long learning curve, as well as space requirements.
With a third-party van line logistics provider, you will be able to focus your energy on what you do best. Take a look at our complete guide to van line logistics to learn more.
Van Line Terminology
From the point of origin to the point of arrival, van line shipments are tracked thanks to advanced tracking and reporting technology. Many people are included in the entire process, which needs to be appropriately streamlined and seamless in order to meet the customers’ expectations and deliver the best possible customer experience.
Van line – Van lines are moving container companies that provide their service through a network of affiliated agents (van line agents). Van line agents are people who transport interstate moving shipments (for what they are authorized by the van line). As for the van line, it handles dispatching, shipment routing, shipment monitoring, paperwork processing, and claims settlements on behalf of its agents.
Van operator – This is the person who drives the moving van or truck. Van operators are responsible for the loading, transport to the destination, and unloading of the customer’s belongings at the destination.
Van line agent – This is a moving company that represents a van line. A van line agent can also handle booking, origin, transport, destination, and other functions.
Booking agent – A booking agent is an individual or company that is able to price, register, and sell a customer’s move with a van line company. They don’t have to be in the same location as the origin/destination of the move.
Origin and destination agent – The physical location of the origin agent is in the origin location (or near it). This agent handles packing, performing the visual survey, preparing documentation for transportation, and other local moving services. The destination agent is the moving agent you work with at the destination location, and he or she is there to provide moving services and information you need as you complete a move.
Carrier – This is a moving company that transports household goods from the origin to the destination location.
Shuttle service – In case the new household is not accessible to the equipment of professional movers, the shuttle service employs a small vehicle to shuttle the items between the truck and the house.
Storage-in-transit – Storage-in-transit occurs when cargo needs to be temporarily stored before being unloaded at the destination. If a new household is being renovated, or if there is any other reason why a client cannot unload items immediately, they can rely on storage-in-transit. Additional charges apply for SIT services (as well as fees for warehouse handling and final moving). Storage-in-transit can’t exceed 90 days.
AMSA Certified Van Line – The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) certifies van lines and other professional moving companies to act as interstate carriers that transport shipments under their own authority. AMSA Certified Van Lines also follow the AMSA Code of Conduct, and they are responsible for the quality of service provided by their agents.
Benefits of Van Line Logistics
The following list of benefits will help you with many of your local movers, international van lines, and moving FAQs.
- Performance Gains
Third-party van line logistics providers and professional moving companies can help streamline the entire moving process – paperwork processing, shipment routing, shipment monitoring, and other critical logistics operations that make the entire experience as seamless as possible. As a result, you get huge time savings that ultimately equate to cost savings, while improved accuracy helps increase customer satisfaction. This is critical when pricing van lines.
- Cost Savings
Not having to maintain your own space can be a big money saver. Third-party logistics providers can also negotiate for better shipping rates and usually have lower warehousing and moving costs, which allows you to approach your customers with lower van line shipping prices. Since you’re working with a 3PL and shipping companies, you won’t have to maintain your warehouse space, which will save you lots of money on staff, electricity, IT systems, etc.
- Business Growth
Working with a 3PL provider and shipping companies allows you to focus more on activities that lead to business growth. Instead of building your own moving systems and network, you will outsource the work to a specialized company that has an entire infrastructure in place. When your van line business starts to expand, you will already have the resources and expertise that you need.
- Receiving Full-Service Logistics
Third-party logistics providers and professional moving companies that specialize in turnkey solutions can provide hundreds of locations across the North American continent, as well as a reliable network of 3PL storage and transportation providers (e.g., van line agents). Thanks to the advanced tools for tracing and tracking shipments of North American van lines, you will regularly get user-friendly reports to help you improve and optimize your operations. Furthermore, their experienced operations and sales team can bring in more creative power to help you save time and money.
- Solutions for Specialized Transport
Some 3PLs and professional moving companies have built a reputation for van line shipments because these shipments often contain high-value items that need to be handled carefully. These services may include:
- International van lines, intermodal, expedited, heavy haul, and air freight.
- Freight brokerage for LTL and truckload shipments.
- Value-added delivery with reverse logistics, materials recycling, and inside placement.
- Moving electronics, perishable items, car shipping, or other specialty moving services.
- White-glove handling of items such as fixtures, fine art, electronics, furniture, etc.
- Last-Mile Coordination
Your third-party logistics provider can coordinate the last miles of equipment, fixtures, and furniture for residential and hospitality institutions, food and restaurant services, and healthcare and medical settings. The moving coordinators’ network of skilled providers and warehouses bring additional capacities for:
- Project management and on-site installers
- Inventory management, timed delivery, and staging
- After-hours deliveries and time-sensitive retail rollouts
How to Choose Your Van Line Logistics Provider
3PL providers and shipping companies are never one-size-fits-all, but there are several things that are common to the best 3PLs you should pay attention to. This is a moving checklist that you should take into account.
- Area of Expertise (Van Line Logistics)
You need a third-party logistics company that specializes in van line logistics. Some logistics providers may be capable of coordinating the transportation of any sort of freight, but they specialize in moving household items. There is a different understanding and skill set associated with moving household items, rather than, for instance, refrigerated goods or dangerous chemicals.
While going through a list of potential logistics providers, you should pay attention to their reputation. If they lack competence and have a bad reputation, your own reputation will be affected by that. Once negative word-of-mouth starts circling among your customers, it will surely stand as an obstacle to success. Good reputation, on the other hand, is the best marketing method out there. The best thing about it is that it’s completely free. When looking for a logistics provider, be sure to check their longevity, testimonials, and positive reviews to confirm that the provider of your choice has a solid reputation.
- Reliability and Customer Service
In case something goes wrong with your shipment, can you reach out to your logistics partner to address the problem immediately? A superior level of customer service should always be a prerequisite when choosing a logistics partner for your van lines.
- Van Lines Customer Relationships
Another critical factor you need to consider is your logistics partner’s existing relationships with forwarders, agents, carriers, and others. The backbone of a 3PL’s customer service is its network of preferred partners. If they don’t have trusted partnerships, they’ll have issues keeping pace with shipment volumes, while you could end up getting unfavorable carrier rates.
- Network of Locations
What determines your business distribution or expansion is the 3PL provider’s network of locations. The best logistics partners always offer a strategic solution to meet your distribution needs with optimal efficiency. Do you need a van line transportation that can deliver cargos to the East Coast? If so, you should find a logistics partner who already has a network of locations on that part of the North American continent. If they don’t have a strong network there, are they able to open new locations in order to meet your needs?
- Financial Stability
To make sure that your van line logistics provider can adapt and grow in the future, you should look for a partner that’s financially stable enough to stay by your side. A 3PL’s approach toward innovation can indicate whether it will be able to size up. Be sure to assess your logistics partner’s WMS (Warehouse Management System) and TMS (Transportation Management System).
- Automation and Technology
The technology your logistics partner uses matters to your business, as well as to your van line’s customer experience. Are they equipped with the latest technology to offer effective and efficient services? You should look for technologies such as web-based booking and tracking systems, cloud computing, warehouse automation, reporting systems, etc. These technologies help them provide consistent and error-free service with an efficient distribution system and quick reports. Want to know the whereabouts of your cargo? You should be able to access real-time information about your shipment’s location at any time.
Furthermore, you should partner up with a 3PL or moving truck rental companies that use advanced automation technology because it will increase efficiency and reduce your shipping costs. Also, can a 3PL integrate their business system with your ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system? If it can, then you will have a seamless integration that allows you to submit orders at any time, track where and when it gets processed, and access info about carriers, shipping route, origin and destination agent, van line agent, van line operator, storage-in-transit, and more.
How long will it take your van line logistics partner to ship the cargo? How soon will they process your orders? Efficiency affects everything from your business reputation to customer satisfaction, and it refers to the time it takes to receive and process the order, go to the origin location, pack, load, transport, unload, and other moving services – the shorter the time, the more efficient the service. For a van company, both the transportation modes and routes play a crucial role when it comes to van line delivery.
Communication also affects efficiency. Check the 3PL’s communication channels – you will have an easier time staying in touch if it offers several lines of communication.
Since we are talking about moving entire households, it is important that your logistics provider pays attention to safety. Otherwise, delivering broken furniture or art pieces will cause a loss for you. Therefore, safe moving is of utmost importance.
3PL’s pricing must be transparent without any hidden charges. This is a key metric you should take into consideration. Before you make your final decision, be sure to track the price per delivery. Usually, the cost of moving charged by the 3PL should include transportation cost, packing, loading and unloading fees, account set-up fees, shipping costs, receiving costs, and the monthly minimums. When it comes to pricing, you can determine which one of the candidates is best for your business when they send you their quotes for your long-term partnership. Of course, don’t go for the cheapest one, but combine its service quality and price to determine whether it’s worth the money.
The logistics services and supply chain solutions that Redbird Logistics Services provide will suit your van line company and meet all your requirements. We provide real-time technology and complete visibility of your shipments every step of the way, while lowering your overall cost of moving and maximizing your van line company’s efficiency to ensure customer satisfaction. Feel free to reach out to us today!