THE DREADED AUTO SHIPPING INDUSTRY BOTTLENECK RETURNS
Well folks, it’s here. The next hundred days represents peak car shipping season; the time of year where transport volume is at its highest. Why is this important? I’ll break it down for you in this installment and share valuable tips to help you avoid getting caught up in the bottleneck that inevitably follows this drastic increase of car shipping freight.
By and large, we humans are seasonable people. The Summer months are a welcome reprieve from the bitter winter cold, Spring fever leads to cabin fever, and as soon as weather allows we are outside and on the move! Prior to this, we tend to dig our heels in as we prepare to wait out Old Man Winter. There are many economic markers that also indicate this to be true, that is, once you exclude the throngs of people trying to take advantage of Black Friday! These behaviors even trickle down through the car shipping industry. Vacations, vehicle sales & moves diminish in the Winter months which drastically reduces the amount of available freight to keep car transporters full, on the move and making money. The vehicle transport community knows this and tries to prepare for it ahead of time so the burdens of overhead don’t have as much of an impact when revenues are reduced. Those who are able to weather the “winter glut” welcome the increased freight that accompanies the Summer months. However, what’s good for carriers isn’t necessarily good for shippers.
For the most part, the number of car shipping companies stays about the same year round. That’s why it’s usually cheaper to ship your car during the slower Winter months when volume isn’t as high and carriers are willing to accept loads at reduced rates. This all changes once the load boards start filling up, thus the bottleneck. You’ve all seen the cell phone commercial that has people walking through a hole in the wall in a nice orderly fashion, and then peak data usage hits and the line goes from nice and orderly to this massive wave of people trying to get through that same small hole. Now, while the mountainous pile of people in that commercial are supposed to represent data lag in the world of cell phones, it is a great representation of the point I’m trying to convey here. When you drastically increase the number of vehicles needing to get shipped while utilizing the same number of available auto transporters, you’re going to get the same kind of congestion that’s demonstrated by the cell phone commercial. Once this occurs, the simple rule of supply and demand kicks in and car shipping rates go up along with estimated ship dates.
Therefore, if you find yourself in a situation that requires you to ship your vehicle during the busy season there’s a few things you can do to help ensure your vehicle gets shipped on time. Keep in mind that if your move isn’t time sensitive, then you might still be able to save a few bucks if you’re willing to wait. You never know when your car might finish out a car carriers load and they’re willing to discount their 10th spot. Always try to plan ahead. Shipping a vehicle is a lot like booking with an airline. If you do it way in advance they’ll offer you a more desirable rate than if you try to book a week in advance. Be conscious of the size of the vehicle you plan to ship. If you’re moving and you have a big truck or SUV and a small car, you should opt to ship the car. Sure a half ton pickup costs more to drive than a Honda Civic, but smaller vehicles are more desirable to auto transporters than large ones, and the price difference between shipping those two vehicles will more than make up the difference in fuel costs.
Next, make sure your pickup and drop off locations are “auto transporter friendly”. Under optimum conditions, these locations should be free of congestion and not have any trees with low-hanging branches. You should also avoid locations that have low underpass clearances or roads/bridges that can’t accommodate an 80,000 pound truck. Last, you should avoid accepting the lowest car shipping quote, especially if your move is time sensitive. The money you think you’ll save will be completely offset by the headaches you have to deal with when you’re leaving town and your vehicle is still waiting to be shipped. Be prepared to be flexible with your price. Sometimes another $50 or $100 makes all the difference in the world when it comes to securing a shipper for your move. Hope these tips help! Til next time, stay safe out there people.