It seems like online marketplaces and auction sites offering transportation services are a dime a dozen these days. Each comes with its own quirks, and each set of rules takes some getting used to.
If you’ve ever posted a shipment listing along one of CitizenShipper’s more popular routes, you might’ve felt overwhelmed by the number of quotes you got. How do you pick your transporter out of all of those? Do you just go with the first offer? Are you supposed to contact each of them in turn and negotiate?
The process really isn’t as complicated as you might think. The client (“shipper”) can go through the bids pretty quickly, choosing the transporter (“driver”) whose offer fits certain criteria.
Analyzing the feedback from shippers and drivers alike, we got a good sense of how these interactions usually work. There are a few common missteps that people take, but you can avoid these through planning and common sense. Here are some of the qualities to be on the lookout for when choosing a driver.
To start with, see if the driver’s profile page checks all the boxes by making a cursory examination. This won’t give you the full picture, but as an initial sorting tool, it’s quick and easy.
What’s the driver’s rating score? Five stars would obviously be optimal, but don’t discount those with 4 or 4.5 stars either. A single bad review shouldn’t disqualify anyone.
How many shipments has the driver racked up so far? What was their cancellation rate? Were the shipments canceled due to driver error or a shipper’s change of plans?
Has the driver gone through all the stages of verification – email, physical address, phone number, background check? Which achievements, if any, do they have listed? Maybe you’re looking for a USDOT-approved transporter or a Pet Shipment Expert? Or someone who carries a specific pet insurance policy perhaps?
All this information is available on the profile page of each driver that has submitted a quote. A quick read-through should be enough for you to narrow down your options. Once you’ve done that, dig a little deeper to see what kind of transportation service they’re bringing to the table.
For an in-depth look into what the drivers are offering, read the reviews left by other shippers. Don’t just skim through to see how many stars they got – we’ve covered that part already. What you’re after here is experience relevant to your specific situation.
Is the driver familiar with the route that you need them to cover? Have they had the chance to handle the type of shipment that you’re looking to move? How have they dealt with additional requests made by other shippers? Did they ask for money in advance or were they paid upon delivery?
Of course, few profile pages will have enough reviews listed to answer all of these questions. But do a little digging and you might find details pertaining to your specific requirements. You’ll also get a sense of what kind of people the drivers are, and what kind of transportation service they provide. This way you can narrow the field even further, leaving only a couple of candidates.
The marketplace design of CitizenShipper keeps the bids offered competitively. It’s possible to use an online transport calculator to get a rough estimate of how much your transport may cost. But remember these are not that accurate and you need to take into consideration the driver’s experience, the distance, road conditions, and season. Getting items such as boats shipped in summer will likely cost more than winter just through increased demand.
You may ask a driver to clarify a price, but remember drivers are professional and offer bids based on current market conditions.
Even after you’ve made your pick, there’s one last hurdle for the driver to clear. At pick-up, you’ll be able to meet them face to face and confirm whether they’re the right transporter for you. If everything else is in order, this meeting is usually just a formality. Still, you do have the option of changing your mind, even at this late stage.
This could be no more than a gut feeling. You might get a hunch that today’s not the right time to transport your boat after all? Maybe you’re shipping a pet and the animal reacts poorly to car motion. Trust is an essential component of driver-shipper interactions.
In most cases, you’ll be able to trust your initial assessment and go with the driver you’ve selected. Once you impart any last-minute instructions you might have, wish them a safe journey and set them on their way.
Upon delivery, after the driver has proven to be as reliable as advertised, don’t forget to rate and review them. Your input is appreciated by not just the driver, but other shippers on the platform as well. When choosing their own drivers, they’ll be relying on your satisfaction with the transportation service provided.
Updated September 17, 2021