It seems like online marketplaces and auction sites offering transportation service 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 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 lowest bid? 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 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?
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.
Let’s not pretend that the cost of service isn’t a factor as well. Of course you want reliable, experienced people to deliver your shipment responsibly. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need them to fit into a certain budget.
By now, you should be looking at two or more perfectly qualified candidates according to the criteria outlined above. So let’s consider the asking price of their transportation service.
Online shipping cost calculators allow you to estimate how much you should be paying per mile. But does the price quoted on CitizenShipper seem a little low for the distance driven? If the sum appears to be barely enough to cover fuel costs, the driver is probably stacking shipments. Making multiple deliveries along the same route is how they can afford to offer these great deals.
While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this approach, some shippers may want to pay a little extra for exclusivity. To do this, choose one of the higher bids and then check with the driver. They may or may not be willing to prioritize your shipment, depending on the price.
In most cases, however, this would be a needless expense. Stacked or not, all shipments must be delivered by their due date, so don’t waste your money by being overly cautious. Out of the drivers that satisfy your other criteria, it’s usually OK to choose the one with the lowest bid.
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 the driver? Trust is an essential component of driver-shipper interactions. If it’s missing on your side for whatever reason, it’s within your rights to bail. There’s a cancellation fee that you’ll need to pay, but you can’t put a price on peace of mind.
These are rare exceptions, of course. 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.