Why GRIs From LTL Carriers May Not Be So General This Year

Less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers have reported challenged earnings for quite some time now. Capacity has generally been pretty loose, service levels have been generally pretty high, and prices have generally stayed pretty competitive across the industry—all creating an advantage for shippers.

This all may be changing. Many LTL carriers are signaling some strain in their networks and they are citing increased volumes due to a strengthening economy. This is leading to much higher rate increases for shippers this year as compared to recent years. Some carriers are imposing multiple general rate increases (GRIs) this year to shippers. The tables are turning in favor of the carriers and they know it. With volumes outpacing capacity, carriers are taking advantage of the situation to reset profit levels to a place many LTL carriers haven’t seen in several years.

This is where a good 3PL can come in. A 3PL can help position your freight with the right carrier solution at the right time given the characteristics of your freight and the situation within carrier networks in that lane at that time to get you the best service and the best price. They can do this if they are dedicated to understanding carrier networks and truly partnering with each carrier to understand the needs of the carrier.


A good 3PL can actually help carriers balance their networks instead of worsening an imbalanced network. By helping carriers to continually balance their networks, some 3PLs are able to grow strong partnerships with carriers and smooth the waves when it comes to rate increases.

When looking for a partner to help you with your LTL spend, do you focus solely on price? Or, do you ask the tough questions about the partnerships that the 3PL has with the LTL carriers? If you are seeking a long-term 3PL partner to help you ride the wave that is here in the LTL market, make sure you are asking how they adjust for strained areas in carrier networks, how and why they recommend certain carriers in certain lanes, and if they have the capabilities to do this automatically in their Transportation Management System (TMS).

Partnering with a 3PL who employs a strategy to ensure that the carrier and customer are both taken care of is the most sustainable solution for the long-term.


QuadExpress is a hybrid asset light 3PL, a division of Quad/Graphics which is a $4 billion domestic and international shipper, a multi-modal solution-driven provider that leverages Quad/Graphics’ asset fleet and strategic long-term carrier relationships. QuadExpress is able to provide domestic, international, asset and 3PL solutions to an extensive cross-section of shippers and receivers. QuadExpress is an integrated logistics partner that brings value to its clients’ supply chains by simplifying logistics in the way of providing extensive access to capacity with truckload, less-than-truckload, and intermodal brokerage services; expedited ground and air services, as well as international transportation services. All of this is powered by our proprietary transportation management platform—SilverExpress. For more information, contact Adam Craft at 630-343-4389 or [email protected].

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