There is a lot of “line items” when calculating how much it costs to ship your containerized goods across the ocean. And in all honesty, almost all shippers think of shipping costs as one, single, big line item in their expense statements. If you’re looking to reduce your freight costs by only paying attention to the largest line items in your shipping bill, chances are that not much is going to change. However, freight bills usually get out of control due to a failure of managing the small costs – one of which being chassis rental fees.
How to Reduce the Cost of Chassis Rentals
Chassis rental fees aren’t too high, right? Generally speaking, you can get a chassis for around $35 per day (or $75 per day if it’s a 3-axle chassis). Those costs may fluctuate a bit depending on which port your goods are sitting at, but regardless, shippers rarely pay attention to how much they are spending on chassis rentals until they get a freight bill…
$140-$200 doesn’t seem too “insignificant”. When it comes to chassis rentals, you’re usually using it for 5+ days, meaning those small costs stack up to make a difference in the end.
So how do you reduce the costs of your chassis rentals? Here are a few quick tips:
Few things if the shipping industry are hard set, unmovable costs. Chances are, if you’re working with a good drayman or freight forwarder, you may be able to negotiate the cost of the chassis rental. The type of chassis needed, current price, current season, and number of days needed can all be important factors in negotiating a better deal.
2) Avoid Thursdays and Fridays
You don’t always have the option here- if your steamship line is bringing your cargo in on a Thursday or Friday and you need to get your cargo out to avoid penalties, that’s completely understandable. But keep in mind that picking up your cargo on Thursdays or Fridays is not very cost effective.
If you are pulling your container on a Thursday, make sure that the terminal you are returning to is open on Saturday. Otherwise, you’re pretty much guaranteeing a 5-day chassis fee. In the same way, Fridays pretty much guarantee you will be paying a 4 days minimum (often 5 days since your container may not be off the ship until Monday).
3) Avoid Night Pickups
They might seem like a great way to avoid the hassle of port congestion, but night pickups may be costing you more than they are worth in rental fees. Since chassis fees are calculated based on the calendar date- not a number of hours-a night pickup just before midnight guarantees that you are tacking on an extra day to your chassis rental fees. You’ll have to wait until the next morning anyways since warehouses won’t be open, essentially rendering the move useless when it comes to controlling chassis costs.
Don’t stare at the “bit line items” on your freight bill- a lot of the expensive pieces don’t move much in price. However, most of the cost savings with shipping comes through careful planning and management of the small things, like chassis rentals.
To lower your chassis rental fees, spend time negotiating with the carrier. Depending on the season, number of days needed, current price, availability, and a variety of other factors, you may be able to lower your costs a bit. It’s also smart to avoid picking cargo up on Thursdays and Fridays so you don’t have additional “days” calculated on Saturday and Sunday- for a 3-axle chassis, that could be an additional $150 alone over the weekend. In the same spirit, avoid night pickups when possible. While you may dodge the congestion, you’re adding an immediate day to the chassis costs since warehouses aren’t open and you won’t be able to unload until the morning anyways!
Our team at Interlog USA would be happy to answer additional questions you have!