Dollars & Sense
Boost Your Income with Special Care & Handling Services
Boost Your Freight Opportunities (and Income) with Special Care & Handling Services
Looking to take your expedited trucking income to the next level? Consider getting qualified with your carrier to haul premium loads that require special care and handling.
Whatever the name, the concept behind "special services" is essentially the same: Provide exceptional care and attention to detail when loading, transporting and delivering high-value and, in many cases, high-risk freight to the customer.
"Special services means a different level of service to the customers," explains Linda Caffee, a veteran expediter who formerly hauled White Glove freight for FedEx Custom Critical. "You're not just picking up from a dock and delivering from a dock. You're dealing directly with the customer, not just a shipping agent. When you walk into somebody's office to pick up a box, you're actually walking into an office, not onto a dock. So, you want to look and act with the highest level of professionalism at all times."
Carl Kiser, manager of White Glove Services for FedEx Custom Critical, defines "White Glove" as an expedited ground transportation service that requires additional care and handling, above and beyond standard surface transportation expedited shipment.
This could mean temperature-sensitive products or high-value cargo such as servers, gaming equipment, rare art and artifacts, and so forth.
"If a customer requires temperature control services, or drivers with some level of clearance from the government, or inside pickup and delivery service, or liftgate service, or pallet jack service, and things of that nature -- that would be performed through our White Glove services division," says Kiser. "So, it's expedite with all the bells and whistles."
What's in it for the owner-operators who qualify to handle premium loads?
For one, special services expands your freight options. "Not only are owner-operators eligible for surface expedite shipments, they are also opened up to all the White Glove business that we have, which translates into a substantial increase shipping opportunities," says Kiser.
Then there's the higher pay per load. Says Kiser, "If they haul White Glove freight, that load is charged at a premium to the customer. And that means our contractor is also getting paid a premium rate to haul that freight."
But to qualify to handle premium loads, owner-operators must make additional investments in equipment and certifications beyond the requirements for a standard surface freight expediter.
For example, if you lease a straight truck to FedEx Custom Critical for their White Glove Services division, you'll need to upfit the vehicle with a liftgate, temperature control unit, and possibly a lift axle.
"They'll also need a pallet jack, dolly, pads, additional straps, and additional load bars above and beyond what we require for our surface expedite," says Kiser.
Then there is the investment in hazmat certifications and any additional background checks for government security clearances.
"The major difference [between surface expedite and White Glove] is the equipment," says Kiser. "When you're purchasing a dry box truck, you know what the market is for that. But when you throw on a temperature control unit, a lift gate and a lift axle, that starts to take the truck price up substantially. So, the investment difference is primarily about the truck itself."
Return On Investment
With the upfront investment in equipment to haul special-service freight, what is the value proposition for the owner-operator?
"It adds variety to your job," says Linda Caffee. "We don't just bump docks very much anymore. We go into an office or an office complex. So, it's the excitement — you never know what that next load will be like, which is what we enjoy."
Hauling special-service freight has also expanded the Caffee's income potential because they qualify for more types of loads. And that can make a big impact on your bottom line.
At one time, the Caffees owned a dog, which precluded them from being allowed to participate in special services opportunities. "It's just my estimate, but I think that dog cost us about $50,000 per year [in lost revenue opportunity]," says Caffee. "So you better really like your dog."