[Lesson 3.3] How to price your shipment accurately

After you've submitted a couple of quotes and had the opportunity to review some of your competitors’ bids, you may notice that the price ranges on quotes for the same transport can be quite wide. The key is to find the quote’s “soft” spot - a price that is reasonable for the customer, but also covers your costs and compensates you fairly for your time spent on the transport. This lesson will provide insight on how to determine a quote that makes sense for both you and the shipper. 

  • Step #1: How to accurately price your quotes
  • Step #2: Pro Tips (must read!)

How to accurately price your quotes

Low-balling or high-balling a quote rarely wins a shipment. It’s more apt to lead to a less than favorable transport experience for all the parties involved. Someone may feel taken advantage of. Communication may suffer. Customer service is compromised. No one walks away happy - which is no way to build your business. We suggest you start the quote process by considering the following questions: 

  • How much gas will the trip take, including pick-up and drop-off?
  • How much does the shipment weigh? Larger items can require more fuel.
  • Will you need extra time for loading or unloading? 
  • Will you need to hire an extra pair of hands?
  • Is there special equipment you will need to purchase to satisfy a specific shipment requirement/request?
  • Will there be any additional charges related to travel, such as hotel bills or road tolls? 
  • Will you add a “wear and tear” fee to each transport to cover items such as vehicle maintenance such as tires, insurance, and maintenance
  • How will you charge for your time? 

Helpful hint:

How many pets are you willing to transport at a time? Many drivers increase the profit by including more than one shipment per transport. We refer to this as “stacking” a shipment. If this interests you, check out our shipment stacking tool for more information.

The Low Quote Exception to the Rule:

When you are just starting on CitizenShipper and have no or minimal customer feedback you might need to offer customers an exciting rate to win your first few shipments. Once you start getting positive feedback, with customers describing you as dependable and professional, you’ll be able to increase your bids gradually.

Another thing for a beginner to consider is folding in the background check fee for their first bid. By paying Checkr to process your information instantly, you can complete the security screening before delivering your first shipment. This is by no means a requirement, but it does improve your odds of gaining customer trust. 

Pro Tips

As stated above, this part is a must-read, because although some rules apply to the majority of newcomers, there are certainly exceptions to the rule which you can learn more about below.

PRO TIP 1: Communicate before bidding

Before you underbid to win one of your first shipments, communicate with the customer to determine if he or she is on a tight budget. If not, the shipper will be more interested in a driver who can reduce the anxiety associated with booking a stranger online, than securing the cheapest quote. Most new transporters report winning first shipments by engaging in good communication, and pricing shipments "somewhere around the middle" - not too high, but most definitely not too low either!

PRO TIP 2: Offer an exciting offer - not necessarily a “cheap” one 

As previously stated, as a new driver, you may need to consider providing a special offer to customers to get your business rolling. What does that mean? Well, first and foremost here’s what it does not mean. An exciting offer is NOT necessarily the lowest one. You can offer a higher rate than the majority of other drivers starting off and still emerge a “hero”, as long as you create the impression of getting a great deal. Here’s an example of how some of our drivers have accomplished this in the past: 

  1. You found a shipment on which you wanted to bid $500. Instead of sending an official bid, make your initial offer in writing using our approved customer communication methods. In your communication state that under the terms you discussed "you can complete this transport for $550".
  2. In case the customer accepts, awesome, you've just earned $50 more than expected! But if the quote isn’t accepted, you can send a follow-up 30 minutes later stating something like:

"Hey there, I have a quick update for you demanding your urgent attention! I was just able to make some shifts to my schedule, allowing me to offer you a discount and update my quote to $489 I Let me know ASAP! "If you book me in the next 30 minutes, as I have just one place left in my vehicle to close this route!

3. Then place an official bid of $489

Why makes the above offer “exciting? Because it includes at least 3 tested and proven sales techniques including:

  1. Provides perception of an “amazing” discount - Remember, your target quote was $500. However, your ability to deliver an attractive discount was set in motion by communicating an official offer of $550. You then came back with a “special” offer of $489. The customer perceives a $61 savings - when in actuality, you’ll make just $11 less than your target quote (Your target quote was $500 - if the shipment is accepted at $489 - that’s just $11 less than you wanted!). You will the shipment by giving up a nominal amount, but the customer feels as though a real deal was secured. Everyone wins!
  2. Limited time - The phrase “if you book me in the next 30 minutes, as I have just one place left in my vehicle to close this route!” is an ideal way to create urgency and encourage the customer to act NOW! The "Only 1 left" effect - The phrase “if you book me in the next 30 minutes, as I have just one place left in my vehicle to close this route!” also folds in the concept of scarcity. One of the biggest ( drivers of the purchase decision making process, and saying that there's "only 1 of X left" gets more sales than saying "unlimited amount of X".)
  3. Charm numbers - Ever notice how everything you are buying these days has a price ending with 7 or a 9? These are called charm numbers, and they tend to give customers the impression of additional savings. Doesn’t t $489 sound considerably less than $500? It isn’t. But that’s the benefit of using charm numbers. 

Use these data points and techniques, either separately or combined, and couple them with great communication outlined in our previous lessons, and you should start winning shipments with ease!

Still, have questions about how to price your shipments? Let us know how we may help you in the comments below.

As per popular demand, we have included various examples of winning bids below - both high and low, to illustrate just how all the variables above can affect the pricing:

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