Choosing the best freight forwarder to assist with your transportation operations can make the difference between pleased and dissatisfied customers, as well as between cost-effectively distributing your goods and handling them carelessly.
Here are some considerations for picking and working with a freight forwarder.
Conduct your research
Analyze your own transportation practices and ascertain your needs before negotiating with a logistics supplier. Consider elements like the number of shipments the new agent will manage.
Will your shipments primarily be transported by truck, ship, or air? Are most of your ocean shipments container loads, breakbulk, or heavyweight freight? Will most of the cargo, if your product is transported by air, fit in the cabins of passenger aircraft, or must it use a more expensive main-deck configuration? Is the amount of freight being transported by truck a full truckload or less than a truckload?
Be explicit about what a prospective vendor should anticipate from your business. The forwarder’s bid will be better and more detailed the more clearly you specify your logistics needs.
Regardless of how good they may be, don’t let your company’s traffic group handle all discussions. Make use of the information and skills from other internal divisions, such as finance, marketing, purchasing, and information technology. Include senior management in the discussions as well to ascertain their priorities.
Know and comprehend your company’s internal value equation, or the ideal ratio of rates and services, to receive the most transportation value for your money. After that, let the potential service provider know what these values are. Be explicit about what a prospective vendor should anticipate from your business. The forwarder’s bid will be better and more detailed the more clearly you specify your logistics needs.
Find out as much as you can about the resources and expertise of the forwarder. Has it established a network of domestic and foreign offices? How big are they, exactly? Does the logistics provider have knowledgeable, experienced personnel that is able to transport regular shipments smoothly and efficiently as well as the capability to react to emergencies with quick thinking and prompt action?
Who are the preferred carriers for the forwarder? Be careful of any forwarder who suggests that “cheaper” carriers may save you money and provide comparable service to the top carriers. That assertion can be false because it’s more about boosting the company’s profits than it is about moving your cargo.
However, utilizing a big carrier does not always guarantee superior service. Inquire as to why your forwarder employs potential service providers rather than unknown carriers. It will become clearer whether the connection is a suitable fit when a shipper learns more about a forwarder and its business practices.
What next after the deal?
The complex, hopefully, the productive partnership you will have with one of your major vendors doesn’t end when you sign a contract. Meet with the team of the forwarder once the contract has been signed to completely go through the processes and procedures outlined in the new contract. Create a work schedule and realistic implementation plan that can be followed by both sides.
The right forwarder can enable shippers to concentrate on overarching management objectives and delegate the specifics of moving freight to industry professionals.
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