How to Find a Great Freight Forwarder
For many shippers, working with a freight forwarder can significantly reduce the stress associated with transporting commodities. While there are several outstanding freight forwarding companies out there, there are some that look good on the outside, but struggle to provide consistent services or operate ethically with their customers. To ensure your company receives the best service and rates, here are a few tips on how to find a great freight forwarder.
What is a Freight Forwarder?
There are several companies that handle shipping for companies in different industries. One of the most popular ways of streamlining the shipping process is to work with a freight forwarding company. In laymen terms, freight forwarders handle the point-to-point movement of cargo on behalf of the owner. Sometimes freight forwarders are confused with a broker. The main difference between the two is that a broker simply sets up logistics – while the freight forwarding company handles the freight and all aspects of cargo logistics.
Five Tips for Choosing the Right Freight Forwarder
A freight forwarding company can significantly improve the shipping process for busy companies or individuals. With so many companies to choose from, finding the right company to handle your logistics can be tricky and time-consuming. To simplify your process, here are five easy tips to remember when picking the right freight forwarder.
Tip #1 – Experience Matters
Whether you’re shipping across town or around the globe, shipping is a complex and evolving industry. Working with a freight forwarder who has dealt with the changes over the years will reduce mistakes, and ensure your freight is safely delivered to customers and suppliers. An experienced freight forwarding company can expedite many areas that often cause delays in shipping including:
• Dealing with cargo re-routing.
• Reducing delays due to dockworker or port issues.
• Smoothing out warehousing or customs delays.
• Picking the right logistics company for the job.
• Negotiating shipping rates to benefit their customers, without compromising quality.
Working with an experienced company will provide you with peace of mind that your cargo is being handled professionally, with care, and can arrive on-time to the destination.
Tip #2 – Interview Any Potential Freight Forwarding Companies
Just like choosing any vendor or hiring an employee, choosing the right logistics company should begin with a detailed interview. While experience is a great way to weed through the competition, speaking with the forwarding company representatives and completing due diligence will allow you to determine if they are a good fit for your industry. Here are a few questions to ask:
• Ask them about their partners and network partners. A freight forwarding company is only as good as the people and partners they work with across the globe. While they handle most aspects of the logistics process, movement of the freight and ensuring on-time delivery is a team effort.
• Inquire about shipping locations: There are some freight forwarding companies who specialize in specific geographic areas – or different shipping methods. The key is to find a forwarding company that fits your business needs best – not necessarily the one with the most bandwidth.
Tip #3 – Ensure They Offer the Right Services
Any freight forwarding company worth its salt will offer a suite of shipping services that provide value to their customers. In some instances, you might require an LTL carrier – while other shipments might need special handling services, such as satellite tracking, refrigeration or expedited shipping. Anytime you pick a freight forwarding company, make sure they offer every possible service you might require – today and into the future.
Tip #4 – Ask for References
Sometimes competitors provide the best information. This is especially true when choosing the right freight forwarding company. A good provider will work with similar companies to yours – and sometimes your direct competition. While it’s not best practices to ask your competition who they work with, it is very smart to ask the logistics forwarding company for references. If possible, ask them to put you in contact with companies with similar needs as you will require – and don’t be afraid to ask hard questions.
Tip #5 – Customer Service is Key
While networking, services, and references are important for effective shipping of cargo, providing exceptional customer service is just as important. You should always feel comfortable working with a freight forwarding company that goes the extra mile for you. Good customer service in cargo logistics includes frequent updates on shipping changes, solid and on-time communication, consistency with shipping, and transparency with shipping and service rates.
The best freight forwarding companies have a proven record and can be trusted to handle your cargo logistics program. Make sure to follow these five tips above to streamline your search for the right freight forwarder, so you can take care of your employees, build your business, and established solid relationships with your customers.