It’s hard to trust people to represent your brand these days. Whether you’re a small manufacturer, retailer, or operate an e-Commerce marketplace, your ability to service customers through the expeditious shipment of freight can make or break your business. While there are several good third-party logistics providers or 3PL Companies out there, there are some that simply elevate over their competitors.
With all due apologies to Dr. Steven Covey, the best 3PL companies follow five highly effective habits that allow them to circumvent the challenges that many shippers experience in the supply chain.
Open and Honest Communication
When you are searching for a 3PL company, you’ll eventually contact them to determine whether they are the right provider. How they communicate with you from the beginning should be a critical factor. Those who take pride in being honest, transparent, and quick to reply to your inquiry are usually consistent about communicating in this method across the board. This includes communicating with carriers, and your customers.
The best 3PL’s are exceptional communicators. Whether through email, text, or phone calls, they use the best technology and methods to communicate with people. They take time to get to know you, to determine if you prefer email, phone calls, or text messages and alerts. When you select a 3PL company, make sure they are exceptional communicators first.
Most shippers depend on a 3PL to handle all aspects of their supply chain. In fact, any shippers simply don’t want to know how it’s done – as long as their shipments are handled correctly, saves them money, and serves their customers. However, there are times when you might want to offer some suggestions on improving your logistics network or procedures. To accomplish this, collaborating with a 3PL is a great first step. The best 3PL’s openly welcome collaboration with their partners. Whether it’s you the shipper, their carriers or vendors, solid relationships are created through collaboration.
Is Flexible to Changes
Most logistics providers understand that there is a reasonable amount of seasonal fluctuation for any ecommerce business. This is especially true in retail. The best 3PL companies are exceptionally flexible and have the staff and support network of partners to provide consistent services when business increases – without skipping a beat. However, they also have the flexibility to roll through changes that occur in your business. A professional 3PL understands scalability and has no problem slowing down as your business naturally will.
Is Creative and Innovative
It’s well understood that the supply chain is always evolving. Whether due to increasing regulations, improvements in technology or the simple reality of changing economic climate, a professional third-party logistics company is innovative and creative about solving issues that come up. However, they are also creative about finding ways to save you money and improving your logistics network.
Committed to Superior Customer Service
When you read most self-help books (like the aforementioned Dr. Steven Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”), you’ll notice that a commonality across the board is delivering superior customer service. In the case of a 3PL however, the most important thing you need to determine is - what is your customer? Contrary to popular belief, as a shipper, your customer is more than just the recipient of your goods. The people who deliver your goods represent your company and brand – so making sure that your 3PL uses reliable and professional carriers is vital to delivering superior customer service.
Your customers depend on receiving your products in the right condition, at the right price, and at the right time. The best 3PL companies focus their efforts on ensuring this becomes a reality – on a consistent basis. To accomplish this, they depend on the five habits posted above. If you’re thinking about using a 3PL company to manage your supply chain, take time to speak with them and determine if they are the right fit to represent you and your brand.