Whether you are just beginning to ship your products, switching transportation vendors, or are looking for better ways to improve your current processes, managing your relationship with your freight forwarder is crucial. An effectively managed freight forwarder relationship can lead to lower costs, quicker transit time, and less miscommunication. However, a careless relationship with your transportation provider is a surefire way to increase the risk of price fluctuations, delayed containers, and overlooked details. Here are our recommendations on working with a freight forwarding.
5 Tips for Working with a Freight Forwarder
There are many more tips we could offer on the subject matter, but from our experience, here are the top 5 most important factors for working with a freight forwarder:
1) Don’t “Cram” Shipments
Let everything be known well in advance. Expect that there may be trouble with “last minute” shipments – it’s hard enough to find space on vessels far in advance, let alone booking shipments last minute. This isn’t to say that your shipments will fail if booked late, but you may have to come to grips with a higher price point or a delayed container. We wouldn’t advise relying on luck when it comes to planning, which leads to our next tip…
2) Manage Consistency
Many companies have a consistent sailing schedule. If you ship on a frequent and consistent basis, be completely transparent and informative of this to your freight forwarder. 3PL’s will set aside consistent scheduled time to work on these customer’s shipments. In addition, volume helps us negotiate with our carriers and the savings are passed on to our customers. When you let us know in advance of the volume you’ll be shipping, we can offer more competitive quotes.
3) Communication is Key
Communication is very important when working with a freight forwarder. Information about all relevant current and future projects can aid in driving volume costs down as mentioned before. Communicating your negative past experiences with other transportation providers can ensure a healthier business relationship with your new freight forwarder. Working with a freight forwarder shouldn’t be difficult – especially when expectations, responsibilities, and projects are clearly communicated within reasonable time.
Despite all the cool, new innovations in automation and artificial intelligence within the logistics industry, the success or failure of a shipment still boils down to documentation. Local and foreign customs and regulations require documents to be filed for a variety of reasons. Establish a process for how you will obtain and send documents to your freight forwarder. Without a clearly established process, documents are bound to be forgotten, lost, or misinterpreted. Work with your freight forwarder and ask them how they recommend you should manage your documentation.
5) Focus on the Long-Term, Not Short Gains
Working with a freight forwarder should operate as a genuine business relationship. Chasing lowest price vendors on a per-shipment basis will very quickly put you in a tough situation. The best process for working with a freight forwarder is to select a freight forwarder and treat them as a part of your logistics team – not an outsourced, per-project service. As stated before, these relationships can lower your overall shipping costs due to negotiated volume rates and will increase your transit speeds as your freight forwarder becomes more aware of your preferences and shipment needs.
Working with a freight forwarder successfully largely revolves around effective communication. Make sure your freight forwarder understands why you are switching/using them. Are you just beginning to ship your products? Are you switching vendors? Repeating your same processes while expecting different results won’t get you anywhere, so make sure you inform your freight forwarder of what vendor behaviors drove you away from your last business relationship.
Interlog USA has spent decades establishing valuable relationships with our most loyal customers. We get excited at the opportunity to work on new projects, meet new people, and provide valuable in any way possible. If you are looking for a new transportation vendor or have recently switched and would like to learn more about working with a freight forwarder, reach out to one of our team members and we’d be happy to help!