Freight Forwarder Selection -Ringing in the New Year With Higher Expectations

Freight Forwarder Selection: Ringing in the New Year with Higher Expectations

We’re all painfully familiar with the task of vendor selection. Unfortunately, if you’re reading this article the chances are the word “painfully” resonates strongly with you. Vendor selection isn’t the same as a simple day-to-day task. It’s not only a difficult decision – it’s a decision whose implications will follow you going forward (for better or worse).

After conducting industry research for the past several years by relentlessly interviewing active international shippers across the U.S., we found out that the average customer retention period of a freight forwarder is a mere 271 days…

We couldn’t help but notice a problem. Shippers have – what they perceive to be – a simple transaction: cargo gets picked up and moved from point A to point B. But somewhere down the line, someone forgets to dot an ‘i’ or cross a ‘t’ and the shipper is stuck eating crow while their forwarder has 100 excuses as to why it’s not their fault. And so, the cycle repeats…every 271 days. At least this is what the research indicates. So, what does that all mean?

New Freight Forwarder, New Expectations

“Expectations” is such a convoluted topic. What you personally expect from a forwarder is a complicated mixture of perceived “unspokens”, opinions, facts, and a slew of other things. When push comes to shove, everyone feels that their “expectations” were let down, however the fact is that the issue was never solved at the root.

Unmet vs. Undeclared Expectations

As we conducted our research, answers regarding “fixing expectations” loomed over every question before it was even asked. Everyone who ever switched freight forwarders felt betrayed or let down by their transportation vendor. However, we noticed a key issue of perception on the part of every shipper: the difference between unmet vs. undeclared expectations.

Frankly, you can’t meet an expectation that’s never been declared, and in the complicated transactional arrangements around freight forwarder partnerships, a lot of expectations are never agreed upon in the first place. It makes both parties susceptible to disappointment, lost time, and lost money.

Interlog’s Solution: SHIELD Protocol

in 2019, we finished identifying the problem and uncovering the reasoning behind it – it was time for an actionable solution. The Interlog SHIELD Protocol was created to solve the issue of nondeclared expectations. It sets the expectations and clarity around the dark spaces when a shipment passes through various stages. This is incredibly important because most of the failures and delays that happen in the industry are not a result of unmet expectations, but rather (as stated before) unstated expectations. What makes the Interlog SHIELD Protocol so powerful is that once expectations are unified, actual accountability with freight forwarders is possible.

We created a solution that works. A solution that holds all parties accountable, declares expectations up front, and ends the seemingly endless cycle of excuses and finger pointing that the industry as a whole falls prone to.


Customer retention cycles need to extend far beyond 3/4th of a year, and the search for a new forwarder doesn’t begin with RFQ’s. It begins with real conversations with real people about real problems that demand real solutions. And the answer doesn’t come in the form of a $50 discount or claim to “expertise” in any one area.

It comes from a freight forwarder that practices active listening as an integral part of their customer-handling process. It comes from a freight forwarder that prioritizes genuine solutions over transactions. It comes from the SHIELD Protocol, and we have the proof to back it up.

If you’re starting the new year in an unhappy freight forwarder partnership like 65% of the shippers that we interviewed, it’s time to make a switch. Give on or our team members a call to discuss how the SHIELD Protocol can fix the issues surrounding unmet and undeclared expectations that you’ve been facing.


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