For companies who ship internationally, your freight forwarder relationship is perhaps one of the most important business relationships your company has. Unfortunately, many people are stuck in a terrible freight forwarder relationship that’s harming their business, reputation, and bottom line, but choose to stick with them because, well after all, “The devil you know is better than the one you don’t know.”
People are afraid of switching freight forwarders out of fear that things will only get worse with the new vendor. And we understand it entirely! Your current freight forwarder (hopefully) understands your company’s shipping processes, procedures, requirements, routes, and all other factors, so switching can be scary.
But your company doesn’t need to switch freight forwarders in order to get to the bottom of what’s happening. Sometimes all it takes is a simple freight forwarder evaluation. And with the new year around the corner, these are some things you should keep in mind as you are evaluation your shipping vendor:
Evaluation Your Freight Forwarder Before 2021
Every business hopes that each fiscal year looks better than the last, and logistics take up a lot of the budget at a company. Selecting the right or wrong freight forwarder can excel your business and finances, or absolutely demolish your yearly budget and customer relationships.
If you’re looking to simply evaluate your freight forwarder and see whether or not you have the best freight forwarder relationship you could, here are a few things to pay attention to:
If you’ve been with your current freight forwarder for a long time, have you made sure to compare rates with other freight forwarders from time to time? One of the most common ways that shippers get ripped off is through what we refer to as “Price Creep”.
Price Creep is when a vendor will slowly increase their prices over the months or years as their customers get more comfortable with them. These price changes usually happen in small increments, so many customers won’t notice until they finally evaluate their freight forwarder by comparing rates with other freight forwarders.
Reach out to a freight forwarder to compare rates – just make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Let them know the incoterms, type of freight, destination, routes your using, etc. so they can give you an accurate rate!
Tracking platforms or procedures are incredibly important in shipping. While you may not care to get updates on the tracking until the cargo is here, your freight forwarder absolutely needs a good process in place so that they are properly informed on the whereabouts of your cargo.
A good tracking platform allows your freight forwarder to give you plenty advance about issues or delays related to your cargo, allowing you to make all necessary decisions ahead of time. Talk with your freight forwarder about their tracking platform and compare it to others. You may be surprised at what you find!
This one is huge. Internal processes are everything when it comes to increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of your international shipping practices. But how does this relate to evaluating your freight forwarders? Here’s how:
A freight forwarder’s job is not just to take work off of your plate. Yes – freight forwarders are incredibly helpful for reducing internal workload, but the real benefit of working with a freight forwarder is finding a vendor who is genuinely a source of value; not just a commodity. This means that your freight forwarder should actively be advising you on your own internal shipping processes to give you the greatest cost and efficiency benefit.
Ask yourself when the last time is that your freight forwarder brought real value to your internal shipping processes. If they have mainly served you as an ad hoc service provider, you are missing out on so much that can be found in a healthy freight forwarder relationship.
What To Do Next
If any of the above points resonate with you or your team, it may be time to evaluate your freight forwarder. Remember – evaluating is not the same as switching. We’re not suggesting you make any major decisions regarding your freight forwarder relationship, but we are asking you to reach out to freight forwarders to compare rates and check for price creep, analyze their tracking platforms, and be honest with yourself regarding whether or not your freight forwarder is a commodity or a genuine source of value and knowledge for you and your company.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our team members if you are interested in having any of these conversations. We would love to help you and your team figure out the best solution moving forward!