How To Avoid Them and What To Do When You Make One
Our team at The Logisitix Company (TLC) has continued to compile our freight business preparation recommendations. As discussed in part 1 of this series, preparing for the inevitable is smart business, which has inspired us to add a few more tips to consider when searching for your logistics freight management partner or carrier.
1. Going with the cheapest freight rate possible
Some of our best clients took a few turns working with other logistics firms and carriers before finding our services. They based their experiences on initial cheap freight quotes that inevitably led to additional costs and severely delayed their orders.
THE MISHAP: Choosing the “cheapest quote” option. That cheap quote can more than double if your product doesn’t ship or suffers damage in the process.
HOW TO PREPARE: In reality, the cheap quote can turn into a significant expense. We recommend shopping around for options. A significant number of factors should be considered when choosing a logistics company to complete your shipments. Most importantly is that filling out a quote form only focuses on the dollar amount. You need to speak with someone on the phone to verify that they are a company with real people ready to service all of your needs.
2. Asking the wrong questions when choosing a freight forwarder or shipping company
THE MISHAP: You’ve shipped a few items at a previous position or in your current position. You focus on what you already know and ask questions regarding your specific shipment needs. Some are vague, and some are specific. The mishap is that you are only asking questions about you and your needs.
HOW TO PREPARE: Here’s a list of vital questions you should be asking.
How long have they been in business? How responsive are they to you as a customer? How knowledgeable are they about what you’re shipping and the regulations of the destination country? Will they know what to do if something goes wrong?
We also recommend encouraging the 3PL you are speaking with to ask you questions. It’s a red flag if they don’t have any follow-up questions for you.
3. Verifying the details
At this point, you have researched, called, and asked questions, and you may even have a preliminary quote. Now is the time to consider the details you received on the phone and in your research.
THE MISHAP: You ask all of our recommended questions in #2, write down the answers and think, “well they seemed competent on the phone.” Then during a delivery window, your scheduled trucker never arrives. You call and a representative who doesn’t have access to your account is the only person available to help.
HOW TO PREPARE: Don’t settle for “they sounded competent on the phone.” Verify the answers they gave you. From the simple questions, like when the company representative on the phone says the company began in 1990, is this what the website reflects? If the necessary information can be verified, you are off to a good start. Now, let’s dig deeper. A freight forwarder or shipping company that has not been in business long often lacks the experience and know-how to handle all the little details that can complicate international shipping to ensure a smooth import or export experience. Talk to more than one person at the company, not just sales. When you are in a bind, you need to know that the currently available representative can help you with any issues that might arise.
4. Test Their Responsiveness
What happens when things go wrong? Is your logistics company there to assist you?
THE MISHAP: Your delivery time was for 9 AM EST, and its now 12 PM EST. You’ve called and left messages for your logistics contact, as well as sent three emails. No response. Your plant comes to a halt while you hope the shipment of fuel arrives soon.
HOW TO PREPARE: Before choosing your 3PL, check their responsiveness. Even after your initial conversation, call after the usually end-of-business day at 5 PM. Do they answer? If yes, great. It means they care about their customers and will make sure that orders arrive on time. Also, check their website or ticket submission responsiveness. Submit it day or night and gauge how long before you receive a response. Consider it a test run. If it takes weeks to answer a simple question from a potential business partner —you should see a red flag considering this website form may be your only form of communication when you’re in a bind.