A solid and efficient working relationship with a freight forwarder can bring a number of benefits to a company.
From Transolve Global Managing Director Rachael Budd.
From optimized logistics to lower freight costs and shorter transit times, it is invaluable to have a logistics partner that you can rely on to take your interests into account, as you do not have to worry about freight but focus on others can be parts of your business.
Regardless of what stage of the working relationship you are with your carrier – whether it's just getting started, or if you are considering switching providers, or if you are happy with your current carrier – here are 15 tips to get you started help to ensure a solid and safe relationship, beneficial relationship with your carrier:
The foundation comes first
When choosing the right freight forwarder for your business, it is important to ensure that the services meet your needs. It is also important to assess whether this continues to be the case when working with the same carrier over the long term.
A key element of a strong foundation is ensuring that you and your supplier have agreed the Incoterms (International Commerce Terms) and then passed them on to your carrier in the first offer phase. As a customs requirement for all commercial invoices, Incoterms significantly reduce the risk of potentially costly misunderstandings. It is important that you know your Incoterms and discuss them with your carrier prior to shipping as they will identify the cost and risk sharing between buyer and seller when shipping internationally.
Time is of the essence
Since being up to date is of vital importance in international shipping, it is important to select a carrier who can commit to your timeline not only for the first project but also for an ongoing basis. The ability to meet deadlines helps you avoid costly delays and the associated stress of rushed decisions, missed shipments, and more.
Communication is the key
Communication is the fundamental component to ensuring an efficient and productive working relationship with your carrier. Outlining expectations, setting responsibilities, and sharing information about past, current, and future projects between both parties is key to building and maintaining a healthy, productive, and transparent working relationship.
Describe the roles
Specific roles and responsibilities should be identified, assigned and agreed as soon as possible once you have selected your carrier. Clarity about the roles that certain people fulfill or which party is responsible for certain parts of the logistics process not only helps in day-to-day communication between the two companies, but also reduces the risk of potential misunderstandings.
Define your drivers
Every company has different drivers and needs. For example, some companies depend on cost, others on time – others on a combination until the goods are moved. It is important that you communicate your priorities to your carrier so that they can assist you appropriately and develop the best shipping strategy for your needs.
To plan to fail is to plan to fail
A universal expression that is just as common in the world of freight forwarding as it is elsewhere. If you do not plan your broadcasts, there will be unnecessary time and cost pressure. At the same time, it adds to a broken working relationship with your carrier as they cannot proactively plan the logistics process in order to provide you with the reliable and efficient service you deserve.
Last-minute shipments often lead to complications such as space problems, higher prices or delayed containers. Hence, this situation is best avoided as much as possible.
Consistency is paramount
Consistency and regularity allow your carrier to offer you the optimal transit solution in terms of time and cost. It is therefore important to be transparent and inform them of frequent and consistent shipments so that they can plan ahead and offer you the logistics solution that best suits your needs in a time and cost-efficient manner.
Discuss the documentation
It's no exaggeration to say that the success or failure of a show ultimately depends on the documentation. All of the world's forward planning cannot overcome problems with lost, forgotten, or misinterpreted documentation. To get the most out of your carrier, it is important to work with them, discuss documentation management in detail and confirm how documents are received, organized and sent and who is responsible for them.
Focus on the long term
Having a real business relationship with your freight forwarder provides your company with a number of long-term benefits. Reduced shipping costs, faster transit speeds, and a streamlined, dynamic workflow are just a few of the benefits your business will benefit from when your carrier has a better understanding of your preferences and needs over time.
These savings and benefits far outweigh the short-term savings made by chasing down providers with the lowest price per shipment. One of the best ways to get the most out of working with a carrier is to choose a carrier and treat them as part of your logistics team – not as outsourced per project.
The details are important
When you contact a carrier first, you will likely get a suggestion from the sales or business development team. Once the proposal is received, it is important to review it and see if anything is missing or needs to be added, verify that the pricing is correct, and notify the carrier of any additional information that may need to be disclosed.
Just make sure the proposal accurately reflects how your account is working so you can be sure you are getting exactly what you need from your carrier. It is equally important to evaluate if this continues or if new updates are needed when working with the same carrier over the long term.
Communicate your preferences
For new agreements, it is important to define your preferences in terms of receiving and delivery procedures. Work with your carrier to define and document how your freight shipments will be received and delivered.
Ideally, your carrier should use an internal implementation checklist to ensure that no steps or settings are left out. Implementation checklists help ensure that all interactions and agreements made between you and the sales team are clearly communicated with the rest of the shipping team to keep operations running smoothly.
The more defined these processes are, the more rational your logistics process can be. Whether it's a request for sideloaders, the purchase of keys, access to a warehouse, notification of cargo delivery in a warehouse, receiving personnel details, and more, the implementation plan ensures everything is documented and billed becomes.
Money is important
The definition of the invoicing process and the smoothest possible processing reduce potential bottlenecks in financing. It is important that you confirm the following with your carrier: the right person to contact for receiving invoices, the best way to receive invoices if certain reference numbers are required on the invoice (e.g. order or project number) or if there are any is an accounting system that you want the carrier to enter your invoices into to make it easier for your team to pay and track invoices.
Clarify your contacts
Whether you're starting a new relationship with a freight forwarder or you're in a well-established relationship where both parties have seen some team changes, it's important to know who the main points of contact are in both companies. Who to contact if you have any questions or need help, and what is the best way to communicate – phone, email, or other?
By making sure that both you and your carrier have the relevant and up-to-date contact information, you can ensure a dynamic relationship that keeps your cargo moving and doesn't get stuck or delayed by unanswered phone calls or emails.
Logistics can seem like a complicated and intricate process at times. That is why transparency is the key between a company and its carrier. It is important that your logistics partner is open to you and is happy to disclose information about the entire logistics process, from documentation and coordination of shipping to tracking the goods.
In addition, a good working relationship means that you are able to openly address and discuss any potential issues or issues such as the Suez Canal incident that may affect the logistics function and proactively work towards alternative options that meet your business needs.
In the ever-evolving global logistics landscape, sometimes the most careful logistics plans can fail. From the Covid-19 pandemic and border closings to the ship that recently blocked the Suez Canal to industrial action in ports, it is evident that many outside forces can influence shipping plans.
It is important not only to have a carrier who is experienced in handling change, but also to have a working relationship where agility and flexibility are valued and trusted. Only then can the carrier react with the speed and flexibility required to plan and execute an alternative option by all means required by your business.
It's fair to say that trust and communication are key to getting the most out of working with a freight forwarder. By taking the right steps at the beginning of a relationship to set parameters and expectations, and then working continually to maintain an open, transparent, and dynamic relationship, it is the best way to ensure that your working relationship with your freight forwarder is in your business Movement will last into the future.
About Rachael Budd
Rachael Budd is the founder and president of Transolve Global, a freight forwarding company that challenges traditional freight forwarding methods and uses innovative methods to ship cargo around the globe. Rachael started Transolve Global in 2006 and has grown it into a market leader with offices around the world.
About Transolve Global
Transolve Global is more than just a freight forwarder. We offer holistic supply chain solutions that allow our customers to import / export with maximum efficiency. With over 15 years of experience, we know what works. Find out how we can optimize your bulk logistics, including FMCG, alcohol, oils (edible and lubricants), food service products and more.