So you’ve decided it’s time to work with a freight forwarder to make shipping for your business simple, but have you thought about how you make the most of your relationship with your new supplier? Freight forwarders can add tremendous value to a business with shipping needs, but many companies make these common mistakes when working with one for the first time. Here are five mistakes to avoid and what you should be doing instead.
1) Don’t tell your freight forwarder what your priorities are
The best freight forwarding relationships are based on partnerships, yet many businesses outsource their shipping needs without giving much thought to how they want the partnership to work. You’ve appointed a freight forwarder to make managing the shipping needs of your business easy, so make sure your freight forwarder understands precisely how they can make that happen so they can provide a bespoke service to meet these needs. For example, is speed or cost more important to you? If you need a shipment in a hurry, air freight might be the best choice, but if its costs that are most important, sea freight will likely be the favoured choice. What’s more, numerous other options may be beneficial to your business such as road freight or warehousing and port-centric logistics. You may also have environmental targets you need the freight forwarder to be aware of in helping you make the right choices.
Ensuring your freight forwarder is informed of your objectives, including any new markets you’re looking to move into will ensure you benefit from their expertise from the very beginning.
2) Don’t check what’s including in your shipping quotes
The process of shipping can be complicated and so can its pricing. Therefore, shipping quotes from different freight forwarders can be very different. Unfortunately, companies sometimes get caught out because they weren’t clear on what was their responsibility and which responsibilities sat with their freight forwarder. These are surprises you can do without so make sure you have a thorough understanding of what is and isn’t included in any quotes you receive. For example, does the quote include insurance? Will your freight forwarder complete all the required import and export documentation? Who will make the payment of required taxes, charges and duties? If you’re tempted by a freight forwarding quote that seems too good to be true, it’s essential you clarify what you get for your money.
3) Don’t utilise your freight forwarder’s online tools
Most good freight forwarders will offer their customers a suite of online tools to help them manage their shipping needs, but some companies don’t know about them or choose not to use them. These tools can save a tremendous amount of time when it comes to tracking shipments and communicating with your supply chain so make sure you’re fully aware of the tools available and that your freight forwarder has provided training on how to use them effectively. In addition to tracking tools, some freight forwarders also offer analytical software that allows you to analyse your spend on freight and spot trends by visualising your data in clickable charts. These tools can reduce administration significantly so make sure all the relevant online tools are set up and accessible from day one.
4) Choose a freight forwarder without accreditations
Anyone can set up as freight forwarder because it’s an unregulated industry, so it’s crucial that you do your due diligence on any potential suppliers to ensure they have the knowledge and experience you require. A good indicator that a freight forwarder will provide a high quality service is if they hold any industry accreditations. Some of these accreditations require the freight forwarder to comply with strict service and quality standards, which gives you reassurance they are committed and accountable to provide the service levels that they promise.
For example, John Good partners with the British International Freight Association (BIFA), the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA). It also holds an International Air Transport Association (IATA) cargo agent licence and Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) accreditation.
5) Ignore any additional services that may add value
Freight forwarders come in many different shapes and sizes, some offering basic freight forwarding services and others providing a whole host of additional services that can streamline your supply chain. Using a single provider for multiple services can save money and make these services much easier to manage.
Ask your freight forwarder what additional services it provides, and consider if they could add value to your business. For example, John Good offers a full spectrum of wrap-around services, to take care of your shipping from end-to-end, including product sourcing, warehousing and distribution. John Good also operates a warehouse at Felixstowe, for ultra-efficient port-centric logistics that could save you time, money and reduce your carbon footprint.
Avoid these five mistakes to get your partnership with a freight forwarder off to the best start. For further information contact our friendly and experienced team today.