If you are an established importer/exporter, you know by now that selecting a reliable logistics or freight forwarding company can be tough decision as you need to ensure that your valuable possessions are being transported by the right and capable hands. For those of you who are only now embarking on the shipping process, fear not, as complicating as it all may sound, once you have selected a secure and decent logistics company, the hardest part is over and you should be given peace of mind. So my job is to aid you in the process of selecting that perfect freight forwarding company that will deliver superbly according to your needs!
To start the process I recommend that you get into contact with at least 5 Freight Forwarding Companies. Remember that each industry will have different freight forwarding expectations. For some companies they simply need their cargo brought from point A to point B but for others warehousing and abnormal loads etc. might be involved. So what I can suggest that you do is write down a list of your transportation requirements before you make contact with the freight forwarding agents as this should give them a clear indication of what you expect, making the process of requiring information from them smoother. You can then use the information they supply you with to narrow the selection and to make your final decision.
Use the following points as guidelines on what information you should be looking for when choosing a reliable freight forwarding company:
1.How big is the shipping company? Larger companies can give you the idea that they are well established and have secured their business. Smaller companies however often have more time to pay attention to detail and offer good customer care. Perhaps finding an “in-between” company is the best option?
2. Will the freight forwarder be able to handle the product/s you want to ship? Some logistics companies only specialize in a few fields such as vehicle transportation or transporting hazardous loads. You will have to make sure the company you choose will be to safely transport your goods from point A to B using the most safe and cost effective strategies.
3. Are the freight forwarders connected well with agents at your selected point of origin/destination? Like any business, it is good to stay well connected. A structured network of global agents helps to ensure that the shipping process is communicated well; this ensures a smooth and timely delivery.
4.Is the freight forwarding company financially secure? Remember that just because the company might seem large and well established, this does not necessarily mean they have secured a steady cash flow. You really don’t want to make a payment to your agent only to find out that your cargo has not been released because they have not paid the ocean carrier!
5. How does their customer care process work? Do you have to dial a switch phone number and constantly be redirected to the ‘right’ department or is there a direct number you can call which ensures that you will always speak to the same person? You need to ensure that communication will be good and easy. This is very important as you will have many questions and queries for your agent along the way.
6. Will the freight forwarding be able to handle all the documentation in a correct and timely fashion? When shipping goods there will always be plenty of documentation that needs to be filled out very accurately and your selected company should offer an excellent turnaround time in this department.
7. Ask for references! This point should not be missed. A good reference goes a long way and a bad reference can save you from entertaining the same future problems. All companies should be able to offer you a trusted list of reference contact numbers.
8. Is the company well insured? Yikes, what happens if the company loses your shipment and they cannot pay you back? Make certain they are well insured; even ask them for the details of their insurance plan if you have to!
9. Do they charge competitive rates? This last point is often the most concerning because this is where you will need to dig into your pockets. Does the company offer an acceptable rate for the service/s you require? By acceptable I mean that the rate could be too high but it also could be too low, leaving room for concern. Request quotes and compare them until you can select one which offers a price you think is ‘acceptable’ and fair.
Wow! So there is quite a lot of information to gather! Remember an established company that is happy to offer you a secure service will readily give you all the information you need. Don’t hold back on asking questions that concern you and ensure the answers you receive are accurate. You want a company that pays just as much attention to detail in there customer care as they do in their other services.