When you choose a partner to handle your freight management, you’re putting more than your product on the line– you’re trusting them with your reputation.
Choose the wrong freight forwarder and you could pay for more than just the cost of shipping. You could wind up wasting a lot of time trying to navigate your way through layers of “dispatchers and managers” to get information, answers, and assurances that your goals are top priority. The key to finding a freight forwarder that fits your values is to ask four simple questions–and see if the company’s answers lineup.
Here are 4 talks you should have had with your freight forwarder by now:
Talk One: How flat is your org chart?
If you’ve never met or spoken to the president or CEO of your freight management partner, can you really trust that your company is a top priority?
Strong leadership matters, but what matters more is a culture of coordination and cooperation. You want to work with a freight forwarder that has a flat hierarchy. That way if there is a problem, you can rest assured that you can go straight to the top to get it fixed– not simply rely on the word of a middle management person who may have your best interests in mind but not the authority or knowledge to fix problems quickly.
The best freight management companies are lean; yet redundancies of expertise are built in to their organizational charts. Everyone in the company understands the complexities of moving freight across the globe, while many times their customer approach is “Midwestern”; they take pride in the seriousness of their responsibility, and treat your shipment as if it were their own.
Talk Two: How do you ensure supply chain control?
Your freight matters, and when it’s being shipped across the country or around the world you want to know with precision where it is, how it’s being cared for and, most importantly, when it will arrive.
In this global environment of uncertainty, regulatory change, geo-political upheaval, and terrorism can put your freight at risk. You must have absolute reassurance that it is safe every mile along the way.
Don’t settle for a freight management company that doesn’t invest in the latest technology. Ask specific questions about material control, packing list visibility, and distribution. Can you, whenever you feel like it, get in touch with a real, live person who can tell you the location of your freight at any given moment? If not, it might be time to look for a new freight forwarder.
Talk Three: How do you define “partnership?”
If your freight management company is more concerned with getting paid than growing your business, you’ve got a problem.
A true partnership exists when both companies are working with the best interest of the other in mind. That means goals are shared, information flows both ways, best practices are developed between the two organizations, and growth is the number one priority. This can only be accomplished through discipline and shared vision, which only comes about when both companies agree to aligned goals, quarterly updates, in-person meetings, and frequent conference calls.
If your freight management company doesn’t commit to these best practices, they may not be a committed partner.
Talk Four: How do you like your coffee?
Even in today’s fast-paced, high-tech world of virtual meetings and endless emails, the best relationships are forged over a cup of coffee.
Ask your freight forwarder if they make frequent visits to their business partners’ headquarters. Ask if they provide relevant newsletters and other communication to help the two of you work together more efficiently, and ask how they like their coffee. If they say they won’t be stopping by, it’s time to find a new partner.