When you set out to extend your business globally, partnering with a consistent and dependable transportation carrier can be the determining factor in success. There are a number of international transportation companies out there (referred to as “Freight Forwarders” or “N.V.O.C.C.”) and it can be difficult, at first glance, to choose which partner can help you achieve your goals. Whether its import, export, air or ocean, there are a few things you should look into before getting started:
- Quality: Look for a qualified freight forwarder or logistics provider that is experienced, has a good reputation, and is flexible and responsive to your needs. Many freight forwarders have some of these attributes; make sure your choice has them all. Make sure that the freight forwarder you are looking into has good references. Call these references and see what it’s like to deal with them on a day-to-day basis. Would their current customers recommend them to new customers?
- Network: Make sure that the freight forwarder has the agent network and partners for the countries you are looking to import or export. Look at their website or inquire to ensure that the partners overseas have expertise in your commodity, so you won’t have any unexpected surprises.
- Technology: Only utilize transportation companies that can provide you with full supply chain visibility. You should never have to wonder where your cargo is once you have turned it over to a provider, tracking and tracing should be the bare minimum of these services.
- Customer Service: Whichever logistics companies you choose try to work with one or two people on a consistent basis as they will know your patterns, commodity, and better anticipate your needs. As a new customer, you may get pushed down the line to many random customer service representatives (it may be a red flag if they give you an (800) rather than a local number).
- Right Fit: The company you choose should be more of a partner rather than just another vendor. Your freight forwarder will be a big part of your failure or success, and you have to feel you can trust their advice.
- Licenses: Confirm that your freight forwarder is licensed and has the appropriate accreditations. Check online that they have a license on file with the “FMC”.
You will notice none of the criteria I have mentioned have anything to do with price. Rates are extremely important, and you should always get competitive rates but the lowest priced carriers often lack many of the criteria that will set you up for success in the long run. You will more than likely end up paying more for your shipments due to poor communication, lack of visibility, additional costs, and lower tiered service.
About the Author:
Jason Fowler is the owner of Air & Sea International a local freight forwarder and customs house broker based in Salt Lake City Utah. Jason has been in the industry for more than 20 years and holds a B.S. from the University of Utah.
This guest blog is part of our Global International Business Week series. This year the Salt Lake Chamber is honoring the extraordinary accomplishments, determination and dedication of international business owners in Utah. Click here to learn more.