As a beneficial cargo owner you know that on-time service and reliable communication are what can make or break your business, which is why it is essential to partner with a dependable freight forwarder. So what exact characteristics should a BCO seek out when trying to decide which freight forwarder to partner with? We’ve put together a list of eight characteristics that successful and dependable freight forwarders possess:
1. Flexibility – In an ideal world, everything that happens between a product leaving the factory and reaching the consumer is a perfectly linear and efficient process. But in the real world, it’s a chaotic, delayed and round-about process that is subject to ever-changing circumstances. The best freight forwarders have the tools to make decisions to deal with every set of circumstances. Be it bad weather, downed systems, miscommunications, port congestion, or whatever else that comes along in an average day at the port, the best FFs have strategies and backup plans in place to deal with any situation.
2. Transparency – While no company wants to reveal each and every one of its trade secrets, it should be able to give pertinent information to its collaborators on demand. A BCO should never have to worry about the status of their shipments. Good FFs allow for quick cargo tracking, and always share information on updates and important changes in plans. They let you know about their partners and agents, particularly in the places where you are shipping. Open communication is key for any successful relationship and speaking of relationships…
3. Relationships – Successful freight forwarders have built up their relationships across the board and they know exactly who to work with for the specific needs demanded by each given job. They have a diverse rolodex of trucking, drayage, and warehouse providers at their disposal.
4. Proven Expertise – The great don’t just get all the tasks done, they can also specifically brag that they are able to do certain tasks better than the competition. They have a sector of expertise in which they guarantee results, something that only comes with real hands-on experience.
5. Fair Pricing – Great FFs want your repeat business and do that by guaranteeing your satisfaction without highballing the rates. They will ditch the unreasonable promises and instead offer a fair and competitive rate for their services. That being said, if you often find yourself in situations where you need to accommodate split shipments, re-labeling or re-tagging or other out of the box scenarios, you should expect to pay a premium over traditional freight forwarder rates as not all freight forwarders have the ability to coordinate these special requests.
6. Coverage – In this modern, global marketplace, a good FF should be able to connect you to any destination in their network and fulfill all of your needs by utilizing all forms of transportation at their disposal.
7. Excellent Customer Service – A freight forwarder that gets the job done is great, but how they treat you and your team is also important. Can they meet all of your specific needs or just some of them? Do they make your company a priority, or does it seem like you are just another customer they apathetically service? Are they honest and transparent, or do they withhold information? These things all matter.
8. Reputation – Good reputations are golden in this industry. Whether by reference or customer testimony, having a sterling reputation is always a good sign when choosing a freight forwarder to trust with your shipments.
With these eight characteristics in mind, it’s easy to see why jumping in bed with the first or cheapest freight forwarder you come across isn’t always the best idea. Research your options and know that paying a bit extra can save a lot of money and effort in the long run, especially if you’re looking to partner with a FF that has your best interests as their priority #1.
Download the Desktop Service Guide for a comprehensive guide to the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, as well as related warehouse and transportation logistics information.