Freight forwarding is one of the single most important elements of many e-commerce businesses, and choosing the ideal freight forwarding partner is a vital task. Your partner in this area must be able to support your needs in several ways, including overseeing your shipping and budgetary areas, and you should be doing your homework to find the right match.
At Western Peaks Logistics, we're proud to serve as the top freight forwarding company in Salt Lake City and surrounding areas, providing clients with a huge range of services from our experienced team, spanning from areas like air freight and courier services to routed delivery, big and bulky items and more. We welcome comparisons of our services to other freight forwarders in the area -- both because we want our clients to get the very best solutions for their needs, but also because we're supremely confident that we're the best company to provide them for you. Here are some of the variables to consider while sourcing the ideal freight forwarder for your business needs.
Research Services and Service Area
First and foremost, before you even begin digging into other factors at play, it's important to confirm that a given freight forwarder can fill your needs. This includes looking over the list of services they offer -- do they offer the appropriate services for your industry? Can they manage to get any special requests you may have fulfilled? What are their rates like, and does that match with the services offered?
In addition, you need to confirm that a forwarder provides their full range of services in your area, or at least in the area you're looking to ship to. If you're a business located in Los Angeles, for example, it wouldn't make much sense to partner with a freight forwarder that specializes in shipping to Asia.
Do some research on this front to see if there's a potential fit; otherwise, it's going to be a waste of everyone's time.
Ensure Licensure, Certification and Permits
Another major factor you'll need to consider is whether or not a given forwarder has the necessary licensure, certification and permits to provide their services. Most states will have licenses that are required for freight companies to own or operate within them, so this is one potential filter you can use to whittle down your list of candidates. Beyond that, it's also important to check if a forwarder has any specific certifications for the services they offer, as this could speak to their experience and expertise in that area.
Again, doing a bit of research upfront will help you avoid any surprises down the road.
Industry Experience and Reputation
Once you've ensured a potential partner can handle the services you need in your area, it's time to consider a few other factors. First off, can they handle your industry? You'd be surprised how many companies try to partner with freight forwarders that aren't familiar with their industry; in fact, you may find that this is a greater concern than finding someone who offers the right services in the right area.
If you're importing or exporting heavy machinery, for example, you'll want to work with a freight forwarder that has experience in shipping machinery. The last thing you need is for your cargo to be mishandled because the forwarder didn't know how to properly package and ship it.
Beyond that, reputationis key when it comes to freight forwarding. You'll want to partner with a company that has an established reputation, especially if you're working with them on a frequent basis. If they make mistakes -- or worse, damage your cargo -- it could cost you dearly in the long run. Trustworthy companies will remember this and take steps to ensure it doesn't happen; less reputable ones may not.
There are multiple ways of establishing a company's reputation, including both word-of-mouth within your industry and various forms of online research. Do your homework to get an idea of a freight forwarder's trustworthiness before signing any contracts.
Confirm Risk Management Themes
The world of shipping and transportation is one that naturally involves some risk, and you need a freight forwarding partner who can mitigate as much as possible. In some cases, there's not a lot you can do to reduce risk -- for instance, if your industry is inherently risky or you're shipping something particularly sensitive.
However, it never hurts to go over the precautions a given freight forwarder takes in an effort to mitigate risk and ensure cargo safety. Ask about a topic like cargo insurance, for instance, which can help ensure your cargo is replaced if it's lost, damaged or stolen. There are multiple types of cargo insurance out there, so educating yourself on which is best for your cargo and budget will pay off down the line.
Inquire About Customer Service and Communication Lines
Throughout your partnership with any freight forwarder, it's important to be able to get in touch with your customer service representative at a moment's notice. After all, many problems can pop up that require immediate attention.
It's therefore vital to ensure there is open communication between you and your freight forwarder at all times. Not only this, but your forwarder should be offering resources like online tracking, shipping notifications and more so you always know what's happening with your cargo.
If a freight forwarding company can't live up to these expectations, it's time to move on and find one that can. It's not worth partnering with someone who can't provide the level of customer service you expect and need.
For more on how to choose the ideal freight forwarder for your Salt Lake City business, or to learn about any of our freight forwarding or other distribution services, speak to the pros at Western Peaks Logistics today.