22 Lessons Learned:
Top Considerations Hiring a Freight Forwarder
No matter your shipping needs, whether global or domestic, searching for the right freight company can be daunting. Of course, you want to be confident that all your goods will be delivered on time and in great shape. Before you decide which company to hire, consider the following:
This is ridiculously obvious, but some people still somehow forget that not all freight forwarders are created equal. Many focus on specific routes – air, rail or ocean – and you should choose the one whose specialty best fits your needs. Asking for quotes from various companies not only lets you in on their prices and logistics but also their customer service skills. Most probably, you will be in regular contact with your chosen forwarder, so it makes sense to know early on how things might play out between the two of you.
Very importantly, when you request a quote, ensure that it bears every important detail the company will need from you. You can speak to their sales associate on the phone or just email them. To avoid forgetting anything, prepare your information in advance, though they have to ask you in case you do miss anything. And include any future needs you might have as your business grows.
The history of the freight and cargo industry goes just about as far back as commerce itself, so do your research and look for a forwarder that has a solid background. More experience usually means a better business experience for you – otherwise, they just wouldn’t have lasted that long.
Freight forwarding is a complicated task, which is precisely why you’re looking for an expert instead of doing it yourself, right? Once you’ve received quotes from various places, don’t make the mistake of jumping at the cheapest option. Most probably, there’s a catch. A low-bid company may meet your needs, but this could come with some questionable fine print or customer experience sacrificed for a small amount saved. Whatever the case, don’t make a decision until you’ve checked the fine print and read reviews (choose reputable sources as many are biased or just plain fake).
Lastly, pick a freight company that can give you all the documents necessary for shipments, such as certificates of origin, customs and port documentation, etc. In addition, they must be able to issue approved house bills of lading. There’s no need to know everything on these docs, but the forwarder should be able to provide them. When considering a particular company, don’t feel shy to inquire about this. Knowing the answer from the start is your right as a consumer.