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Choosing a Freight Forwarder: 5 Tips

Freight Forwarder Container Ship in New Orleans

Posted on 05-02-2017 by Lucia Garza

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Are you in the early stages of selecting a freight forwarder? If so, then you’re no doubt already overwhelmed by all of your potential options and the array of factors to consider. While these tips won’t make the call on your behalf, they’re a good start to making the right decision for your business.

1. Look for a Freight Forwarder that is Aligned with Your Business

Start with a comprehensive analysis of your organization’s own preferences and needs. Ask yourself such questions as:

  • Where do my shipments originate? Where are they destined?
  • How will my shipments travel? Will multiple modes of transportation be required to see them to their destination(s)?
  • Am I shipping hazardous cargo? Bulky, oversized, or out-of-gauge cargo?
  • Will I need special licenses, bonds, documentation, customs brokerage services, or any other special notations or services at any point along the journey?

Once you have the answers, compile a list of freight forwarding candidates capable of addressing most or all of your relevant concerns.

But don’t simply take each contender’s word for it: verify that they have the tools and expertise necessary for the job. For instance, Posey recently implemented the Descartes OneView system, adding yet another useful tool for our diverse client base. Likewise, we’re fully capable of assisting with the SOLAS convention’s updated VGM requirements.

2. Evaluate Each Candidate’s Experience

Experience typically equates to competence. As you evaluate potential freight forwarding partners, ask about their track record:

  • How long have they been in business?
  • How much combined experience (in years) do their principals and key employees have?
  • How long have they offered each advertised service or capability?
  • Have they been involved in any notable business disputes or legal actions? If so, how were these situations resolved?

3. Examine Networks and Partnerships

The logistics industry is truly international: each individual company is part of a much larger whole, and even the biggest organizations can’t operate independently. Capable freight forwarding companies require extensive domestic and international partner networks. Determine whether your candidates’ networks extend to the areas where you operate.

4. Check References

Expansive capabilities, extensive experience, and far-reaching networks still can’t guarantee quality outcomes, so it’s important to ask each prospective freight forwarding partner to provide references to back up their claims. Then, go one step further: reach out to current and former customers to ensure that you’re not just hearing from a hand-picked group.

5. Go With the Company That Feels Right

Evaluate freight forwarding companies based on the factors described above, but don’t neglect your intuition. You should be able to rely on your freight forwarding partner to meet basic expectations for safe, efficient, and on-time delivery. But can you trust them when the chips are down? Do you have confidence in their customer service capabilities? Do you feel comfortable asking tough questions, and do you expect to receive straight, satisfactory answers when you do?

The answers to these and other questions will help you determine your ultimate choice. For now, all that’s left is to ask: what are you looking for in a freight forwarding partner?