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What to Look For in Freight-Forwarding Firms

01 Apr 2014

When working in logistics, over time you will encounter numerous freight-forwarding firms who are looking to obtain your transportation business. The best way to know about logistics is to work in both imports and exports so you know both sides of the story. Depending on what kind of business you are running, you are going to require different things from your freight forwarder. If your materials are time sensitive, (which many are) or hazardous, need refrigeration and so forth – late deliveries may end up costing your company money that does not need to be spent, chargebacks or even cancelation from the customer end. In logistics, clock watching and shipment tracking is important, every minute counts. One needs to know where the shipment is at all times just in case the customer calls, or someone in upper management needs a status check. With this being said, each company requires something different from their freight forwarder. Here is a good checklist to keep in mind when choosing a forwarder.

  • Will the forwarder’s company be able to accommodate your global needs? How many carrier contracts do they have?
    • Carrier contracts are important, especially during peak season when container ships are fuller and space becomes an issue. If it is necessary for your shipment to go out on the first shipment container – look for multiple contracts.
  • What are the freight shipping options?

    • Check to see what kind of options the forwarder has. Do they have knowledge of your product/have they shipped that kind of product before? Items may require different handling procedures; this is certainly something to look into before choosing a forwarding firm.
  • Is there a good network of global agents – origin/destinations?
    • The larger the global network of agents the smoother shipments will run. Finding where your shipments will be originating/arriving as well as keeping in contact with global agents will ensure that you have as close to real time updates as possible.
  • How financially strong is the forwarding company?
    • This may seem silly because you will be paying the forwarding company, but if you pay your forwarding company and they are unable to pay the carriers – your shipment will not go out on time. This will cause delays, which will then reflect on you, and not being able to deliver products on time even though it is not fully your fault.

Amongst checking references and finding out average turnaround times, the above-mentioned are important tips to consider prior to choosing a forwarding firm.