Hiring the right freight forwarder is a proven way to increase profit margin and boost customer satisfaction. But with over 87,000 freight forwarders in the United States, the prospect of finding the best fit for your business can seem like an overwhelming task. The key to separating the best from the rest is to look for a provider who possesses a collection of key attributes. These attributes are revealed below in our 10-minute guide to hiring the right ocean and air freight forwarding partner.
There is no substitute for experience when it comes to the logistics industry. Selecting an accomplished forwarder will help your shipments proceed seamlessly while helping you avoid common logistics pitfalls that can result in fines, penalties, or damaged goods. As you evaluate prospective partners, look for those with decades of industry experience who possess the qualities below:
- The ability to make quick freight classifications for clients
- A strong working knowledge of the pros and cons of air, ocean, and multi-modal shipping
- A keen focus on export compliance laws and regulations
- The ability to spot red flag indicators of U.S. export violations
Licensure and Certifications
Quality assurance should be a top priority for the freight forwarder you choose. The path to quality assurance begins by securing the proper license with the Federal Maritime Commission and FMCSA. Additionally, your forwarding partner should have the proper permits required to handle hazardous goods and other types of cargo. All licenses, permits, and special certifications should be current and available upon request.
Advanced Tracking and Reporting Technology
Today's buyers expect fast deliveries. Even more important, they demand accurate tracking information. By selecting a forwarder partner with the latest tracking and reporting technology, you can ensure your clients know exactly where their shipment is at any point in time. Here are some things to look for as you evaluate the reporting capabilities of ocean and air freight forwarders:
- A fast, user-friendly online way to track shipments
- The option to receive automatic notifications when your shipment leaves its origin and reaches its destination
- Electronic updates of any delays or changes to your original freight booking
A Comprehensive Service Portfolio
The freight forwarder you choose should offer a comprehensive portfolio of services to help you strengthen and streamline your supply chain activities. Choosing a provider whose portfolio extends beyond air freight, ocean freight and ground freight services will allow your business to easily grow and expand. Ideally, the forwarder you select should offer the following collection of services:
- Expert crating solutions to help ensure your products are packed safely and securely prior to shipment
- Warehouse management services to help you control and protect your inventory
- Customs brokerage services such as online customs processing, importer security filing, and bonded warehouse clearances
- Cargo insurance to help your business avoid financial loss due to unexpected shipping damage or weather issues
- Project cargo services to help you manage large or complicated air and ocean shipments
Responsive to Client Needs
Today's consumers are long on expectations but short on patience. They expect quotes and updates immediately and are often unwilling to wait on a freight estimate. The odds of your customer turning to another supplier increase with each passing second you spend waiting on a shipping quote. As you compare forwarding partners, look for those who exhibit the following:
- Respond swiftly to your emails, inquiries, and texts
- Offer one or more online self-service tools to enable customers to receive instant quotes
- Deliver sea freight estimates within 12-24 hours or less
- Provide the opportunity to speak with a trained logistics specialist by phone
A Strong Focus on Safety and Compliance
Failure to adhere to local and international shipping regulations could leave you facing steep penalties, fines, or even jail time. The nation's top freight forwarders recognize the need for compliance training and take every measure to ensure their employees are properly trained to guide you as you dispatch your goods. For instance, they may review your shipment to ensure that your goods are properly packed in a certified wooden shipping crate to comply with applicable standards.
Choosing a forwarder with a strong focus on safety is also important. Ask prospective forwarders about their safety initiatives and how they ensure compliance with the regulations outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). Ideally, the provider you choose will have a compliance program in place to help achieve this goal.
Fair Pricing for Quality Service
As you evaluate freight forwarders, you will likely run across some fly-by-night providers who advertise shockingly low rates. While it can be tempting to schedule a pickup right away, it's always best to make sure you are making an apples-to-apples comparison. The best way to do this is to request a written quote and review it carefully. Depending on the nature of your shipment, some or all of the following should be listed:
- Cargo insurance to make sure you are covered if your goods are lost or damaged during the shipping process
- The most direct route to your destination
- Fuel surcharges that may apply to your shipment
- Pickup fees that may apply if the carrier has to retrieve your shipment and transport it to their hub
- Other special fees, such as forwarding fees or export clearance fees
America's Most Trusted Ocean and Air Freight Forwarding Partner
At Aries Worldwide Logistics, our mission is simple: "Giving people what they want, when they want it!" We are proud of our ability to deliver affordable, world-class air and ocean freight forwarding services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are fully licensed and insured, and use cutting-edge technology to ensure you receive fast, accurate tracking on your shipments.
To discover why businesses across America trust us to handle their ocean and air freight needs, we encourage you to contact us today. Or, if you would simply like to check out our competitive rates, we invite you to check out our online Air Export Self-Service Tool. We look forward to the opportunity to serve as your trusted partner for air and ocean freight!