Most businesses, especially in the manufacturing sector, require some sort of import and/or export of cargo at some point in time. This can be in the form of importing the raw material or exporting the finished products. In both cases, it is extremely important that your cargo doesn’t get damaged, or worse, get lost in the course of international shipping. Hence, as a business owner, it makes sense if you spend some time researching on the people/company, who is going to handle your or your clients’ imports and exports.
Let’s find out the five most important things you need to keep in mind while choosing a freight forwarder:
Experience matters: Working at the international shipping industry comes with initial hiccups. Challenges like shutdowns at ports, dockworker strikes, unavailability of warehouses, issues with customs clearance etc. are part and parcel to the freight forwarders’ jobs, which often calls for rerouting cargo. An experienced player has the ability to foresee these issues and avoid them altogether even before they crop up, thus ensuring hassle-free shipping of your consignment.
Network is the key: Your freight forwarder must have a strong local network of agents and business associates in the geographies you are going to export to or import from. The reason being, every country has its own rules and regulations pertaining to international shipping, which a foreigner may not be able to decipher due to several issues including language differences. Only a local agent will be able to understand them fully and be able to steer clear of any complication.
Be sure of the services: An ideal freight forwarder must be able to provide door to door service by assisting in all modes of shipping – air, land, and water. In addition, many well-known names in this field offer value-added services like warehousing, shipment tracking etc. Hence, find out the details of the services before you hire any freight forwarder.
Count on testimonials: When you do a good job, you can expect your clients to say nice things about you. This holds true for freight forwarders as well. Hence, check for feedback – positive or negative – through online forums or offline resources.
Look for great customer service: Always choose a freight forwarder based on how they behave before you hire them. Are they prompt in getting back to you with queries? Are they willing to tell you the steps they are going to follow while shipping your cargo? If yes, go ahead! Because, once you cargo is out for import/export, you can do very little to ensure that they reach their destination. Hence, stress is inevitable. However, if your freight forwarder provides good customer service, you can avoid much of it by getting timely updates from them.
Choosing a freight forwarder is a difficult task and you must also consider the rates. However, it is wise to note that, there is no point in hiring a freight forwarder without the above five attributes even if he is the cheapest.