So, you’re ready to choose a freight forwarder. This means you have either got something to import or export, and you have arrived at what is arguably the most important part!
There are so many freight forwarders in the market offering so many value-added services at different prices.
In this blog post, we will outline some tips of the trade to help you choose the right freight forwarder to support your business’s freight requirements.
1. List your requirements
The first step is to know your own requirements. Some of your key considerations should be topics including:
- What business are you in?
- What sort of freight do you need to transport?
- What are the distances required?
- What mode of transport – sea, air, rail, road, or any other?
- What volume will you be shipping at?
- What Incoterms are you either offering to your customer or being offered by your supplier?
- Do you need customs brokerage included in your freight forwarding?
Spending some time on this to determine these requirements will help you be prepared before reaching out to a freight forwarder and will help make the process of selecting a freight forwarder all that much easier.
A freight forwarder with a robust international network is going to really help facilitate your cargo getting where it needs to go.
2. Research your options
Let’s face it, there are many freight forwarders in the market; deciding who to use can be a time-consuming process, and it is best to consider narrowing your search based on your requirements, and research what freight forwarders can do for you.
Price should not be your only factor when considering freight forwarders and deciding on who to use. There are many other factors that are very important when choosing which freight forwarder will support your business:
Do they have experience with your type of cargo?
There are many different types of cargo – everything from garments to machinery to bulk liquid to dangerous goods and everything in between. It’s imperative that the freight forwarder you settle on has experience with the type of goods that you’re exporting. Once your cargo ships, it’s out of your control, and it is at this point that your freight forwarder must know how to handle your products, and to be able to anticipate any potential problems along the way.
Can they handle multiple types of shipments?
You may be considering importing using ocean freight from China, air freight from France, or exporting to the east coast of the USA. Do they have the experience, know-how, and partners around the world to handle your variety of shipments? Can they handle requirements where multi-modal transport becomes part of your shipment?
How extensive is their network?
A freight forwarder with a robust international network is going to really help facilitate your cargo getting where it needs to go. Whilst the bigger freight forwarders may have contacts all over the world, all you need to focus on is the country you are shipping to. If you’re preparing freight for export to Australia, it doesn’t matter how many contacts a particular forwarder has in, say, India or the United Kingdom. This may sound like the bleeding obvious, but it is imperative that you understand the importance of a strong freight network, no matter how big or small your selected freight forwarder is.
Where do their services end?
A freight forwarder might only service the air or sea portion of your cargo’s journey. The smoke and mirrors of this might mean you save some money on their services in this case, but these savings will very quickly disappear in extra charges and headaches when you have to arrange onward shipping once the shipments reach the destination country. Don’t be afraid to ask if they can arrange the final leg of your cargo’s journey – at the end of the day, this is a freight forwarders role in your business, and it is imperative that you have a clear understanding of exactly what they are doing for you at every stage of the freighting process.
How do they manage your business with them?
Make sure you ask who is your point of contact/account manager for submitting documents, coordinating the shipment, and who to ring when there is a problem. You might find it is a dedicated person or a team that handles your account; either is generally fine, however, it is vitally important you know this from the outset. Customer service during the freight process is exceptionally important when irregularities exist – you want someone who you can trust to manage these problems and make sure they are handled.
What freight management systems are available to you?
Visibility is important – as an importer or exporter, you may want to know where your cargo is at times. A highly visible freight management system, that is ideally online and that you have login access to, will help you stay at ease about where your shipments are when they will arrive or depart, any disruptions to the freight process, and generally make sure your goods are being transported the way you want them to be.
3. Reach out for quotes and questions
Once you have completed the above and narrowed down some options, reach out to some freight forwarders and ask them some questions. It’s a personal business, and there can often be many moving parts, so expect them to ask for additional information, such as your company name or your type of shipments.
Have a conversation, identify your needs, and assess each freight forwarder’s suitability based on your requirements. Successful freight forwarders will understand this is a long-term relationship, and the selection of the right freight forwarder is exceptionally important.
In conclusion, we highlight just how important a freight forwarder like TFG Global is to your business. Our mission is pretty simple – to make freight forwarding a breeze, by delivering the highest quality service that is competitively priced, and that takes the hassle out of freight. This lets you focus on what you need to whilst we take care of business in your freight and logistics matrix. We like to think of ourselves as an extension of our customers’ businesses, making sure that all freight is seamlessly integrated into their business. Contact us to discuss your freight requirements further, and experience the TFG Global difference.
When it comes to freight forwarding, we are the full package. Market-leading service, values, and solutions.
For all your freight forwarding solutions, internationally and Australia-wide, you need TFG Global.