BULLETPROOF YOUR SHIPPING
Choosing a freight provider is a lot like assigning the right secret agent to a mission. You want the one best suited to get the job done right. Recently you’ve asked yourself “How can I get better LTL shipping rates in Boston?” or “who has the best customer service for freight companies in the Boston area?”. Can’t you just google “freight brokers in Boston” and snag the first one who comes up? Aren’t all freight brokers and carriers in New England basically the same? Well, my friend, they are not. And the reason there exist so many brokers and trucking companies in the Boston area is that there are so many different niches and specialties to be served. Here’s how to find the one (or two) best suited for your particular logistics finery.
Mission objective: Define your priorities as they relate to shipping and what type of company you need to get the job done right. Here are 5 things to consider when evaluating the field of freight companies in the Boston (New England) area.
- Choosing the Best Man For the Mission
A freight broker is different from a freight forwarder and a common carrier. You should educate yourself on these differences so you can find the provider that best suits your needs. In short, a freight broker is non-asset based and does not physically handle your freight. They aggregate multiple carriers (domestic and international) and offer complementary services above and beyond each individual common carrier. Freight forwarders specialize in international cargo and physically handle freight, have warehousing capabilities and local freight operations. They are the bridge from dock to ship/place for an exporter/importer and are familiar with rules & documentation related to foreign trade. Common carriers are asset based trucking companies for LTL freight.
- Firepower aka Pricing
Is pricing really that important? Yes and no. In trucking, much like life, you get what you pay for. Yes, you need your provider to be competitive so you can stay competitive but you also want to go with someone who will be in business in 6 months. Rock bottom pricing is often the sign of a poor service. There will always be bottom-feeder carriers and brokers who compete on price only. This often means frequent damages/loss, bad or no customer service and industry worst transit times. This type of provider works if your product is not easily damaged, doesn't need to be on time and you don't need any control over your supply chain or distribution chain. So choose wisely and remember all that glitters is not gold.
- Customer Service - Stirred, Not Shaken
Customer Service is really important. Who is your local point of contact? First and foremost make sure you trust and like this person because you will need them to help you at some point. Are they actually local or are they remote and does that matter to you? Lots of freight brokers have call centers located in East Nowhere, US and you will not have a dedicated person to fight your battles. Will your POC give you their personal cell # in case there is an issue on the weekend or at night? They should and I will put my money where my mouth is by giving you my personal cell #.
- Quartermaster (Q) Expertise
Bond always has the edge on information because it can mean the difference between failing and succeeding. The provider you choose should have experience and expert knowledge of the field for which you are choosing them. Ask them what their core competency is and what they do best. If they tell you they do everything the best they probably just do everything okay and nothing exceptionally. Look for someone who specializes in the niche you are seeking. For example, I will tell my customers all day that I have extensive knowledge of domestic LTL freight backed up by a decade of experience. More specifically I know how to help small businesses and startups outsource and automate their freight process. Or I might mention that I am the only freight company in Boston with guaranteed pickups...not just guaranteed or your money back but guaranteed that they will actually be picked up! That is niche and I love helping people automate their freight because I know I can save them lots of time (and usually money too) and handle the process more efficiently.
- Gadgets: What's In the Briefcase, James?
Finally, you should analyze what your potential provider brings to the table for resources. If it's an LTL provider, do they have a great TMS that will allow you to get quick quotes easily without having to send emails or make phone calls? If it's a truckload provider, do they have a vast network of carriers and what is their vetting process? What type of insurance do they require? Do they partner with only carriers they use and trust for their own freight? Are they financially stable and how long have they been in business?
Hopefully this post helps you define what you need and how to find conduct what should feel like an interrogation of your potential provider. After all, this partner is an extension of your business and will often be dealing with your customers and vendors. Make sure you look more like James Bond and less like Jaws. To see if our agent can handle your mission drop us a line!
Looking for a reliable, experienced freight broker who can take everything off your plate and always find you the best rates? Contact Chris.