Who is a Freight Forwarder?
A freight forwarder is a company or an individual who is in the business of dispatching shipments through various carriers like airplanes, trucks, railroads, and shipping vessels. One of the primary functions of a freight forwarder is arranging the movement of cargo to and from an international destination. Their competency and functionality demands accountability, responsibility, and experience and it is important that your pick the right freight forwarder. Here are a few tips to keep in mind, when it comes to choosing a freight forwarder.
The Size of the Freight Forwarder
The freight forwarder does not have to be a large firm in fact most often a small firm that gives personal service is a better choice. However, they must be big enough to accommodate all your requirements. Moreover, even if the freight forwarder is away on vacation, the services rendered, should not get affected. This is of paramount importance if you run an export business. Your exports should not come to a halt and the freight forwarding company must be able to see to it that all your shipping needs are handled effectively and on a continuous basis.
The Stability of the Freight Forwarder
This is one of the most important factors to be considered while selecting a freight forwarder. The stability not only refers to the number of years in operation, but also financial stability. If a freight forwarder has been in the business for a number of years then rest assured, you are making the right choice. However, to be on the safe side, check the credentials of the freight forwarder through banks and trade references.
Ship Them the Way You Want To
The freight forwarder that you select must have the ability, expertise, and resources to handle all kinds of products and ship them according to the choice you make in this regard i.e. land, sea, or air. It is also advisable that the freight forwarder also be able to handle import shipments and arrange customs clearance. This comes handy in case you need to import some goods if your client returns your goods for some reason.
Go for freight forwarders who have a strong network of overseas agents. If your freight forwarder has a good network of agents in your target market, then the better it is for you. You must also be well aware of the handling capacity and capability of these agents.
A good network means that your shipment will reach its destination without any hassles and within the required deadline. If you want to deliver perishable products, then you want them to reach a particular country, in good time and before they perish. If you do not, then it might have some serious consequences for your reputation.
A Good Communicator
Not many people have an expertise when it comes to the shipping of their products. Therefore, your freight forwarder must have the patience and ability to explain the necessary procedure to you. Moreover, the forwarder must be able to talk to you in a language that you understand.
If you can, do choose a freight forwarder who has some kind of knowledge or comfort level with the product that you want shipped. The freight forwarder that you pick must be able to recognize the special needs of your product, if any, and make the necessary preparations for shipping.
Check the Antecedents
You must closely scrutinize the references of your freight forwarder. After all, you are going to do some important business with the company, and thus this becomes a crucial parameter of your selection process. Another aspect of this is the overall customer satisfaction provided by the freight forwarder in the past dealings. Try getting some information in this regard from their past clients or customers.
The Insurance Factor
The best of people are liable to make mistakes. Even if your freight forwarder is extremely conscientious, it is liable to make an error or a mistake. Even a minor error can cause irrevocable damage to your sales, and your revenue. Therefore, it is important that the freight forwarder you choose have something called "errors and omissions insurance". This is enormously beneficial in the event that a mistake is made.
A Good Communications Network
How fast can the freight forwarder get in touch with you and vice-versa? How soon can the freight forwarder give your information about the status of your shipment? Is real time tracking information available? The answer to all these questions will give you fair idea about the forwarder’s communication links and whether they are good enough for your requirements.
Licenses and Certifications
Your freight forwarders can be licensed and also registered with organizations like TIA. Each organization has unique requirements when it comes to a freight forwarder. However, the basic needs remain the same. The tips listed above are for the general needs of every organization when it comes to hiring the services of a freight forwarder.