From years in the business, we have worked with many freight forwarders and have grown to understand the nuances involved in the relationship. When delivering high-value cargo on behalf of a freight forwarder, we realize that it’s even more important to put our best foot forward. On the other side of the coin, we want to develop partnerships with freight forwarders who like to send us consistent business, communicate well, and appreciate the value of our work.
In general, a mutually beneficial relationship between a freight forwarder and local freight carrier results in a win-win situation for all. Here are some key guiding factors that we have found to be important in forwarder-carrier relationships. They may not always apply, nor do they represent everything you need to consider, but they are great starting points from our perspective.
Competitive Pricing is Key, But Not Everything
From the freight forwarder’s viewpoint, price is often the most vital factor in the decision-making process, because his customers are price-sensitive. As an experienced freight forwarder, you likely work with many different carriers, and know the typical rates for a particular delivery. This is probably stating the obvious, but you must be comfortable that the local freight carrier’s pricing is competitive and fair in order for your company to turn a profit.
While we are aware that the quoted rates need to be remotely competitive in order to justify working with that freight delivery company. However, be very careful about selecting a company who offers you a screaming deal. Remember that these companies have to run a business too and if the price seems too good to be true, something will have to give...at least at some point.
Here's how some low-priced operators typically pull it off: They are likely cutting corners somewhere, such as by hiring minimum wage drivers. There is nothing wrong with this and many of the low-wage drivers are completely reliable. You might even be thinking, but how hard is it really to drive a load of freight from one place to another? You're right that they may be able to handle the basics just fine. But, if you expect them to go the extra mile for your customers, understand that this part of the job might be at stake.
Remember, these drivers are representing your company's business. Before you agree on a cheap quote and make a deal, consider the long game and ask yourself what the end result is worth to your company. Make sure that the carrier with whom you partner leaves an impression with the customer that leaves them walking away with a feeling that they can trust you with their freight. When they trust you to deliver goods on time and in excellent condition, they are more likely to call you again.
The Importance of Trust
Trust and confidence in the carrier is essential. As a freight forwarder, you need to trust that once a deal is agreed upon, it will be executed as expected. Typically, this means that the pickup and delivery will be on schedule, and that specific freight handling requirements will be met.
We recently handled a load requiring special care - and-made, hand-crafted fireplace mantels and doors for a motion picture set. There were seven pieces, and each had to be handled very delicately. We blanket-wrapped each piece, strapping them carefully onto the truck. Then, we snapped a photo to show the customer the care we were taking with their cargo. Customers appreciate this personal touch and extra step to build trust.
Clear and Consistent Communication
Communication between you and the freight carrier is essential. A communicative carrier will email the you as soon as the freight is loaded and once it’s delivered. This continues building trust, showing you, the forwarder, that the carrier is responsible and reliable.
Once the trust is built, the forwarder-carrier relationship takes off. Repeat business between the two is often a good sign that pricing is fair and the carrier is reliable and professional.