What to Look for in a 3PL

February 16, 2018 by Mikayla Avila Vila
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This past year in Inbound Logistics’ market research report, researchers found that 75 percent of shippers in our industry prefer service over price. You know what that means: less isn’t more. In fact, partnerships fall through—a good 43 percent!—when a shipper’s expectations aren’t met, and as for customer service? If the budding relationship between a shipper and their third party logistics team feels like a brusque transaction rather than the beginnings of a beneficial partnership, they’re going to be hard-pressed to find the silver lining.

What should I look for in a relationship with a 3PL?

What can a 3PL do for me? A freight broker should be an additional arm that helps your company achieve its goals. For larger companies, consider it the tag-team partner for your shipping department. When you’re having trouble filling less-than truckload (LTL), a helpful freight broker should be there to provide the assist with customers seeking a carrier. They will makes sure your truck is filled.

If you’re a small to midsize company, a good 3PL will be your shipping department, saving you money while you grow your business, because when you win, everyone wins.

What resources should I have access to? Working with a 3PL assures that you have their resources on your side. You should have access to technology solutions, like performance evaluations, business intelligence, visibility, and shipment tracking.

That also means their network of carriers is your network of carriers, which is advantageous even if you have your own shipping department (you can never have too much help when it comes to freight!). Utilizing their know-how will pay off in the long run, and will lead to lower shipping expenses while providing access to capacity that may be unavailable otherwise.

If you’re worried that 3PLs aren’t selective about their carriers, worry not. The relationship between a 3PL and their carriers is a reliable one—poor performance on either side will reflect badly on their reputation, so transparency, care, and trust are integral to a healthy carrier/3PL relationship.

Do they cover my freight? Do they cover parcel, less-than truckload, or full truckload? Do they cover refrigerated and hazardous material shipments?

While most 3PLs are non-asset based companies, they have vast networks to consult with on your behalf, with many carriers who specialize in different areas and can service almost any request.

What services would benefit me? No one wants to fight with an automated machine only to have a disinterested representative assigned to their case. Forty-two percent of partnerships fail because of poor service from a 3PL. Working together shouldn’t feel like an obligation, but rather a partnership, especially on the part of the broker. Brokerages are here to support you, so while automating customer service can speed up utility, it’s never as accurate, convenient, or, well, personable as humanizing the experience.

Make sure your prospective 3PL is available when you need them. Don’t let them ghost, whether it’s through e-mail, live chat, social media, or, of course, by phone. Check to see if they’re mobile for when you want access to your paperwork on the go. Do their systems keep all your freight information and history available, including tracking and proof of delivery? Your 3PL experience should be stress-free, and having another person on the line (however that line may manifest) to answer your questions—big and small—is fundamental for a healthy partnership.

In fact…

Make FreightCenter yours! At FreightCenter, not only are you appointed an experienced and knowledgeable freight agent that will monitor your shipment from beginning to end, but you’ll also have a dedicated tracking team to ensure your shipment gets where it needs to go in an effective, timely manner. It’s our job to be the best intermediary between your freight and our carriers, assuring that every step of the shipping process goes as smoothly as possible, from finding the right carrier, tracking your freight, to getting it insured (or both).

The best bargain does not always guarantee the best service. Just like with any relationship you cultivate, you should spend a little time, money, and effort on the right 3PL that will be best suited to handle your freight. When you partner with FreightCenter, what’s ours is yours.

Request your free consultation today by calling a FreightCenter Agent at 800.716.7608.

 

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