When you need a freight forwarder in the USA, you have plenty of options, but not all the options are the same. Finding the right partner for your needs may take some research. It's not as easy as just choosing any US freight forwarding company.
Since anybody can use the term "freight forwarder" you need to be aware of who you're choosing to partner with. After all, this is your business at stake and you don't want to trust just anybody to move your products from point A to point B.
With so many freight forwarders in the USA, how do you go about choosing the right one? There are plenty of things you can do to ensure you choose a freight forwarder you have full confidence in. Here are XX tips to help you along the journey towards finding the right freight forwarding partner in the USA for your specific needs.
Experience is Key
Since anybody can label themselves as a freight forwarder in the USA, you need to make sure the partner you choose has plenty of experience. When you choose a partner with experience, you'll have less to worry about. They will understand how to navigate situations, such as rerouting cargo, dealing with port shutdowns, and handling warehouse issues. Another advantage to using a forwarder who is also a customs broker is their ability to examine any shipping requirements should the customer want to use a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) when importing.
If you happen to choose a freight forwarder with experience as a customs broker, you'll also have a partner capable of handling any customs issues you may run into. A good freight forwarder will help you to avoid issues that come up with routing, customs, and warehousing before they happen. They will foresee the issues you may encounter with your shipment, whether it's going from Canada to the USA or going from the USA to another country.
Not only will experience help a freight forwarder to handle issues, but it also means they've had time to develop relationships across the globe. A new freight forwarder may not have the relationships necessary to handle your shipping needs. With an experienced freight forwarder in the USA, such as Cole International, you'll gain access to their network of connections.
Understand Their Network
Speaking of networks, when you choose a freight forwarding partner, you want to ask about their network. You need to understand what type of connections and relationships they have in the countries you plan to import from or export to.
It doesn't do you much good if you plan to export products to the USA from China, and you choose a freight forwarder with no relationships in China. You need a freight forwarding company with a strong global network, or at least a network covering the countries you plan to import from and export to.
Some freight forwarding companies may be great at handling your goods in some countries, but not others. Always check to ensure the network they have established will fit your specific needs and the countries you plan to do business within.
Know What You Require
While understanding the countries you plan to do business within is important, you should also know your internal requirements. Without a good idea of what you require from a freight forwarder, it becomes difficult to choose the right one for your needs.
Before you start looking for the right US freight forwarding company, make sure you understand what you need. Figure out what type of transport you will require and the specific services you will need. In addition, know the type of volume you plan to ship now and into the future.
Choosing the right freight forwarding partner means choosing someone for today and someone for the future. If they can handle your shipments today, but when you grow, they won't be able to handle your shipments anymore, you may need a different freight forwarding company.
Make Sure They Have Great Risk Management in Place
When you move a large quantity of goods from one country to another, it comes with plenty of risks. Worldwide transportation often happens through unstable conditions, which means you need a freight forwarding company capable of mitigating the risks. They need to provide proactive solutions and they need to work fast under pressure.
Cargo insurance is a good start and you should always ask your freight forwarder about cargo insurance. Make sure you find out about the types of cargo insurance offered and what the liability will be if a mistake does happen.
Another good sign of strong risk management is open communication. When you choose a freight forwarding partner, you want open communication and plenty of transparency. If you choose a freight forwarding company with experience as a customs broker, you may also have a team with an Audit Response Unit. This means you'll have even better risk management when it comes to customs issues.
Shipping Multiple Types of Products Might Be Important
Depending on your needs, you may want to look into the types of products each freight forwarder in the USA can handle. Some companies specialize in moving a specific type of goods, such as food products, while others can handle multiple types of shipments.
Even if you're only importing one type of product from one country right now, that could change in the future. You want to make sure your freight forwarder can help with different types of products and different shipping methods. Check their network and experience to ensure they can handle your future shipping needs, even if the goods are completely different from what you need to ship now.
Create a Checklist of Requirements
It's good to know the services you require, but creating a checklist actually makes it easier to ensure you choose the right freight forwarder in the USA. You should include when you'd like to begin, the speed of delivery you need/expect, the type of commodities you will be shipping, any special packaging requirements, terms of sale (Incoterms), volume, and anything else you require.
With a checklist, it will make it much easier for a freight forwarding company to ensure they can handle your shipment or not. You will also be able to ask the right questions as you seek out the right partner for your shipping needs.
Check References, Testimonials, and Reviews
Today's world runs on references, testimonials, and reviews. They have become a type of currency, almost, and you should certainly check the references, testimonials, and reviews of any freight forwarder you plan to hire.
The right freight forwarder in the USA should be able to offer references. In addition, you should be able to find a testimonials page or a reviews page to help give you confidence in the company you're hiring. Facebook offers a good place to find reviews when it comes to freight forwarding companies.
Check Licenses, Memberships, and Service Contracts
Every freight forwarder worth using will have the proper licenses and permits in place to properly handle your cargo in the countries you do business with. You need to check to ensure the right licenses are in place and any special licenses for sensitive products are in place.
Along with the licenses and permits, it's a good idea to check memberships. If a freight forwarder is a member of a freight forwarding network or trade association, it can be helpful. Organizations, such as the NCBFAA require specific operational efficiency, integrity, and financial strength. It can be a good sign if a freight forwarder is a member of a trade organization.
Service contracts are also important and you need a freight forwarder with multiple service contracts. They should be able to offer you multiple choices when it comes to moving your cargo. Established contracts with multiple carriers lead to alternative options instead of just getting stuck with one option.
Great Customer Service Goes a Long Way
One of the most important factors in choosing a freight forwarder in the USA is customer service. How quickly will they respond when you have an issue? Are they polite when you speak with them or do they come off rude or like they don't really care?
Customer service matters and the contact you're assigned at your freight forwarding company needs to provide fast responses with the answers you need. If they provide you with great customer service, there's a good chance they will also handle any shipping issues quickly.
While you might be tempted to make a decision based on the rate, it's a better idea to look at the full picture. A less expensive freight forwarding company might not provide the necessary customer service and support you need. Choose a company offering greater value for each dollar you spend instead of just the option coming in with the lowest price.
When it's time to choose the right freight forwarding company for your needs, make sure you take every one of these tips into consideration. At Cole International, we provide full freight forwarding, supply chain logistics, and customs broker services to ensure your shipment arrives on time, without issues. Our team provides incredible customer service and we know how to get your goods from point A to point B.
The US freight forwarder you choose will become a long-time partner. We are ready to help you with your international shipping needs today and help you grow into the future. If you need a freight forwarding company in the USA, contact Cole International today and find out how we can make your international shipping easier.
Freight Forwarding. It's what we do.
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