Finding the right customs broker is like hiring anyone else to work for your company: you need to ask the right questions to make sure you're teaming up with the right person.
There are many customs brokerages willing to work for you. It's up to you to identify the one that will be the best fit – who will work as your partner to understand your business and meet your needs.
When searching for a broker, consider what's most important to you and ask specific questions. You’ll find the greatest success if you identify someone who:
Understands their role and yours in the partnership you will forge together
Your broker will be your point person who keeps on top of the ever-changing customs and border requirements relevant to your business. So, even though you are ultimately responsible for meeting any regulatory requirements, you’ll need a broker you can trust to understand the intricacies and guide you through the customs process.
Is accessible and responsive
If you ship goods across the border frequently, you’ll want a broker that has offices and representatives on both sides of the border and is available on short notice to help resolve any problems that come up. Make sure you know what to expect with regard to response times and that you can reach your broker quickly and easily by the mode that works best for you – phone, email, mobile app, etc.
Is connected to you and to the customs agencies with the latest technology
Technology today is essential for maximizing efficiency, controlling costs and reducing risks for your business. Partnering with a broker who is fully automated with connectivity to Canada and U.S. Customs will improve your company’s compliance and reduce the chance that your shipments will be held up at the border.
Is an expert at handling the types of goods and shipments you will be moving
Make sure any potential broker will take your unique needs into consideration and can demonstrate that they're knowledgeable enough to handle your business requirements. Ensure that they can provide the services specific to your company and to the goods you will be shipping.
You also have responsibilities in this partnership. To optimize your relationship with your broker, you should:
Articulate your needs
Have a clear idea of what you need and expect from your broker, and make sure your broker understands and can respond to your priorities.
Keep the lines of communications open
Don't hesitate to speak up if something isn't working right for you. Let your broker know as soon as possible so any issue can be resolved. Tell your broker when something’s working well, too, so they know they’re on the right track.
Conduct periodic reviews of your broker’s work
Review all aspects of your relationship from time to time to make sure it's working for you. This will give you a chance to make sure all touchpoints in your relationship remain effective. Sharing feedback as a result of these reviews will help your broker understand how best to work with you.
Find - and hold onto - a broker who makes you feel important
Make sure your broker will work to understand your business. Ideally, your brokerage will provide you with a dedicated person or team who can handle your unique, everyday, and ongoing needs. Once you’ve found the right person, you will enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing they’ve got your back.
Having a customs broker in your corner can help you reduce risks, cut costs and improve your business performance. Talk to Cole’s experienced professionals today to learn how you can improve your import/export business efficiency by teaming up with a trusted partner in the brokerage business.
p.s. In case you missed it, check out our earlier blog posts on the responsibilities of importers and the multidimensional relationship between you, your broker and your carrier for further insight into optimizing your import business.
Information provided by: Canadian Customs Brokerage Dept. - Cole International