6 Things You Need to Know When Choosing a Third-Party Logistics Partner

Most shippers have yearly bids to find new third-party logistics partners when needed. If everything goes right, then a selected 3PL company can end up staying parted with the shipper for years. However, sometimes the shippers need to shake things up. Or, their needs have outgrown the capabilities of their current third-party logistics partner. There are countless reasons why a shipper may decide that they need to find a new shipping partner.

Once that decision has been made the shipper is going to have to check multiple factors when choosing a new third-party logistics partner.  This blog covers 6 of the big ones that pretty much any shipper is going to have to consider.

1. Price

This one is obvious, price matters. For some companies, this is ALL that matters when they are selecting a new partner.  We think this is a pretty dangerous approach, sure you may get shipping at a fantastic rate but is your product coming in on time or at all?

Weighing benefits of a third-party logistics partner

2. Operations

How robust are the operations of the third-party logistics partner? First and foremost, do they offer the modes that you need to use? If you need flatbed shipping and the company you are looking at doesn’t have a robust flatbed shipping network then it’s time to move on.  Additionally, do they have experience in your industry? Just because a shipping provider has 20 years of experience doesn’t mean that they know out to ship steel beams. Which would be a problem if you are exclusively shipping steel beams.

3. Customer Service

Customer service is huge in shipping. If you are choosing a new third-party logistics partner you MUST make sure they offer the level of customer service that you are going to need. This can be tricky if it’s a company you have never worked with so it’s best to try a trial spot quote or two.

Some things to look out for in particular are making sure there is an after-hours team in case something comes up outside of business hours (shipping never sleeps). Also, make sure that the potential partner has associates that are communicative, people that proactively reach out to start solving issues before they arise. Lastly, make sure they communicate through your preferred channels, whether that be phone, email, text, fax, EDI, mail… they should be adjusting to fit you, not the other way around.

4. Onboard process

If you do decide to go through with this new third-party logistics partner, what will the onboarding process entail? Are new systems going to have to be set up on either end and how much time will that take? Before signing all the papers make sure you have a timeline laid out of when everything will be ready to go and you can start shipping.

5. Technology

What tools are this potential third-party logistics partner bringing to the table? You want to partner with someone that will actually improve your shipping operations, not just bring your freight from A to B. Look for things like EDI, track and trace, digital freight matching, and analytical reports. These are things that can bring your shipping up to the next level.

Additionally, the shipping provider should make these tools and technology EASY for you to use and understand. If they are able to pull shipping data and analytics then they should be condensing this info down, meeting with you, and talking about what it all means and how operations can be improved.

6. Experience

Last, but not least, is the experience of the company.  I know I said before that experience isn’t everything but it is SOMETHING. Partnering with a company that has been around for 20 years has less risk than partnering with a company that’s only been around a couple of months. More experience typically leads to more established relations and better operations.

These are the things that really help a third-party logistics partner succeed in ways that you wouldn’t be able to. They’ve been shipping for YEARS and in that time have developed the systems to do it well.

There’s No Third-Party Logistics Partner That Works for Everyone

Just like there’s no one type of car that fits everyone’s needs, there’s no 3PL company that will work for everyone. As a shipper, you will have to weigh out what’s more important to you.  Is better customer service worth it for a higher price? Are you willing to undergo an extensive onboarding process to partner with a company that’s been around for 40 years? And are you willing to look past lower technology for robust operations? There’s a lot to take into account.

At Becker Logistics we always aim to put our customer service and integrity first and foremost because we want to make sure the process is easy and reliable. We also have the technology to improve operations and have been in business for 23 years. If you would like to see if Becker Logistics is the right third-party logistics partner for you then you can reach out and contact us or request a quote.

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