Price is what you pay, and value is what you get. A low price is often enticing, but keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Value and price are linked in the logistics industry so be careful of what you are asking a freight forwarder or carrier for.
When you request a rate quote, you should ask for all-inclusive rates and check if there are any local charges at origin or destination that are not included in the rate quotes received. If you try to save money on shipping rates and are considering incredibly low price offers, here is what you need to do before considering a provider:
Check the references, track record, and licenses of the freight forwarder that you would like to work with. This means taking the time to call the contacts on the reference list and reading online testimonials. You should also check if there are any complaints against the provider on the FMC website. Lastly, ensure that the freight forwarder has all of the necessary licenses, such as a Customs Broker, and NVOCC.
Check if the freight forwarder issues its own bills of lading (ask for copies before the shipments happen). Not only will those bill of lading copies allow you to see that the freight forwarder in fact issues its own bills of lading, it also gives you the opportunity to review the terms and conditions on the reverse side (i.e. the fine print).
Check if the freight forwarder has liability insurance by requesting a policy declaration form that shows the freight forwarder has insurance and lists the amounts.
Check if the freight forwarder has a strong expertise in the area you are importing from. Without a background knowledge of the area, the freight forwarder will struggle.
Once you find a freight forwarder that passes all of the above checks and meets your criteria, you will usually find that this specialist doesn’t offer incredibly low rates and might, in fact, be on the opposite end of the pricing scale. Accept that that might happen and that finding a freight forwarder is not just about who has the lowest rates.
Remember, don’t view your freight forwarder “just as a third-party provider.” View them as an extension of your office and you’ll probably want to change your focus and start looking for a reliable quality provider. After all, you wouldn’t want your business partner to be “cheap.” Instead, you would want your business partner to help you grow your business.