3PLS & The Five R'sWritten by Neal Willis
While there’s certainly not a current shortage of 3PLs in the transportation industry, there are some out there who leave a lot to be desired. From leaving clients with unpaid balances on carrier freight bills to holding shippers hostage under lengthy, expensive contracts, many 3PLs have come and gone over the years and left some shippers with a bad taste. That’s really unfortunate for the good ones still left, because the good ones offer shippers: 1) Reliable Service, 2) Reputable Carriers, 3) Redundancy of Systems, 4) Reasonable Rates and 5) Responsive Service.
Whether it’s a rate quote, tracking request, shipment re-consignment, service upgrade, etc., shippers need a 3PL they can count on. From being there to answer the phone for a rate quote request to being able to give sound advice on how to best handle a situation involving a damaged shipment, a good 3PL is on the other end of the line when it matters most.
Reputable carriers are vital to ensuring shipper and customer satisfaction. Whether it’s the shipper’s fault or not, carriers who consistently perform poorly with regards to service (i.e. slow transit times and high claims ratios) can project a negative image about the shipper doing business with them.
Redundancy of Systems
Cutting edge technology is great for optimizing shipment mode and carrier selections but, no matter the technology, if it’s not working, it’s not any good. With system redundancy built into a network, it can be made more reliable. Much like a generator is in place for when the main source of power goes out, a quality 3PL has system and network redundancies in place and ready to go online at the drop off of a hat in the event of a potential service outage. For example, if your freight rates are integrated into your online shopping cart to provide freight costs at checkout, multiple fail-safe servers and systems on and off-site are necessary to minimize the risk of downtime and ensure service continuity.
Reasonable rates are always important, no matter the shipper; however, shippers shouldn’t necessarily hold low rates in higher esteem than service. The hidden costs of doing business with less than reputable carriers is often not seen until it’s too late and customers have already been lost. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Quality 3PLs are responsive when called upon and the best 3PLs view their shipper’s problems as their own. Under normal circumstances, any time a party sees themselves as having a vested interest in a situation, they’ll be more prone to carefully weighing the consequences of their actions and, generally speaking, the more a decision is thought out, the better the chance there is of a positive outcome.
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