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Ten tips to finding the Best freight forwarder

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Given the sheer number of freight forwarders & NVOCCs operating in the world, picking the right one can sometimes feel rather overwhelming. If you’re planning on using one for an international move, you can easily compare companies with our moving quote service.

However, while moving companies make moving good between countries simple, they are not usually the cheapest for regular freight shipments. Therefore, you might end up needing to work with a few freight forwarders before finding one that offers you the combination of services & price you’re looking for.

Here are 10 tips/questions to help you find the right one:

  1. Do they clearly explain their prices? – A good freight forwarder should clearly explain their prices for each of their services when giving you a quote. This will make it easy for you to compare apples to apples when comparing companies. Some companies may leave out the costs of key services such as insurance or document handling fees to make themselves look cheaper. Always find out what the total cost for your shipment is going to be before deciding on a company.
  2. Are they friendly? – The next consideration is how friendly is the freight forwarder. While working a freight forwarder is a business transaction, international shipments can be quite complex. And thus may require quite a bit of back & forth & patience. Better to do this with someone you get along with rather than someone you don’t.
  3. Do they have experience with the shipping method(s) you’re thinking of using? – Some freight forwarders focus on trucking & road haulage, while others focus on sea freight & others focus on air freight. Companies with complex logistical needs across many methods of transport will need a very different partner than those who just need a truck to move goods from point A to B.
  4. Do they experience working in your industry? – Another consideration when looking at freight forwarders & NVOCCs is whether or not they work with other companies in your industry. Some companies are better suited to help handle the logistics moving perishable items such as food & others are better at handling car transport. This becomes especially important when shipping internationally, because the customs clearance process not only varies widely between countries but also between industries.
  5. Do they clearly explain who will be doing the actual shipping/transportation? – Keep in mind that your freight forwarder will help you arrange shipment of your goods, but will not be doing the shipping themselves. However, they should be willing to make it clear to you which companies will be doing the shipping throughout the whole process.
  6. Are they a member of any trade associations? – Most reputable freight forwarders will belong to at least one, if not several, trade organisations & associations such as: NCBFAA, IATA, WCA, etc. These associations enforce minimum standards & while they do not guarantee quality, they are a good indication of it.
  7. Do they have agents working in both your outgoing & destination cities/countries? – Most smaller freight forwarders have offices in only one or at best a handful of cities. If they don’t have an office in both your origin & destination cities, then it can make it difficult to troubleshoot problems should they arise. This is especially important if there are any Incoterms rules disputes, customs delays, strikes, etc. However, many freight forwarders get around this issue by having affiliated agents working across a wider range of destinations. Just be sure to find out what arrangements & points of contact will be for your shipment.
  8. Do they offer insurance? – Some freight forwarders offer insurance & some do not. Make sure you find out if yours does & if so if it’s included in their normal quoted price. Moreover, make sure that the insurance coverage is both sufficient for the value of your goods & also covers all modes of transportation. Do not ever transport your goods without proper insurance, unless you can afford to gamble with their full value.
  9. How big is the freight forwarder? – Smaller freight forwarders often wish to appear bigger than they are. This is normally done in an attempt to convey trust. Don’t be afraid to ask how many offices the company owns, how many employees it has, etc. Just keep in mind that freight forwarders sometimes try to skirt around the issue by talking about the number of offices they have, the number of agents they have, etc. Often these offices & agents may work for multiple companies. Finally, small is not necessarily bad many small companies can offer your much better personalised service than a big faceless logistics company. Moreover, because they often have lower overheads they can often offer lower prices too.
  10. Does the company have any online reviews and/or willing to let you speak to past customers? – Finally, the last step before choosing a freight forwarder or NVOCC is to read as many reviews about them & ideally speak personally to past customers. Forwarders that go above & beyond for their customers will be happy for you to speak to their past customers as these will be their best salespeople. Just be sure to ask lots of questions, to find out what the company is really like to work with.

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