You should expect exceptional service from your third-party logistics (3PL) provider, but how do you know you’re getting it? Your 3PL representative’s main job is to help ensure your supply chain runs efficiently. However, without the right communication and technological tools, he or she might not be able to help you avoid costly or otherwise preventable disruptions.
Echo’s approach to transportation management was voted #1 by readers of Inbound Logistics in the 2018 Top 10 3PL Excellence Awards for the second year in a row. Take it from the experts: your 3PL rep should simplify transportation, not complicate it. To help select the best transportation providers for your business, we narrowed down the top five services your rep should be performing for you.
1. Offer Robust, Customizable Technology
The technology your 3PL representative utilizes must be robust enough to handle your most complex transportation needs. Preferably, it should be built in-house rather than taken off the shelf so it can be customized to your specifications. The technology should allow your 3PL to analyze your transportation practices and identify inefficiencies for improvement. It should measure your performance against key performance indicators (KPIs), support real-time tracking, and deliver accurate reporting. Most importantly, the technology should drive continuous improvements to your supply chain and help make managing your business a lot easier.
2. Prioritize Communication
You should be able to reach your 3PL any time—even if it’s 9 p.m. on a Friday. Your rep should be proactive in communicating with you about tracking updates, load deliveries, and any critical information regarding your shipment. Going above and beyond is a sign of a great 3PL and a great rep. Whether that means having afterhours support in place or being available through email or phone, your rep should be ready to answer your questions day and night, so that if you encounter any issues with your supply chain, they can be resolved quickly.
3. Solve Problems Quickly
Timing is everything in logistics. The success of the transportation industry hinges on many parties adhering to a tight schedule. Your provider should be prepared to handle unforeseen issues. Trucks break down, inclement weather surprises everyone, and traffic is anything but predictable. Your 3PL rep has been through this before and should be equipped to offer you the support you need to navigate any disruption quickly. If a load is delayed or a shipment is damaged, your rep should be in contact not just to let you know, but also to offer potential solutions.
4. Be an Industry Expert
The transportation industry is constantly impacted by factors outside your control such as state and federal regulatory changes, weather disruptions, and driver capacity issues. For example, we saw Hurricane Florence affect whole communities in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, causing road and terminal closures and extensive damage to infrastructure. Your 3PL rep should have a knowledge base that’s a mile wide and a mile deep. In other words, your rep should be an expert who offers advice concerning any developments that might affect your business.
5. Provide Better Options
There’s an ideal mode for every shipment, and it may not be what you were expecting—in a good way. Your 3PL rep has access to a wide range of transportation resources. But providing options is more than offering different modes.
Your 3PL rep should understand your business, including how much flexibility you have regarding pickup and delivery dates as well as whether your delivery location is open on weekends, has preferred carriers, or offers extended hours of operation. Based on this understanding, he or she should seek a balance between the range of cost and service options available and provide unique carrier or modal solutions that exceed your expectations. All of this is part of your rep’s job and should be included in the services you have come to expect from your 3PL provider.
At Echo, we connect businesses with our large carrier network to move freight reliably and cost effectively. Looking for a 3PL rep who can provide the 5 services above? Contact an Echo representative today at 800-354-7993 or email@example.com, or request a quote for a shipment.