As the Internet opens up global markets, more and more people are considering starting an import or export business and are looking into selecting a freight company for the first time.
This can be baffling as the world of international freight is highly complex and the newcomer needs to be aware of some of the pitfalls associated with freight forwarding.
The main role of all freight services companies is, of course, to help importers and exporters transport their goods. But with varying requirements in each country and with many different transport options and routes to choose from, it is vital that you choose the right freight company to suit the specific needs of your business.
To get the most out of your freight forwarding company, there are some simple tips and strategies to remember.
Firstly, avoid the common mistake of selecting your shipping company on price alone: Using a freight company can cut your costs because as they arrange for the transport of large numbers of consignments, they can consolidate loads going to a single destination. A freight forwarder will be able to offer lower freight rates than you can negotiate with carriers yourself. Of course, you should get quotes and compare costs from a number of freight forwarding suppliers to find the best level of cost and service for you – but do be aware that that the lowest quote may not be the best option. Check out the level of service carefully too. And watch out for any surcharges and additional fees that may not be immediately obvious. If you are new to the world of international freight, it will also be important that you feel that the shipping company will provide a guiding hand.
Make sure you use a freight services company that is a member of BIFA: There are thousands of freight forwarding companies, so to sort the wheat from the chaff, use the freight forwarding trade associations and in particular the British International Freight Association (BIFA) to draw up a shortlist. This is a membership body representing 1200 UK freight forwarding companies in the UK. BIFA and the International Freight Forwarders Association (to which BIFA belongs) have codes of practice to which all member freight forwarding companies must comply, so this can help avoid problems and provide reassurance that the shipping company you select is of high quality. The freight transport trade associations can also help ensure that any disputes between freight companies and their customers are quickly resolved.