In the world of successful shipping, being a smart, confident decision maker when it comes to logistics is paramount. Spend too much time focusing on one sole aspect, and risk neglecting another. Spend too much money in one avenue of business, and watch as another begins to wither away. But there is a tried and true method to success with 3rd party logistics.
Below is a list in order of importance that helps you redirect your focus, and strengthening the chances of long term sustainability. By prioritizing the aspects that go into successful 3PL, you can rest easy knowing that you are following a tried and true method that’s helped other for many years.
1.) Forge meaningful relationships based on good business practice, and trust. Of course, you want to find the best price, and best overall cost involved- but that isn’t always the most important part. Forge a good working relationship with all your vendors, service providers and shippers to ensure there are no gaps in your expectations. Let them know what you expect from them, and what you will allow and you can rest easy knowing that the first part of getting your product delivered successfully is taken care of. If you have repeated problems/ incidents with any service provider, move to the next one. There are hundreds of companies vying for your business, and willing to deliver the best service they can.
2.) Hire people who can see the same light at the end of the tunnel as you. The people you have managing your logistics have the most direct effect on the bottom line. Any notions of a square peg fitting into a round hole here are fraught with danger. Being able to rely on your managers, and their ability to strive for the same company goals as you can’t be stressed enough. Employ the right kind of people, and be clear with them about the direction you want to head, and what you expect from them.
3.) Demand results, and be willing to pay for them. With so much going on, it’s often difficult to remember to reward a job well done. This is an avenue that will provide positive energy throughout the workplace, and promote further positive results from all those involved. If you are clear about what constitutes a success regarding a job, then drive those involved to exceed your expectations. This generally is done by recognition, whether publicly, or through compensation. Either way is a wise investment for you.
4.) Spend face time with your 3PL. Hold meetings (bi-annually or annually) to reconnect with them, and update them on any future expected changes, or to deliver a new direction you are wanting to head. This is also a good time to get any feedback from them, as they generally don’t offer this feedback on a consistent basis. Let them know of any shortcomings, or spectacular achievements they may have contributed to, and ask to see what you can do differently in order to help them.
5.) Begin to view your 3PL as an employee. After all, you pay them to deliver a specific service, don’t you? Let them see that you are aware of the service they provide, and that you are connected with the quality of work they do. Listen to their needs, and communicate yours to them. As previously mentioned, this approach will plant a seed deep into the ground that can be watered for many years to come. Treating your 3PL as a valued employee will allow you to build upon the working relationship and have great avenues of communication.
6.) Find a way to measure your success that involves your 3PL. By taking the time to address good and poor performances on a regular basis, you and your 3PL provider will be able to understand each other better. Whether it’s monthly, or annually, set goals, and let your 3PL see where you and they currently stand in relation to that goal. If necessary, motivate them to make changes, or reward them for a job well done. Remember: they want to achieve the same goals as you. It’s a true win-win situation
By following these important steps, you can achieve all the goals you initially set out to meet. A 3rd party logistics provider should compliment your business, not hinder it. By keeping open channels of conversation, and clearly pointing out your expectations you can regain confidence in meeting your direct objectives.