If you partner with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider, you should expect them to excel at supporting your business. But how do you know they are doing everything possible to get you the most efficient fulfillment and logistics?
A 3PL client services team’s main job is to help ensure their client’s supply chain runs as efficiently and cost effectively as possible. However, without the right communication and tools at their disposal, they might not be proactively helping you avoid costly or otherwise preventable disruptions. Your 3PL account manager should go the extra mile to simplify logistics and transportation for your company, not make it more complicated for you. To help you know if you are getting the best service from your 3PL, below are six things that your rep should be doing to ensure that you are maximizing the partnership
You should be able to reach your 3PL any time—even if it’s 9 pm on a Saturday. Your account manager should be proactive in communicating with you about tracking updates, load deliveries, and any critical shipment information. Going above and beyond is a sign of a great 3PL and a great rep. Whether that means having after hours 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.
Use a Robust and Customizable Technology Platform
The technology your 3PL client services team utilizes must be robust enough to handle your most complex transportation needs. Preferably, it should be built in-house rather than come from an outside provider 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 performance indicators that support your business goals, 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.
“DCL goes beyond what you would normally do in terms of receiving a product and shipping it out. We need to log the serial groups associated with the pallets or the boxes in order to customize the software so any thermometer that is associated with a serial group will have a particular flash page or a particular kind of in-app experience. That customization takes an extra step and when you’re scaling up these kinds of volumes we are grateful to DCL for rectifying the hiccups and helping us through that process.”
The most important step to get right for an account manager is integration with the client. Weekly meetings are often scheduled to run consistently for approximately six to eight weeks; these are to figure out all of the business requirements. The account manager is involved in every one of those meetings, because there is so much that needs to be put in place for an integration to be successful. Setting up the part numbers, setting up the rules, figuring out how the company will ship, what they are going to ship in, how their product needs to arrive, how it needs to be packaged, and setting up all the documentation that goes along with shipping customer products.
Solve Problems Quickly
Timing is one of the most critical aspects of logistics, and the ability to move quickly to address any issues that arise therefore of paramount importance. Your provider should be prepared to handle any unforeseen issues that arise. Trucks break down, inclement weather surprises everyone, and traffic is anything but predictable. Your 3PL rep should have experience dealing with these problems 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.
Be your Expert on Logistics
The transportation industry is constantly impacted by factors outside your control such as state and federal regulatory changes, weather disruptions, driver capacity issues, and even a pandemic. Your 3PL rep should have an extensive knowledge base in all areas of logistics that could potentially impact your business. They should have the expertise to be able to offer advice concerning any developments that might affect your business, and the ability to get any changes implemented to minimize the potential impacts on your bottom line.
Provide the Best Options for Your Unique Business Needs
There’s an ideal mode for every shipment, and it may not always be what your first instinct is. Your 3PL rep has access to a wide range of transportation resources. They 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, they should be able to provide a 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 account managers job, and should be included in the services from your 3PL provider.
“By moving our inventory to Louisville, we got a much higher proportion of our freight to a lower cost option. We were able to see significant cost savings because of Louisville’s excellent location.”
Working with a 3PL for your fulfillment needs should be more than just having a company that picks, packs, and ships your products. You should feel like you have a true partnership and they are always looking out for your best interests. Having an account manager who can act as your company’s advocate is a huge benefit to the success of your operations. This will be the most critical relationship you will have with your 3PL. They should be dedicated to your account and be able to address the unique needs and challenges that your situation presents.
DCL prides itself on providing exceptional client services, with a 4-1 client to account manager ratio. Send us a note to connect about how DCL Logistics can help your company. You can read DCL’s list of services to learn more, or check out the many companies we work with.