5 Tips for Working With a Freight Forwarder

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Every freight forwarder has its own approach to business operations and varying levels of experience. You can begin by asking questions and learning more about their company policies over time. When you work with a freight forwarder for the first time, it can require a long interview process. This way, you figure out what shipping approach works best for your business and whether the company provides quality services. 


Estimate Costs

When you begin to work with a freight forwarder, consider how much they charge and try to negotiate some of the fees. Typically, they will require 15 to 25% of shipping costs after the goods have been delivered on time. Freight forwarders require a plethora of costs to help cover the costs of the services they provide.


You will want to develop a strong relationship with your freight forwarder and learn how to control the shipping costs by negotiating your fees and removing unnecessary ones. 

These are the most common fees you might expect when you work with a freight forwarder:


Freight Forwarder Handling Fee

When the freight forwarder processes documents, manages paperwork, makes copies, creates ocean and airway bills of lading, and other documentation, this requires a fee. These admin fees cover the processing and management of shipments in an organized way. 


Air or Ocean Freight Forwarding Price

This fee depends on the size or volume of your export, its origin, and the destination. Depending on the freight forwarder, there may be lump sum fees or flat fees. This can include a fuel surcharge, airline security charge, and x-ray screening fee. 


Pickup Charge

When the freight forwarder picks up your shipment from the warehouse, this delivery is also charged to your bill. 


Automated Export System Fee

This amount is required by law when you are exporting from the US to international locations. You have to file electronic export information (EEI) through the automated export system (AES). Freight forwarders will perform this for export shipments and will charge a fee for this service.


TSA Security Charge 

After the September 11 attacks, the freight forwarders now use a transportation security administration (TSA) system that incorporates additional regulations into air freight. The fee covers the additional maintenance, record keeping, and training required for this security system. 

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Non-Standard Charges

Your freight forwarder may include fees for hazardous materials, certificates of origin, export licenses, and legalization. 


You can try to structure the cost of your shipment with your freight forwarder in a fair way. 


Don’t Cram or Rush

You will want to stick to a timeline that is sensible for your shipments. While time is important, you should adhere to feasible deadlines. Avoid making rushed or stressful decisions when you are trying to organize shipments. Create deadlines that can be met so that you avoid delays. Try to get your freight forwarder on the same page with your timeline so they understand what your expectations are. Make sure your shipments aren’t crammed or booked last minute. You will want to try to stay ahead of schedule by planning your deadlines further out so that you exceed customer expectations. If you rush and try to get shipments on a vessel last minute, this can result in unexpected delays if there is not enough space or some shipments are left behind. Delayed containers are unprofessional and can disappoint customers. 


Document Everything

It is extremely important to document everything concerning your shipment. The documentation helps to prevent items from being lost or forgotten. Information can be easily misinterpreted and shipped to the wrong location. You can discuss the documentation procedures you want to be implemented with your freight forwarder, how the documentation will be managed, who it is sent to, and who is designated with these tasks. Try to ensure that the documentation you set aside for your shipments is very detailed, clear, and easy to understand. This way, it will be difficult to lose or make mistakes on shipment orders and make shipments easier to track. 


Keep Shipments Organized and Safe

Make sure that your goods are capable of being shipped internationally. You don’t want to leave it up to chance or hope the freight forwarder gets it right for you. Your goods should be stackable and compact enough that they can be moved around by machinery. According to Dedola Global Logistics, the shipment should be able to tilt during takeoff and landing on a plane and when being transported on choppy waters. They should also be protected to prevent damage during transport. You should recommend safe shipment practices and any extra strapping for items that need extra care. 

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If freight forwarders perform inspections, they can check to make sure that the shipments are properly packaged before shipment. Get familiar with export and import regulations so that you understand what to expect when shipping across borders. They have to fulfill regulations and international trade standards, and when you are knowledgeable about regulations, you can help them uphold these requirements. The freight forwarder owes you a fiduciary responsibility. This means that they must put your interests ahead of their own. 


Create a Strategy

Because logistics can often be complicated, you should consider your strategy for organizing your shipments. Start by being completely transparent and communicative with the freight forwarding company. You will want them to be more of a logistics partner that is on the same page every step of the way. In addition to sharing documentation, you should fully disclose information about your shipments. You should be able to coordinate your shipments where it is easy for you to track your goods throughout the process. If there are any potential issues, bring them up to your freight forwarder so they can be prepared and create remedies for worst-case scenarios. 


Additional Information on Freight Forwarding and How the Process Works

Importing and exporting goods can be costly when your shipments are not prepared for transportation. It can also be a difficult process when trying to track shipments to different warehouses across different countries. However, with proper preparation and planning, you can overcome the shortcomings and mistakes that happen when shipments aren’t properly documented. You can work with a freight forwarder to define your shipping terms and create a strong working relationship. To learn more, speak with a freight forwarder that can walk you through the process.