Have you been asking yourself if using a freight forwarder would streamline your companies’ operations? You’re not alone! In fact, many of our customers asked themselves the same question before they decided to work with us.
Imagine planning a business trip somewhere you have never been before, Montevideo, Uruguay, for example. You have to meet at least a dozen potential new suppliers, all of whom have hectic schedules, and none of them speak your language. Scheduling these meetings won’t be easy, and with a to-do list that stretches around the block, there’s just no way you’re going to arrange it all in time. Facing potential disaster, you decide to call in an executive assistant and problem solved! Now, you will be able to invest your time only in those activities that offer you the highest returns. Hiring a freight forwarder to take care of your shipping needs works exactly the same way.
The reality is that very few companies have what it takes to manage the shipping of their goods overseas. Unless you are a corporation, moving hundreds of containers per year, and can afford a freight forwarding department of your own, you will need to work with one.
Freight forwarding dates back to eighteenth-century England. Imagine, if you will, travelers with top hats looking for someone to take care of their belongings before they jumped on board the next ship to Antwerp. Along comes a friendly innkeeper who agrees to take care of any luggage that needs to go elsewhere, and just like that, a whole new profession was born: Freight Forwarders!
With the industrial revolution, more trains and more ships meant more complicated itineraries, and more and more ‘freight forwarders’ were needed. It wasn’t just travelers who needed help; merchants and manufacturers needed help understanding customs regulations and shipping their produce to the widening network of international shipping destinations.
A freight forwarder is a link between the owner of the cargo and the international carrier (airline, steamship line, trucking company). Their primary responsibility is to ensure that the goods are transported swiftly and safely, with all the proper documentation in place.
Here’s why you should use a freight forwarder:
Unless you are an expert in logistics, obtaining the shortest transit times available is going to be very difficult. You’ll also have to negotiate the best rates in the market and coordinate shipments with international carriers, which can become incredibly time-consuming. Especially nowadays that trying to get a hold of someone is like winning the lottery. Plus, it is not fun to listen to a voicemail asking you to leave a message that nobody ever returns. Soon enough, you will be running out of patience and be very stressed.
Why not dedicate yourself to growing your business while your freight forwarder looks after all your shipping needs? Imagine how much more time you would have to do this.
Lastly, freight forwarders will handle all the tedious tasks for you, such as filling out forms, applying for permits when required, and dealing with government agencies.
Dealing with all the logistics involved in shipping merchandise overseas requires strategic planning, specialized knowledge, and lots of experience handling all kinds of problems that sometimes may arise during the shipping journey. What takes an expert freight forwarder a quick phone call to resolve would take most people a significant amount of time.
Every time your cargo gets stuck somewhere because someone does not know what to do, you can incur additional charges such as storage or equipment detention. If this happens, you will have to pay thousands of dollars simply because you chose not to use a freight forwarder. Ouch!
Furthermore, a good freight forwarder knows the regulations and the requirements, at origin and destination avoiding any possible fine or cargo seizure.
A good freight forwarder goes through a selection process before adding a new company to its transportation suppliers’ list. The criteria used to evaluate suitable carriers rely on how long the company has existed; their reputation in the marketplace; and their cargo liability insurance. This process guarantees that your valuable merchandise will be in good hands at all times and therefore arrive safely to your customers.
In addition, a freight forwarder offers additional cargo insurance. The carrier’s cargo liability is often not enough to cover the value of your precious merchandise; if loss or damage occurs, you’d better have additional cargo insurance.
There are all kinds of freight forwarders in the market and some of these are specialized. Depending on the type of cargo you need to transport, or the region you are shipping to or from, sometimes using a specialized freight forwarder is necessary.
Imagine you need to ship an oversize cargo to Mexico by ground and that your current freight forwarder handles mainly air and ocean freight from the Middle East. Would you rather entrust your project to them or a freight forwarder specializing in ground transportation of oversize shipments to and from Mexico? An easy question!
If you agree that using a freight forwarder would save time, money and avoid potential problems, there are different options for finding the right provider. A good idea is to obtain references from other companies similar to yours. Sometimes looking at reviews in Google can also help, or like in our case, some freight forwarders show reviews from their customers on their websites. Just make sure that the reviews are authentic and that they come from a reliable source.
If you do not know anyone to refer you to a good freight forwarding company, you can always find freight forwarders’ associations in your area. For example, if you are reading this in Canada, you can rely on freight forwarders members of the CIFFA (Canadian International Freight Forwarder Association).
If expertise, good knowledge, and due diligence are what you are looking for, Latin American Cargo will not let you down. We have been helping companies grow their business for almost three decades, and we would be delighted to help you as well!
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