Maintaining a small forwarding business sounds simple, but it is far from a small task. Freight forwarding can entail any mode and require extensive networking capabilities in order to source the best carriers in all of those modes.
Moreover, forwarding customers often rely on one of two value propositions when choosing one forwarder over another, says Brandon Gaille. He further explained, “44% of customers who use freight forwarding services say that they value the trade expertise of the provider or the low rates they are given. Another 18% prefer the ease and time-savings that exist when booking freight within the industry.”
With that in mind, forwarding business owners should keep this in mind, and follow these steps and leverage the latest freight management tools. It will help jumpstart operations and attain rapid, successful scalability – especially if you’re starting with a clean slate to differentiate your business using such systems.
Recognize That Manual Work Is Never Going to Cut It
Providing a jolt to your small forwarding business means recognizing that manual processes are inefficient and costly. That too much time is waste in pen, paper, and excel when in reality, they should be spent on improving customer loyalty and retaining new customers. Manual work, including manual quoting processes, will inevitably lead to fewer bookings and diminished profitability.
Take Advantage of New Networking Opportunities Through Your Carriers, LSPs, and Clients
Small forwarding business can be dramatically improved with networking opportunities with carriers, logistics service providers (LSPs), and existing clients.
It is the adage of word-of-mouth marketing within the freight forwarding industry.
As explained by Entrepreneur.com, “although marketing is a necessary component of being a successful business owner, networking can make all the difference in making the right industry connections. For freight brokers new and old, having the ability to meet and build relationships with other industry professionals, including other brokers, is a helpful aspect of business growth. Seek out opportunities to network, whether in person or through online forums and commit to following up with contacts you gather in a timely fashion.”
Tap into old clients if you’re able, offer something different to new ones (such as a modern collaboration platform!), and join the associations where your clients and peers are. Freight forwarding and customs brokerage associations like the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) and your local chapters can also help.
Use APIs to Get Instant Quotes Across All Carriers
A small freight forwarding business should also take advantage of APIs to generate and provide instant quotes to all carriers. While an API might not seem like the easiest option, think about the true volume of carriers and shipments that your organization may overlook otherwise.
Instant quoting for all carriers ensures the lowest possible rate for your clients, which will increase bookings and build your reputation.
Furthermore, rating all shipments for all carriers goes a long way in reducing total landed cost for your clients and helping carriers stay in communication. After all, carrier communications that are clear and concise are easier for individual shippers and third-party supply chain partners to understand.
Integrate Your Quoting and Booking Systems With Those of Your Customers
Another vital step in jumpstarting a small forwarding business includes integration of the quoting and booking systems with customers’ systems when possible. This could be tough as a younger team with a tighter budget, but something that in-time should become a standard part of optimized workflows and operations.
In the modern age, the use of a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based, cloud freight forwarding platform to collaborate, stay proactive and work on your shipper customers’ behalf, continues to permeate the shipping industry. It’s still early, and for the companies that realize this, an opportunity to capitalize and differentiate in a highly competitive field.
Through the power of SaaS platforms, smaller shippers and LSPs can compete for a forwarder’s freight under management and move a significant volume of freight. As a result, the small forwarding business needs to maintain a level of technology comparable to SaaS platforms. Integrating your small forwarding quoting platform with the existing systems in use among your customers will increase efficiencies and secure your future as a freight forwarder.
And if you dont have the tech team, budget, or expertise to build out these integrations, instead seek out younger SaaS companies who intend on or already have this functionality. Often, a small bet can pay large dividends with the right SaaS vendors and tools selected.
Look Beyond the Vertical Opportunities for Collaboration
Vertical opportunities for collaboration include working through the traditional supply chain from the manufacturer through the reseller.
However, in the freight collaboration age, horizontal opportunities for collaboration exist as well. Such opportunities include working with external freight forwarders to handle overflow, using advanced systems to connect with larger, more established freight forwarders, and much more.
Any interaction represents an opportunity to showcase off your people, advantages to keep the client happy, and ultimately to grow your small freight forwarding business along with your shippers.
Reduce the Congestion and Hassle of Emails With Centralized, Automated Systems
Automated quoting remains another opportunity for streamlining the small forwarding business processes. Think about it; less work in managing emails and responding to manual quotes freeze resources for other uses.
In other words, an organization may be able to reduce the number of back-office labor hours in the small forwarding business, and those individuals can better focus on handling customer service requests for managing exceptions. Even in that case, automation’s continuous growth and advancement will allow for further refinement of small forwarding business processes and reduce the total amount of work needed to grow the business.
Choose Cargologik to Jumpstart Your Business Now
Today’s competitive landscape makes it difficult for any logistics service provider to stand out from the crowd. And, the state of the global economy is more uncertain than ever. Fortunately, small forwarding business success is around the corner and realistic when companies choose to fully embrace digital transformation and jumpstart their businesses with the aforementioned steps.
Put your forwarding business on the path to success with a free trial of the Cargologik platform private beta today.