Asking the right questions while you’re hunting down the right forwarding company for your logistics needs is incredibly important.

Finding the right partner to work with can be a daunting task to tackle, and that is especially true in the freight forwarding industry. With a process that involves multiple parties across different countries, global cargo forwarders specialize in connecting logistics services to streamline freight transportation across the globe.

As there is certainly no shortage of global forwarders to choose from, the question is not how to find a forwarding company, but rather, how to find the right forwarding company. The search will be a tedious and time consuming project, but the following five questions can act as a guide.

1. Internal reflection: What services do you and your business need?

The first step to take to find the best freight forwarding service for your company is to figure out your needs. Analyze what your company’s transportation needs are, find out what services you would like to have, the modes of transportation you prefer, and the volume of shipments that you plan to ship. This basic information will help your global forwarder in determining whether or not they can provide you with service, as the right forwarder will be able to help you expand your business the more you work with them.

Your location is also a deciding factor. Does it geographically make sense to work with the forwarding company? Are they close to either your customers or suppliers? Do they have the global reach you need?

2. Company research: Does the company have relevant experience?

The next step is to do extensive research on the forwarding companies you are looking to work with. There are many things you should take into consideration, but the first question should be: Do they have experience in your industry? Although all freight companies are capable of transporting cargo, they may not have the expertise to work well in your market. It is important to choose a company that has worked with your type of cargo.

Import and export customs vary largely between countries, so you need to know if your freight forwarder has industry knowledge and relevant experience to work with the laws and regulations in the points of origin and destination. If your cargo is perishable or fragile, having a global forwarder who can navigate the journey properly is paramount.

3. Do they provide good customer service and easy communication?

Communication is key! Look for a partner that comes with transparent and timely communication. Freight forwarding is a tricky and unpredictable industry, and in order to stay updated on your cargo, your forwarder ought to provide you with all the details of your freight’s journey. These include: online/real-time tracking, alert notifications, fast response rate to questions or concerns, and more.

A freight forwarding company also needs to know how to effectively communicate with their customers to provide the best service possible. If you have to jump through hoops for one question to be handled, or wait for days for a response, it is a sign of poor communication and signals low levels of customer service.

Having a transparent pricing structure is also crucial to avoid miscommunication. There may be extra charges, such as fuel surcharges, brokerage fees, security charges, etc., that are hidden in the original freight quote. Avoid the situation of being charged with unknown surprise fees on your invoice by finding a freight forwarder who explains what gets charged.

4. Do they have risk mitigation strategies?

Worldwide transportation occurs in unstable conditions, and no matter how much a forwarding company prepares, there will always be risks. Work with a global forwarder who can reduce risks and have the ability to navigate through issues. Cargo insurance is one risk mitigation strategy, and is important to have, as it safeguards your cargo against the possibility of loss or damage. The specific cargo insurance depends on your shipping needs, but it should always cover the whole freight forwarding process of air, ocean, and land freight. Working with a forwarding company without the right insurance has the potential to be a costly mistake.

5. Are they properly established and have the right qualifications?

In order for forwarders to receive operating authority, they need a freight broker bond, which is only issued after an assessment of a company’s financial status. Working with a bonded cargo forwarder ensures that they are financially stable, and guarantees compensation in case they run into issues.

Having an established network and stable connections within the industry allows forwarding companies to provide better rates, and eases the navigation of paperwork. You can easily learn about your global forwarder’s network by asking for references; the more diverse and wide their network is, the safer it is to choose them as your operating partner. It is also incredibly important for global cargo forwarders to have the required permits, documentation, and licenses for more dangerous or fragile cargo.

The answer to how to find the right forwarding company with trustworthy services all comes down to one thing: research.

Any problem can be solved with thorough research, and your search for the right forwarding company can be done smoothly with the five guiding questions we’ve provided above. You can also contact SFI if you are looking for a freight forwarding company specializing in commercial shipping. We provide tracking and courier services, along with other transportation solutions for companies throughout the world with our dedicated network and logistical systems.