When every detail of your business is linked to keeping your customer satisfied, it can feel like you’re juggling a lot of balls at once. From staff that responds quickly and efficiently to your customer inquiries to an accounts team that keeps on top of your invoicing and has your staff paid on time, every month. Running a business is time-consuming.
If you’re sending goods out, particularly large goods, you’ll also need the services of a decent transport company to keep your customers happy and receiving their items on time, every time. You only need a few negative reviews and you’ll have to work very hard to undo the damage that they might do to your business.
That’s why you’re looking for a transport company that ticks all the right boxes and can help make at least one element of your business less stressful.
In this article we take a look at how to find a transporter that you can work with and how to avoid some of the pitfalls of hiring someone you can’t.
Set Out Your Reasons
What is it that you need a transport company to do that you can’t achieve through, say a courier or the postal system? If your items are large then that makes sense but even if they aren’t what might make using a transporter the right choice?
Think carefully about why you’ve chosen this method. Perhaps you’re looking for a reliable and consistent point of contact, someone you can build a relationship with and hopefully acquire some loyalty perks from being a valued and frequent customer.
Are you hoping to work with a company that operates a huge fleet of transport and is, therefore, more likely to have greater options for time and dates of delivery or do you prefer to work with a smaller company who will give your assignments the individual attention you deserve and know you, as a customer, all the more personally. Consider what you prefer as a starting point in your search.
Choosing The Right Transport Partner
As tempting as it is to go with the newest and the one that has spent the most money on advertising its services, what you are looking for is dependability and real value for money. Often the best places to find this are with the companies that have been quietly going about their business for many years and live off of their good reputation.
You’ll find these companies with a little research on the internet and by looking on the company’s website at some of the testimonials they have received.
Don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper with these testimonials and talk to firms of a similar size to yours about their experiences with the transport company you’re considering. Find out if they are still using them and if not, why not. Find out if they felt the cost was reasonable and how well they handled complaints or problems with deliveries.
Go through the company website with a fine tooth comb. What kind of guarantees do they offer in terms of getting your goods delivered on time and what would they do in case of an emergency or if a problem should occur?
It might make a difference to you knowing that the company is in your immediate area so start looking at options that are geographically close to you and spread your net wider as you continue your search. It makes sense to be physically close to a transport company, in order to save on time and costs.
One major factor in your choice of a company is going to be how much you’re prepared to spend on transport as part of your annual budget.
If you do send out for quotes and you find that they are coming back far too high or at least consistently higher than you expected, then the issue may be with you.
Before you make a decision on changing your budget though, just make sure that you are only being charged for the space that you are taking up in the load and not for the whole container, which might well be occupied by other goods for delivery.
But if all of that checks out and you believe you may have just underestimated the cost you will have to make a hard decision. You will either have the choice of revising your own expectations on the volume and frequency of your deliveries or you’ll have to revise the budget and swallow the extra cost. A hard decision to make and an even harder one to sell to the boss. Make sure you’re armed with all the facts and figures before you make your decision or present it upward to your senior management board.
On top of the budget consideration, you might also want to consider your licensing needs. What kind of goods are you transporting and what, if any, license do you think you might need. Certainly, you might need a dangerous goods license for chemicals and so on. You’ll also need to factor in if the company has the provision to handle these types of goods.
Once you’ve received your quotes from the various companies you’ve asked, you’ll want to review them and narrow down your shortlist. Give yourself some variety in terms of options and keep an open mind. You might be surprised when what looks good on paper doesn’t quite pan out the way you were expecting in real life.
Not everyone finds it easy to carry out interviews but it’s well worth inviting company representatives into your business in order for them to make a pitch to you. This interview will form just some of the reasons why you ultimately choose them and will give you the chance to see first hand how good the company is at communicating with its customers.
You’ll want to have a set of questions that leaves you with no grey areas or room for doubt. Give your interviewee the opportunity to explain how the company works and then lead them through each aspect of your business that requires their services. Find out what they believe sets them apart from others in their industry and what unique service they can offer you.
Have someone with you who can take notes and whose opinion you trust to help you talk through your decision and make that final choice.
When you’ve made the choice and decided on who to appoint you’ll be able to start talking terms. With every quote, there is often some wriggle room and no harm in trying to obtain a little bit more for your money.
Have your legal team draw up the contract and include a clause that allows you to review the arrangement in six months. This clause should allow you time to iron out any teething problems. If there are any ongoing issues that don’t look set to be resolved, you should have the option of being able to pull out and the same from the side of your transport company.
Taking on a working partnership of this magnitude is never an easy decision to make and certainly isn’t something you’re going to want to find yourself rushing through. Instead, you will need to give yourself plenty of time to gather all the relevant information you need before you even start approaching companies for a quote.
With so much information just sitting online waiting to be discovered, you should have no trouble in digging into the professional reputation and working practices of transport companies near you.
Ask around colleagues or non-rival firms, also shipping large goods and find out who they would recommend. A personal recommendation is often worth its weight in gold and usually a good place to start so make this your first port of call. Don’t be afraid to ask for references from long-standing customers and those mentioned on their website.
Look for companies that go the extra mile to communicate quickly and efficiently with their customers. Find out if they always pick up their phone after a few rings, how quickly they respond to emails or left voice messages and if you’ll have direct communication with the driver transporting your goods.
Find a company that has clear guidelines on what to do in case of a problem and has a track record of responding quickly and resolving the issue with little fuss and drama, getting your delivery back on track in the event of a breakdown or accident.
You might not be an expert in transport but you know what your customers need to keep your business running smoothly and everyone happy. Take your time, do your research and shop around. You want a partnership that works right from the start, that meets all your strategic objectives and aims. You’re looking for a partnership that will last long into the future and be there for all your transport needs, all the time you have goods to deliver and deadlines to be met.