5 Steps to Expanding Your Distribution in 2014

ArrowsA New Year is a great time to start the process of expanding your distribution network, and if your expansion plans reside beyond the scope of your current transportation providers, it’s time to look for another partner. But don’t worry, choosing a trusted carrier can be easier than you think. Use the following tips as a guide to choosing the right transportation provider to help you expand your business.

1. Conduct Interviews
You wouldn’t hire a new person to your team without putting them through interviews with insightful staff members, and the process of selecting a new transportation provider should be no different. Talk to the people who would actually be handling the transportation of your goods and find out if you can work well together. Ask if you will have a dedicated staff member assigned to your loads or if it will get handled by whoever is available at the time. Do they provide a direct number with which you can reach the person handling your load? Do they have experience moving your type of equipment? Make sure they understand the specifics of what you are moving.

2. Experience Matters
When choosing a new transportation provider, make sure they understand your business. During initial conversations, throw out some industry-specific jargon and ask how they would handle certain scenarios. Refer to actual situations that have gone well or poorly in the past and take careful note of their answers. Someone who understands your business will easily be able to provide detailed solutions that are in line with your business needs.

3. Less IS More
It may seem counter-intuitive but having fewer transportation providers will not only make managing your transportation less complex, it will also save you money. By carefully choosing one 3PL with a vast network of providers you can negotiate lower rates than if you only use a 3PL for ad hoc projects. Most 3PLs give deference to repeat customers and will be willing to accept a lower rate if they know more business will come. Take Wal-Mart for example, they can offer the lowest prices because of the volume they sell, the same is true for a good 3PL.

4. Choose Flexibility
When moving goods across international borders, finding a transportation provider with flexibility at the border is gold. Ideally, partner with a provider that has a yard and equipment at an international border crossing location. This allows for greater flexibility and control over your loads that can save you thousands of dollars and countless headaches. If your transportation provider has to trans-load at the border and doesn’t have a yard to do it in or the equipment necessary to move it, you could pay substantially more in inflated fees to rent the equipment you need. And then there is the added rise of having a random machinery operator move your load for you. You would be far better off to choose a transportation provider that can handle everything for you.

5. Maximize Your Network
In order to gain maximum effectiveness from your transportation provider be sure to choose a partner with a vast network of trucks and equipment. Typically, a 3PL has far greater flexibility than a standard carrier because they are not limited to a specific number of trucks or regions. However, not all 3PLs will have the experience or network to deliver in the area you need. When choosing a 3PL make sure to ask for a history of transporting loads within the necessary area.

Armed with the above tips you are well on your way to expanding your service area in 2014. Just remember, it’s easy to find a provider, but to achieve maximum success do your homework, and you can find a partner who can really help you expand your business into the New Year and beyond.

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