How do you choose the right fourth party logistics provider for your company? With so many options available, this task can seem overwhelming! To help with this process, Millennium Logistics Management has put together the following questions you should consider when talking to potential 4PL providers:
You should get a feel for who you are going to be working with when considering a 4PL (fourth-party logistics) because finding a fit that works to everyone’s benefit is what will guarantee the most effective use of any 4PL service. Taking the time to get to know the culture of the company will allow you to determine if the company shares the same vision as you before making the commitment to partner with them in the first place, even if they are good at what they do.
Whenever possible, visit the operations run by the 4PL so you can see for yourself that the culture matches the claims. During your search process, make sure to request a face to face meeting. If they don’t want to meet, that is a huge red flag that basically tells you they value signing a contract with you more than creating a strong long-term relationship. It is important to shake hands with the people you are going to be working with.
Although this questions may seen obvious, it is still important. Most likely if you are considering a company, you probably already know if their financials are in check, but what about their funding?
How are they funded? Are they funded by venture capital funds? Are they privately owned? Are they looking to be acquired in the future? Could that mean trouble? Make sure to investigate these questions in depth so you don’t unexpectedly get hug out to dry by a company who’s end goal is to sell or be acquired.
A good place to start is to ask about the typical shipping accuracy metrics and financial improvements. Although most 4PLs will deliver on those numbers, metrics are only part of the big picture.
For this reason, make sure to check customer references because some of the most valuable information will come from them. This is such a great resource because both current customers and past customers will provide facts that will really paint a picture of how the 4PL works with their clients. When asking for references, it is a good idea to ask specifically for references for which the 4PL has recently done an implementation (we recommend at least within the last six months). This will really give you an idea of what you are getting your company into.
Technology is part of our every day life and the logistics industry is no exception. Even though there are a lot of fancy and impressive things people use to draw you in, it doesn’t always mean that it will do anything for your business. Find a 4PL company that has invested time and resources into improving not only their own technologies but also the technology they offer their customers; it is important to give your customers real solutions.
Asking a 4PL company how they manage talent will tell you more than you think. Make sure to ask questions regarding employment development, recruiting practices and how they manage turnovers. How they manage their own employees will tell you how they will treat you.
Also, pay attention to what 4PLs are doing to keep and retain their top talents. Labor is very competitive in this industry therefore, you have to be the employer of choice or you are not going to be getting the top talent. A 4PL’s talent is especially relevant in your search if they are somehow going to be acting as an extension of your own customer service team. Remember, when hiring a 4PL, you are not just choosing a logistics provider, you may be very well be hiring your own customer service representatives to represent your own brand.
Finding the right 4PL provider for your company is a process but investing time to analyze your potential 4PLs is necessary if you are serious about finding a great partner to do business with. Besides providing you with these questions as a guide in your search, Millennium Logistics Management is always happy to be of assistance. Contact us today and schedule a consultation today!
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