When choosing a freight forwarder, global companies are encouraged to look deeper into which intermediary will best suit their needs. One of the most crucial factors, though often overlooked, is the corporate culture and tenure of employees. Freight forwarders need experience and understanding above all to appropriately handle long term clients. A.T. Kearney noted in a recent study that there are myriad lessons from studying the six industry leaders, Kuehne & Nagel, Expeditors International, DSV, Panalpina, UTi, and CEVA, but all share the foundation of experience and systems capability to provide consistently profitable service.
Those six industry leaders show a long-term relationship with customers, gaining a level of understanding and accessibility that’s not always the industry standard. Competitive forwarders know which employees fit client needs, which solutions are practical to apply to which scenarios, and can advise and interpret on the fly as they draw from their well of knowledge built over years of communication. That level of understand also translates to the IT solutions offered. Profitable companies don’t need to be the most technologically cutting-edge, though. What’s necessary is that they grow and respond to real world issues and build solutions into their platforms with constant upgrades and transparent ease of use. “The best firms are able to match shippers’ needs with their own organizational abilities,” says industry expert, Oliver Gritz. “They know exactly which lever to pull, who to engage, and how to execute in order to convert business into profits. Such skills require experience in the industry and company.”
Mastery of client knowledge and internal data, knowing what information the client needs, and how to quickly find and accurately report back is of the utmost importance to clients. How well the employees are trained both in their jobs and their systems is a key metric in evaluating a companies success, ergo, companies that show long term employees on staff turn out more profitable, as they forgo short term balance sheet approval for long term knowledge and instinct, specifically in the case of Expeditors, Intl., who made no layoffs in the 2008 post recession market, according to this study. “Complex demands arise because customers, seeking to improve their supply chains, present freight forwarders with a huge universe of opportunities to design customized services,” says Jeff Ward, a partner with A.T. Kearney. “Customized value-added services can allow freight forwarders to keep high margins.”