Cutting Through the Noise: Managed Freight Services
Managed freight is a service in which a manufacturer or distributor works with a logistics team that manages the full spectrum of a company’s day-to-day shipping needs in order to streamline the supply chain.
Do you pay attention to politics? The 24-hour news machine makes it difficult to ignore, doesn’t it. There’s so much noise. Especially during an election year when everyone and their dog is vying for your vote.
It’s not just politics, though, is it. If people aren’t vying for your vote, they’re clamoring after your logistics business. Ads on Facebook, contact requests on LinkedIn, tweets on Twitter, and a constant barrage of emails from folks competing for your freight take up space in your inbox.
The advent of advanced technology coupled with the rise of social media, means there are hundreds of 3PLs looking to capitalize in a market constantly thrown into disruption by regulations, weather events, and political upheaval. There are probably some big name brands after your business. Large companies with vast resources and seemingly endless marketing budgets want to sell you on their managed freight offering.
Managed freight is a great idea in the changing logistics landscape. But how does the small-to-midsize manufacturer who has made the decision to go the managed freight route choose the right 3PL? They need the logistics partner most aligned with their business and uniquely equipped to save them money while boosting their profits!
Most small to midsize manufacturers who are looking for managed freight services are:
- Overwhelmed by an out-of-control freight budget, but have no idea how to fix it.
- Losing customer respect due to service failures.
- Tired of reacting to transportation issues instead of engaging in meaningful work.
- Worried that sourcing carriers themselves is exposing them to excessive liabilities that could shut them down.
- Frustrated by a lack of visibility in their supply chain.
- Seeking a provider who can help them predict future rates.
- Confused by supply chain technology and need the flexibility and agility of a Transportation Management System (TMS).
But here’s where it gets tricky. The big names can blind a small-to-midsize manufacturer with outsized promises. That’s why it’s important to know exactly what you need. To choose the right 3PL, you must find a partner both culturally and strategically aligned with your business. A 3PL with experience, advanced investment in technology, and long-term infrastructure with a strong commitment to relationships, accountability, and education.
Are Brand Name 3PLs Better?
The short answer is NO. (For a more in-depth discussion of the dangers of working with a brand name 3PL, click here.)
A big company may promise vast financial and technological resources, but the truth is you receive only the resources of the team assigned to your company. And too often, this team is not comprised of the experts who sold you on managed freight service, but instead recent college graduates following a decision tree. They don’t have the autonomy or experience to make quick and proactive decisions.
In contrast, the teams who work in smaller 3PLs like AM Transport Services, are made up of cross-trained logistics professionals who know all aspects of the transportation business. They don’t follow a hierarchy, and their tech departments are in-house (this means trouble tickets aren’t sent across a huge campus, but handed across desks).
So if Brand Name Isn’t Better, How DO You Pick the Best Logistics Partner?
We took on this topic in a longer blog post, so if you’re interested in a more in-depth discussion, check it out here. For a recap, read on.
To make it easier, we’ve come up with four questions you can ask yourself and potential partners that should help you make a more informed decision when choosing a 3PL for managed freight services.
First you’ll want to know what kind of Transportation Management System (TMS) any potential 3PL partner recommends and whether or not they use it in their own operations. Here at AM Transport Services, we “eat our own dog food.” This means we use the very same technology we recommend you use. This gives you the added security of having a provider who understands the capabilities of the TMS and how to harness its power to your benefit.
Secondly, you’ll want to know if the TMS is cloud-based. Here at AMT, our TMS is cloud-based which offers flexibility (easy to scale according to your needs), accessibility (works on a PC, mobile device, home-based device), and security (sensitive information is stored in remote cloud-based networks).
Thirdly, make sure you ask what the potential partner means by visibility. Here at AM Transport, we operate under the belief that visibility isn’t just tracking loads, although that is certainly nice. It also means you can improve processes because you’ll have the ability to dive deeper into each load. You’ll have greater insight into each shipment which will enable you to evaluate and reconfigure for greater efficiency.
Finally, for true alignment, you should ask 3PLs about their core values. Do those values align with your own? If you want to grow your business, you want a logistics partner committed to your vision for the future.
Yes, there is a lot of noise out there, but don’t let that keep you from discovering the benefits of managed freight services. You deserve the peace of mind that comes from working with a 3PL whose knowledge of the industry and advanced supply chain technology can help you take your business to the next level.
For more information on managed freight services, please schedule a call with the experts at AMT today. And while you’re waiting, take our free assessment to find out how much money you can save with managed freight services at AM Transport Services.