Top 5 Questions for Your Third-Party Logistics Provider

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If you’re overwhelmed handling your logistics on your own, it may be time to partner with a third-party logistics provider (3PL provider) that offers services and solutions to meet your needs. Some logistics providers are a one-stop-shop with services that are flexible and scalable to adapt to your business. But not all supply chain solutions are created equal. Many providers do not have the experience or manpower to handle the ebb and flow of your company and support your growth and development, allowing you to focus on business strategy. In this three-part blog series, Suddath® gives you a road map to the questions to ask to find a provider that’s the right fit, aligned with your team and offers proper care from start to finish, including post-delivery.

1. Can I visit your facility?

A reputable third-party logistics company will welcome you to an on-site visit of their facility and meet in person. This meeting is critical to build relationships beyond sales engagement on the onset of a partnership. You should be able to meet key team members that will help with your account and get an overall sense of the business. Although video conferencing is a great tool for follow-up meetings, we recommend at least one in-person visit before making a decision on a logistics company.

2. What is your customer service policy?

While policies vary, you want to make sure customer service is important to your supply chain logistics company. You will be relying on their team to execute important projects, control inventory and provide timely updates. This is the optimal time to outline what is acceptable—do they return calls within 24 hours, will you be partnered with a single point of contact, what is the process if your typical contact cannot be reached? These questions are crucial to understanding how your business will be treated once you’ve partnered together.

3. How much experience do you have?

Inexperienced providers may not have the reliability or financial stability to sustain your supply chain, leading to issues down the road. Look for a supplier with industry experience and the resources to help your company grow. Even if you’re only looking to for domestic capabilities at the moment, it may be important to know if your logistics partner has the resources to handle overseas needs as your company continues to evolve.

4. What size is your typical client (small-cap, medium-cap, large-cap business)?

Finding the right company to serve you can make you feel a bit like Goldilocks. You want a 3PL provider large enough to handle your growing needs, but not too big you are lost in a sea of customers. Look for a supply chain management company that is transparent about how they work with customers and views you as an important client, not just a number.

5. Why should you have an MSA?

A master service agreement, or MSA, is important to reducing your risk and protecting your business. You should have the opportunity to outline up front the expectations from both you and your provider and agree on those prior to partnering on a project. A reputable logistics company will require an MSA remain on file and update it regularly to keep your business protected.

At Suddath, we want to empower you with the knowledge and expertise to make the right decision with it comes to choosing a third-party logistics provider. We pride ourselves on being a one-stop-shop for services and solutions customized to our clients’ needs. As a 100-year-old company, we have the expertise and financial stability to support businesses of all sizes, as well as vetted partnerships around the globe helping us serve over 150 countries. If you have any questions about how to pick the right logistics company or if you would like to talk to our dedicated global logistics team about your upcoming projects, contact our team today.

Read the next in our blog series: Is your third-party logistics provider aligned with your team? 4 questions to find out.


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