Top Tips for Getting the Most out of Your 3PL

Third Party Logistics Lorry Loading Bay

Your business’ logistics performance can play as important a role in your success as your products or services do. For companies that employ the services of a third-party logistics provider (3PL), there are ways to get the best out of this professional relationship in a way that can boost your business’ success and performance.

The relationship you build with your 3PL can serve you for years to come, so whether you’re starting out anew, or you already have a long-established contract with an existing provider, the following tips will help you to get the most out of working together, for you and your customers.

Building a great relationship

The stronger your relationship with your 3PL, the better your work together will be — simple as that. When you fully understand what your provider does best, and they have a clear grasp of what you offer your customers, as well as the role they have to play, you will find yourselves in sync. It will allow your contacts at your 3PL to become incredibly knowledgeable about your products, services, and ethos. In turn, you can start to understand how they work and what they do best.

Does your 3PL work effectively with perishable goods? Do they have a good working knowledge of shipping bulky items or sending products abroad? When you understand the provider’s strengths, you can pair them with your own so that you can provide your customers with the most effective service possible.

Use technology

Through integrated IT systems, you will be able to communicate with your 3PL to keep an eye on inventory, to understand where your products are, and when they will arrive with your customers. You can also use technology to communicate with customers, who increasingly expect to be kept informed of the progress of their order. Supply chains can be more efficient, and nobody is left in the dark. Risk can be reduced in a number of areas through a unified IT system that can be accessed and utilised by both parties.

Communication plays an important role

Keeping open lines of communication with your contact, or contacts, at your 3PL should help to prevent any problems before they arise. If you are planning changes in your product line or delivery options, or the provider wants to change the way they work, clear communication is essential to keep production running effectively.

It is important to ask questions of your 3PL so that you have a thorough understanding of the way they work. Do you know how they track shipments, or whether they use 100% recycled packaging?

Does your 3PL understand exactly what you expect of them? Communicating what you want puts them in a stronger position to meet your needs, which helps to guarantee a more successful relationship over time.

Bear in mind that different companies have different cultures, so the way communication takes place may need to be negotiated to be truly effective. Look for shared values within your companies for instance and combine strategies to build bonds and improve your relationship.

Let them lead when they specialise

3PL providers are experts in what they do. You outsourced your logistics to them because they have the knowledge and infrastructure you need, so don’t overlook their expertise and do take on board advice that fits your company.

Don’t just work with one person at the 3PL

While dealing with one individual all the time provides consistency, there are definite benefits to working with multiple people at your 3PL provider.

When you work with more than one contact, you will start to understand the provider better, improving transparency and increasing your knowledge of their company — which can in turn benefit your own.

Share your goals and priorities

Think beyond your 3PL as a company that offers you a service and instead think of how you can collaborate through clear communication and discussing your organisation’s long-term goals and priorities. Share your company’s vision and KPIs with your 3PL, and make sure they are on board with helping you to achieve them — think of them as partners in making your customers happy.

Hold regular evaluations

Evaluate the performance of your 3PL on a regular basis, and ensure that KPIs are communicated to your contacts at the company. Also make sure that reviews take place and offer open and honest feedback about how your professional relationship is working. This helps to avoid small problems becoming big issues and will assist in encouraging a long-term working partnership.

Check out our other blog post to find out how third party logistics can be beneficial to you.

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Rick Stanford

Rick has been a salesman in the packaging supplies business for more than thirty years. Now semi-retired, he divides his time between tending his allotment in north Devon, getting depressed at the continuing travails of his home-town football club Macclesfield Town, and sharing his considerable experience and knowledge with the readers of the Davpack blog. Davpack

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