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West Coast and California Logistics Blog

Establishing a Relationship with Your 3PL Provider: 5 Points to Communicate

Fri, Mar 04, 2016 @ 09:02 AM / by Weber Logistics

With costs consistently rising, a 3PL partnership should be defined by more than just the cost of storing and shipping a pallet. For example, how much value does this 3PL bring? Do you even have a “relationship” or are they simply another vendor sending another invoice? Well, some of the best results are derived from companies who outsourced 3PL services and developed a relationship with them.

The key to this strong relationship is nothing other than COMMUNICATION. This partner will ultimately have a positive or negative effect to your P&L. Just ask Bryan McWilliams, Weber’s Distribution Center Manager in Stockton, California. Here’s what he says about communication. “It has become apparent that one of, if not the, most important factors to success in a field is communication. When involved in quoting a service or building a profile for a potential client, vital information may be lacking and asking additional questions is then required. Not asking those important questions may lead to mishaps. For example, extra billings, which may be perceived by the client as hidden costs and ultimately, strain the relationship. When handling accounts I have found that a call or email to the customer to ask a question, goes a long way in showing my client that I value our relationship as well as the product that they are allowing us to service. By taking the time to properly communicate the details of the job that needs to be completed, I can ensure that it is completed in a manner that allows us to properly allocate and control costs. Resulting in a win, win for all.”

Now you may be thinking… Okay, yes,Communication_Check_List2.png I know communication is the key, but what do I communicate? You are not alone here, many struggle to finding the right concerns to communicate.

Here is  a list of the top 5 points to communicate when beginning a 3PL relationship or trying to rejuvenate your current one.

  1. Set Expectations: Expectations must be clearly communicated. “I expect to receive good service from you” is not clear. You must define what you want so your 3PL will know your exact needs and can set up an attack plan to accomplish them. For example, I want my product to be inventoried twice a year and have at least 97% on time shipments. Having clear expectations will create accountability which is critical to any relationship.
  1. Define your Pain Points: Too often we do not like to share what hurts us most or makes us cringe deep down, but why? Just as two individuals in a committed relationship share what their fears, dislikes and problems are, the 3PL relationship should be no different. If a 3PL knows and understands your pain points, they can work with you to focus on the issues and takes steps to properly conquer them.
  1. Question the Contract: Companies repeatedly find themselves in a situation where they say, “I didn’t agree to that” however, if you signed the contract then yes, you did. When receiving a contract it is important to fully review the details and discuss it with the 3PL so there is no ambiguity. It is better to ask questions at this time if you are not 100% clear. The last thing either side wants is to initiate contractual disputes that take away from service down the road. Clearing the air through communication will set a great platform before service begins.
  1. Share Long Term Goals: Interviews never fail with the following question: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? This is a critical question for both the client and 3PL provider to address. Both parties must be aligned on goals in order to succeed. If you think you will outgrow the current warehouse and will need something bigger in the future, share this information so the 3PL can help you.
  1. Performance Evaluation: Were those clearly defined expectations met that were set in the early stages? Now it’s time to dig deep and review. Having an open conversation about the current situation and results will allow for a discussion to find room for improvement or discover what the problems are if you experience poor results.

The bottom line is communicate, communicate, communicate. When assumptions are made, directions are vague and data is lacking the road to success with be extremely difficult. When information is hidden, trust is diminished and the relationship suffers or even fails. Take it from us and be willing to open up, so your next provider can create a custom solution with accurate pricing to service your needs. Contact us to learn about our services and how we operate.


Contact  Weber Logistics


Topics: Third Party Logistics, 3PL Outsourcing, Logistics Customer Service

Written by Weber Logistics

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