Seeing is believing, as the old saying goes. Today, we are going to look at few reasons why touring your potential 3PL company is a good idea. Chances are, you regularly monitor manufacturing sites and branches which are part of your business, but you might not think to visit 3PL sites. After all, as long as your shipments arrive on time, what difference does it make? Here are a few reasons you should consider visiting potential 3PL companies.
1. Get a Feel for the Place.
There is only so much you can learn from a verbal description. Pictures may help, or the occasional Skype conversation, but only by being there can you get a real feel for how the business runs. Is it clean? Do people seem satisfied at work? What kind of atmosphere do they have – laid back yet efficient, high-stress but they love it that way? Knowing how the dynamic works can help you decide if this is the place for you and will help your business relationship going forward.
2. Meet Your Potential Business Partners.
Especially when you live and work at a distance, it helps to meet at least once. Shake hands. Spend a little time in casual conversation and get to know them as people. Good relationships and solid communication are key to any business partnership. Work can get hectic at times and having those key interpersonal relationships running smoothly can make the difference between a serious problem and no problem whatsoever. In addition, you may find that you simply do not “click” with your new partners for whatever reason, due to some personal conflict, and maybe it is best to look elsewhere.
3. Familiarize Yourself With Their Processes and Procedures.
Especially if you are shipping goods which require special handling, such as food, medical supplies, or sensitive technology, you need a 3PL Company that will do their job well and within mandatory guidelines. Procedures are key. Regardless, you have your own corporate mindset and way of doing things, and you want a 3PL provider who will work with you. A company which appears to work well from afar may not match up to your expectations in person.
Then again, maybe you will find your potential 3PL partner does things in ways which you have never thought of and which could improve your own processes. After all, these facilities specialize in one aspect of the business, storage and shipping, and they work with that aspect day after day. You will never know until you see for yourself.
4. Play Through Some Scenarios.
On your way to and through the facility, you will have a chance to ask yourself “what if.” What if you were to select this company? If you fly into the area, check out the airport. Take note of the physical route you take from the airport to the facility. Once in the facility, observe how packages arrive, how they are handled, and how they leave. Make sure to explore the surrounding area, especially if this a city – or a country – where you have never been before. Imagine that you are a carrier here, in this place. Visiting a facility and playing through a few scenarios can give you an appreciation for how the logistics will work and can help you decide if you are comfortable choosing this facility.
5. The Comfort of Knowing.
Whatever the size of your business, whether you have shareholders or the simple desire to make a profit each year, it helps to know who you are in business with. If you are government-regulated, and anyone ever asks, you can confidently say that you were there. No one can say for sure what the future holds, for good or ill. If all turns out well, as it will, you can be comfortable knowing you visited and picked up a few tricks while you were there. If something goes wrong, you can know you visited and did all you could to vet the place first; and, you will have those face-to-face relationships in place to weather the storm.
One last point of note – if you can’t walk through the facility, at least see if you can get video footage of the facility. This is more common, and serves as a good way to virtually “walk through” a facility across the country or world.
Regardless, touring your potential 3PL company is a good idea and definitely something to consider. For more questions on selecting the right 3PL provider for your business, from someone with an inside view of the 3PL industry, contact us today.