Over-the-road (OTR) shipping is a popular method of transporting freight cross-border from the United States into neighboring Canada and Mexico.
If you’re importing or exporting goods or materials from either region, you might be looking to partner with a logistics company to streamline the process for you.
A professional cross-border logistics company can offer expediency, but how do you know if the company you’re considering is the real deal?
This article will explore four key qualities to consider as you review and choose the best cross-border logistics company for your business.
Let’s get right into it!
Things to look for in the best cross border logistics companies
As you search for a cross-border logistics company, you may end up with a list of several companies that look like they might be able to cater to your shipping needs.
Once you’re at this stage, and you’ve established that your shortlisted companies can cater to the basic elements you need – that is, they operate in your location, provide cross-border shipping, and can ship at the volume you require – it’s time to separate the good from the great.
But with so many factors to consider, where should you start? The following four qualities can give you a thorough overview of the quality of the logistics companies you’re considering.
Experience and expertise
When choosing a cross-border logistics company, the first factor you’ll want to consider is the company’s experience and expertise.
For example, you might want to ask your point of contact at the company questions such as:
- How long has your company been operating? How long have you been facilitating cross-border shipping specifically?
- Which shipping lanes do you operate in? Which ports or terminals do you have experience shipping through?
- What do you consider the foremost factors to consider when shipping cross-border?
These questions can help you begin to gauge the level of experience and expertise the company has in cross-border shipping specifically – not just general freight shipping!
Shipping cross-border comes with numerous additional steps, fees, and legislation to navigate – sometimes in multiple languages – so it’s well worth ensuring the company you ship with isn’t on their first or second cross-border run!
Assets and resources
Next, it can be helpful to assess the assets and resources that a cross-border logistics company has access to.
In this category, you’ll want to consider assets such as:
- The types and number of vehicles available in the freight fleet
- Customer service provision: for example, can they be reached out of hours or on weekends if there is a problem with a shipment?
- Tools and technologies: is real-time tracking available?
- Customs brokerage: some logistics companies will provide this, saving you the trouble of working with a separate broker
Some of these may be more relevant for you than others. Still, it’s worth considering the overall ease that the logistics company will be able to provide for you throughout the entire cross-border shipping process.
Assistance with customs brokerage can be a big timesaver, while real-time tracking can provide peace of mind while your shipment is in transit. Innovative tools and technologies can streamline the logistics process and provide real-time tracking updates for you as the shipper.
As always, consider your specific cross-border shipping needs as you assess the suitability of a given logistics company.
Transparency and clear communication
The next factor to consider when choosing a cross-border logistics company is how the company is to work with.
Honesty and transparency are essential yet often underlooked aspects of supply chain relationships.
A logistics company could have an extensive fleet of high-quality carriers, but if your point of contact is rude or abrupt, or it proves difficult to get an update on your shipment’s progress, then this may not be the wisest choice in the long run.
Transparency regarding all elements of the cross-border shipping process – from fees and regulations to honest updates regarding delays – is crucial to ensure you’re kept in the loop while your shipment is in transit.
Remember, you’re entering a partnership with the cross-border logistics company you choose – and it should feel that way!
The safety of your shipment and the safety of the drivers and other team members involved in the logistics process should be a top priority for any logistics company you choose to work with.
You can externally check the safety of a cross-border logistics company by searching the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration database using the company’s US Dot Number, MX/MC Number, or name.
You can also check whether the logistics company is a C-TPAT partner. These companies have committed to protecting the supply chain and working to identify security gaps, aiding the US government in preventing terrorism.
You can also understand the company’s safety priorities by speaking to them directly. A logistics company that prioritizes safety will typically have processes in place to carry out checks on their fleet and other equipment and ensure that their drivers are qualified and well.
Don’t be afraid to ask about the safety procedures a logistics company has in place – a quality logistics company will usually be happy to share how they ensure their safety, compliance, and training protocols are kept up to date. They should also be comfortable sharing with you how your shipment will be kept secure throughout its transit, including at the border.
Suppose a logistics company seems reluctant to share this information with you or is overly vague in their supply details. In that case, this could be a red flag, and you might consider seeking logistics support elsewhere.
Ready to partner with a cross border logistics company that delivers?
At Jansson, our team is on hand to provide custom logistics and transportation solutions for your cross-border shipping needs.
As an independent agent of Landstar, Jansson leverages the best logistics infrastructure and technology to provide first-class transportation solutions for the 21st-century shipper.
The Landstar US/Mexico Logistics Service Center in Laredo efficiently handles shipments crossing the US-Mexico border. At the same time, an extensive network of certified Canadian agents and carriers facilitates cross-border shipping into and out of Canada. To find out more about how we can fulfill your cross-border logistics needs, or to request a quote, reach out to Jansson today!