You take great care to develop and brand your product because every good business owner knows how important reputation is. Outsourcing your logistics might be a cost effective way of getting those goods and services into the hands of your clients, but you run the risk of losing ground if your products get damaged or lost after they leave your warehouse.
The point is, you need to tread carefully when you’re looking to bring on a logistics business as a partner for your small to medium sized business (SMB). It used to be that management in a small to medium-size business with 1000 employees and revenues of $500 million or less found themselves outdone by the bigger enterprises that had the upper hand in buying power, resources, and scale.
New Age Partners
It’s good to know that things have changed and the playing field is more level for those looking for the help they need to increase their bottom line. SMBs are expanding and growing. They are looking to strengthen their supply chains and finding the right New Age logistics company to partner with is a priority.
What is a logistics company?
Defining what you need to be looking for is the first step on this path to success. Start right from the beginning by asking the following questions:
- What is a logistics company? Identifying what one of these businesses do will help you redefine or define your search. A logistics company manages the flow of materials and goods from the point of origin to the end user. In simple English, they are the company that takes what you build from your location and transports it to your customers or distributors.
- Do they provide flexible and affordable technology that works for you? Modern supply chains have new advantages. They should use supply chain management software that can give you benefits like 100% accuracy in cycle counts and the ability to track shipments and inventory in real time.
- Traditional equipment. A good third-party logistics provider can blend the old and the new. They can have excellent technology at their disposal, but they still need to have some of the standard requirements, like a climate controlled warehouse and a well-maintained fleet of vehicles.
- Experience. It’s important the company you are going to shake hands with has been in business for a long enough period. It’s good to find out if they have any specialties too.
- How is your current supply chain working out? If you currently handle logistics in-house, you’ll need to balance a few numbers to find out whether your current employees are better served at managing your core mission.
Other value-adding services
If you thought that taking on the right business partner for your SMB was going to be an easy task, think again. The criteria that you’re going to need to sort through are layered like an expensive cake and next you’ll to take a bigger view and decide whether you want the company to be asset or non-asset based.
This is one of the fundamental decisions that you need to make because an asset based logistics provider owns all of the assets required to run a supply chain properly. This includes distribution centers, trucks, and warehouses.
On the other side of the coin, a non-asset logistics provider acts as a broker and manages the contracts with truck and warehouse owners. Quite often deciding on the two can be a matter of cost. It’s also usually a larger commitment when the company you’re looking at partnering with has their own fleet of vehicles and equipment.
The Internet of Things
As you might have imagined, the Internet plays a central role in deciding how you look at supply chain logistics in general and the partners you choose specifically. If you’ve been paying attention to the way the Internet of Things is moving forward, you more than likely are already interested in using appointment scheduling software. Appointment-Plus is one of the leaders in this field that offers a variety of excellent features including:
- Notifications when a gift certificate or package has been purchased.
- Notifications when a customer adds themselves to a waiting list.
- The ability to be used across a wide variety of industries including any of those requiring third-party logistics.
Making sure you find the right partner here who understands how important the latest software can be is an essential part of business success.
SaaS: A wise choice
Gone are the days when any business and logistics company needs to be saddled with the hardware and the expense of buying a software package when you can license one from the cloud. The SaaS model is scalable up and down, and that makes perfect sense for the logistics needs of a SMB. Their software licenses are flexible and provide a high degree of control. With this type of license, all the technical issues are handled and outsourced outside of your company.
Once again take a good look at the features Appointment-Plus offers when it comes to industry-leading enterprise solutions in the appointment scheduling software space. They’ve adopted a system that can easily handle multiple staff calendars and gives you the ability to view and book from multiple locations. It’s this kind of above and beyond philosophy that you want to look for when you’re looking for an excellent business partner for your SMB that uses SaaS software.
Although there are more and more people who would have you think otherwise, not everything you do in business today is in the cloud. This is especially true when it comes to logistics. Although warehousing, shipping and receiving has become more accurate and cost efficient with cloud-based software, you still need to sort through some old school metrics to find the right business partner.
Here’s a partial list of the nuts and bolts of finding the right logistics business partner using more traditional tools.
Location of the Buildings.
Even if there is only one warehouse, you’ll need to match up the size of it with your needs. The number of bay doors available for transportation is a good indicator of how serious the company is about handling any and all of your shipping requirements.
- The place should also be close to other transportation hubs like railways, airports, and seaports.
- It’s important to check the available space to see if it meets your requirements and if they can handle an influx during your busy seasons.
Even though you’ll want to find a modern partner for logistics who understands the nuances behind appointment scheduling software and the latest in barcodes and scanner technology, they still need to have some of the more traditional shipping and warehousing tools like:
- Pallet racks and conveyors.
- It’s a good idea to see the kind of forklifts any prospective partner will be using to handle and transport your goods. Asking about any preventative maintenance scheduling is always a good idea because a busy logistics provider will need to cross dock materials quite often and move them from truck to truck at a central hub.
The People Who Work There
- The employee attitude and atmosphere they work in is critical when you’re deciding on a logistics partner. Find out about turnover rates and employee training programs as well as how often they are upgraded in their skills.
- It’s also good to ask a question or two about any motivational programs and how raises and promotions are given out.
- Any company that you’re considering partnering with should have a good foothold in the software world including supply chain management software that reduces costs so you can track shipments live.
- Other logistics software that works on the floor and in the office is about efficient time management. Industry leaders here like AppointmentPlus offer excellent options like a drop and drag functionality for quick changes. Taking a look at how any company manages their time tells you a lot about what kind of partner they would make.
A few more ways to get started
If you feel like we’ve given you way too much to digest in one sitting, don’t worry. There are also a few ideas that are helpful to get you started in the first place, especially when you’re looking for a personal connection first.
- If you don’t know, you should always ask. This is particularly the case when you’re looking for a business partner who has experience and talents you might not possess. Keep in mind here that personal connections often make good business connections. Let people know that you’re looking for a business partner and remember to treat everyone you meet with respect.
- Finding sites that cater to people in your industry who share your ideas is another great way to meet a partner. These sites work especially well when they set up events where you can meet people personally. Joining LinkedIn groups in your industry is another great way to move this whole process forward.
- Find someone with complementary skills. One of the big mistakes newbies to business make is finding a business partner who has the same skill set they do. Michael Gerber’s,”The E-Myth,” says there are three different types of people who make a business run smoothly: the entrepreneur, the visionary, and the craftsman. Combining these together should be your goal without crossing any of the skill sets.
- A business partner should have a common vision. Although they might have a different set of skills, it’s a good idea if your business partner shares your idea for the future of the company. They should be able to dream along with you but set those ideas into action, so your profits and enterprise grow.
Finding the right business partner for your small to medium sized businesses a process that you need to work through carefully. Remember, there’s a personal element to finding the right kind of person and if you mistrust them from the start your business might be doomed to failure.
It’s a good idea to ask some personal questions before you finally decide on a business partner. Time commitments are one of the important aspects that need to be hammered out, and you’ll also want to know something about their financial situation before you commit.
Take a look at their past business ventures to see how they will behave in difficult circumstances. A good example is a payroll. Can you determine if they dipped into their own credit cards or another area to pay their employees and suppliers when there was a momentary bump in cash flow?
It pays to plan
Looking for the right business partner for your small to medium-sized businesses is a process that you need to work through carefully. In this age of globalization and modern technology, a bad business decision of this type can ruin your reputation and, in a worst-case scenario, your entire business. It pays to plan and move ahead carefully.
Regardless of who you finally decide on, you should always be looking for the most modern technology to help things run more smoothly. The experts at Appointment-Plus have put together appointment scheduling software that works across a variety of different industries to increase efficiency.