Three Key Points to Communicate to Become Your Customers’ Dream Provider
Communication and transparency are key to being a good partner to your clients. If your logistics organization is in the process of responding to RFP questions from a plum potential customer, positioning your logistics organization as the ideal fit for that customer depends on clear communication of three defining factors of your business: specialization, size, and scope.
If your company is a warehousing provider that specializes in retail accounts, for example, your organization may be the best option for housing the product of a new body lotion client. Be sure to point out in your RFP response that you understand the natural cycle of order entries and closures, chargebacks, and the necessity of adjusting shipping schedules to meet Must Arrive By Dates (MABD). Additionally, be sure to communicate that your organization will be able to anticipate the volume of outbound shipments that may come with rush orders, promotions, and industry fluctuations.
Similarly, if your organization has extensive and specific experience in chemical and bulk logistics, be clear in your communications that your company excels at special handling of sensitive product. Mention any certification you have, such as ISO 9001 or Responsible Care. Emphasize that your company is a third-party logistics provider with employees who fluently understand the uses of different lift truck attachments to efficiently handle large products like paper rolls.
When contacted by a potential client with an RFI or RFP, first ensure the size of your organization is a good fit with the potential client’s product and volume. If you are a regional logistics provider with public warehousing options, your ideal client may be a raw materials supplier with just a few customers in your market, with a need for lots of flexibility in accessing its inbound and outbound product. If you are a multi-national logistics provider, your ideal client may need operations or fulfillment in dozens of countries. If you are a middle-market provider that focuses on a single country or continent, and are not limited to only regional activity, your ideal client likely will be more limited in geographic needs. Upfront communication during the RFP process helps the potential customer determine whether your organization’s size matches their needs.
Space can be an issue, depending on the amount of product your potential client has and the square footage needed. CBRE recently reported that open industrial real estate—read: warehousing space—is at a 15-year low of 9.4 percent. Is your organization tight on square footage? If so, communicate to your client that locking in space, especially at your dedicated and contract facilities, is key.
Similarly, site visits are vital to ensure the best-fitting partnership between client and provider. Be sure to point out your well-maintained facility, with pest control measures in place, clean floors, and well-organized racking, location and barcode systems. Savvier procurement officers from potential clients will check to see that material-handling employees look motivated, that safety equipment is in place, and that the warehouse has no glaring, poorly maintained items, such as non-functioning dock levelers or overhead lights. Addressing these eyesores and concerns before potential clients walk through your facility is paramount to securing future business.
Generally, transportation is the single biggest logistics cost for clients. The retail industry’s new emphasis on same-day and next-day delivery makes prioritizing affordable transportation even more important to clients. Should your client seek to expand into new regions, it will want a logistics provider that features dedicated warehouse space around the country, including locations close enough to their customers to meet their shorter delivery windows. Be sure to communicate your geographic scope. Also, consolidating logistics services with one 3PL provider can save a client significantly on transportation costs. In the right instances, advertise any transportation services your company offers, including carrier brokerage! When applicable, emphasize that your organization has strong Transportation Management System capabilities, whether those capabilities include providing cloud-based software or interfacing with your potential client’s existing TMS.
If your client regularly faces shipment challenges, order entry difficulties, or problems with invoice reconciliation, make sure it knows of your company’s additional logistics services, particularly if you have strong Warehouse Management System and Electronic Data Interchange capabilities.
Do you have more ideas to share for effectively communicating with customers in our industry? Send us an email: [email protected].