Are you and your regular freight forward on the same page?

Greatness, even in shipping, comes from repetition

Over the 30+ years I’ve been doing this, I’ve received shipping requests for everything you can possibly imagine… from cars, to factory equipment, to entire factories! Some of our business comes in the form of one-offs, but we also have our regulars, who import and/or export frequently.

For those of you who ship often, we have to find a rhythm, build rapport, and establish transparent lines of communication quickly, because there are no second chances. Your shipments are important, and if they don’t arrive on time, or there are numerous “unforeseen” circumstances right out of the gate, that’s not going to make you feel very confident the next time through.

There’s also a quick turnaround expectation, so the issue becomes compounded. But, we have a system, and I’m going to share it with you! Today, I’m going to talk about Air or Ocean Freight Consolidations or full straight container loads.

So, what, exactly are we dealing with? Commercial accounts with repeat businesses to or from multiple US or overseas locations – this is the process:

1. Getting established

We start by receiving from you the origin of the cargo, the availability date, and the incoterms (more on Incoterms 2010 here) to help us understand the relationship between the buyer and the seller and all of the financial, risk, and handling requirements are delegated.

Get the Incoterms 2010 quick reference guide HERE:

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We also need the weights & dimensions of your packed shipments as well as the destination name & addresses. We’ll ask for the copy of a commercial invoice to be sent along with a packing list showing the harmonized system number per item.

2. The quote

First, the speed in receiving a quotation matters a lot, and I understand that to be just as important to you as its accuracy. If the forwarders are able to sense or predict potential issues that could impact costs due to forces outside of their reach, this is when you want to hear about it, so there are no surprises later.

3. The transit

Once quoted and signed, the pick-up date is scheduled and a bill of lading MAWB is sent to the shippers to obtain confirmation of all the instructions, booking information, & last receiving date. 

Once the cargo is en-route, your freight forwarder should give you a link for tracking your shipments throughout its entire journey. You should also hear from your forwarders with emails providing with pre-invoice emails, containing the booking info and shipping documents to the shippers & the consignees.

By the way, every freight forwarder is different, so I suggest you ask for these services, and not just assume they’re part of their delivery model.


If it’s done right, you will know because “unforseen circumstances” will be minimized, and there will be fluid processes in place for dealing with challenges brought on by even the most extreme situations. When you know what’s expected of you, and each part comes together, you’ll know you’re in good hands.

For new shippers, I recommend an earlier start, so you can get acquainted with what is required of you. 

Whether you are new or experienced, developing a rapport with your international shipping company will make all the difference in the world. Interested in establishing a rapport with us? Request a free quote today, and we’ll get that ball rolling!

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