5 Signs Your Business is Working with the Wrong 3PL

April 12, 2021 | Third-Party Logistics (3PL)

Working with the third-party logistics provider that is right for your company is crucial to your success. A 3PL that doesn’t fit you and your goals will hold you back, rather than serving as a vital partner as you build and grow something special. It’s important to evaluate your 3PL relationship with the critical eye that you apply to every other component of your business. Here are five signs your business is working with a 3PL that isn’t right for you.

They require too much oversight.

A 3PL should make your operation more streamlined and efficient, taking care of your supply chain and allowing you to focus on other issues. However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, your relationship with a 3PL requires so much time and oversight that the value of the 3PL’s services to you is undermined. A 3PL should manage your supply chain logistics with your input but not with your management. A great 3PL relationship means that you can focus on your product, while the 3PL takes the complexity of the storage and distribution of your product off your plate.

They act like a vendor rather than a partner.

Your relationship with your 3PL shouldn’t feel transactional, where they simply complete tasks for you in exchange for money. A 3PL should be a true strategic partner who works with you to build your business and perpetually searches for opportunities to strengthen your supply chain. When a 3PL is a partner, it feels as though they understand your business as well as you do – and are just as invested in its success as you are. They ask all of the right questions and constantly bring ideas to the table, rather than doing the bare minimum.

The relationship should feel seamless. A partner also won’t squeeze every cent they can get out of you, favoring growth and collaboration over their own short-term revenue. They will view the relationship as a long-term one. Consequently, they will view you as a partner to grow alongside. Your success and their success will be interchangeable.

Communication is a chore.

Customer service is critical to the relationship between a company and their 3PL. You should always feel as though you have their full attention instead of feeling like an afterthought or an imposition. The attention should be unique and distinctive to you, meaning they are not applying some standardized, stock response to your service that simply mimics the same one they are providing all of their clients. If you have a question or new information to share, you should always know who to call and feel comfortable and confident that they will be prompt and responsive to you. Great customer service should be a recognizable piece of your 3PL’s culture, obvious in every interaction you have with them.

An effective 3PL relationship features open lines of communication and honesty. Neither side of the partnership should hide anything from the other. Your 3PL should be quick to share crucial new information, even if it’s bad news. The more in the dark you are, the less healthy it is for your company. No surprises. 

Similarly, you should feel comfortable and determined to keep your 3PL in the loop. If you’re not providing them with the best, most updated information because it doesn’t seem important to them or because you question whether they care, then how can you ensure your logistics needs are really being met?

They impede your growth rather than support it.

Perhaps your partnership with your 3PL was a great fit when you were a young, growing company, but they don’t seem to be as effective for you anymore. They don’t seem equipped to take you to the next level. In fact, they seem to be holding back your growth. A 3PL with the right expertise and capabilities should fuel the growth of your business rather than an impediment. It should scale your business in a way that supports your grandest ambitions.

As a company, you likely will always be thinking about expansion, shipping to new locations and widening your customer base. Your 3PL should have the experience, skills and resources to both show you how that can happen and to make it happen.

No matter the state of your company’s development your 3PL should provide clear, consistent guidance for how supply chain logistics can play a role in growing your business. When that vision is lacking, it should be a cause for concern.

They don’t share your values.

Your 3PL’s values should mirror your own. If they don’t, it can create an assortment of challenges that will bring you headaches and misunderstandings. Your 3PL essentially serves as a representative and extension of you and your product in the supply chain, and it is crucial that they represent you the way you want to be represented. Are they as responsive as you want them to be? Do they treat their employees and partners well? Do they prioritize ethics and loyalty? Is customer service as important to them as it is to you?

If your core values aren’t reflected in your 3PL, then it might be time to look elsewhere.
Distribution Technology has been offering integrated logistics and transportation solutions for more than 50 years. We can enhance your operation and accelerate your company’s growth with inventory storage capacity, processes that improve efficiency, and technology that enables innovation. For more information, contact us today.