Outsourcing transportation responsibilities works as a great solution for many firms, but there are potential downsides. One issue with outsourcing your transportation is giving up some control of your cargo once it leaves your facility and is in the hands of an outside vendor. Many carriers are safe, reliable, and provide technological capabilities that allow you to track your cargo. However, working with outside vendors always poses some inherent risks that can affect your business. Therefore, it is crucial to get references for transportation vendors before your company decides to partner with them.

Why Should You Get References?

As we’ve discussed in the past, shippers should perform risk profiles when working with outside companies, since using suppliers invariably introduces risk into your business’ supply chain. Getting unbiased, quality references for your transportation vendors is also a crucial step in the vetting process and for minimizing risks. Obtaining references can help validate a supplier as well as highlight their strengths and weaknesses. This information can then help your business minimize risk and make the best decision about who to work with for a given job.

For comparison, you wouldn’t buy new car without reading unbiased reviews first. And, imagine your neighbor just bought the same car. Hopefully you would read the reviews and talk to your neighbor to get more information on the car before making a purchasing decision.

Using references is a great way to get multiple outside opinions that can help guide your decision making process. This holds true when obtaining references for your transportation vendors, and can help minimize any risk to your company.

When Should You Get References?

Shippers should try to obtain references for new transportation vendors in two scenarios. First, when you are looking for new carriers to transport your cargo, it is crucial to obtain references since you are introducing new carriers into your supply chain. New carriers bring the potential for new risks, making references a critical part of the vetting process.

It can also be useful to obtain references when working with an established carrier on a new type of project. Your company may use a certain carrier for LTL shipments all the time, and may have had only great experiences with them. However, you may have a unique job shipping oversize cargo coming up. Even though you’ve had good experiences shipping LTL with the carrier, it would be wise to obtain references to see if they are capable of transporting the oversize cargo safely and to your company’s standards.

How Do You Go About Getting References?

There are a few ways to get quality references on transportation vendors. One method that doesn’t require you to travel far is by asking your internal contacts. If someone else in your organization has used a particular carrier before, ask them about the experience. Ask them about the carrier’s price, timeliness, safety, reliability, and any other information you need to obtain before working with a new vendor. Leveraging your internal contacts’ knowledge is often a quick and easy way to obtain reliable, unbiased references.

You can also get references for new transportation vendors by reaching out to your external contacts. Reach out to other shipping professionals in your network via phone calls, email, or even LinkedIn, and ask to get their thoughts on a transportation vendor you’re thinking about working with. Make sure to reach out to external contacts you trust will provide honest, genuine feedback.

Finally, you can review information about new transportation vendors with your own individual research. Many online guides rank transportation vendors and highlight the features they provide. While Internet searches aren’t as useful as personal references, they can help provide you additional information before making any decisions.

Overall, using references is a great way to get multiple outside opinions that can help guide your decision making process. Obtaining references serves as a critical part of the vetting process, as this information helps your business minimize risk when working with outside suppliers.


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