The most interesting part about international freight forwarding is the stories shared over drinks – both alcoholic and otherwise. While at the time the tale is being told, the stories can crack you up, but I can imagine the stress one goes through when it’s unravelling in real time. So, I’ve learnt time and again, that it’s really important to have the ability to relax at the peak of Mount Stress, and analyse the situation. Here are some of the truths about forwarding…
Shit does happen. The saying goes about the best laid plans of men and mice; in this case, it would be the best made plans of shippers and forwarders. We had a client who asked us “Can you fumigate a container which doesn’t have any wooden products in it?”
We said it wasn’t necessary, and then the client related a story to us about how they were moving metal structures to Australia, and it was a routine shipment with no wooden products or packaging. So, the shipment left without fumigation, and arrived in Sydney about 20 days later to a huge ruckus. An incy wincy spider had crawled into the container and made a sparkly little web right in the centre of the container!
Being Australia, the container was removed and quarantined like a scene from Monsters Inc where the unfortunate scarer had come back with a child’s bootie on his back. The penalties and paperwork which ensued forced this shipper to change their shipping procedures, to incur unnecessary cost. But, I’m thinking… the doors to a container are not air tight, and bugs will still get in somehow. The bugs could have been stowaways on the metal structures themselves, or they could crawl in from other containers on the ship! So, like all good game makers know, shit can and will happen, so learn to chill.
Other people do win. No matter how slight, there is always the possibility that there could be someone better than you. Or, just more connected. Sometimes, when we bid for projects, and our proposals seem fool proof, we have to learn that there might just be the off chance that it was just an exercise in collecting toilet paper. Pardon the crude expression, but the reality is such that even if you feel exceptionally confident that your team and past records prove that you are the best candidate to implement the project, the meeting with the client feels like you left them with stars in their eyes and the market intelligence you do shows that your pricing gives the best value… you always have to build up that chill reserve in the case that the golfing buddy of the chairman of the board (who doesn’t even know what incoterms are) wins the deal from under your nose.
Just enjoy the moment & celebrate for the other team while learning what went wrong or which areas to improve in order to win the next round. This is a very, very important lesson, which could make or break the industry. In freight forwarding, price stands out as one of the major deciding factors on which forwarder to work with for a business’ imports or exports. However, there are those very elusive and eclectic clients which make selections based on more than just a good price tag to the freight. Service, response times and accurate information on a timely basis have been areas which Alien Logistics has stood out, but yet there are factors which we are still learning from our customers and our competition which make these clients unique. If we could, we would have them both for tea and talk about the game that was won by the better team. If things worked out well, we would be friends, and hey, maybe even partners! There have been times where we work together with other forwarders who were going head to head against us for a client only to become strong partners to complement each other and work on our strengths so that the customer is given only the best service from both of our efforts. If there were other partnerships which could work out like this, then the freight forwarding industry would be able to explore more innovative methods in getting goods from where they come from, to where they need to be.