Think of the best/strongest relationships you currently have in your life. Most (if not all) of them probably involve people you’ve known for a long time. They’re long-term relationships.
They involve people you know and who know you. They’re built on trust and experience. There’s a certain degree of give and take. And you most likely hope to keep that relationship.
We like to think great 3PL relationships aren’t so different. They’re built on trust and expectations, and the best ones are in it for the long-run together.
Why Are Long-Term 3PL Relationships Important?
Often, when a business first looks into utilizing third-party logistics, it’s as a temporary fix to get them through a rough patch. The problem is, that “rough patch” can easily arise again and turn into a rough season.
3PLs are often best utilized in the long term, allowing you to build a relationship where they know your needs and you know their capabilities. Giving both sides a better understanding of how to work together.
If you plan for the long term from the start, even if it’s initially a short term agreement, it can blossom into some fantastic results.
How to Establish a Healthy, Long-Term 3PL Relationship
If you’re looking towards the future, the initial communication should be less about the bottom line and more about simply getting to know each other. When you’re meeting a person for the first time, you don’t ask them what they can do for you, do you?
Instead, you ask who they are, what they do, what they believe, and in return, you tell them those things about yourself.
It’s no different when establishing a healthy 3PL relationship. Share vision and values. Once those are out there, if it seems like you can work together, then it’s time to establish expectations.
If they don’t know what you expect from them and visa-versa, it can be very difficult to move forward positively. Along with expectations come boundaries and defining the scope.
When boundaries aren’t established, they’re easily crossed. And when scope isn’t defined, expectations can be completely missed. Poorly defined scope can lead to you feeling disappointed with results while your 3PL feels overworked and taken advantage of.
It’s About Communication
Many have said the key to a healthy relationship is communication. Establishing your point people on both sides is very important. The less spread out the communication is, the less likely it is for a message to be missed. A direct line of communication between the two parties will ensure everyone is clear on where things are at.
That’s not to say everything becomes this “to-do” list that’s past down a chain of command. The great thing about a long-term relationship is that it also provides a more open, collaborative environment.
A great 3PL relationship should be less of telling people what to do and more of sharing ideas, direction, and innovation. This paves a way for both sides to do what they’re doing better.
When open communication is happening both ways, both companies learn and grow. The two of you should ultimately strengthen each other. Just like any great relationship.
Looking to Establish that Relationship?
We’re not asking you to be our BFFs or anything.
But if you’re looking to build a long-term 3PL relationship, we’d certainly like to get to know you better. Contact us about your needs and your values, and we’ll go from there.