Turning a profit as a freight forwarder isn’t always a given. Especially in a crowded market, many forwarders struggle to offer competitive prices while preserving their margins. Fortunately, by leveling up your services, you can provide customers with enough value to justify raising your rates.
Setting prices as a freight forwarder
When a shipper starts working with a forwarder, they typically understand that many factors go into the pricing. For that reason, many will ask for a full breakdown of their costs– a list that may look something like this:
- Container costs
- Pickup charge
- Destination costs
On this bill, the freight forwarder’s charge may show up as an administrative cost or handling fee– an added charge for managing documents, coordinating routes, and negotiating with providers.
While a forwarder may ask questions about some of the individual items, they’re ultimately more concerned with the total cost of the shipment. Therefore, even if your customers aren’t happy at first if your rates appear higher than average, it won’t matter if you’re saving them money overall.
How to raise your freight forwarding rates
Much of the logistics industry thinks of freight forwarding as a commodity, with shippers narrowing down options solely on the basis of price. However, in recent times, cost has been slipping lower on shippers’ priority list. In fact, in a survey conducted by FreightWaves and Logixboard, 83% of shippers would be willing to pay higher rates to work with a forwarder that provides better tech and visibility.
Even still, offering top-of-the-line technology is only the tip of the iceberg. Any significant advancement that provides your customers with better value can be a strong cause for raising prices.
Focus on how you’re adding value
Far from expendable middlemen, freight forwarders are critical in easing the headache of the shipping process for their customers. By offering expertise, coordinating services, and providing transparency along the way, forwarders allow shippers to execute deliveries more efficiently and hassle-free.
When thinking about how to level up your services, consider where you’re providing the most value for your customers. In the Logixboard/FreightWaves CX survey, 78% of shippers rated “Customer service and individualized attention” as “Very Important,” followed by 53% for “Cutting-edge technology and digital tools.” Given the importance of these areas, leveling up your advancements in customer service and tech can make a big difference for your customers.
Outside of common values for shippers, it’s also important to think about what your clientele is most interested in. Ask for customer feedback, or hold quarterly business reviews with key accounts to find out what they’re looking for in your partnership.
Aside from your customers’ minimum qualifications, look for insight into what specifically draws them to your business. What differentiates you? Where do you have an edge over your competitors? For instance, you may find that you have a lot of experience and connections in a specialized area. In that case, leaning into those niches can help you command higher prices as you become the #1 choice for that corner of the market.
Provide your customers with a better customer experience
As the freight forwarding industry moves to digital, shippers are increasingly prioritizing customer experience– a digital-first approach to traditional customer service.
Making the process easier for your customers can help differentiate you as a premium partner. You can start to work toward a better customer experience by finding a tech solution to fulfill your customers’ needs. Many forwarders are starting to adopt software solutions to help their shippers access everything they need in one place. Whether you build or buy your solution, providing shippers with a customer experience platform can streamline the process of checking cargo status, messaging stakeholders, and managing invoices.
Logixboard provides shippers with the tools they need to keep track of their shipments, including real-time visibility, a document management system, a centralized communication tool, an accounting center, and analytics dashboards.
In addition to offering your customers an all-in-one platform, you can also differentiate your company by focusing on providing personalized service. Look into ways to improve your efficiency and save time on trivial tasks so that your team can free up resources to spend on problems that require individual attention, such as negotiating with carriers or coordinating complex routes.
Not only will this maximize your employees’ time and energy, but it’ll also help you strengthen relationships with customers. When you demonstrate that you’re willing to go above and beyond to help your partners, you’ll build loyalty and increase stickiness.
Save your shippers money
Another way you can justify a price increase is by saving your customers even more money in other places. Outside of equipment and labor costs, a lot of shippers’ expenses come from additional charges, such as penalty fees that their cargo racks up along the trip.
Demurrage and detention fees are a couple of common types of expenses accrued by shippers using equipment or terminal space longer than the allotted time. Fortunately, forwarders can often help avoid them by staying on top of the shipment status and details.
Pay attention to how often your customers are getting hit with unexpected fees, and think of ways to bring that number down. Getting your team to read through contract terms is one way to identify the potential for penalties. Make sure to clearly communicate with other stakeholders, such as truck drivers, to relay details like free time, timing, and location.
Additionally, consider adopting a tool to access granular visibility on your cargo. That way, if one part of the process deviates from the plan, you’ll get immediate notice so that you can adjust the upcoming steps as needed.
Interested in getting more precise visibility into your shipments? Logixboard offers Automated Container Tracking to enable shippers and forwarders real-time container-level data sourced from top ocean carriers.
Pricing is a complicated topic in freight forwarding. While you don’t want to undersell yourself, raising your rates too high can make you seem out of touch and cause you to lose business. Bottom line: Shippers will be willing to pay higher rates to forwarders who provide indispensable services and make their jobs easier– through whatever means that may be.
Interested in seeing how Logixboard can help you level up your services and justify higher rates? Book a demo today.