Freight management, ever-changing food safety regulations, increased SKUs, faster time to market and skilled labor shortages all pose challenges in today’s supply chains.

Couple these with the influx of online shopping, and it’s no wonder many of today’s supply chains are transforming the way product moves from Point A to Point B.

Whatever the future has in store for the food and beverage industry though, one thing is certain—as your company grows, so too do your challenges. And, with challenges, come solutions in the form of third-party logistics providers (3PLs).

But, how do you know when the right time is to enlist a 3PL? Where do you start? And, how do you determine which company is the best fit for your end goal?

Here’s an outline of how to navigate the world of 3PLs:

When to enlist a 3PL

Enlisting a 3PL is like buying new furniture—it’s a tedious process with lots of questions, but sooner or later, it has to be done.

Are you fulfilling all of your orders on time? Do you have enough storage for inventory? Are you entering a seasonal time of your business, and have enough manpower or resources to succeed?

If you answered no to the above questions, now is the time to connect with a 3PL.

Don’t wait until it’s too late, and customers don’t have their orders on time or in the condition they expected.

Working with a 3PL provides the extra layer of confidence that orders are being fulfilled and shipped on time. 3PLs offer storage for overflow inventory. And, 3PLs enlist the manpower and resources needed to move your business forward without you ever having to hire and train a new employee.

Things to consider when selecting a 3PL

Here are some best practices when selecting a 3PL.

For starters, set your goals and expectations and share them with the 3PL. Communicate all of your hesitations, questions, concerns, challenges and desires, so both companies are on the same page.

Lay out your risk mitigation plan. This “insurance protocol” is basically a backup plan for how to handle unforeseen circumstances, i.e., Mother Nature. What happens when a tornado strikes? Is your company covered? Will you lose product? Try to uncover all possible scenarios, and have a plan in place for each.

Transparency and communication are key. Withholding information will only damage the relationship going forward. Both parties need to be honest and open about everything involved in the partnership.

3PLs in position

There are many 3PLs out there, all equipped to handle different (and sometimes the same) markets.

Sometimes it takes a quick Google search to find a 3PL in your network. Other times, it’s beneficial to ask associations you are a member of, or inquire with customers or other trustworthy industry contacts.

Either way, the host of 3PLs are in position to help your company move forward and build a partnership that’s in it for the long haul.

At Gray Growth Strategies, we work with a network of 3PL’s in order to find the perfect logistics solution for your business. Call us at (212) 247-1800 or contact us today!