BUILDING GOOD BUSINESS: A FREIGHT FORWARDER NETWORK MANIFESTO
What is the best way to build business as an independent forwarder? What are the characteristics that make a great forwarding partner? What is the best kind of business to focus your efforts on developing as an independent freight forwarder? What is the best way to build relationships with other freight forwarding partners? What is the benefit of a trusted global forwarder network?
These are some of the many questions and considerations my father, Bill Siemens, faced 20 years ago when starting our networks. At that time, there were less than a handful of freight forwarder networks and associations in the industry. By our last count, there are now over 300. To stay competitive, we have to continuously remind ourselves of our values as a network more than ever before. It’s not in our DNA to follow the trend of discounted pricing, free trials, and other schemes employed by other networks to fill up membership directories.
We have doubled down on our proven network model, and the sound philosophy that was set forth from the beginning: Good Relationships with Great Companies Builds Good Business.
The way we’ve set up our network and conduct our business is done to support and bolster that very concept. Below, we hope to lay out some of the key take-aways that carry our network and differentiate us from others. As we continue to grow and offer our proven method of networking to more and more forwarders worldwide, we are as certain as ever in the value of our approach.
A Bigger Network Is Not Better
We see a lot of networks broadcasting that they have hundreds or even thousands of members worldwide, as if that is all that it takes to make your membership a success. The problem with the “bigger is better” approach is that the only way you get to thousands of members is by lowering your standards of quality, and having unlimited members per country. But how does that benefit you, as a member of their network?
We believe that it is far more effective for developing new business in a room of 200 great companies that are committed to the network for the long term. We limit our membership to two members per country, with some exceptions in countries with higher GDP such as the USA, China, and India.
Because we limit membership per country, we focus our effort on growing our membership with only the highest quality members, who understand the importance of their commitment to their fellow partners in Globalink and Global Value. This means better value for you as a member, with better support for your clients anywhere they need help worldwide. If you can’t rely on your partners to provide good service, what is the point of being in a network? We are able to have close relationships with every one of our members, meaning we know of any changes that occur at any company, and are able to connect you to the right people if you need help getting a response, or need advice about what partner is best suited for you. Our network functions and feels more like a family than a directory.
A Shovel Won’t Dig A Hole If You Leave It In The Shed
Another message we see promoted by networks all too often is what we like to call the “slot machine” approach. Put your money in, sit back, wait, and hope that you win some money. I think we can both agree that this is a flawed approach. If the purpose of a network is to build relationships and new business worldwide, it requires some effort on your behalf. As we like to say, we can sell you the best shovel on the market, but if you leave the shovel in your garden shed, it will not dig a hole for you.
Membership in our freight forwarder network should be seen as acquiring the best tool on the market for building up your agency business, just like the shovel. But, if you never communicate with our fellow members, participate in our Annual Meetings, use our web tools, or come to us for support, how can you really expect to see any results? Any tool requires effort, be it a shovel or membership in our forwarding network. Plenty of people put money in slot machines and win nothing. The odds to this approach are not in your favor.
We firmly believe in this philosophy, and actively promote it to our network members. We routinely check in to offer our help and help you make the most of your investment. As a result, the whole overall culture of our network benefits. Time and time again, we hear from our members that they were unsure if our network would actually be really different from any other, and were blown away when it was different, and how much better of an experience it was for them.
Committed Partners Mean Better Business
We are fully aware of the many tactics used to bring in members by other networks. Free trials, deep discounts, and attending Annual Meetings as an observer. When faced with such requests, we put ourselves in the shoes of our members. Does this kind of practice provide any benefit to our members? What are the potential risks?
We do not use these tactics. It’s not fair for our members who pay to occupy their directory slots to allow outside companies the same benefit without having to pay. The network we are attempting to build is one made up of members that understand the value and are ready to commit to the long term.
It would be confusing to meet someone at our Annual Meeting then later learn that they never in fact decided to join the network, and are not covered by things like our Platinum Plus Financial Protection. In a network with such limited membership, it doesn't make sense to try and funnel people in the door to sell memberships, as there is only very limited space. Maybe this works for larger networks with less commitment or less standards who are looking to add as many members as possible.
When you join a network whose entire pitch is based on having thousands of uncommitted members, that can only mean your own market is overcrowded. With a surplus of members in your market, the only way you can compete in such a network is with the lowest rates. Spending time quoting on low profit business might make you feel busy, but how much money are you losing putting in all this extra time, especially if the margins are low? Profitable long term partnerships, and value driven competition always beats excessive quoting on high volume, low profit business.
Learn more about Globalink and Global Value Networks
Our approach is proven by our successful history of 20+ years. I encourage you to take a look at our directory to see if you recognize any names. Reach out and ask them about their experience as a member of Globalink or Global Value Network. We pride ourselves on our level of customer support and the quality of our network product.
What I can promise you is that if you join our network and attend one of our Annual Meeting events, you will clearly see the difference and you will never look back. We welcome you to join the family.