The current economy has provided the Transportation Industry with an influx of new companies that are looking to try to break into Shipping Freight. These companies are smart, because they are not looking to compete with the Big Boys, like the Fedex, UPS, and Conway’s of the world, but they are looking to fulfill a niche market.They hire a cousin to be the driver, and a friend to work the books. They acquire all necessary licenses and pay the fees that need to be paid and their in business. From this point on many of them proceed to the market place to offer, not value, but cheap rates, thus dropping the Industry market value down considerably. So with this in mind, a typical shipper probably has, at the least, 15 knocks on their door from potential new shipping vendors who say they want an opportunity to bid on their Freight.Most customers at this point take the rate sheet, or at the least, take the sales reps card to perhaps give them a quote opportunity. The issue that faces a warehouse Manager is that every sales rep that enters the door is talking about 1 thing, and one thing only- cheap rates. It’s not a wonder why Warehouse Manager’s are at their wits end with Sales Calls. This article consists of some general guidelines that a shipper should consider when looking to hire a freight carrier. This list is compiled from consulting with many clients in the industry, as well as several Operation Managers.10 Areas That a Shipper Wants To Examine Prior To Hiring a Freight Company:1) Service Commitment- Make sure to ask questions directly concerning the destinations that you ship. Often times carriers will list transit times and destinations that they might not serve directly, but may have agents working for them their. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with an Agent relationship, but this is something that you want to make sure you ask the carrier.2) Accountability- If a carrier promises you something make sure you hold them to it…Freight is not an exact science, so many things can come into play with regards to shipping- weather, load factor, mechanical issues, the list goes on and on… Make sure carriers take ownership of their promises and guarantees.3) Price- I list this 3rd on the list because, believe it or not, price is not as big as people want to play it out to be. You see, if your product doesn’t make it’s destination safely and in good transit time, it won’t matter if you received a dirt cheap rate because you will have a very unhappy customer. At times customers can live with a long transit time, but those times are, few and far between, in today’s market.4) Follow Up- If the Carrier doesn’t get back to you in a timely fashion, or forgets altogether, then you definitely want to reevaluate your choice of vendors. Whether it be your sales rep, or your customer service agent, poor follow up runs through the company typically.5) Operations- Grumpy operations personnel make for poor service all around. If you ever feel as if “you are bothering your operations representatives” then you definitely need a new company. In freight you might be dealing with employees who have been in the business for over 30 years, and really don’t like their jobs- they often take it out on the customer. Don’t fall into this trap!6) Technology- We are in Y2K!!! If a company is not able to provide you with online capabilities and up to date information on your shipments then this might be a sign to look for another company. Please understand, there are many shippers that prefer to have a live person than use online technology, and that’s fine, but the Freight carrier needs to be able to back that up with online technology for quick reports and a more efficient Distribution system.7) Customer Service- We’ve all had those bad service experiences going out to dinner with our spouse, a rude customer service operator, so I’m sure you can relate to this topic. Never settle for rudeness because of cheap rates, you’ll end up regretting it in the long run-guaranteed.8) Ease of Engagement- This speaks for itself, because it should always be easy to get a hold of your Sales Person or the Operations Team. Companies that are good in this category do things like, answer the phone within 3 rings; follow up with emails/phone calls the same day; take a proactive approach to service rather than reactive.9) Recoverability- I coined this term a few years back. When something bad happens, the good companies get right on it and maintain solid communications with the Shipper and all necessary parties. We all know that things happen, but it’s how Carriers respond and recover that make them GREAT.Often times mishaps are what help solidify a Customer-Carrier relationship- ironic.10) Gut- More important than all of the other topics combined is to make sure you use your gut instinct. If you don’t feel right about the carrier, or if you can’t seem to find anything good about them other than price then you might need to take a mental note and look deep at their company because the GUT is usually right on the money.