What we do
Evans Vanodine exports cleaning, janitorial and hygiene products to over 60 countries and overseas trade accounts for 25 per cent of the company’s turnover. Export manager Peter Thompson says that managing shipping and other logistics doesn’t have to be difficult. Here’s how he does it.
Choose freight forwarders carefully
“It’s a buyers’ market for us when we are looking for freight forwarders – there are lots out there. We tend to use around a dozen freight forwarders each year. For each shipment, we get three quotes. And it’s not just the price we look for.
“We always look for the best possible documentation management, advice and service levels. Of course, you won’t know all of this until you try one, but you can minimise the risks by checking things, such as drivers being fully certified to carry hazardous chemicals, before you appoint the forwarder. As we export chemicals, we work with freight forwarders who know Customs’ tariff codes and hazard classifications for our consignments.”
Keep on top of the paperwork
“We employ a team of people with logistics experience to keep on top of the paperwork. They negotiate with customers on consignment sizes to make sure that we’re all getting the best possible freight deal.
“Documentation is always our biggest issue. Our team always makes sure we’ve got copies to hand. For example, if a Dangerous Goods Notice goes missing, the goods can’t leave the port, incurring costs for us and the freight forwarder. So, we always keep duplicate copies of all the paperwork, while sending one to the forwarder and one to the customer. That way we can easily and quickly send it over when problems arise.”
Handle insurance for consignments to protect our customers
“We routinely insure consignments on our customers’ behalf. Generally insurance only accounts for 1 to 2 per cent of the consignment’s value.
“Handling damage is sadly quite common and it’s very difficult to track down liability for any damage. Occasionally a customer asks us not to bother with insurance, but we do strongly recommend it to them simply as part of the service. Otherwise, they could conceivably end up with empty consignments and no recourse. We use three of the larger insurance companies and add the most suitable insurance to the customer’s invoice.”
What I’d do differently – Set distributor targets more tightly
“We have distributors in around 60 countries and, looking back, we should have initially been more forceful in managing their targets. If a distributor runs to their targets rather than ours, it can handicap growth and the efficiency of the operation.”
This article was first published by Business Link. Read more about how Business Link can help your business deal with delivery risk.
Peter’s top tips
- “Employ logistics personnel – there are lots of people out there with the experience – and the quality of the experience has greatly improved over the past 10 years, as more UK businesses are trading overseas.”
- “Commit to exporting – do it properly. Look at your export opportunity and examine every part of the business from an exporting standpoint, from marketing and packaging right the way through to dispatch.”
- “Use the help and advice from UK Trade & Investment – people don’t realise how easy it is to get this help and how incredibly valuable it is.”