The Best 3PLs are Invisible to Customers
3PLs that don't make noise are the ones delivering what they promise
Logistics pros are a lot like the offensive line on a football team: at their best, you know they are doing a great job, but their numbers never get called by television announcers. When they do talk line, it’s usually because someone committed a penalty or allowed a blitzing safety in for a sack. When the quarterback isn’t pressured and there are great running lanes, the line rarely gets mentioned. It’s kind of the same for 3PLs.
The goal of your 3PL should be to avoid those issues and remain unseen and unremarked on by end users.
The best 3PLs are elite offensive tackles, not quarterbacks
A super-reliable 3PL provides that critical, invisible link between a customer’s factory and the retail shelf or ecommerce customer. Like an elite offensive tackle, the 3PL provides great service behind the scenes so that the client knows the 3PL is there, but their customers don’t. The right kind of 3PL is a smooth extension of client operations, keeping themselves hidden with effective service.
Stay out of sight by looking inward at your operations
3PLs can remain unseen by adhering to these qualities:
Aim, first and foremost, for perfect operational execution. A successfully unseen 3PL has processes in place and executes them daily in an attempt to achieve this lofty goal. The payoff may not generate much adulation, but any variation from that becomes an “exception,” and exceptions invite attention.
Understand that you and your customer are in this together
You and your customer are operating a distribution process that affects both parties. Rather than a customer/vendor relationship, it’s one team working toward a common set of objectives. Communication is key, as sharing information on all aspects of the logistics process will lead to better understanding and improvements for the future. Keeping your customer up to date on any new additions or innovations in your 3PL warehouse can provide for a better relationship as well.
Recognize and update your challenges
An unseen 3PL tackles problems behind the scenes, informing but not involving the customer. The best 3PLs take proactive action to avoid disappointing the end customer. There is no question of blame, just doing the right thing for continuous improvement. That requires empowerment and can lead to better cooperation between both parties.
Embrace your customers business and goals
A 3PL that is constantly working to understand their customers business, goals, and overall philosophy is one that shows dedication to helping that customer achieve greatness. While you might have many clients that utilize your services, all of them should feel like they’re the only one using your warehouse.
When a 3PL knows the customer trusts them to always act in the customer’s best interest, it creates an environment in which they can make the most of its experience, expertise and insight to seamlessly deliver the best service possible.
It’s all part of the value of being mostly invisible.