The logistics industry is heavily dependent on data and technology. The most successful LSPs (Logistics Service Providers) are innovative in their efforts to improve service and productivity to the benefit of both clients and providers. The nuts and bolts of logistics also involves people, so basic front line management skills can improve operations.
Here is a proven method for the toolbox. The links of the performance chain can help with day to day management and problem solving.
Expectations– Are goals and deliverables crystal clear? Don’t assume. Feedback– Information which is specific, timely, and relevant. Not just an annual review. Resources– Time, tools, and staffing to do the job right. Skills/Knowledge– Is training needed? Managers often point to training as the solution to problems. However, if employees know how to do the job training may not be the answer to performance issues. Look to the other links of the chain. Capacity– Does the person have the physical and mental ability to do the job with training? If not, reassign or terminate, and screen new hires more carefully. Incentives– What rewards are most meaningful to the workforce? These include money, benefits, flex time, etc. and will vary for individuals. Incentives are external and provided by the company. Motivation– Internal and personal to each employee. Top performers are self motivated. For others the idea is to bring out their motivation through incentives, training, or simply clearer expectations and feedback.
New to management? The performance chain is a good starting place. Experienced manager? Old dogs can learn new tricks.
In a recent post I gave an example of a tricky question which sometimes appears in the exam. Here is the question and the correct answer (D).
Importations of switchblade knives is permissible by 15 U.S.C 1244 if:
D. The entry will contain, among other documents, a declaration in duplicate stating that the switchblade knife has a blade not exceeding 3 inches in length and is possessed by and is being transported on the person of an individual who has only one arm.
The exam is difficult, with normal passing rates of around 11%. For my prep strategies click here:
LSPs, especially motor carriers, make extensive use of “customer entertainment” to gain and retain market share. Lunches, dinners, and sporting events are a big part of the job for carrier representatives. Developing client relationships makes the time and expense worthwhile for the rep even when business is not actually discussed. Access to decision makers, information to be used in negotiations, opportunity to present logistics solutions, and benefit of the doubt when problems arise are the result of good relationships for the LSP.
For the client the benefits can include good faith negotiations, competitive pricing, industry intelligence, and faster problem solving . It is best, however, to manage the relationship. Keep it professional and not personal.
Business lunches can be productive for both parties. Clients should have an agenda with a few discussion points. Remember, as with any meeting, if you don’t have an agenda you are subject to someone else’s. Mention your agenda when scheduling lunch and you will have your rep’s attention. Consider having lunch brought in so you are on your turf.
Expensive dinners and sporting events are much less productive from a business perspective. Food and drink becomes the main event. Business discussions are limited especially if spouses are in attendance. The game takes precedence at sporting events. Big ticket entertainment turns the relationship from professional to personal. It is best to limit your exposure and partake sparingly if at all.
In summary manage your carrier relationships, Don’t let your providers “reward” you for your business. It makes it much more difficult to change providers or negotiate new deals.
A recent client project involved research and advice about Schedule B codes used in AES (Automated Export System) filings. Shippers often use Schedule B or Harmonized codes they have been given without understanding what the codes mean.
As I usually explain to clients, Schedule B is for export from the US and Harmonized codes are for imports. Both are based on the HTS system in which the first 6 digits are universal.
Importing countries can ( and do) use their own last 4 or 6 digits. So, since a US export is another country’s import, the Schedule B used for export may not match up exactly to the importing country’s harmonized code.
As noted in a previous post, codes are updated annually so it is a good business practice to check and verify your data. If you need help contact email@example.comT
International Logistics Consulting; Licensed Customs Brokers