LinkedIn Comment- Value Before Price

Jill CliffordJill Clifford • 1st • 1stPresident at FreightPlus | Strategic Planner for Innovative Transportation Solutions | Developing Efficient Transportation Strategies for C-Level LeadersPresident at FreightPlus | Strategic Planner for Innovative Transportation Solutions | Developing Efficient Transportation Strategies for C-Level Leaders11m •    11m •

We take a non-traditional approach to sales at FreightPlus.

For us, it rarely leads with cost. Instead, our goal is figuring how transportation programs can strengthen a client’s business from the inside out.

It starts by studying their order cycle flow across all departments – from first purchase down through fulfillment, billing, and customer receipt. We dig into the process gaps that affect speed and experience.

Maybe unreliable carrier pickups slow down warehouse production.

Perhaps complicated tools that lack visibility disturb customer service updates.

Or unclear freight invoices cause problems with back-office paperwork.

We find and fix problems wherever they pop up. By improving our transportation plan, we make things better for the whole organization. Because it truly has a ripple effect – capacity stabilizes, the team gets more done, and customers get quicker responses.

Even though it might seem unusual, we prioritize making everything work well together before worrying about costs.

When orders go smoothly, the whole business does better.

View Mitch Kostoulakos, LCB’s profile

Mitch Kostoulakos, LCB • Ad Hoc Logistics LLC, Int’l Logistics Consultant/Licensed Customs Broker

Exactly…demonstrate value before moving to price….Once price is under discussion it is difficult to go to value…

A New Year’s Business Resolution for 2024

An annual customs review is a good business practice. Early January is a good time to get this done before day to day activity ramps up again. As part of your due diligence, check to make sure you are taking advantage of regulations that allow importing on a duty free or preferential basis. Here are a few basic items for your annual customs review:

Classification– review  updates to the HTSUS (Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States) to make sure your codes and descriptions are accurate. Proper classification and valuation of imported goods are the first step in compliance. If you do nothing else, do this.

Duty Drawback– this is a refund of duties paid on imports that are later exported. As supply chains expand there may be new opportunities for drawback. Record keeping is key here.

Chapter 98 of the Harmonized Tariff allows duty free entry of certain categories of goods. Examples are: American Goods Returned, American Goods Repaired or Altered Abroad, and American Components Assembled Abroad.

Trade agreements– programs which allow duty free or reduced duty rate entries. There are many agreements (such as USMCA) in place.

Customs rulings– consider requesting formal customs rulings prior to large transactions. This ensures compliance and eliminates uncertainty about imports. Rulings can be requested thru the CBP website.

Correcting errors– when an entry mistake is discovered it can be corrected by a prior disclosure to CBP. The formal process is a Post-Entry Amendment/Post Summary Correction. A prior disclosure can help mitigate penalties.

Contact if you need help.

New Date Spring CBLE

U.S. Customs and Border Protection
New Date for the Spring 2024 Customs
Broker’s License Examination
AGENCY: U.S. Customs and Border
Protection, Department of Homeland
ACTION: General notice.
SUMMARY: This document announces
that U.S. Customs and Border Protection
has changed the date on which the
semi-annual examination for an
individual broker’s license will be held
to Wednesday, May 1, 2024.
DATES: The customs broker’s license
examination originally scheduled for
April 2024 will be held on Wednesday,
May 1, 2024.
Omar Qureshi, Branch Chief, Broker
Management Branch, Commercial
Operations and Entry Division, Trade
Policy and Programs Directorate, Office
of Trade, (202) 909–3753, or

LinkedIn Comment- Triennial Report

Amalie Trade Compliance Consulting

Today’s Tuesday Trade Thought is for our Licensed Customs Brokers in the United States!
Once again, it is time to submit your Triennial Status Report. Every three years, starting from 1985, federal regulations specify that the Triennial Status Report is due by February 28th. Every individual and entity holding a valid broker’s license will need to submit a status report and the corresponding fee.

View Mitch Kostoulakos, LCB’s profile

Mitch Kostoulakos, LCB •Ad Hoc Logistics LLC, Int’l Logistics Consultant/Licensed Customs Broker

Electronic filing is a big improvement

Customs Brokers Continuing Ed is Coming

I have always favored continuing education as a way to professionalize the Customs Broker position. Starting with the 2024-2027 Triennial period LCBs will be required to complete some continuing education credit hours.

While the Final Rule states that brokers must complete 36 continuing education credit hours per triennial status period, CBP will allow brokers to complete fewer than 36 hours to meet the requirement for the initial 2024-2027 triennial status period. Further guidance on how many continuing education credits will be required for the 2024-2027 triennial status period will be published on and in a Federal Register notice.

Here is a link to the CBP website. Right now there are more questions than answers about the requirements. Let’s hope CBP provides clear direction soon.

Supply Chain Audits

Supply Chain Audits

The years since the beginning of the Covid epidemic have raised awareness about supply chains and logistics services as shortages and delays became the norm. C-suite executives added supply chain resiliency and risk to their list of priorities. For supply chain managers the positive aspect to the disruptions is a heightened profile of their profession. The need for annual audits of supply chains to help mitigate future disruptions is obvious but execution can be difficult. Audits sometimes become a “back burner” issue or are postponed in favor of other projects. There is no regulatory requirement to perform supply chain audits so the reasons for avoidance include staffing, unwillingness to devote resources ($), the belief that the company is too small, and lack of C-level commitment. If supply chain audits are to be performed and effective C- level leadership is the most critical factor.

Supply Chain software and checklists can be used to produce an “off the shelf” audit. However, a customized process will be more effective as an analytical, planning, and training tool. Supply chains vary from simple to complex depending on many factors including location and distances between sources and markets, country of origin of components, logistics service providers, and regulatory issues.

This article is intended to present a suggested set of guidelines for developing customized audits rather than a checklist of numbered tasks. Strategic goals are the purview of C-level executives providing tactical direction to supply chain auditors.

Strategic Level

Supply Chain Strategy

An audit will consider strategies to ensure that the company has a clear vision that is aligned to its business goals. The strategy should be inclusive of the people, process, and systems involved in order to meet customer service requirements. Transparency must be implemented at the strategic level, enabling better communication throughout the entire supply chain. Furthermore, a good strategy will examine social responsibility, quality, sustainability, environment, and responsible sourcing.

HR Implications

An audit can analyze the supply chain to determine if an effective organizational structure is in place. A suitable structure is one that has clear accountabilities outlined and suitable resources available to facilitate a company and its partners in meeting their goals. An effective structure will also ensure that the workforce has suitable training, and that the workplace culture supports continual improvement.

Supply Chain Processes

 The audit will examine tactical functions of the supply chain: inventory management, technology tools or software, procurement, logistics and customer service. KPIs to be implemented for tactical functions and updated as needed.

Vendor Mgt

 An audit will ensure that vendors are complying with relevant regulations and identify instances of non-compliance and potential red flags. In addition, the audit will ensure compliance with legislation and contract clauses. Vendor management will also confirm that the work offered by vendors is of a high standard competitively priced. With high level management cooperation vendor supply chain audits may be a contract requirement.

Risk Management

While a good management program can mitigate risk, there is no way to eliminate risk entirely.  An audit can assess geopolitical conflicts that might impact trade routes and tariffs, the likelihood of environmental or manmade disasters, or potential internal risks related to responsible sourcing or corporate social responsibility.

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)

Supply Chains are the veins and arteries through which corporations function. ESG issues are top priorities for C Suite executives in the 21st Century. They will establish ESG priorities, oversight and management, and stakeholder engagement. Priorities specific to the corporation or industry include:

Environmental- Climate, Sustainability, Waste and Recycling

Social- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Human Rights, Community Service

Governance- Ethics and Compliance, Corporate Governance, Safety and Health Regulations

Tactical Level

  • Staffing the Audit- Auditors must be allowed as much independence as possible. If conducted internally recruit from Finance, Marketing, Manufacturing, Legal, and IT as well as Supply Chain. Assign these professionals to audit departments other than their own to avoid bias and management pressure.
  • Network Design- the framework of the supply chain. Review and update as needed a documented supply chain strategy, aligned to business goals, and translated to KPIs, incentives, and compensation. The audit will determine gaps in technology and software. Consider benchmarking against other supply chains with similar characteristics. Common KPIs: Measurement of Risk/Vulnerability- specific to company or industry, Resilience- Estimated recovery time for various scenarios, Evaluation of software and IT systems.
  • Customer Service- Four utilities add value to customers: form, possession, time, and place. Form utility is generated in procurement and manufacturing. Marketing creates possession. Logistics provides time and place utility. The ultimate in logistics service is to deliver all orders completely, on time, to the right location, in perfect condition, with complete and accurate documentation.  Common KPIs:   Orders shipped on Time and Complete, Orders delivered on Time, Orders Returned, Warranty Processing, Invoicing Accuracy, Timely Responsiveness to Customer Issues, Proactive surveys, Response to customer reviews.
  • Procurement- the beginning of the supply chain. Implement a vendor management process to include how suppliers are selected, supplier performance KPIs, regular review meetings, action plans for improvement, and emphasis on value and Total Cost of Ownership vs price. Common KPIs: Price, Order Placement Efficiency, Supplier EDI Capabilities, Invoicing Accuracy and Timeliness, Returns Programs, Warranty Programs, Follow Up and Responsiveness,
  • Inventory Management- The supply chain functions with the biggest fiscal impact are inventory and transportation management. Reducing inventory saves money but can drive up transportation costs and risk lost sales. Conversely, increased inventory can reduce transportation costs but be a drag on profits. Supply chain management seeks a balance in this key area. Common KPIs include Total inventory in system, Safety stock in system, Inventory turnover, Order fill rate, Order cycle time, Lost sales, and Inventory Carrying Costs.
  • Inbound Logistics- Best practices require checking inbound items for quality, quantity, and condition upon arrival. An efficient supply chain will utilize an appointment schedule for deliveries and an advanced notification process by suppliers when possible. Logistics Service Providers (LSPs) are covered further below. Common KPIs: On Time Deliveries, Advanced Shipment Notification, Shortage/Damage Upon Delivery,
  • Outbound Logistics- Distribution of products from warehouse to end user or FSL (Forward Stocking Location) may be insourced to private fleet or outsourced to LSPs (Logistics Service Providers). If insourced, it is essential to measure fleet utilization to reduce equipment down time/empty miles and ensure that vehicles are of the right type and capacity.  Fleet managers must have the ability to adhere to safety, maintenance, and hours of service regulations with appropriate KPIs. Outsourced distribution is discussed under LSPs. Common KPIs: Equipment Utilization/Down Time, Empty Miles, Safety and Accident Rate, Fuel Consumption, Training.
  • Logistics Service Providers (LSPs)- selection process for providers should be based on value and not on price alone. KPIs are essential in tracking on-time performance, loss/damage, customer service responsiveness, billing accuracy, and other services. Conduct and document regular review meetings to address service issues as well as rates. Incorporate transportation providers’ KPIs into your supply chain audit as they will impact customer service. Service level agreements should be implemented with high volume providers and updated as needed. Importers may consider a separate audit of their Customs Broker or, at least, engage brokers who perform self-audits. Common KPIs: Price- compare net rates not % off because base rates differ, Transit Times/Reliability- on time pick-up and delivery, Capability/Access- provider has right equipment in right place at right time, Security- Loss and damage experience, Operation Ratio- providers with marginal or negative O/R present a risk, Relationship- customer service experience and problem solving responsiveness.
  • Warehouse- Warehouses or distribution centers are critical supply chain nodes. They are strategically positioned for storing inventory, staging finished goods, and shipment consolidation and deconsolidation. 21st Century warehouses add value through fulfillment services, inventory control, and return services. Common KPIs: Inventory Control Accuracy, Loss/Damage, Capacity Utilization, Equipment Maintenance and Utilization, Pick/Pack Productivity, Shipping/Receiving Productivity, Customer Service, Safety Record, Training.

In summary, the guidelines presented in this article can produce an audit that can be used as a tool for analysis, planning, and training and not just a document for the files.