March 30 2023 | 11 Min Read

Been down the 3PL path and looking for a sunnier outcome?

Posted By
Wendy Mackenzie
Been down the 3PL path and looking for a sunnier outcome?
We should talk…

So you worked with a 3PL and had an unsatisfactory experience:

  • Perhaps your supply chain was blatantly mismanaged.
  • Maybe your 3PL’s underperformance was a gradually disappointing storyline of overpromises and under-delivery.
  • You might have been bogged down by a TMS that was hard to integrate, too expensive to maintain, or just didn’t do what you needed it to do.
  • Or perhaps the negative experience wasn’t quite so clear cut. It could be that your 3PL offered some reasonably decent services, but they were ultimately unresponsive, unimaginative, or simply lacked answers to your most urgent supply chain questions.

If you are this disappointed supply chain and logistics manager, we probably have about 30 seconds to convince you to keep reading — and we already squandered 20 of those seconds on three workaday bullet points. Argh! The pressure. In our remaining 10 seconds, then, here are the four words we believe can set you on a journey to real supply chain solutions.

Ready? Let’s go:

We aren’t a 3PL.

Yes, we use the term “3PL” to describe IL2000 because it’s the closest useful descriptive term people look for when they need help with their supply chain, but our business model and approach have a handful of critical differences to your garden variety 3PL.

And in this blog post, we’ll lay them out for you.

3PLs are transactional. We’re relationship driven.

Relationship driven businessMake no mistake: this is no small difference. (In fact, if you’re rushing off to a “how do we fix our supply chain meeting” right now, this first point of difference is really all you absolutely need to know right now.)

Let’s just be brutally direct here. How does a conventional basic 3PL make money from you?

They make money when they “get” your next freight job. You want something to go somewhere as easily as possible, and a 3PL says, “pay us and we’ll do it for you.” Their goal is really pretty simple. They want to get your freight today, and hopefully tomorrow, and hopefully the day after that. And each time they do, they make money.

And to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with your motivation for simplicity. Nor, for that matter, is there anything wrong with the 3PL’s motivation to take over some simple, procedural shipping tasks for you! It’s a transactional arrangement. But let’s follow up on brutal directness with brutal honesty. That arrangement has some significant limitations.

For example, let’s say your shipments are consistently arriving late to one geographical area, and you’re losing business over it. Your freight team and C-suite might be losing sleep over the problem. “We need to ship faster!” may be the companywide refrain.

But faster how?

Ask your garden variety 3PL, and they’ll likely tell you that, sure, they can take your freight and ship it using the fastest available carrier. It’ll cost you more, they’ll inform you, but if you absolutely need to ship faster, that’s how do it.

The 3PL won’t know, and frankly won’t care, that your customer service desk has known about the shipment date for five days. They won’t know (or care to share) the fact that consolidating your shipments would meet all your shipment scheduling goals at a fraction of the cost.

Why would they?

They’d actually lose business by offering these upstream solutions. But really, they can't make these types of recommendations because they don’t have that level of visibility over your operations.

IL2000 does care and actively seeks upstream solutions to your supply chain problems because when your freight runs leaner we both win.

So the first thing to understand about IL2000 is that we’re here as a supply chain partner, not a freight management provider. We see your business and freight operation not simply as a transaction, but as a complex network of operations we can work together to optimize.

3PLs skirt around complexity. IL2000 dives in.

Complexity in Business Abstract ImageWe all know that you can’t run a tight supply chain without freight auditing. But the freight audit process has a devilishly venomous sting in its tail; it’s extraordinarily, perplexingly complex.

Your run o’ the mill 3PL will offer freight auditing as a service, but invariably, when you scratch the surface it’ll end up being a match-pay system — an intuitive eyeball reaction essentially — to make a quick thirty-second-or-less determination to see if an invoice seems broadly legit. If the invoice falls inside a “reasonable tolerance” of the expected price, a conventional 3PL will go ahead and green light the payment.

They don’t have time and simply aren’t equipped to do more.

Long story short? They skirt the complexity.

And if your business is like the vast majority of companies who are only quasi-satisfied with their third-party supply chain management services, you’ll shrug and accept that diet-coke-of-freight-audit-solutions as near enough = good enough because you know this task is damnably complex, don’t want to do it yourself, and — most importantly — believe this is the best you can expect.

But near enough is so far from good enough when it comes to freight auditing.

We take your tariff and enter that information into our proprietary freight audit system. We’ll compare the information against every single invoice that enters our system to verify gross charges, discount, minimum, terms, fuel surcharge, accessorial fees, and total amount.

There is no reasonable tolerance equation at play here. There is only exactitude. Our team will flag any discrepancy, identify the error, and fix it for you – even if “fixing it for you” means disputing your freight and filing claims on your behalf. That kind of rigor can save you real and meaningful money over time.

3PLs settle for simple checks and gut reactions to short-cut the freight audit process. We have experts on our team whose sole job is to provide that detailed level of analysis.

3PLs think logistics. We think supply chains.

Complex Supply Chain Abstract ImageThen there’s the question of how a 3PL thinks versus how we think. Dig down under your prototypical 3PL’s mission statement, service areas, and products. What will you find? By and large, you’ll find that 3PLs think fundamentally in terms of shipments.  
What do you need to move?

Where do you need it to go?

How quickly does it need to get there?

It’s all about discrete objects moving a given distance in a given time. At the end of the day, 3PLs think logistically. And there is nothing wrong with that if you have a simple and uncomplicated supply chain. The logistics of shipment movement is important; no argument there.

But your company’s supply chain is way more than that.

  • Your supply chain presents a critical moment of reputation building with your client. It encompasses the make-or-break moment a client sees your company as having delivered or reneged on its promise to deliver at a certain place and at a certain time.
  • Your supply chain is accounting. It’s the complex set of processes where your inbound and outbound translates to profit, salaries, and growth.
  • Your supply chain is data – and business intelligence tools foster more accurate forecasting and better decision-making.
  • Your supply chain is at the intersection of time and human resources. If it’s time-inefficient, your people have to spend more time mired in onerous processes and damage control. If it’s efficient, your people have more time for strategy, relationship building and growth.

Supply chains impact every facet of your business.

IL2000 offers tools and consulting services that address every friction point of your supply chain. Reputation building with your client base is part of the picture for us. So is your company’s bandwidth to think about the stuff that really matters. And it all coalesces around a deeply customizable transportation management system that can drill into the details of any shipment while affording your company a clear bird’s eye view of your supply chain.

In other words, we think not just about logistics but about your whole supply chain. We care about how your supply chain impacts the day-to-day work of people across your whole company.

3PLs scrounge for savings. We Create Value.

So you’ve gone down the 3PL path and are now looking for more than a basic logistics optimization outfit can offer. You’re looking for supply chain consultants who understand your business beyond a series of shipment transactions, you’re eager to find a team who can forensically optimize your freight while implementing supply chain efficiencies that enhance your whole order-to-cash operation. We can throw in a well-oiled TMS and BI as well.

If this describes you right now, the number one reason to reach out to IL2000 is this:

We’ll create value for your company.

Sure, we’ll help you save money on freight, but we’ll take you way further than that. We’ll show you how to leverage your shipments to deliver a better customer experience. We’ll give you supply chain certainties in an uncertain time. We’ll free up your company’s minds and collective imagination to think bigger and outgrow your competition.

Ready to level up from a 3PL to something more? Contact IL2000 for a no-obligation supply chain analysis.


Topics: Supply Chain Management, Freight Costs, Core Values

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