International shipping is a lucrative business opportunity, but challenges abound in the domain. The regulations, laws, and paperwork can be painful, but you cannot go slack with any of these when it comes to ensuring smooth and efficient transport of your goods. You may find things even more complex if you ship to and from different countries because regulations are not the same everywhere. Moreover, they are ever-evolving, so you have to stay ahead of the current updates every time you send or receive a consignment. Fortunately, you can hire a dedicated customs broker to cover these fronts and simplify the complexities involved in the process. But finding someone you can rely on takes some effort. Here are some tips to help.
Do your due diligence
Finding a seasoned customs broker requires as much research and diligence as collaborating with an expert accounting professional, IT support provider, or vendor. In fact, you must go the extra mile because the success of your business depends on valuable guidance. You may seek recommendations, but do not skimp on research at your end. Shop around for the leading names in the domain and create a list of the best providers. Check parameters such as reputation, past clients, reviews, pricing, and other information. Weigh the options and pick the one that feels right.
Prioritize industry-specific experience
Partnering with a customs broker is not about finding a random service provider. You must prioritize a company with relevant experience because regulations differ from industry to industry. For example, you cannot expect things to work the same way for consumer goods shipments and pharma consignments. Check whether they have worked in the same landscape before and the clients they have served before. Working with someone having import experience with similar goods makes you more confident.
Check the area of operations
It also makes sense to check the area of operations of the provider because rules vary for countries. A customs brokerage company serving across multiple international locations makes a better choice because you get more options with them. Moreover, it is always a plus for businesses looking to scale and expand across different destinations down the line. You can depend on the same company to guide you with shipments and consignments rather than looking for a new one operating in the additional locations.
Opt for automated services
The last thing you want to encounter is to be tied down with a conservative partner that relies on outdated systems. Customs filing is electronic, so someone using manual bills and paper updates cannot deliver the speed and accuracy you expect. It also means that you may miss out on updates at some point. Look for a customs broker that relies on technology and offers fully-automated services, from document filing to communication, and more. You will not have to worry about delays and errors.
Choose a provider with a dedicated brokering team
You may want to work with a firm that offers more than customs brokering. It may be a sensible choice for a growing business that will require more services down the line. But make sure they have a dedicated team engaged only in customs brokering. Such companies pay attention to the nitty-gritty and the big picture alike, so there is hardly a chance of missing out on anything. You can get the best of both worlds from a single provider, and you need not deal with multiple partners to handle different parts of the business.
Ask questions before sealing the deal
If a broker seems to be a good one on all fronts, do not hurry to sign the dotted line. You must be extra sure about the value of the collaboration before going ahead. The best way to do it is to ask questions and ensure that the broker has sincere and honest answers to them. Seek solutions to various customs clearance-related problems to get a fair idea of their expertise. Also, ask about pricing and customer support so that you have clear expectations right from the start. Transparency breeds trust and sets you up for long-term collaboration with the provider.
Once you connect with the customs broker you can rely on, consider building a partnership for a lifetime. They will understand your business and growth goals and have the best recommendations for achieving them. Moreover, you can be stress-free when a reliable professional monitors imports and keeps you a step ahead of the compliance guidelines. It means you can focus on other aspects of the business while your brokers handle these parts.