Freight forward franchising: A bright future ahead

Unveiling the world of international transport and its future for franchising. Gary Clere, founder of Cargocall, gives his view on an industry which is taking the strain out of global freight distribution

Text: Gary Clere

Some call it 'Logistics' some call it 'Freight Forwarding' some call it 'Shipping' but whatever you call it the world of international transport is still shrouded in mystery for many. Yet without it the modern world would cease to function.

Shipping goods across continents is obviously not a new phenomenon, it's been around for a few thousand years, but it's an industry that still forms the backbone of today's modern globalisation. More than ever before businesses import and export goods, and moving these goods across international borders with efficiency is essential to a good supply chain.

So what's behind the world of international transport? Well as you'd expect there are lots of trucks, aircraft, ships and trains not to mention the millions of acres of warehouse space but the fundamental ingredient is the people that make it all come together. Good communication with well trained, service minded people is really what makes the international transport world turn on its axis.

Air freight, sea freight and road freight are obviously the main three methods of moving goods to or from overseas locations. Rail freight plays a part too but to a lesser degree. Each transport method has its own technicalities and each differs from the other. For example if you need something in New York within two days then air freight is your only option because a sea freight service will take 10 days to arrive. However if the item you are shipping happens to be in excess of 160cms tall then you'll need a non-passenger cargo aircraft because generally the cargo loading doors on a passenger aircraft are not big enough to take anything over 160cms. If the same item was shipped sea freight then the height issue wouldn't need to be considered because sea freight containers allow for larger sizes.

All these differences mean that the international transport industry has traditionally spawned companies that specialise in their own sector of air, sea, road or rail transport. In more recent times courier companies such as DHL, UPS and Federal Express have come to the market offering transport solutions for express deliveries of smaller items of freight; though nowadays they are attempting to offer a wider range of services in response to a changing market. There's no doubt that the international transport industry is trying to grow out of its fragmentation.

Those companies which procure transport services are changing the way they do business too. Once-upon-a-time companies would employ a Shipping Manager to source and manage freight forwarders, shipping lines and hauliers in the delivery of the services needed. There was plenty of expertise on this side of the desk but today that idea is changing rapidly as companies rationalise on personnel and out-source huge transport and warehousing contracts to third parties. Small to medium sized companies often have no specialist transport or Shipping Manager anymore and this role is often tacked on to other responsibilities. As a result expertise is lost and those responsible for shipping find life a lot easier purchasing from a single source and the industry has slowly come to realise that and the buzz word for this is '3PL' (third party logistics).

3PL companies are those who bring all methods of transport together under one roof mixing their own infrastructure along with sub-contracted services. These are known as Asset Based 3PLs. However a growing trend in the world of shipping is what's known as Non-Asset Based 3PLs - companies that concentrate entirely on managing sub-contracted transport services on behalf of their customers. For the customer the jargon is largely irrelevant and the most important thing is getting the job of moving goods from one country to another done well. That still boils down to good communication with conscientious, knowledgeable people who can be relied on to find a solution to every transport requirement to or from any continent.

What all this means for the future of Freight Forwarding franchising is only positive, as long as they offer a genuine single source for all international transport needs. One-stop worldwide shipping is what the customer base is demanding and this lends itself perfectly to franchising. Local Freight Forwarders with a 'can-do' attitude tapping into a wide network of transport suppliers in the UK and overseas to deliver solutions with excellence. It's the essence of franchising and the international transport industry couldn't be a better fit.