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  4. How to pick the perfect pallet network – part 2

We recently launched our handy guide of the top 10 things to consider when choosing a pallet network. Hopefully, you’ve had chance to read the first instalment. If not, you can read it here.

Now, it’s time for numbers 6-10 in our countdown to ensure that you can make a considered and informed decision when it comes to selecting your ideal logistics partner.

Face-to-face communication

Nearly all businesses now have a reliance on digital communication and it certainly has its benefits. However, there’s also a lot to be said for speaking to a real person and meeting people face-to-face as well. A good logistics provider should strike a healthy balance between the two.

Ask if you’re able to go and visit the main hub of the network so that you can see operations in action and really understand how the business model works. Also, enquire about how your account will be handled. Will you be given access to your own key account and business development managers? Ask how they will communicate with you and if you’ll get to see them regularly in person. Remember that they should be spending time coming to see you and getting to know your business to build a solid working relationship.

Timed deliveries to remote locations

Deliveries to major towns and cities should be simple for any major logistics provider, but what if your pallet needs to go somewhere a little harder to reach? It’s worth finding out the exact extent of network coverage and if making a delivery to either the Outer Hebrides or Isle of White will be as straightforward as sending something to Leeds or London. The first thing you should be asking is “do you cover every single UK postcode?”

Don’t just limit your enquiries to domestic deliveries either. Ask about Europe too. You may not need a European service now but it’s worth knowing if there’s a service offering to support you if you expand. Just for the record, we deliver to 38 different countries on the continent.

Transparency

The best networks will not only be transparent with their customers but also with their staff and members too.

If each member haulier knows how they’re performing and receives weekly KPI reports, that’s a good sign. Ultimately, it shows you that there’s an emphasis on continual improvement and a desire to offer the very best service. This is exactly what you want from someone that you’re trusting to move your goods for you.

As we mentioned in part 1, also check if the network is ISO accredited. This quality benchmark shows you that procedures are in place to measure KPIs and ensure everyone is performing to the best of their ability.

The Association of Pallet Networks says that a fill rate of 72% or above should be expected, so quiz your prospective partner and see what they’re currently achieving. If you want a benchmark, Pall-Ex’s current fill rate is around the 90% mark."

A national network with a local service

A combination of national and international coverage, and local knowledge is crucial in the logistics sector. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about exactly who will be handling your pallet. It’s always a comfort to know that your delivery is being made by someone who knows the local area, roads and businesses like the back of their hand.

If you need a European service, it’s really important to ask how operations on the continent work as well. Find out who heads up the services in each country. Are leading hauliers from each country sourced to run the individual networks and share their domestic knowledge or is it a case that a team is simply shipped in from the UK to replicate the same model?

What works in the UK doesn’t necessarily always work on the continent, so find out how the service is bespoke to the specific needs of the region and quiz the logistics provider on its knowledge of the sector in specific areas.

Competitive full-load rates

Pallet networks exist as they offer a more cost effective, efficient and environmentally friendly form of logistics. If the network has a membership that delivers and collects in specific postcode areas and then exchanges goods with other members at a central hub, then you can be sure that no unnecessary or ‘empty’ journeys are being made.

The Association of Pallet Networks says that a fill rate of 72% or above should be expected, so quiz your prospective partner and see what they’re currently achieving. If you want a benchmark, Pall-Ex’s current fill rate is around the 90% mark.

You will hopefully now have your checklist and questions at the ready to go out and find a logistics provider that will not only support the needs of your own business but help facilitate growth too.

Of course, some elements of our countdown may have triggered some more questions and thoughts. If that’s the case, remember that we have a team here at Pall-Ex who would be more than happy to help.