Analyzing 3PL company strengths and weaknesses is necessary if you want to find one that works well with your niche industry. If you’re new to searching for warehouses, you may think all fulfillment centers are alike. They really aren’t, and many have designs for specific companies. You may even find a few that say they’re suited for specific industries when they really aren’t.
Just like you would for any business, proper vetting helps you choose the right warehouse for your company. Doing this only helps yourself since having a good relationship with your 3PL is important to keep working with them long-term. You don’t want to have to switch to another warehouse midstream just because you didn’t take time to study the pros and cons.
So what are the biggest strengths and weaknesses you might encounter in a 3PL during the vetting process? Almost all of them have good and bad elements, though weaknesses can sometimes mean something positive.
Is Their Management Strong or Weak?
Management principles in most 3PL companies have various strengths and weaknesses. The most critical thing to find is whether the management in your warehouse has real vision for the future. Are they willing to tailor their services for your company structure?
If management treats their warehouse like a commodity service, it’s best to move on to another. It’s a must to have management with intent to expand and continuously update their technology to keep up with demands.
Also, check into how centralized the management is. When or if they expand to other geographic areas, management could become more decentralized and cause more logistics confusion.
How Strong or Weak is the In-House Technology?
A 3PL that doesn’t invest in the latest warehouse technology obviously shows a major weakness. Most warehouses do, though you have to make sure they’ve streamlined it and integrated it into every department.
Top-tier technology is only as good as how it’s used, and having examples in how the 3PL uses it can help you get faster answers on their strengths. More so, you can determine whether they keep up on the latest tech updates so they know what to invest in down the line.
Is Trained Staff Strong or Weak?
How much training has the warehouse given to their staff lately? Do they update training regularly, or do they wait several years before new training takes place?
A staff that’s continually learning is a benefit to the 3PL you work with because they’ll know every procedure without having to ask questions. Any employee with confusion on how to operate technology only leads to downtime. That can’t happen in a warehouse where speed is mandatory to keep pace with shipping demands.
Make sure your 3PL has capable people working, including proper safety training to eliminate any risk of injury.
How Strong or Weak is Their Geographic Location?
Do you know exactly where your 3PL’s location is? Many of the best ones are near major ports, highways, and airports. If they’re in a more remote area that takes an hour longer to get to transport service, it can matter in how fast a delivery takes place.
Geographic location also matters in any potential risk or danger from nature. Is the warehouse in an area where hurricanes frequently occur? A warehouse in Southern California may have risks from earthquakes.
These strengths and weaknesses can help you form a backup plan if something were to happen. Asking your 3PL if they have a disaster recovery plan in place is just as important as asking about management, costs, or technology.
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