As with any service, when it comes to customs brokerage you always want to make sure you’re getting the most for your money. Customs brokers can offer a variety of import and export services for small businesses; understanding those services, and what they can do for your business, can go a long way towards ensuring your relationship with your broker is profitable and successful.
Here are four things your broker can do for you do to help your business reach new markets and keep costs low. And if your broker doesn’t provide the following services, it might be time to look for one that does!
1. Reach New Markets. A successful small business needs to put its product in front of customers. But what if those customers are across the border? A customs broker that provides North American coverage – with a presence on both sides of the border – is imperative to helping your goods reach those customers quickly and efficiently. And if you’re importing parts and components, a broker with locations at all major ports and border crossings can help ensure your goods get to you in timely manner. Ask your broker about their coverage and what services they can offer to help you reach new markets.
2. Provide Expert Advice. While you keep your efforts focused on your business, you can look to your broker for expert advice on moving goods across the border. Your broker should be able to offer guidance on customs regulations, tariffs, valuation, classification and more – advice that can help you reduce shipping times and save money.
To provide this advice, your broker must have licensed or certified customs professionals available who can answer questions about the customs process – all you need to do is ask. Don’t hesitate to inquire and take advantage of any guidance or services your broker provides that can improve your processes, help with your recordkeeping and prepare you for customs audits.
3. Use Technology to Save You Time and Money. Technology and automation have had a huge impact on business in the 21st century. All brokers are required to have, at minimum, automated systems that exchange shipment data with U.S. and Canada Customs. Many brokers offer additional technology tools and/or use specific systems in-house that can help you increase your efficiency, control your costs, and reduce your risk of non-compliance. These include proprietary imaging solutions, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) solutions, e-billing options, File Transfer Protocol (FTP) tools and more. These solutions can reduce paperwork, simplify your accounting and help keep your business in good standing with Customs. Check with your broker about the technology offerings they have at hand and how they can help you improve efficiency and reduce costs.
4. Provide Personalized Service. Your business needs are unique, and your broker should be flexible and responsive to those needs. Particularly as a small business with a low volume of imports or exports, you need a broker that’s going to pay attention to the details and take a deep interest in the success of your business.
Your broker should provide you with a dedicated contact, one who’s easy to reach and who can develop a real sense of your business and your needs. This dedicated representative can become an extension of your business, someone who can anticipate your needs and help expedite any concerns or issues you might have. The flexibility to solve problems quickly can keep your shipments moving and your costs low.
When you work with a customs broker that’s invested in your success, it can help your business reach new markets while keeping costs and compliance risks low. Talk to your broker today to ensure your small business needs are being met!