How to Scale Your Freight Forwarding Business

Expedock Webinar

Alfonso de los Rios of Newports is the founder of one of the largest digital forwarders in Latin America. He goes through the core competencies of digital forwarders and how to thrive in the industry.

Website here: Nowports

Alfonso de los Rios:
Try to talk a little bit about how at Nowports we're trying to adapt to post-COVID era and serving the businesses we do. A little bit about me is that I'm from Monterrey, Mexico. I grew up in a family with a small business in traditional freight forwarding. The reality is that since I was a child, I work related to logistics. On the other side since I was little, learning by reading and experimenting with code from the internet since I was 11 years old.

I started developing small games for Facebook and Miniclip. Before that, I have previously worked in Moonshots for Education and in Yewno as a senior full-stack engineer on Redwood City in California. Leading a big project for the company at that time. Now I go share my screen. Sorry. Just one second. With Maximiliano Casal, I founded Nowports in December 2018 as the first digital freight forwarder in Latin America.

A year later, we had active offices in Mexico, in Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay with more than 90 full-time employees. Maximiliano and I found it Nowports in December 2018 as the first digital freight forwarder in Latin America. Since then, we have managed the effects of COVID in China especially with delays and lack of space in ocean shipping. It wasn't until the end of February that it started to spread in the cities where we work. After some discussions with our board by mid-March, we decided to close our offices and send all our employees to remote work, before it was mandatory.

We looked for some ways to help our clients and our communities. We offered to ship medical equipment to Latin America at cost, with no profit involved. During the worst time for cargo visibility, we release a free trial of our tracking software for air and ocean freight for everyone including our competitors. This means that at Nowports, we decided to open our platform without charging a profit at all. Even for our competitors, since from one day to another, they didn't have their physical best at their office. There was no visibility on shipments.

I will summarize the adjustments we have been doing the last month in three factors or bullets. Our first, we ensure a steady distance leadership. Since we are in an international company with offices in more than five countries, we have already established some of our daily processes for distance communication. We use this new model to manage our teams. We share video calls for teams at the beginning and end of the day to review individual advances and problems. After a month into remote work, our Slack activity raised by 300%. We have KPIs for each employee to track their monthly performance. At the start, we were skeptical about remote work. Most of the team showed their work ethic without supervision and completed their test in time.

Second, super important. It's paperless information. Some traditional freight forwarders is struggling to work at home since they couldn't access the essential information left at their offices. Others couldn't reach their providers or customers since they were not in their offices either. Some more spent hours on the phone trying to explain procedures that normally they share in persons. We have different online platforms for our clients and our teams where they can start and find data and digital document, including all the shipment history, solid transition was smoother.

Last but not least, a client-centered approach which I think it's the difference between a bad and a good service on pandemic seasonality. We knew every company was facing uncertain times, with government restrictions changing how they used to work. For these reasons, we share with our customers at least advice for their digital transformation with tips for distance leaderships and online tools to make collaborative work more manageable. We started releasing free online webinars. We started with a panorama of the impact of COVID in Latin America and staffed for our supply chain digital transformation. With these initiatives, we earned their trust.

Our tip from Nowports to the other players in the region, it's put people first, including customers, your employees, and the communities where your offices reside. Remember that we are on a pandemic with health and economic consequences. Some of our elites were forced by sanitary loss to close temporarily. We offered them suggestions to keep working, learning, and developing solutions. Make sure that nobody feels isolated while working, including new customers. Find an alternative for disruptions.

Our second webinar started minutes after a big earthquake in Mexico City. Some of our assistants showed their discomfort in the chat window. We assured them by offering a recording of the webinar after it ended and contacted them personally, one by one. Transparency is one of our priorities. Define communication processes to keep your customers and team members updated with essential changes in your company and measures. Communication, it's a two-way channel. They should know who can answer their questions and issues. Thank you.

[00:06:34] [END OF AUDIO]