Lessons Learned in 3pl


Following one of Spartan Logistics' greatest disappointments, Steve Harmon, President of Spartan chose to dissect the experience rather than forget it. From one of Spartan's greatest accomplishments to one of the most disappointing, the journey of running a warehouse and distribution 3PL service is tumultuous. Let us take a look at both ends of the spectrum. Steve's white paper, Requiem of a Contract is below for download.


Champion of Customer Needs

Sometimes the customer does not realize what they need until you prove it to them. One of our greatest accomplishments as a 3PL service provider had exactly this setup.

Spartan Logistics approached a major food manufacturer to talk about how we could work together and save them money as a 3PL service provider. After much cajoling, the manufacturer agreed to meet to discuss the idea. Skepticism was high, and cynics abounded, but at the end of the day, Spartan prevailed. We convinced them to outsource their order fulfillment and shipping department to us. To save money for the new customer while still turning a profit, Spartan had to re-invent the system to handle a labor-intensive pick and pack operation without losing accuracy and improving inventory discrepancies.

The operation in place had worked for the manufacturer, but they were convinced by the potential for substantial cost savings. Spartan had to find those savings and bring them to fruition through our warehouse services capability. Three years later, our customer asked us to expand into a new state because we were successfully saving them money, time, and headache. It is one of the greatest compliments we ever received; proving our customer truly trusts Spartan Logistics with their warehouse services, inventory management, and order fulfillment to the customer.

Repeat Successes

Logan Creek ConstructionSpartan Logistics also works very closely with our construction arm, Logan Creek Construction. As partners, we won a small contract to build a distribution center for a major pharmaceutical company to their exact specifications. Upon completion, the customer returned not once, not twice but 12 more times for other builds. Again, a customer continuing to return and requesting expansion is one of the greatest compliments Spartan Logistics could hope for.

But the Journey has Lows

Unfortunately, not everything takes off in such a great fashion. I was present for what became one of Spartan Logistics' greatest learning experiences. A customer had requested Spartan to bid on a large, labor-intensive, contract warehousing and dedicated freight operation. We won the bid and excitedly began planning the startup warehouse servicing operation. 

I was there for the very beginning and as all startups are, it was intense but the excitement of expansion permeated the atmosphere. That first week foreshadowed the journey ahead for the operation. The scope of work Spartan had expected from previous experience was inaccurate, and as the white paper lays out, market differences added other unanticipated pressures.Requiem of a Contract Offer

Sharing the Lessons

Three years into the struggle to bring the 3pl operation to profit, all parties involved acknowledged the magnitude of the flaws and effects on daily interaction. Warehouse, transportation, and manufacturer partnered together to solve the riddle. Eventually, everyone walked away with the lines of communication still open and relationships intact.

Click the icon to download the pdf of Steve Harmon's white paper, Requiem for a Contract in a Tough Market.

 Spartan Logistics did not prevail in this solution, but the lessons learned about the customer and warehouse services are invaluable. We hope you find some similar value.

Topics: Customer Service Lessons, Lessons