Myanmar on a Bike – An Uphill Struggle

As with most things in life, a charity cycle challenge in Myanmar requires preparation. Sitting day after day staring at a computer in a freight company is not the ideal place to start, so training is essential. On the challenge there are many obstacles to overcome: the heat and humidity, long days in the saddle and the distances we will cover – up to 100 kms in a day

But the element that concerns me most is the hills. Having reached a level of fitness where I hope I can keep up a steady pace for most of the day, hills still cause me anxiety

On my first practice session in March I set out to tackle a local hill from my teenage cycling years. But nearly 40 years on and after a confident announcement that I would ‘only ride up it once’, I made it just a third of the way up and – feeling decidedly ill at the side of the road – my confidence took a blow. The scale of this challenge hit home

I have since conquered that hill several times and have tackled longer steeper hills, but nothing on the scale that I expect to meet on the challenge

Riding up long steep inclines is no fun, but it is a large part of the challenge. So, with a little under 5 weeks to go I have decided to switch my focus and concentrate fully on going uphill

This Saturday I rode up and down that hill 5 times before a further hilly 40km

No one ever failed by training too well … or did they?

If you would like to support my charity Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service you can donate at:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/barry-birdsall

No money from donations will go towards my travel expenses as Beat My Freight Quote Ltd and Key Air & Sea Limited, London have sponsored the trip


Cycle Burma – A Mid Life Crisis or a Cry for Help?

I have been a member of a gym for over 20 years, but I would not say I am fit.

My usual pattern of gym usage probably mirrors that of the majority of people – a flurry of gentle exercise each New Year, gradually leading to concentrated inactivity for the next ten months

This year has been altogether different.

In December at an Institute of Directors dinner a close friend announced he was taking part in a 5-day 360km charity cycle event in Myanmar in October. I don’t know why, but I heard myself saying “I would Love to do that”. I don’t even like cycling and I doubt if I had been on a bike more than a dozen times over the last 20 years. It turned out he was happy to have someone along, so it was agreed that I would sign up.

The next day still excited by the prospect I tried to sign up for the event, but it was fully booked. I had mixed emotions I was disappointed and relieved at the same time.

Move forward to March and I received an email, there were now places available. I didn’t know how I felt, I had completely given up on the idea and had missed 4 months of training (even the gym membership had lapsed), but I still wanted to go.

This time I did sign up so Myanmar here I come.

Our UK agency Key Air & Sea Limited is donating the trip expenses, so any money raised goes direct to the charity Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service.

If you would like to donate you can do so at:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/barry-birdsall

 


Hats Off to RAQ Air Logistics, Poland

We have long since stopped second guessing which enquiries will be interesting for our Beat My Freight Quote partners. We try to get feedback on how we can improve the site, which areas they would like to target and the type of products they would like to ship. We also check on where they are getting the best success. As our partners are International Freight Agents most offer Air Freight, Sea Freight and some also offer Road Freight services, they have a wide range of opportunities.

On the latest feedback from one of our newest partners, RAQ Air Logistics a Polish Freight Agent, it still threw up some surprises. Alongside the desire to increase business to the usual markets, air freight to the USA, China and the Middle East and sea freight to the same areas, was an unusual business success – Shipping Hats from Poland to Quito, Ecuador and also shoes by air freight from Warsaw to Quito, Ecuador.

We could sit here day after day trying to think of obvious trading partnerships, but we don’t think we would of ever have come to shipping from Warsaw, Poland to Quito, Ecuador.

Hats off to RAQ Air Logistics, Poland, but keep your Shoes on.


Qualities of a Freight Agent

If you were to prioritise the qualities of a freight forwarder ‘kind’ would not be high on the list, but I cannot think of a better way to describe our latest partner in Myanmar.

I have known the owner of Care Freight in Myanmar for almost 20 years and in all that time I have never seen him lose his cool. Anyone who works in the logistics or freight industry (or has any dealings with freight forwarders) will know that we all have our off days, it is unavoidable when working in such a fast moving industry, so to work with someone who is so level headed is a pleasure.

Shipping freight to Yangon, Myanmar is not without problems, the country still has many restrictions on what can be imported. To outsiders the list of prohibited goods does not always seem to follow any rules of logic, this is where the help of a local expert is so valuable.

With the embargoes on goods to Myanmar being lifted we are noticing an increase in enquiries from all parts of the world.  With Care Freight as our partner we know it will make exporting to Myanmar easier.


Time Flies – When You Are A Freight Forwarder

It is hard to keep track of time when everything is moving so fast. We have shipments to send, we face new regulations and we seem to be constantly attending one training course or another. Without some punctuation we could easily miss what makes our business special.

Last week was one of those “Is it really that long ago” moments. I walked into the office to find an envelope on my desk. It was an invitation to a dinner for one of our clients. Years ago I had attended the opening of his new business and he was now celebrating the 25th Anniversary. If I had been asked how long the company had been trading I would have guessed at under 20 years.

There was no way I would miss this, but when I didn’t respond straight away I received a call saying how much he would like me to attend to talk about old times. Truth be told I have actually been working with him for over 30 years, as in the early days he had another company shipping personal effects as well.

We are still working with the company and have air freight shipments from them most weeks, but he and I are no longer as hands on with the day to day operations as we were 25 years ago. Apart from our paths crossing at the occasional trade show, we do not get to speak that often, as he now lives overseas most of the year.

Today customers are less likely to stay with any company long term. To retain a customer for a year is good, to retain them for 5 years is excellent, but to retain them for 25 years is certainly something to celebrate.

 


Malaysia – Strong Logistics Partnership Gets Stronger

Beat My Freight Quote is not just about making new connections, it is also about making old connections stronger. With over 30 years experience working with freight agents in Malaysia, we have built many relationships. Although we still work with our original agents, there are certain qualities needed to be a successful Beat My Freight Quote partner, these include high levels of customer service and a tenacity to get the best deals for the customer and Crane Worldwide Logistics has those qualities.

We have known Crane Worldwide Logistics for many years and have been impressed by their drive. With Malaysia being one of our busiest territories on Beat My Freight Quote it was important that our partners were committed to the high level of service we expect. They are experienced in Air Freight and Sea Freight and will work alongside our other partners.

We look forward to developing the Malaysia logistics market with Crane Logistics and our other freight partners.


Logistics – Image is Everything

In shops you have a good idea of what you are buying. You can see the item, maybe pick it up and feel the quality, you have a good idea if it meets your requirements. In service industries such as logistics it is more difficult, there is no physical product. So how do you choose?

Obviously cost is a good starting point. Does the cost seem fair and does it seem realistic for your shipment.

Does the company have a good reputation? A little time looking on google can give invaluable information on the freight company.

But sometimes, Logistics is about image.

How does the company answer the telephone?

Do the staff seem knowledgeable and friendly?

Was the collection vehicle they sent smart and clean!

We pride ourselves on our image, but sometimes things happen that are outside your control.

We were delighted recently when delivering on the South Coast of England to find a parking space, so close to the harbour. It was in easy walking distance to the delivery address and was big enough for our van.

We were less delighted when we got back to the van and discovered why the parking space was vacant, it was under a telephone cable that was a favourite spot for seagulls. It was obvious that the locals were aware of the consequences of parking in that spot.

Image may be everything, but sometimes a little local knowledge goes a long way.


Logistics – Just a Matter of Time

Shippers come to us to make savings. Consignees come to us to make savings. It is therefore no surprise that eventually both the shipper and consignee on the same shipment would come to us for savings. Such is the Global reach of Beat My Freight Quote that within half an hour of each other the shipper and consignee both submitted enquiries for the same air freight shipment from Pakistan to the Ivory Coast.

There is no conflict of interest as we always give our best freight prices to all our customers, so we will be quoting them both the same amount.

It is reassuring to know that our message is reaching such a range of countries. With record numbers of enquiries and our internet presence increasing, it is just a matter of time before we have regular enquiries from both parties.


What? You want to ship a giraffe?

Amongst the thousands of enquiries we get on Beat My Freight Quote, some stand out as being, shall we say different. This week sitting in our new request list was an enquiry to ship a giraffe by air freight. It isn’t the first time we have been asked to ship live animals, but evolution did not make giraffes easy to air freight.

Giraffes can only fly on freighter aircraft due to their height and often there are not scheduled freighters available. The solution – a part charter. Part charters are where you buy space on a flight chartered by someone else. The downside of part charters is they are not always available when you want them.

Our instinct is to decline quotes where we feel we cannot make savings, add value to the shipping process or have insufficient knowledge. On this occasion we were able to source a specialist company with space on their charter.

We cannot guarantee quoting on every shipment, but we will try to help where we can.


Talk Back – for more

Two months after taking a Beat My Freight Quote license for New Zealand,  Talkcargo are back for more, taking a license for Queensland, Australia. They join an already strong line up in Australia, where their market knowledge and contacts are greatly appreciated.

Talkcargo is a freight forwarder based in New Zealand and Australia, but their contacts extend globally. They handle most types of cargo, but have a specialist service for the aerospace industry, shipping helicopters, AOG spares and aircraft parts. They are keen to explore the business opportunities and partnerships that Beat My Freight Quote creates, looking at developing new markets.

We cannot thank Talkcargo enough for the help and advice they have already given our customers.