What's your Customs broker really doing for you?
Where do companies begin their purchasing process? Price, right? It's the natural starting point, and every procurement officer in businesses around the globe wants to pay the lowest price possible to maximize profits.
But effective buyers understand that the lowest price isn't always the best value - a concept that is gaining more and more relevance as competition in the global economy grows. Products and services that were once perceived as commodities are no longer being treated as such, now requiring specialized expertise, trusted partnerships and greater certainty.
Customs brokers represent one of these industries. In the past, a Customs broker was a means to an end: process entries on imports so that I can get my product to market. Today, with constant changes in laws, regulations and trade agreements, your relationship with your Customs broker is not one that should be taken lightly. A haphazard search for a Customs broker pushing on you the benefit of the "lowest" price can leave you vulnerable for big problems down the line.
"Compliance" is the newest and most important buzzword in import lingo. Get to know it. If your current Customs broker is not preaching compliance to you (regardless of the great price you've gotten from them), it's time to find a new Customs broker. In today's import environment, it is more than possible that a company can get away with being non-compliant for years. But on the day that the Customs audit comes, if you are found to be non-compliant CBSA can go back four (4) years to collect duties that you haven't paid. Who's on the hook for that penalty? Be assured it's not your low-cost broker.
There's another way to look at it, as well. Did you know that if your classification and tariff codes were not entered properly by your low-cost broker and you were actually overpaying on duty and tax, you can go back and have those errors corrected? At Welke Customs Brokers, we're as interested in maximizing your company's profits as you are, so we work with you to reclaim that overpayment. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for our in-house experts to come across companies paying 11% duty on a product that should be 5% or 6% or even 0% because of misclassification.
We understand price shopping - we have business expenses, as well. Who doesn't want to go into their CEO's office and tell them you saved money on a service you have to have? But there are services your Customs broker should be providing beyond simply processing your entries, including staying up-to-date on all regulatory changes and keeping you apprised on how they can and will affect your business. If that's not happening, give Welke a shout.
- Nicholas Brenie, (e-mail) Welke Customs Brokers