Interview: Trisha Slater, Operations Director, International Forwarding Ltd

IFL Operations Director Trisha Slater

Trisha Slater has almost 20 years experience as International Forwarding’s Operations Director. We asked Trisha about her work at the heart of IFL’s operations department, and the biggest issues and opportunities for the company right now.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to International Forwarding Ltd (IFL)…

I actually started work in the freight industry when I was 18, working in Dublin for various freight companies for over 20 years – including IFL’s old Dublin office. I was asked to join International Forwarding Birmingham as Operations Manager in September 2000 and then two years later offered a directorship. Now I lead the operations department, overseeing all aspects of the day-to-day business, managing a team of 15 people and advising them on the most cost-effective ways to handle freight.

What are your main tasks and challenges as Operations Director?

First of all, to make sure that we look after our staff as they are one of the biggest assets we have. Of course, our customers are of utmost importance to us and the biggest challenge on a day-to-day basis is communication: making sure we keep our customers updated at all times.

What’s your management style?

I am very straight talking and will not ask the staff to do anything I am not prepared to do myself. From a personal point of view, I would be best known for a lot of my Irish sayings; I think most members of staff would agree.

What’s it like to work at International Forwarding?

IFL is very much like a family business and a joy to work for. We are one big team and very hands on.

How do you deliver value in a sector with such tight margins?

Our focus is very much on customer service and looking after the customer. The main difference between us and the big freight companies is personal service. We pride ourselves on communication and continuity so customers can deal with the same person most times, or at least someone else in the same department, and not an automated phone system whereby you can get a different person every time.

Is demand growing in any particular areas right now?

Warehouse space is becoming much more of a requirement for our customers, and storage is of course something we can offer along with pick/pack, cargo handling and onward distribution – all key service offerings for IFL.

How important is the Palletways connection to IFL?

IFL is partnered with Palletways – the number one pallet network in the UK and Europe – and this is a great selling tool for us when it comes to fast pallet delivery and network coverage. It enables us to offer our overseas agents a premium service to anywhere in the UK overnight.

What are your customers’ biggest concerns right now?

Brexit! Need I say more? We import and export to more than 10 European countries – often daily – so European freight forwarding is a core service for us. The sooner the UK government makes a decision on Brexit and the Customs Union the better; both the freight industry and import-export companies need time to work out the detail of the changes.

Where do you expect to see the biggest growth in the next 12 months?

Storage and customs clearance – but once again it all depends on the Brexit deal. Many UK freight companies are holding off expansion at the moment until we know the outcome of the Brexit deal. In the meantime we plan to expand out IFL’s storage facilities.

What’s your top tip for customers to get a good rate for the job?

Price is not always the most important part of the job. To me, it is communication, keeping the customer updated at all times and building a relationship with them over time. We pride ourselves on personal service and this is something a lot of our customers find lacking with other freight companies.

How can IFL help you?

To talk to IFL about your business, and how we can help with your freight forwarding and logistics needs, please get in touch. We’re also here for quick quotes – just call or email and we’ll get back to you within 15 minutes (within office hours) with a rate for the job. Easy!