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Third Party Logistics Companies: A Checklist When Evaluating Which 3PLs are Best for YOUR Needs

Steps to Find the Right Third-Party Logistics Partner

Benefits of Utilizing a 3PL Provider

Outsourcing supply chain operations to a third-party logistics provider (3PL) can help businesses scale, save money, increase efficiency, and provide a superior level of customer service. Most importantly, it allows businesses to focus on their core development and goals without the distractions of daily supply chain challenges.

“According to a 2022 Third-Party Logistics Study involving over 300 respondents, 73% of shippers found that using a 3PL resulted in a more positive customer experience, and 86% agreed that it led to greater cost-efficiency in logistics (Forbes, 2023).”

Key Considerations When Evaluating a Potential 3PL Partner

While the following list is not exhaustive, these considerations serve as a solid starting point for selecting the right 3PL provider:

Identify and Analyze Your Business Needs:  Why a 3PL?

Operational Challenges:

Many businesses seek a new 3PL because current processes are faltering. Issues like poor warehousing or delayed deliveries can lead to decreased customer satisfaction and performance across key performance indicators (KPIs). If your business is experiencing such issues, it may be time to consider a new 3PL partnership.

Business Changes:

Structural changes due to growth or shifts in your business model often necessitate added capacity or new capabilities. These changes are clear indicators that it’s time to engage with a new 3PL or evaluate if you’ve outgrown your current one.

Ask the Right Questions

With numerous 3PL companies offering varied services and specialties, it’s crucial to find one that not only meets but excels in handling your specific needs. Consider aspects like reliability, handling times, inventory management, and the scope of services. A 3PL with a proven track record in your industry is preferable.

Technology: Data-Data and More Data

A 3PL’s technology should facilitate easier, more efficient operations and provide deep visibility across the supply chain. High-quality, actionable data is crucial, especially in industries experiencing peak seasons or fluctuations in demand.

Evaluate Scalability and Stability


As your business grows, so should your 3PL’s capabilities. Select a provider with the capacity to accommodate growth and manage unexpected surges in demand effectively.  A lot of scalability comes down to a 3PL’s capacity, where more is almost always better. The more capacity, the better the ability to accommodate business growth  and effectively manage unexpected surges in demand.


Look for a 3PL with a proven track record to ensure they can handle economic fluctuations and provide reliable service consistently.  A newer 3PL may be able to handle fluctuations, but there’s no substitute for a proven track record. Veteran 3PLS will have more experience to back up their performance and sales claims. Even then, it’s still a good idea to put in extra due diligence.

Consider Brand Image and Customer Service

Partnering with a 3PL extends beyond logistics; it involves entrusting them with your brand representation, especially in customer service interactions. Choose a 3PL that values your brand image and can enhance the service level provided to your customers.

Customization of Service

The ideal 3PL should integrate seamlessly with your existing technologies and processes, optimizing what’s already in place without the need for expensive new systems.

Continuous Improvement as a Priority

A 3PL committed to continuous improvement will use proven solutions and new data to constantly refine their processes, enhancing the overall effectiveness and cost-efficiency of the services provided to your business.

Advantages of Using a 3PL Partner

While outsourcing logistics offers significant benefits like industry expertise, scalability, and best practices, it’s crucial to weigh these against potential disadvantages before deciding.

Steps to Engage a 3PL Provider

Set Up a Service Level Agreement (SLA):

Define performance standards to ensure both parties agree on expectations for service delivery.

Create a Detailed Request for Proposal (RFP):

A well-prepared RFP is the cornerstone of finding the right 3PL partner. It should provide comprehensive information about the company’s requirements, including warehousing, inventory management, shipping and transportation services, order processing and fulfillment, technology integration and reporting.

Visit the Facility:

Personal visits can solidify relationships and give you a firsthand view of the 3PL’s capabilities.


The purpose of seeking out a 3PL provider is to save money on your shipping costs, so you’ll want to find out what you’ll pay for at each stage of the shipping process. Prices will vary for each service, such as picking and packing, kitting, labeling, and evaluating returns. If you’re in need of long-term storage, some 3PLs charge considerably more than others to hold onto your inventory, especially after the first month. While prices for each service can vary widely between 3PLs, you can choose the right one by focusing on the costs for the services you’ll use the most.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right 3PL partner is crucial for enhancing your supply chain performance and supporting your business goals. By focusing on industry expertise, effective communication, and robust technology integration, you can establish a fruitful partnership that fosters growth and success.

We hope this guide has equipped you with the knowledge to select the best 3PL for your needs. Direct Link Logistics, with decades of experience and a focus on delivering excellence, stands ready to provide creative logistics solutions tailored to your unique requirements. To learn more about our services, call us at (866) 849-0203 or visit our website.

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Streamlining Patient Care with Efficient Transportation Systems: The DirectExpress Logistics Solution

The Ask

In today’s healthcare landscape, efficiency and cost-control are paramount. Hospitals and medical centers are constantly seeking ways to improve patient care while managing expenses. One innovative approach is the development and implementation of a Patient Care Focused Transportation system. This system leverages technology for documentation and offers cost and service control. The goal is to streamline services for multiple users, both internal and external, spanning 150 locations and 840 departments, ensuring financial efficiency and central documentation.

Service Offerings

  1. STAT Service: This on-demand service caters to the urgent transportation of specimens, blood, medical equipment, hazardous materials, surgical supplies, and more. With 1,000 STAT services per month, prompt and reliable delivery is crucial.
  2. Routed Scheduled Service: Handling over 18,000 routed stops per day, this service ensures timely delivery to internal departments, maintaining the smooth operation of daily hospital activities.

The Solution

DirectExpress Logistics took on the challenge by creating a unique, customized transportation network. This solution began with a thorough evaluation of the current environment for each user. The approach included:

  • Itemized Documented Cost of Service: Utilizing advanced tracking and tracing technology, every service provided is documented and itemized, ensuring transparency and control over costs.
  • Service Improvement and Cost Reduction: The ultimate goal was to justify a complete overhaul of the transportation department by improving service quality and reducing costs.

Implementation and Results

DirectExpress Logistics successfully implemented a robust transportation network with on-site management based on the hospital campus. The centralized dispatch office played a key role in coordinating the services. Here’s how the solution unfolded:

  • Customized Routing Structure: By analyzing historical data from all users, DirectExpress Logistics created an efficient routing structure tailored to reduce costs for each department while meeting their specific needs.
  • Real-Time Tracking and Tracing: Advanced software was implemented to provide real-time tracking and tracing of on-demand STAT orders and scheduled routes. This technology enhanced transparency and visibility, crucial for patient care.


  • 30% Reduction in STAT Delivery Requirements: Monthly STAT delivery needs were reduced by 30%, indicating a significant improvement in service efficiency.
  • Optimized Specimen Flow: The optimized routing system created a more efficient flow of specimens into labs, ensuring timely processing and results.
  • Enhanced Patient Care: The total visibility and transparency offered by advanced tracking and tracing technology directly contributed to improved patient care.
  • User-Friendly Web Portal: On-demand orders are now easily entered through a web portal by each user, accommodating over 150 users and 840 departments.
  • Continuous Improvement: Weekly management reviews involving hospital leadership and DirectExpress’s management ensure that the service continually evolves to meet the needs of the hospital.
  • Professional Service: Routes are operated by bona-fide company employees driving company-owned, branded vehicles, with uniformed drivers ensuring a professional appearance and reliable service.


DirectExpress Logistics has set a new standard in hospital transportation systems by creating a customized, efficient, and cost-effective network. The substantial improvement in service levels, combined with lower costs, underscores the value of this innovative approach. By embracing advanced technology and maintaining a patient care focus, hospitals can achieve significant operational efficiencies while enhancing the quality of care they provide.

This transformation demonstrates the power of strategic transportation solutions in healthcare, setting a benchmark for others to follow.

Note from the President: Jerry Coleman

Greetings to all employees and driver associates

This note is to inform you of our new upcoming company newsletter. I am hoping you will find the content interesting, educational, newsworthy, and somewhat entertaining. After and during the COVID pandemic, communication throughout our company was significantly challenged. Certainly, we had very good communication between our various locations and the Corporate Office in Greensboro. However, reaching all our workforce became a difficult task. Our new newsletter will be a method to keep you informed on many events and to highlight interesting facts about what’s going on at the Terminal offices.

In past years our newsletter highlighted interesting facts, events, etc., in the lives of our driving personnel. I can remember an interesting story about one of our manager’s revealing his time in the military where he was an MP and was assigned to the First Lady. He had some interesting stories to share. Another was a customer who was assigned to John F Kennedy’s security team and flew with him around the world. Yes, this was several years ago but his story still sticks with me today. Our personnel come from all walks of life and have experienced situations of great interest. We can use the newsletter to share some interesting facts about our life that others would enjoy learning.

I am very proud and grateful for the outstanding performance of our team throughout our entire footprint of Terminals. Hopefully we can all share some information and become more connected to the DirectLink, DirectExpess, and DirectTrek family. Our teammates are our greatest assets!

We will talk soon!

Jerry R Coleman

Meet Gary Whitaker

Gary is a member of our RDU Operations Team. His terminal manager describes Gary as someone who “exemplifies the professionalism that is recognizable very quickly. Always in uniform, quick with a smile and an extremely team-oriented individual. You never have to ask for his assistance. When Gary sees a need, he is there to help! No matter the work to be done, he jumps right in to assist!”

Gary is proudly retired from the United States Army where he served our country as an E-7 Sergeant First Class.

Secondly, he retired from duty at the Granville Correctional Institution serving as a Field Training Officer.

Selflessly donating his time as an active member of the First Congregational United Church of Christ, Gary serves as Trustee, Sunday School Supervisor, and participates in the Male Chorus.

Gary is a busy man yet still finds time to bring his wealth of knowledge and leadership skills to DirectLink Logistics each day. As a DirectLink employee, Gary first came onboard in 2011 as a Lead Driver and eventually he became the first Senior Lead at the RDU Terminal. Gary took a leave from us in 2016 to accept his role at the North Carolina Correctional Facility and later returned in 2022 as one of our last mile drivers. Gary continues to prove his value providing counseling to less experienced drivers even without the leadership title. He is not only a great person to work with, but a great person to know and share life with! Gary, Thank you from all of us for your support and commitment to the team!