In our daily life, we all use various tricks and services to boost our productivity and save time or money. For example, it could be a morning run or a cup of coffee which might energize my day or a car which helps us to move faster and a smartphone which offers a variety of additional options against a usual telephone. But what about our chartering job routine? We use AIS services to follow the position of our vessels and easier control the voyages; from time to time – analytical services; and skype to make our international communication cheaper. So far that’s all. But now there is one more option which completely changes the process of our main activity – searching for the most competitive cargo. And today we are going to find out how is it possible.
The best value which a ship chartering marketplace, like OpenSea, brings is the ability to find the most suitable cargoes for your open ships. But there are even more hidden features which can also help you to save time, efforts and even achieve the best freight.
After you complete the registration in the OpenSea, you are ready to place your first positions and start looking for the most appropriate cargo for your vessels. It is a very easy process which, as we have previously seen, can take place very quickly. However, you have to follow some steps which will enable you to find the most competitive cargoes, conclude the best fixtures out there and develop fruitful relationships, which will subsequently maximize your profits. Let’s see which are those steps.
1. Be credible and trustworthy
Shipping is a niche industry which is highly dependent on the relationship between the parties. Taking an offer from an unknown may result to no response since people prefer to deal with stable counterparties whom trust or with those who can validate their credentials. Therefore, input as much information as possible in your profile and give people the chance to use this information for a more detailed due diligence. As an example – use your business email instead of gmail or yahoo. Also, uploading your photo gives a friendlier tone and puts a face behind the words while if you upload your company’s logo your profile looks more professional.
2. Plan your next voyage beforehand
Register your position in OpenSea well in advance the vessel’s opening date. As soon as the name of your ship and your own details will stay private, you will have the time to explore more possibilities in order to find the most appropriate cargo. Furthermore, you will have the time to consider and choose the best available offers. Generally speaking, when the vessel spots (opens), Charterers will understand you are desperate to find a cargo and will have more negotiating power than what you have.
The vessel’s description should be detailed and accurate so as the charterers to be able to evaluate her quickly in case needed. Therefore, let the world know about your position, keep them updated with any change in dates or place and send offers if you see a matching cargo on our map. You may also get offers and ignore the ones which are not attractive, in order to stay private and avoid loss of time.
There is an additional convenient way of updating your fleet positions in OpenSea: you can just add our special email in your circulation list and all your positions will be updated automatically. This way you will make zero efforts but still will be able to get all matching cargoes right in your mailbox. Once you will get a firm offer, you will be also notified by email.
3. Start firm negotiations with the most competitive cargo. It is possible with us
When you place your opening ship in the system, you may receive a few matching cargoes. The easiest and quickest way to choose the best option is to consider them in our table view. This feature gives you the ability to compare few options in main terms of load/discharge rates, cargo quantity, freight idea and others. This way you are able to send your firm offer to the most competitive business. Sending many offers at the same time is neither efficient nor ethic and may result in losing your credibility if your action becomes known between the members of the marketplace. Also, our system allows users sending offers to the same counterparty only with 30-minute intervals but anyway make sure you do not bomb them with offers unless you receive some feedback first. Not only it might be considered unprofessional but you also lose negotiating power.
4. Make proper due diligence
As soon as you have entered into firm negotiations, you have received the first counter and you feel you are close to fix your vessel, wait a minute and before you confirm the fixture, make a due diligence on your counterparty. This may save you time and money. Study the profile of your counterparty, search everything around, based on the data mentioned in their profile and most importantly read the feedback that other users have left in order to assess its performance. The online feedback is a very important aspect of our platform which makes the marketplace totally transparent and gives the opportunity to perform due diligence easily and in a timely manner. For this reason, every time you complete a business leave real feedback for your counterparty and also kindly remind them to do the same.
5. Check the freight idea and offer your own rate
Because all positions placed in OpenSea are private, cargo offers may also include the freight ideas that the Charterers are willing to fix. This also saves your time since you will have a firm and accurate information which is not subject to intermediaries’ tricks. However, this is not binding as well, and therefore you can test the other parties by offering a higher freight rate, especially if you think that the market is currently higher than what the Charterers are willing to pay (according to their ideas). Therefore, use the freight ideas in order to make an initial evaluation of whether this is workable for your vessel and then adapt same to your needs and your offers.
6. Be prompt
As soon as you receive a message or (counter) offer, a notification email will also be sent to you immediately so as to make sure that you will not lose any information. It is very important to respond in a timely and prompt manner so as to ensure that you will catch each and every opportunity. Our industry is 24/7 and unresponsiveness may be considered as non-interest and in this case, the charterers may fix another vessel. It’s really a pity to find the best cargo in the market and then realize that you lost it since you were not as prompt and quick as needed.
For this case, OpenSea even lets you reply to your counterparty by email notification which you will get from us. This way is very helpful when you are on the way and have only smartphone in your hand.
7. The freight rate is only a part of the fixture. Focus on the other terms as well
The initial fixing form in OpenSea includes the main terms so as to make sure that they will be properly agreed between the parties. But they could be easily improved, so try to include in your reply any other required terms or any comments you may have on the initial offer which will be later incorporated into the final recap. Before you counter, each time, read the historical communication which is stored online in order to make clear what is accepted and what is not. This way you will avoid back-trading which is embarrassing and may affect your professionalism. Agreeing on the charter party terms properly will avoid further disputes which may affect your profits from an attractive freight rate.
Another additional value in OpenSea is that by fixing online, you will create your own archive of fixtures (including the history of negotiations and documents), which will be always available from any device or any place. But what is even more important is that you would be able to analyze your fixed deals and retrospectively compare them with the market indexes.
OpenSea is constantly developing and during 2017 we are going to present our own analytics based on machine learning algorithms. But right now you are able to gain more insights from our marketplace and be more productive in your daily ship chartering routine. You are welcome to register and try our service with below form.