I recently came across an article titled "Avoid Inconveniences By Choosing The Right Freight Shipping Company", written by Amy Nutt. The article provides a good list of what you should look for in a reliable shipping company (like Lynden).
Here is a quick list of the important points.
Choose a company that can help you balance delivery speed and cost. A shipper that can offer you the choice to ship by truck, ship by barge, or ship by plane can give you better cost/speed options.
Check on a company's track record. Have they been around for a while (valuable experience)? What do their customers say about them? How helpful are their employees when you contact them?
If you are shipping internationally, ensure that the company has experience and knowledge of the different laws and guidelines that exist abroad.
The article also mentions shopping around for the best price. I would add that you should understand what the real cost of shipping is - it's not just the rate you are quoted. A lower price is not helpful if your freight arrives late or damaged. If the shipper is unreliable, how much time will you have to spend checking up on your freight? Is the shipper experienced? If so, they likely can help provide advice on how to better or more cheaply ship your freight.
Any tips you would like to add? Leave a comment below!