05/11/10

  08:27:47 am, Categories: efficiency , Tags: networking, relationships

Of late, we have been hearing a lot about 'networking'. What exactly is 'networking'? It is the art of building alliances and relationships. 'Networking' refers to interconnected groups of individuals, companies, and entities that influence us or are influenced by us in our jobs, our social lives, our homes, or families, etc. We may have a different 'network' for each aspect of our lives, one for the office, one for our social interactions, one for our families, etc. Obviously, these 'networks' will overlap, i.e. they will contain some of the same people.

Is "networking" important? In his blog Adopting the Mentoring and Networking Lifestyle, John Kobara says that networking is more than popular techniques to broaden our thinking about our careers and our lives. To be effective in networking we have to integrate it into our lives. We need to network in everything we do. Without proper "networking" we can knock on a lot of doors and never get anywhere.

For those of us who have been in the Transportation Industry for a while, we understand that to be a successful freight broker, we need to have a network of viable and productive relationships. In other words, we need to have customers, clients, carriers and truck owner-operators that we enjoy doing business with and they enjoy doing business with us.

30 years ago I was brokering Christmas trees out of Washington State. I was approached by a "truck broker" that said he could handle all of the loads I had going to Texas. I was reticent in the beginning, but as the first week passed and he and his carriers were flawless in their pickup and delivery schedules, I became more confident in tendering loads to him.

To make a long story short, he was the means of moving over 100 loads of Christmas trees from Washington to Texas in 5 weeks. In April of the next year, he came by my office to see me. We had never met before. He thanked me for taking a chance on him. He had just opened for business the week before he started hauling trees but knew if he could get in with me he would have the freight he needed to appeal to the carriers he was also trying to work with. He continued to haul Christmas trees for me for 3 more years.

How do you build such a relationship in today's transportation market? As Mr. Kobara pointed out, "We must work at it all the time." Here are some ideas:

  • Attend professional and trade association meetings.
  • Visit with other members of your social clubs and religious groups.
  • Talk to sales persons that visit your office; keep an eye and an ear open to seeing and hearing what others are doing to expand their business.
  • Talk to your current network of friends, acquaintances, and business associates about the things you are trying to accomplish, and be sure to ask them what you can do to help them accomplish their goals as well.

As we help each other we will become more "connected", more "involved" in the accomplishments of others, and we will find that we are accomplishing more too.

I can hear you saying, "What does that have to do with Freight Brokerage Software?". At TruckMaster® Logistics Systems, we are very interested in helping you be successful and we have an intricate network of customers, carriers, owner-operator truck drivers and others that are willing and ready to help you be successful. Visit us on the web at www.truckmaster.com, give us a call at 888-891-9550 to find out how our software can help you network your way to success.

Dale Clark
TruckMaster® Solution Provider
TruckMaster® Your Freight Brokerage

04/19/10

  12:00:30 pm, Categories: efficiency , Tags: third party logistics

Business is all about cutting costs and running a well-oiled machine. An effective way of saving costs is by hiring a third party logistics company or firm to handle this particular aspect of the operations. What is a Third Party Logistics company?

A Third Party Logistics (3PL) is an outsourced provider that manages all, or a significant part of an organization's logistics. These logistic services may include transportation, warehousing, distribution management, freight consolidation, invoicing, receivables, payables, and value added services such as packing, e-commerce support (manage your EDI), inventory management, and dealing with vendors.

Deciding to a use a 3PL company depends on a variety of factors that differ from business to business. The decision to outsource certain business functions will depend on the company’s plans; future objectives, product lines, expansion, acquisitions, etc.

Once a decision has been made to outsource, a company will begin a search for the right 3PL that fits all their requirements at the best possible price. There are three types of 3PLs that operate today.

  • Asset Based
  • Management Based
  • Integrated Providers

Asset Based 3PL Companies use their own trucks, warehouses, and personnel to operate their business. Management Based companies provide the technological and managerial resources to operate the logistics functions for their clients, but do so using the assets of other companies and do not necessarily own any assets. The third category, integrated providers, can either be asset based or management based companies that supplement their services with whatever other services are needed by their clients.
There are of course advantages and disadvantages to contracting with a 3PL provider. Here are a few:

Advantages:

  • Cost reduction
  • Improved efficiency, service and flexibility
  • Freeing up resources
  • Better cash flow
  • Access to resources not available at one’s own organization
  • Risk-sharing
  • Elimination of infrastructure resources

Disadvantages

  • Loss of control over logistics functions
  • Distance from clients – loss of personal touch
  • Difference of opinion in perception of the service level
  • Impact on in-house workforce

More and more companies need to have an extremely lean, efficient supply chain to achieve successful integration into new markets. 3PL providers can help provide services to these companies, and can also help companies to cut operational costs. The amount of services being offered by these providers continues to grow each year.

3PLs are more than just transportation providers these days; they are becoming involved in the long-term strategic direction of their client companies.

TruckMaster®'s Transportation Management System accommodates companies with options. First; if a company chooses to manage their own logistics program, TruckMaster® provides the systems and integration needed for complete corporate visibility of the logistics operations. Second; should a company wish to take advantage of a 3PL service or perhaps only allow a 3PL to manage a part of their logistics operations, again; TruckMaster® administers the systems and expertise to allow control and visibility of logistics operations even with a 3PL. This flexibility is paramount in today's consistently changing economic environment. Visit the TruckMaster® Freight Brokerage Software website or call us at 888-891-9550 today and request a demo.

Donna Bratton
TruckMaster® Solution Provider
TruckMaster® Your Freight Brokerage

03/09/10

  11:12:05 am, Categories: regulations , Tags: tax season_ tax preparer

Now that you have the "tax season blues", it is time to prepare your tax return and pay the piper (the IRS). Most companies use a paid tax return preparer to prepare and file taxes. In 2009 the IRS conducted a review and estimated there are between 900,000 and 1.2 million paid tax return preparers in the US. How can you tell if you have an honest preparer and why does it matter?

If you go the IRS webpage and search for "tax preparer fraud", you will find over 350 IRS documents dealing with tax preparer fraud. Many of them report fines and jail sentences imposed on fraudulent tax preparers and tax payers who trusted these fraudulent preparers. The IRS is serious about tax fraud and is cracking down on third party tax preparers. If the IRS suspects a preparer of fraudulent activities, they will audit all of the preparer's clients. In addition to the hassle of an audit, if the IRS finds any inconsistencies in your returns, you are facing fines, penalties and additional taxes. It is imperative that you select your preparer carefully.

This has become such a large problem, the IRS has proposed that starting next year all preparers that do not hold a professional designation, will need to be registered with the IRS. Preparers would need to register with the IRS, pass a competency exam, and complete 15 hours annually of continuing education classes. They would also need to comply with the IRS Ethical Standards to continue to be registered as a paid tax preparer.

When selecting a preparer, be suspicious of anyone that claims they can obtain a larger refund than others or those who base their fees on a percentage of the refund. Look around for a tax professional that is established and will be there in the future to help you resolve any issues. The last thing you need to add to the tax season blues is to be audited because you used a fly by night preparer.

If you have a good brokerage software system, like TruckMaster's Freight Brokerage Solution, preparing your taxes is much simpler. You can print out an income statement and trial balance from the accounting system which will make preparing your tax return fast and accurate. Then you can easily check your preparer's figures against your actual income and expenses in the general ledger.

It may be too late this year to streamline your tax preparation procedures, but act now to make next year less painful and time consuming.

Craig Sorensen
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Freight Brokerage

02/05/10

  11:56:42 am, Categories: regulations

For most of us, most of the time, the holidays at the end of the year are a season of good cheer, family, and hopeful dreams for the New Year. I am always bothered by the fact that the next thing you are slapped with is taxes. Couldn't they find a better time to assess taxes? Perhaps May, or June, by that time your year is either going well enough that you can stomach the tax challenge, or it is looking so bad you have worked up bad mood that matches the thrill of filing taxes. Sadly, the reality is we have to attack them head on, or face the consequences – fines.

While doing the research for this blog article, I was more than a little surprised by the severity of the fines imposed for things like 1099's. Not just for filing them late, but also for adjustments. Therefore, not only do you have to be on time, you must be accurate or face fines. The fines are not exactly cheap. If you make corrections within 30 days, it is $15 per 1099. Between April 1 and August 1, that goes up to $30 per 1099, and after August 1, it is $50 per 1099! Depending on the size of your brokerage, and the number of carriers you deal with on an annual basis, this could get to be quite an expense.

Taxes are certainly another instance when having a reliable, complete, and integrated brokerage system can save you time and money, and provide peace of mind. Whether you are trying to manage your business accounting manually or on spreadsheets, this type of itemization and report building is an enormous investment in time, and the result may be riddled with errors in data entry or incorrect calculations.

There are several stand-alone accounting solutions available which help, but for a freight brokerage, this means re-entering information into each separate module and risking data entry errors in each shipment's entries. TruckMaster's freight brokerage solution provides single entry, easy to follow data flow. You never have to enter the same data twice. Your 1099 forms are simply printed and ready to send. This means there is very little extra work at year-end, and no worries.

If you have found yourself stressed over filing tax forms this year, perhaps it is time to take a look at what TruckMaster's Freight Brokerage software can do for you.

More Info:
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1099msc.pdf

http://www.ehow.com/about_4743118_reporting-requirements-small-business.html

http://www.mckenzielaw.com/INDEPEND.html

Kurtis Brown
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Freight Brokerage

02/03/10

  01:37:01 pm, Categories: efficiency

Today many people in the transportation business believe that double-brokering and co-brokering mean the same thing. This, however, is not true. There is a difference between the two, and it is important for the industry to understand the difference, simply because one can be an asset to your company and the other a definite risk.

The question often arises regarding the legality of accepting a load from a customer and giving that load to another broker for assistance in arranging transportation. Yes, co-brokering is legal and it can be advantageous to have another broker help you cover a load, so long as your contract with the customer does not prohibit co-brokering. It can be beneficial in proving to your customer that your brokerage has resources available to fulfill all of their requests.

In a co-broker relationship, you are there to service a specific need of your customer. Both parties understanding each others functions and responsibilities you are able to use each others resources in order to serve your customer in a satisfactory way and also to make a profit on a transaction that you might have otherwise refused. After all, you're in business, to profit. If you don't serve your customer someone else will.

Double brokering on the other hand is a risky situation. In many cases double brokering loads does in no harm, other than reducing profit margins and slowing payments. It does become a real problem, however, when fraud is the intent from the beginning.

There are a lot of fraudulent beings out there. The most common one typically involves an imposter motor carrier who takes a load from a legitimate broker and then re-posts the load on the internet load board at an inflated rate to lure in an unsuspecting carrier to transport the freight. The imposter has no intention of ever paying this carrier they just wait for the evidence of a completed shipment from the true carrier, then the imposter submits its own invoice to the first broker, collects payment and disappears leaving the carrier who actually hauled this load high and dry.

There are ways to protect yourself:

  1. Make sure the phone and fax numbers match their authority.
  2. Make sure insurance certificates come only from the issuing Insurance Company.
  3. Dispatch the trucks yourself, talk to the driver and get as much information from them as possible.
  4. If you have a relationship with your shipper, ask them to verify the name on the truck.
  5. Don't give advances.
  6. Caller ID. It’s a good way to double check the information they are telling you.
  7. Check the FMCSA safety record, safety rating, inspections, and anything else that will help you confirm they are who they say they are.
  8. Ask for references and check them out. It may save you a lot of time and money.
  9. If you have a contract prohibiting the substitution of carriers and/or double brokering without the broker's written permission, be sure you do the follow up. Make sure the carrier did as they said they would do.
  10. There are many carriers who also hold a broker's license under the same name. Make sure they are hauling loads on their own trucks and not brokering them out.

There are lots of fraudulent people in the world today. You need to protect your company and your customer. Be sure who you are dealing with and make sure you have all of their credentials so that you are not inviting financial disaster.

Using TruckMaster's Freight Brokerage Software will help you manage your business and keep track of the things that make a world of difference to your business. Contact us today for a free demo.

Donna Bratton
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Freight Brokerage

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