Category: "efficiency"

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

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

12/31/09

  10:36:55 am, Categories: efficiency , Tags: csa2010

If the recent $23 million jury verdict against CH Robinson, for a fatal accident by one of their carriers, is not overturned on appeal, your responsibility to ensure that you are brokering only to "safe" carriers is much more important than a year ago. If brokers and 3PLs can be held liable for unsafe actions of carriers and their drivers, it is incumbent upon every broker to practice "due diligence" in monitoring carrier safety ratings.

With the new FMCSA Safety Rating measurement system (CSA 2010), which could update carrier safety rating monthly, your "due diligence" practices regarding carrier safety will become more involved and your company’s safety procedures will need to be checked and updated soon.

Several states have already implemented the CSA2010 monitoring process, and by the middle of 2010 all states will be required to it. At that time, the Safer and SafeStat programs will be replaced by CSA 2010. Not only will the carrier be rated, but also the drivers. All violations and inspections will update the carrier and driver safety ratings monthly.

You need to start preparing your brokerage company for this new program. You will need to implement a regular carrier safety update procedure so that when you book a load on a carrier you can be certain that the carrier has a good safety rating on the new CSA 2010 webpage.

Failure to ensure you are brokering only to safe carriers could leave your company liable, just as CH Robinson was found liable. Even if the CH Robinson verdict is overturned on appeal, there have been other recent jury verdicts that ruled against brokers that do not practice "due diligence" in selecting their carriers. "Schramm versus Foster" is one example of a "due diligence" court case involving brokers and 3PLs.

Do your homework. Update your safety procedures. Do not leave yourself open for potential, company destroying, lawsuits.

A good brokerage software package can make monitoring your carrier safety and insurance files much easier. If you do not have software or are not satisfied with your current software, contact us today for a free demo of TruckMaster Freight Brokerage Software.

Craig Sorensen
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Freight Brokerage

12/03/09

  01:28:26 pm, Categories: efficiency , Tags: buyer_s guide, software purchase

Choosing freight brokerage software can be a daunting task. There are many packages out there, many with varying feature sets and price ranges. You can spend anywhere from $200 to well over $20,000 for a system. What are the core features that you need to keep in mind while sifting through the offerings?

Here are a few thoughts:

Accessibility

Your freight brokerage software should be server based, your agents should be able to access it via the internet from their home or office computers. Stay away from "solutions" where each of your remote locations has its own server, and a "dump" has to be completed at an interval to sync the data.

See if the software provider has an ASP or co-hosting option. ASP typically encompasses a setup charge, then a low monthly fee, rather than a software purchase. Co-hosting is where they host the server you purchase for you for a monthly fee. This eliminates the need to maintain the server, or have a high bandwidth internet connection.

Carriers should have a secure web site that they access to view loads you have available, request them, enter equipment statuses, submit load documentation, invoice you for loads they’ve delivered, and the like.

Likewise your customers should have a secure web site that they can access to tender you loads and view equipment / load statuses.

Connectivity

Your freight broker software should have full EDI send and receive capability, meaning at minimum transaction sets 204 (Load Tender), 990 (Response to Load Tender), 214 (Carrier Shipment Status), and 210 (Carrier Freight Invoice). It should not require you to utilize a VAN (Value Added Network, who charges a transaction fee), but allow FTP or emailed transactions.

Not only should you be able to accept loads from your customers via EDI, you should also be able to tender loads to your carriers. Careful on this one – many software packages are only able to receive 204s, not tender them.

Ease Of Use

The truck brokerage software should be intuitive enough that new agents you bring on need limited training before they can start producing revenue for you. This is an often overlooked part of the software search, but is probably one of the most important. Make sure there’s a decent manual available (preferably integrated into the software itself), and contact references to make sure that customer support provided is prompt and knowledgeable.

Flexibility

Your truck broker software should have an upgrade option available to track leased/owned assets. Who knows what the future holds, and having to scrap your existing system to bring on a couple leasers is an expensive adjustment.

Ensure the freight brokerage software is more than just a database. It should function as another group of employees, constantly and tirelessly monitoring load statuses, carrier qualifications, and other criteria your agents should not have to do themselves.

Stability

Ensure the freight brokerage system is available 24/7, check the company’s references to verify any claims the software provider makes to this effect.

Make sure the company has been around for awhile. I couldn’t count on both hands the number of companies we have dealt with that have entered and exited the market in the span of a year or two.


In short, a little more homework prior to the purchase will pay off in spades in the long run. Check out TruckMaster's Freight Brokerage Software for all of the above, and of course much more.


Greg Dodson
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Logistics Systems, Inc.
TruckMaster Your Freight Brokerage

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