Category: "efficiency"

06/05/09

In addition to death and taxes, in the brokerage industry, there is another certainty, paperwork. Every day you are inundated with paperwork; customer orders, carrier contracts, carrier qualification documents, carrier confirmations, delivery documentation, carrier bills, customer invoices, claims, etc. Then all this paperwork must be filed in a manner that will make it instantly accessible at anytime in the future. This is a never ending, expensive task.

There are ways to streamline this process however. It may take a small investment in time and equipment initially, but almost all of this paperwork can be stored as electronic documents, saving you an immense amount of time and money later on.

First you need a TMS system that is not only capable of electronic document storage, but also various forms of electronic communication: fax, email, edi, web site, etc. For every electronic message that is sent and received, there is one less piece of paper that must be scanned into the electronic document storage system or filed as a hardcopy.

Work with your higher volume customers to implement EDI for receiving load tenders and sending them status updates and invoices. For your customers with less volume or who are not EDI capable, a web site solution is suggested. They can enter their load tenders and receive status updates via the web site. You can send invoices and delivery documents via email directly from your TMS system.

Carrier communications is similar. Use EDI where it is practical and require all other carriers to use email and your webpage to receive load tenders, update load status, and send you invoices and delivery documentation.

All of these documents are stored in the electronic data storage of your TMS system and can be easily accessed for viewing or printing at anytime in the future. Just remember to backup your electronic data offsite.

If your current TMS is not capable of this or you do not have a TMS system, check out TruckMaster's freight brokerage software. We do all this, plus have a complete dispatching, billing, and accounting system in one package. Start saving time and money immediately.

Craig Sorensen
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Freight Brokerage

05/15/09

  12:17:53 pm, Categories: efficiency , Tags: current economy, over-capacity

Freight brokers serve many masters. From the entity paying the freight charges, to the shippers, receivers, and carriers, and just about everyone and anyone in-between. Freight brokers, like a conductor of a symphony, must orchestrate the entire process with precision, experience, and harmony.

Some would say to define your customer by following the money - he who pays is served. While that certainly has some truth to it, it's definitely short-sited. You wouldn't have freight to haul if you didn't have a quality carrier to haul it for you. For sure right now there is an over-capacity problem, and there may continue to be for some time. But truly that just raises the bar. If your performance and service isn't exceptional, you are making it easier for others to replace you.

The over-capacity issue would indicate there are quite a few people competing for the freight you are managing. It is a good time to do more for your customers. Make yourself irreplaceable, not just to the person paying the freight but to the carrier as well, and to the shipper and receiver if possible. Take every opportunity to show you care and are interested in helping each person. It isn't about just being nice but looking for opportunities to help.

As an example of this, I knew a broker that had a receiver she dealt with on a weekly basis that always took three to four hours to unload each truck she sent in. The actual unloading only took about thirty minutes, but the process of checking in, assigning a dock door, or being sent to a holding pad was inevitably over two hours.

Some people would have started yelling and complaining and threatening detention charges, but not her, she just kept asking the receiver how she could help make things go more quickly. Finally after weeks of stonewalling the receiver let her know that they always held her customers loads until last because they were not stacked right for their rack space, creating more work in the warehouse to break the pallets down to a shorter stack. So they waited until all the other loads were done before unloading her shipments. With a few phone calls she was able to arrange a different stack height from the shipper.

Problem solved, not only for her and her trucks but for her customer, and ultimately her customers customer, the receiver.

A good freight broker recognizes that each person is a customer at some level. You serve and are served by each. Because freight brokers are the go between for so many different segments of our industry, they are in a perfect position to be problem solvers. As a problem solver you create a dependency and become irreplaceable. Having the time and organization to be a problem solver by paying more attention to all of the needs of the people you work with each day demands an efficient work environment.

If you are too busy pushing paper, and trying to find information, you will not have the time to provide excellent service. Yes, you know where I'm going with this.

In order to provide excellent service to your customers in today's environment, you must have a great freight brokerage system. You guessed it: TruckMaster's Freight Brokerage system will provide you the efficiency and organization that will allow you to spend that extra time solving problems for your many customers. Your customers, all of them, need to know that you can help them with their problems. Let us help you with yours.

If you don't have a freight brokerage system for your freight brokerage, or the system you do have isn't cutting it, contact TruckMaster today.

The money you invest in a TruckMaster system today will ensure your success tomorrow, and for years to come.

Kurtis Brown
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Freight Brokerage

03/27/09

If I could save time in a bottle…

As the words to the song by Jim Croce go:

“If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do, is to save every day till eternity passes away…
…But there never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do, once you find them…”

Although this song is written about desiring to spend more time with the one you love, it is also applicable to today’s freight logistics world. How, you ask? by reminding me of how I could manage my time better. As a old freight logistics broker, I often think back on days when I wondered if I was ever going to see the next one – finding freight, booking carriers on that freight, scheduling carrier pickups and deliveries, following up with those carriers as to their performance on pickup and delivery, and alerting customers to problems, as well as negotiating rates with customers, finding new customers, negotiating rates with carriers, finding new carriers, satisfying customer insurance requirements, satisfying carrier pickup and/or delivery requirements, handling claims, billing customers, paying carriers, etc. – some days just seemed to go on forever. In those days there were no affordable computers or software programs to help better manage time and, therefore, business. Some brokers, with photographic memories, were extremely gifted at remembering every detail and had all of their information readily available – they were the successful ones. The less fortunate ones made use of large volumes of notepads, 3-ring binders and any scrap of paper they could find and tried their best to keep up with the demands of an ever changing market.

In today’s market, there are a number of software packages that were designed to replace the paper. The problem – they became the paper we sought so diligently to get rid of – no real functionality, just paperless paper. This brings us to the TruckMaster 2000 Software System. An intelligent software system that not only tracks customers, carriers, freight, and the movement of that freight to help us manage our time better, but has alerts, alarms and warnings that remind us of possible late deliveries before they are actually late, pending insurance certificate lapses, customer payment practices, appointment reminders, etc. – the list of time management possibilities is endless.

Now the exciting news! With TruckMaster’s web interfaces for customers and carriers, your customers can send you freight, check status of in-transit loads, view and print invoices and accompanying documentation, see trucks you have available and more, all from your webpage. Carriers can tell you where they have trucks available (so your customers can see them), bid on your available freight (including the freight just sent to you from your customers via your webpage), accept loads you have tendered to them, update the status of their trucks and update appointment schedules for any and all loads they are hauling for you, submit their invoice to you along with the appropriate paperwork, and more, again, all from your webpage.

We may not be able to “save time in a bottle,” but we can save time in our business by using TruckMaster 2000 Software System, the software program designed to make certain there will “be enough time to do the things you want to do.”

Dale Clark
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Freight Brokerage

03/12/09

  06:40:19 pm, Categories: efficiency , Tags: freight brokerage automation, web portal

Wouldn't it be nice if the majority of the mundane duties that your traffic managers are performing could be instead performed by your customers and carriers themselves?

Imagine If You Will...

Bob's Building Materials, one of your smaller customers, has an order of lumber to be shipped from his yard in Nashville, to a construction site in Sacramento. He logs onto your secure website via a username and password that you've assigned to him, and enters the load information. When submitted, the load instantly appears on your traffic manager’s screen, as an unaccepted tender. Simultaneously your traffic manager is alerted, and the software returns Bob an email confirming receipt of the tender.

At this particular moment, your traffic manager does not have a truck available for the shipment. He chooses to sit on it for an hour or two, because he knows that...

John's Get-It-There Express, a carrier you use from time to time, logs onto your secure carrier website using the username and password you've assigned him. There he sees limited information about a flatbed load that picks up in Nashville and drops in Sacramento. It so happens that John has a truck ending up in Nashville, so he enters a bid of "$1.25 per mile" on the load and submits it.

He also updates positions of a few of his trucks so that your traffic manager sees where and when they'll be available.

Your traffic manager is instantly alerted to this bid, but would rather not book it with John’s company, due to performance issues that the system alerts him to on past loads he done. He chooses to hold off, rather than immediately declining John the load. He’d like to move it, good paying loads are hard to come by. He still has an hour or so to accept or decline the load tender from Bob's Building Materials, and he knows from past experience that he should wait, because he knows that..

Suzie-Q Carriers Limited sees the available load via her RSS feed to your available load web page. This gives her the ability to view loads that you have available without even logging onto your website. She quickly enters a bid of "$1.20 per mile + FSC" on the Nashville to Sacramento load and submits it. Once again, instantly, the traffic manager is alerted of the new bid. He's never worked with Suzie before, but the system runs a check and shows that her qualifications are in order, and her performance on past loads was good.

With a single keystroke, the traffic manager tenders the load to Suzie. She is sent an email with a link to the page to use to accept it, which she does. Your traffic manager is immediately notified of the acceptance, and in turn accepts the load tender from Bob's Building Materials. The system takes care of notifying John's Get-It-There Express that the load is no longer available, so he doesn't have to worry about that. Nor does he have to worry about calling Bob, the system has already sent him an email alerting him that the tender has been accepted.

Suzie doesn't have a decent trucking software system with EDI, so she uses your carrier website to enter in the load appointment and status information as it moves. Immediately after she submits the data, it's available to your traffic manager, and more importantly, Bob can see the location and system-generated ETA for his load from his customer website as it progresses. Your traffic manager knows that he does not need to monitor this data, as if Suzie’s truck gets behind, the software will automatically change the status of the load to "late" and send him an alert. It doesn't, so he instead spends his time matching up a few of the available trucks that John submitted with some lesser priority loads.

Once the load has been delivered, Suzy logs on and enters the delivery dates and times. She also creates and submits her invoice to you through your website, along with scanned copies of the proof of delivery documents. This speeds up your cash flow, as well as hers, as you can electronically bill Bob for the load now via EDI, or...

You can create an electronic-only copy of the invoice to Bob, which he'll receive via RSS feed. Immediately after you create the invoice, the POD documents that Suzy submitted (minus her invoice of course) are attached to it, and Bob can access all of them in a single PDF document. No emailing, no snail mailing, no hassle.

Suzy can access information on any load she's ever hauled for you, and that means a lot to her. In fact, it's a factor in the rate she offers you, she doesn’t need to purchase better software when you offer her the services that you do.

After payment is received from Bob, and an allocated amount of time has passed, the system generates a check to Suzy.

Bob was so satisfied with the service he received from you, he immediately views the other equipment you have available for booking on your website, and tenders you another load.

Time your staff spent on the entire lifecycle of this load: 15 seconds. Nice, huh?

Ask us today for a free demonstration.

Greg Dodson
President
TruckMaster Logistics Systems, Inc.
TruckMaster Your Freight Brokerage

01/26/09

  09:34:35 am, Categories: efficiency , Tags: be prepared

Freight Broker Software – Being Prepared

Are you prepared for what your customer is going to ask for next? Having a good freight broker software system will ensure that you are.

Just this week I spoke with two different freight brokerage companies who stood to lose customers due to their inability to communicate electronically. Their customers are demanding to have either website visibility of their shipments and/or EDI capabilities for shipment tendering, acceptance, and status updates. Both brokerages had no or very limited freight broker software and were furiously looking for a solution to provide their customers what they needed.

In both cases these broker's long time customers were very happy with their over-all services. However with ever increasing demands for efficiency and demands from their own customers for shipment visibility and faster communication they are being forced to work only with transportation service providers that offer website and/or EDI shipment management options.

The bottom line, the brokerage or trucking companies that had made investments in quality freight broker software and trucking software are in a significant competitive advantage. Despite the brokerage companies that had worked hard for years to provide excellent service, their failure to invest in quality software has them in a precarious situation. Not only do they have to invest in freight brokerage and trucking software but they have to do it quickly in order to retain the business they have worked so hard to build.

Providing freight broker software is much more than just providing an efficient environment from which to manage your business. Today it is about expanding that power to your customers and vendors to ensure you are offering the best service, and maximizing your profitability. While EDI transactions are old school technology these standardized formats are still very much in use, and of course the Internet is providing more opportunities to share information in near real time. Your freight broker software of choice should have the ability to easily provide you solutions for these and other custom forms of communications.

As our economy continues to struggle there is a unique time of opportunity for companies to improve their technologies so that they are better positioned for the inevitable recovery. As I mentioned in an earlier blog regarding improving business practices, improving your ability to communicate with your customers and vendors electronically, providing near instant visibility of their information is another step toward improving your future profitability and success.

For more information on how your freight brokerage can offer electronic communications to your current and future customers, please contact TruckMaster today.

Kurtis Brown
VP Sales
TruckMaster Logistics Systems, Inc.
TruckMaster Your Freight Brokerage™

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