12/31/09

Permalink 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

Permalink 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

11/16/09

Permalink 09:14:08 am, Categories: efficiency

In July, this blog ran an article loaded with tips for a budding freight brokerage company to get up and going. We discussed ways to build both a strong carrier base and a strong customer base. Now it’s time to discuss how to keep your company making money for you, your employees and for the carriers that work with you; and to offer competitive pricing to the customers who give you freight.

Even with a strong carrier base and a strong customer base, if you or your employees are hard to get along with these carriers and customers aren’t going to be willing to continue to do business with you. Your strong carrier or customer base will weaken and eventually collapse.

Hiring employees that will work for your business instead of working over your business is the first key. If you could hire someone with great people skills and freight brokerage experience, you would have the ideal situation. So how do you find these people?

Some people think that "retired" truck drivers make great brokers since they know the trucking industry so well. And granted, I know a number of brokers that came from the ranks of drivers who are exceptional brokers. But generally, a driver is always going to think like a driver and that’s not in the best interest of a brokerage company.

Some people think that stealing brokers away from the competition is the best way to get good employees. But, in my mind, I have to ask if he left the other guy, how long will he stay here before he moves on to the next company – and takes the freight we have built up with him?

When hiring employees, don't be afraid to ask the tough questions. Ask why they want to come to work for you. Ask what they are willing to do to be successful at your company. Ask whether the money or the customer is the most important thing in a business transaction. Ask if they are dedicated to building relationships with fellow employees, customers, and carriers that will foster continued company growth. Ask all of the questions that will help you assess the prospective employee’s character and work ethic.

Treat your employees with the respect you would like them to show you and your customers and carriers. Whether you pay your brokers a salary, by the hour or by commission, be generous but not to the extreme. Offer benefits you can afford and are appealing to your employees. Discounted health or dental insurance, and 401k matching options are good examples. An auto-renewing subscription to Field and Stream magazine may be your heart's greatest desire, but not necessarily theirs.

Provide your employees with the tools that will help them do their jobs efficiently and correctly. One of those tools is the correct software. Freight Brokerage Software from TruckMaster Logistics Systems, Inc. is the perfect solution to all of your freight brokerage needs. Our Freight brokerage software is easy to use and, at the same time, completely handles all of the tasks required to run an efficient and profitable freight brokerage company. To find out how we can help you be more profitable and more efficient, and have a greater presence in the marketplace, call us at 888-891-9550 or visit TruckMaster on the web. We look forward to showing you how you can be successful too.

Dale Clark
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Freight Brokerage

10/27/09

Permalink 09:37:35 am, Categories: efficiency , Tags: fuel surcharge

Diesel and other fuel prices have risen considerably, but freight rates have remained the same. How does an owner operator, independent, or any carrier manage? The answer... a fuel surcharge.

What is a fuel surcharge and how should it be calculated?

It is an accepted practice for trucking companies to charge customers an extra fee that fluctuates with the cost of fuel. Fuel surcharges are calculated as a percentage of the base rate and are added to a shipper’s freight bill to cover the carrier’s added cost of operations. The surcharge is linked to a government-reported, average fuel price and is "indexed" for the carrier, based on an individual company or industry wide ratio of fuel cost to revenue. Surcharges are often defined as charges above normal rates. A fuel surcharge has traditionally been sold as a charge that covers actual additional fuel costs above the benchmark cost included in the freight rate.

Here is a way to calculate your own fuel surcharge.

The average price, minus the Benchmark price, divided by the miles per gallon, gives the surcharge rate, and multiplied times the miles driven gives the fuel surcharge amount you should recover.

A fuel surcharge should be based on the average retail price of diesel fuel in the region of origination, or where you pick up your load, on the date you pick up, or the date of invoice on this load. This average retail price information, collected by the federal government's Energy Information Administration, is updated every Tuesday. The information is available by phone by calling (202) 586-6966 or you can visit their Web site.

Does a shipper have to pay fuel surcharge?

Past ICC regulations allowed shippers to be charged a surcharge when diesel fuel costs exceeded a certain level. That sunsetted with that agency’s demise and new laws are in the making. Regardless, competitive pressures are resulting in shippers paying surcharges today.

Since the rise in fuel, most shippers are very comfortable with the fact that there is a surcharge. Some have had them in place for many years and others have been putting one in place for three reasons.

First, shippers can clearly see that it’s necessary due to the fluctuation of fuel prices. Second, shippers can sometimes pass rising surcharges on to their customers; and Third, it is possible in many cases to negotiate the surcharge level. As a permanent part of most carriers' tariffs, surcharges rise and fall weekly to help truckers cope with volatile fuel prices. But if shippers would prefer to pay higher overall freight rates, many motor carriers are willing to cap—or even nearly eliminate—fuel surcharges for that shipper's specific account. Although shippers may not like paying the extra money, the surcharges are actually helping to maintain competition in the trucking industry.

There is no federal regulatory enforcement, or involvement of any kind on fuel surcharge. Fuel surcharges must be negotiated individually in contracts between customers and carriers. There is still a major flaw in this process. There is no legal requirement mandating that the fuel surcharges collected from a shipper be passed on to the person who actually paid for the fuel in order for a load to be hauled.

TruckMaster would like to here your thoughts on this issue. How do you think the laws should read?

Please provide us feedback on how what your company thinks about how fuel surcharges should be passed on. It would be interesting to see how everyone out there feels about this hot topic.

Donna Bratton
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Freight Brokerage

09/11/09

Permalink 03:29:17 pm, Categories: efficiency , Tags: customer service

25 years ago, I worked for a freight brokerage company in Yakima, WA. It is a good company and is still in operation today. I left there about 19 years ago, but the one thing I remember most from that experience was something the boss would say on a regular basis, "Guys, we don’t have any trucks, so we aren’t a trucking company; and we don’t have a warehouse, so we aren’t a shipper with product to sell, so what do we have to offer? Service! That’s all we have, that’s all we are – service. So let's be the very best we can be. Let’s offer our customers more than 'get-by' service, let's give them spectacular service.”

The boss reminded us of the time he was brokering produce in Southern California and sold a truck load of cantaloupe of a specific quality and size to a market place in New York City. When the truck arrived for pickup, the shipping warehouse was out of that quality and size. What did the shipper do? He loaded the truck up with a better quality fruit and sent it on its way. He didn't ask, or even suggest there should be a price change. He merely stated it was his fault so rather than cheating a customer by defaulting on the contract or sending a product of lesser quality; his philosophy was to send a better product. After all, "it doesn’t cost anymore to be magnanimous." He knew the customer would be back for more if he treated him right.

How is your service perceived by your customers? Do you stand out in the crowd of freight brokerage companies as one that cares about doing business the right way? As a freight brokerage company, all you have to offer is service. Here are some questions to ask yourself and your employees:

  1. Do our customers and their needs always come first?
  2. Are we looking for ways to better serve our customers?
  3. Is the service we have to offer going to bring new customers to the table?
  4. Is our service such that our customers tell their friends about us?

With excellent software available from TruckMaster Logistics Systems, Inc, offering superior service to your customers is easier than ever before. With information including; customer and customer load information, carrier information, truck location and check call information, available at your fingertips from anywhere in the world you are able to offer excellent service to your customers.

Now, the conclusion of the cantaloupe story, the NYC market was so impressed with the melons they received that they started ordering from this shipper exclusively.

What do you have to offer? Service! Does it cost you any more to be magnanimous? No! Call us at TruckMaster Logistics Systems, 888-891-9550, or visit us at our website and let us show you how you can stand out as a leader in freight brokerage service.

Dale Clark
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Freight Brokerage

<< Previous :: Next >>

April 2014
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
 << <   > >>
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30      
Thinking of making a freight broker software purchase? Already have a freight broker software system, but looking to find out if your software has the tools to make your freight brokerage run as efficiently as possible? Subscribe to this blog to get the goods on freight broker software issues.

Search

XML Feeds

b2