08/18/09

  02:38:17 pm, Categories: efficiencies , Tags: equipment tracking, trailer tracking

When I was a kid, one of the local TV stations – when it started the late night news – would say, "Parents, its ten o'clock, do you know where your children are?" A similar statement could be made by many trucking company owners and dispatchers each morning, and particularly on Monday morning – "Dispatchers, its eight o'clock, do you know where your trailers are?"

With the right software, determining current location for trucks and trailers is a snap.

Quite a number of years ago, we, at TruckMaster, rolled out our trailer proximity and utilization process to our valued customers. I recall at the time that one of our customers discovered that a trailer they were sure they "had sold 6 months" prior was actually sitting at a military base not far from home. It was the trailer’s last load and no one had followed up on it. To make matters worse, the trailer was still loaded. Have you ever tried to pull a trailer loaded with product from a government installation 6 months after they have paid you for delivery of said product?! No, it isn’t pretty, not at all.

Dispatchers, wouldn"t it be nice to know which trucks are pulling which trailers? Wouldn't it be nice to know if you have the right trailer for a given load close at hand and that it will be available in time to load? Wouldn’t it be nice to have all trailer licenses and/or permit renewal information close at hand in a system that would warn you when renewals were getting close?

Owners, wouldn't it be nice to know where the trailers are and how effective your dispatchers are at keeping them moving and in the rotation (for those companies with the luxury of more trailers than tractors)? Wouldn't it be nice to know what trailers are in the shop for repairs, etc?

With TruckMaster software, dispatchers are reminded when a trailer is placed on a load if it is not in the correct position or is not available; dispatchers are notified of permit and license expiration dates prior to and after the dates have arrived. Trailers can be grouped into user defined types that allow dispatchers to quickly search for and find the right trailer for the job. Owners and dispatchers can easily discover if a trailer is not "pulling its weight" in loads. And since TruckMaster Software also interfaces with a variety of tractor and trailer GPS services and is ACE compatible, dispatchers have the ability for accurate and real-time pinpoint locations not only in the US but in Canada and Mexico as well.

"Dispatchers, its eight o'clock, do you know where your trailers are?!" With TruckMaster software the answer is a resounding YES! Call us today 888-891-9550 or visit TruckMaster on the web for a free demo. Find out how you can have the power of TruckMaster at your finger tips!

Dale Clark
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

07/24/09

  09:26:06 am, Categories: efficiencies , Tags: preventative maintenance

The biggest asset that most trucking companies have is their fleet of vehicles and equipment. One of the best ways to protect this asset is preventative maintenance (PM). PM is essential to running a profitable trucking company. Your Transportation Management System (TMS) software should make monitoring and tracking PM automatic and almost effortless.

Your maintenance software should include the following:

  • Ease of use
  • Flexibility
  • Automatic integration with your dispatching module
  • Notification to dispatchers of a PM due as they are dispatching
  • PM scheduling for each piece of equipment independently
  • Work order history
  • Parts purchase orders
  • Parts receipts
  • Parts inventory control
  • Driver repair requests notify the mechanic and dispatcher of needed repairs
  • Accounts Receivable
  • Accounts Payable
  • General Ledger accounting
  • Maintenance profit or loss reporting

If you are using a stand alone maintenance software package or your TMS does not provide all these features, contact us now to view a demonstration of the best TMS in the country, TruckMaster. Don’t let another PM get missed. Do it now.

Craig Sorensen
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

06/19/09

  02:28:07 pm, Categories: efficiencies , Tags: bottom line, roi, tco

In the last six months we have discussed the following topics in our "Trucking Software" blog:

  • Managing Fuel
  • EDI
  • Driver Qualifications
  • Managing Deadhead Miles
  • Choosing Trucking Software
  • How Trucking Software can help your company

In these articles we have outlined the benefits of a trucking software solution. From increased productivity of employees and equipment to increased efficiency throughout your entire company.

We have also discussed enhanced communication capability with web portals, integration capabilities with mobile communication systems and other systems such as routing programs and warehouse management. We have also discussed the projection of your company's image to your customers and vendors. What they see on your checks and invoices affects their image of your company capabilities.

What we have not discussed is the ROI, or "Return on Investment" and TCO, "Total Cost of Ownership”. These are two sides of the same coin. It is not all that different from the consideration involved in the purchase of a truck or trailer for your fleet. The biggest difference is that you can see direct revenue and expense results from the addition to your fleet. With software, the revenue and cost results are more subtle, and if not studied, can be completely missed by attributing the results to other factors.

I always find it amazing how easily some companies can add trucks and trailers to their fleet with little or no anxiety. Spending $100,000 to $200,000 for equipment they may have for approximately five years. Yet when they approach the purchase of trucking software which will help manage all of their equipment, personnel, and finances for the lifetime of their company they balk at a one time investment of a few thousand dollars. Thankfully, there are many companies that realize the tools they invest in to manage their assets are as important as the assets themselves.

When evaluating ROI of trucking software there are several things to take into consideration:

Hard Savings - These are savings that have a direct impact; reduced overhead, reduction in errors such as billing errors or payroll, increased revenue directly attributable to system capabilities, integration, EDI, Website etc., and improved data resulting in better decisions.

Soft Savings - These are savings that are less tangible but still have a large impact, such as customer confidence in your ability to provide timely information, and professional documents. Processes that take less effort creating a less stressful work environment and peace of mind knowing that you have a system that will not hold your business back but rather provide you with solutions no matter what challenge comes next.

TCO or "Total Cost of Ownership" - When evaluating a trucking software package you will want to know how much the system is going to cost you each year. For instance maintenance and support contracts, license renewal, upgrade costs, system updates, and customizations.

Many systems utilize Windows servers which require costly license and upgrade fees, in addition to the trucking software program license and upgrade costs. You need to also watch out for companies that charge separately for system updates in addition to annual maintenance and support contracts. Also, be sure to have a realistic projection of your expected growth. If the system you are purchasing is not going to be able to support your company's projected size in two or three years you would be money ahead purchasing a system that may cost slightly more now but will be able to support your company's growth.

Transitioning systems in mature company's can be a painful and costly experience. Typically you lose visibility of your historical data, and your employees have to maintain their level of performance while learning a new system.

Trucking software encompasses the management of your entire company. It isn't just dispatching, or billing, or payroll, or maintenance, ideally it is a group of integrated programs specifically designed for the trucking industry. Good trucking software should be enterprise level, not your typical "off the shelf" home accounting package beefed up for business. Yet it must be easy to use and simple to follow so that your employees will be easily trained on it and enjoy using it.

In today's economy, we must carefully manage each dollar. However the cheapest solution is rarely the best solution. We must take into account the return on our investment and the total cost of ownership in order to be successful in the long term. While we may not have money to simply throw at problems, we do not have money to simply throw away either.

For a sustainable, long term, affordable, trucking software solution contact TruckMaster today. You will be glad you did for years to come.

Kurtis Brown
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

05/22/09

A fair question to ask today is, "Will trucking software really help my company succeed?" Ask 20 trucking company owners and you will get 20 different answers. The answer lies in the ability of the trucking software to perform at or above your expectations.

There are many programs on the market today that claim to be all-inclusive, the "we-have-everything-you-need" kind of software, but the price doesn’t reflect that at all. The old adage “you get what you pay for” is as true when buying software as when buying trucks. No one would spend $5000.00 for a 1969 MAC single axle yard dog and expect to go over-the-road pulling a 3-axle refrigerated trailer. No, there isn’t a sleeper on the MAC, nor does all of the electrical work. You’ll have to install mud flap holders and mud flaps, a new wiring harness, and have the dent in the right-side fuel tank punched out. Even then, it’s probably not the safest and smoothest ride you have ever driven. Would your business be successful if you relied on this kind of equipment?

The opposite is also true, no one would spend $200,000.00 plus on a 2009 Volvo with a full size condo on back, enough marker and running lights to rival the Las Vegas strip, and an engine big enough to pull a train, just to deliver Styrofoam sheets to all of the WalMarts within a 200 mile radius of the house. Yes, it's beautiful, has power and everyone know where you are, but it is a bit of over kill. Again, I ask, would your business be successful if you relied on this type of equipment?

Buying software is the same. Some software packages can be purchased for a few hundred dollars and they let you dispatch a truck. Of course, you will need to purchase QuickBooks or some other accounting package in order to create invoices, receive money, and other accounting processes. You will also need a maintenance program if you are going to setup, track, and take care of preventative, regular, and emergency maintenance items. In the long run, one ends up spending $50-60,000.00 for a whole host of programs that don’t even talk to each other. This means entering the same information not once but twice, three times, four times or more, depending on what programs you are using. Now, I ask again, how successful would your business be if you spent all of your time on the computer working with software?

There are software packages that cost over $100.000.00 that do everything but drive the truck, but would your business be successful with that kind of overhead?

Enter TruckMaster Logistics Systems’ TM2000 Trucking Software System, a system priced for the consumer and has all of the integrated modules needed to run a full scale trucking company – Dispatching, Billing, Accounting, Driver Settlements, Payroll, Carrier Settlements, Safety, Maintenance, and more. The price is based on the number of people using the system at a time, so a small company gets all the advantages of a full transportation management system for a low cost, a mid-size trucking company gets all the advantages of a full transportation management system for a cost that fits within its budget, and a large trucking company gets all of these advantages as well without expense cost overruns.

At the outset of this article I asked, "Will trucking software really help my company succeed?" The correct answer depends on you. If you would like to see what TruckMaster Logistics Systems can do for you and your company, if you would like to see how easy, versatile, and efficient a superior trucking software package can be. Please visit us at www.truckmaster.com, contact us here, or call us at 888-891-9550 and our knowledgeable sales staff will tell you all about us.

Dale Clark
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

04/03/09

  03:15:02 pm, Categories: efficiencies , Tags: automation, efficiencies

What does your trucking or freight broker software do for you?

It is always interesting to see at what point a trucking company or freight brokerage will decide they need software to help them manage their business. Some will do it at the outset realizing that they need to be organized and efficient from the very beginning. Yet others will manage their businesses manually until they hit a certain pain threshold where they have to do something. Either their customers are demanding electronic communications for invoicing or load tenders, or their staff is spending more time shuffling paper than managing the business efficiently.

What ever the stimulus is they begin to shop for a solution. This is where things get interesting. There is an established need for software to allow employees to manage the business as efficiently as possible. By "manage the business", what do we mean? What is it that software does for a transportation company?

Efficient communication

Initially it's all about visibility of information, and the ability to share that information. If a company has a system which displays or communicates information clearly and effectively then decisions can be made more quickly and with more accuracy, resulting in execution, or implementation of a decision resulting in action. Work will be done with more accuracy and efficiency. With an accurate picture, employees will make fewer mistakes be less frustrated. The following are the integrated functions you should be looking for in a software package:

  1. Customer Communications

    1. EDI – Electronic Data Interchange
    2. Web site
    3. E-mail
  2. Carrier and/or Driver Communications

    1. Dispatching, Shipment status', imaging

      1. Mobile Communication Integration
      2. EDI
      3. Web site
      4. E-mail
  3. In-house Communications

    1. Billing
    2. Carrier Payables
    3. Driver and Owner Operator Settlements
    4. Payroll
    5. Maintenance
    6. Driver DOT Safety
    7. Carrier Insurance records
    8. Accounting
  4. General Reporting

    1. Governmental required reports
    2. HVUT and IFTA
    3. Payroll Tax reporting

      1. 941, FUTA, SUTA
      2. W2 and 1099s

The paper processes and records that a company is forced to utilize without the benefits of good trucking software or broker software system is almost overwhelming. Some companies decide to purchase systems that help them manage only one part of the whole. The problem is they are still juggling everything else. Quite often companies will buy an accounting package, then they will buy a dispatching software, and yet again they will buy software that may help them with logs or road and fuel taxes.

So there is less pain, but there is still the pain of manually entering all of the information into multiple systems. Now try cross referencing the information between the different systems. At the very least it is difficult and at the worst it is next to impossible. So they have traded one set of frustrations for another. Now they are wasting as much time managing multiple software packages with multiple databases as they would have with their old manual paper systems. It reminds me of the old Johnny Cash song "One piece at a time" and the end result is often the same, a mess.

When you decide to invest in trucking software, or freight brokerage software, don't try to build it one piece at a time. This is the tool that will allow you and your team to manage your whole business. So take your time, and think about what you are investing in. It's not just software; it's the tool you will use to manage your business, your customers, your employees and your future. Isn't it worth it to make sure you get a complete, integrated solution that really delivers the efficiencies you are looking for, and will grow with the successes of your business?

Please contact TruckMaster today; we welcome the opportunity to help.

Kurtis Brown
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

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An ongoing discussion of trucking software. Things to watch for, things to watch out for.

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