Freight Management Services: 5 Areas Which Drive Value to A Shipper’s Bottom Line
Do you remember when you used to have to call several hotels and airlines, spending precious time, simply to travel? Expedia.com and travel websites now allow you to efficiently procure airlines and hotels who meet YOUR specifications and also fit your cost budget. Similarly, a good freight management services company will provide both the technology and services to give you the same efficiency of decreased time, labor, and typically lower freight costs when procuring transportation. And like the technology built into these travel websites, a freight management services company should have the technology that matches you to the right carriers and integrated freight management services to handle everything else around your freight needs. The following are ways proper freight management can give you, the shipper, savings to your company's bottom line.
Freight Rate Negotiation
A solid logistics service provider negotiates rates to your specific lanes allowing you to have peace of mind that you're not leaving money on the table. At time of shipment, you should have the ability to pick carriers who meet your cost, insurance, and delivery time needs within a system, such as a TMS, that has your custom rates built in and maintained over time through the logistics company's carrier relationship management program. In short, the HARD costs of doing business in your logistics department should remain competitive if you are truly looking at the full picture of your freight activity and trends. This full understanding of your freight history and outlook, allows a good logistics provider to negotiate the best rates with carriers , putting money back in your pocket.
As your company grows, and you ship more freight, you shouldn't have to increase personnel or time spent on processing freight with a Transportation Management System that scales with you as you add more complexity to your freight department. One of these ways to scale is through integration to your existing systems, such as an ERP, so there is seamless data interchanges, and a decrease in resources needed for data entry. Additionally, the technology serves as a repository of value freight data and information around your shipping habits. This gives you visibility and reporting so you can make better business decisions to continue driving down freight costs. Additionally, the need to invest more time and money into added labor are mitigated, driving more bottom line costs savings.
Freight Claims Management
The value of hiring an outsourced freight management services provider, or often referred to as a third party logistics company, is the ability for you as a company to focus on your core business, and letting the provider take the burden of freight management off your plate. One of these burdens which take away time from your core business and profits from your bottom line, is in the area of freight claims management. Beyond technology and customer service, your logistics service provider should take care of the freight claims process on your behalf. Due to the volume of freight claims processed by the logistics services provider they become quite efficient at managing the process and acquiring the most claim amount for your damaged freight. Once again, this type of freight management service puts both time and money back into your bottom line.
Freight accounting is an area where a lot of shippers leave money on the table and can have exorbitant cost inefficiencies. Are you currently auditing every single freight invoice? Do you even know what to look out for? A freight management services company will offer both automatic freight invoice auditing, and also a manual check by a dedicated customer service representative, who will then advocate on your behalf with the shipper to correct the variances. If it's the fault of the logistics provider, that provider should absorb the cost, not you, and should NOT charge you if they get it corrected. Catching errors on invoices is an immediate hard cost saving, much like getting better freight rates for your specific lanes. If you want even more freight soft cost savings, look no further than decreasing the amount of time spent on wrangling multiple freight invoices for all your weekly shipments. Freight invoice consolidation from your freight management services company will cut several weekly freight invoices down to one weekly invoice, saving precious accounting time and making your accounting department very happy.
Freight Data Analysis
Freight Data Analytis is an area where many shippers are not seeing the maximum value to the bottom line. If your transportation management system does not provide good data analysis of your freight shipping habits, and all the data around freight management how do you make business decisions which drive both hard and soft cost savings? For example, let's say you run a report letting you know that 75% of the time you choose the least cost carrier. Let's call that carrier, "Carrier A". However, when you run a report against on-time shipments of Carrier A, you find they are late 60% of the time, making your customer unhappy, and eventually, the customer leaves because you are not getting their product to them on time. Now, the other 25% of the time you chose "Carrier B", who happened to be $50 more per shipment. When you run the on time report against "Carrier B" you find they get the product to your customer 100% on time. So, even though you spent $50 more per shipment, you never lost the customer. You do the math....how much does it cost in the long run to lose that customer? Well, as you can see, knowing your activity and understanding the affect of your freight shipment activity on your business allows you to drive down even more cost savings.
In the end, if your freight management services company, or 3PL, does not offer the above ways to drive both hard and soft cost savings to your business and transportation department, it may be time to start evaluating and asking questions to your current provider. What tips would you offer as a way to increase cost savings for your business? Let us know in the comments below!