Are you looking forward to becoming a master of logistics, handling freight management with increased efficiency? If that happens to be the case and you need to be able to handle whatever comes your way, then you will need to be fully aware of a few things along the way. The following tips will give you a few ideas you can use in your efforts, so you can get things rolling:
Freight Management will be a far easier task when you know how it all fits in the grand scheme of things. Design a good business plan to have all details figured into the cost of your office, equipment, and necessary software into your long-term business goals. Such a plan will make sure you have better business opportunities in the long run. This absolutely necessary step toward ensuring your business will help it last. To do so you will need to get rid of any filler language in your business plan – not only does this waste time and space but it will pretty much get you nowhere. Be direct, plan, and get to the point of what you want to get across quickly. Be realistic with your goals, consider the challenges ahead, and consider both the incoming challenge and opportunities you’re going for. Ensure your business plan has the backing of images, charts, graphs and more statistical data you can use to bring it to life. Make sure you stay away from templates if you can and do your best to keep a creative edge on what the plan looks like.
There are plenty of mobile apps capable of helping you with freight management in the long run, becoming an invaluable tool to help with your business analysis. You can find GPS tracking, confirmation apps and delivery logs, but there are even more specific apps that track a number of other options, such as fuel efficiency, for example. Keeping in touch with the stats will allow you to micromanage your business with greater ease. There are a number of possibilities out there that give you a chance to keep track of multiple LTL carriers, brokers, creation of a bill of lading, shipping labels, pickup scheduling, reporting, tracking, API and more.
Mobile apps are excellent about some tasks, but they are still inferior to the freight management software, or often referred to as a transportation management system, and its capabilities. Solutions like this will help lower the amount of manual tasks, optimizing your business and making consolidating shipments and keeping track of multiple shipments far easier in comparison.
When you have your business in mind and you want to succeed sustainably, do you have expansion in mind? Much like it is in war, business is a battlefield on its own and expansion means gaining ground on the local and international market. However, some locations are more strategic than others and thus they have more value than others. A good way to look for clients abroad is to look at the list of fastest growing countries with demand for food, vehicles, moving furniture, relocation, housing, beverages and more. Just like a removal service or movers in general have their own niche on the market; freight management takes this to a whole new level, so take advantage whenever you can.
Depending on the state of the industry, waiting around for great business opportunities will simply not work. You need to create opportunities yourself so your business can prosper in the long run. Research the market and look for more suppliers to add to your mix. But, don’t stop there, make them come in for a supplier day to get to know them personally and see there are other suppliers involved in your organization. This collaboration of a “Supplier Day” as we wrote about in this blog post, can go a long way towards proactive freight management. Blogging is also one excellent way of keeping track of your progress, showing activity across the board and allowing your customers to see you’re developing and growing, so don’t underestimate the power of content marketing for your business to increase proactive collaboration.
No amount of preparation will be enough compared to experience, so you will need to be properly prepared for the market if you want to keep things working fluidly as time progresses. You need to be able to cover all aspects of the business with your preparations, but your actual experience will also play a great role in the future as you understand the finer details of what you’re doing. There is no doubt that you likely have a specific product you work with, so it would be to your advantage if you use a transportation management 3PL that specializes in understanding the shipping practices related to those products as well as many others. Transportation and freight management service providers will be able to provide you with more information on the subject and who should be involved in moving your freight for you.
You need to ensure all details concerning the freight are given to the freight management services provider, as they will have a chance to give you a service to better match the needs you have, connecting you with the right carrier to handle any of the specific shipping conditions you may have. This process is done on the front end through a current transportation and freight management consultation and analysis. Then, armed with that data, the transportation management services provider can give you a solution that best matches what you need in order to reach your stated goals. This upfront collaboration yields great long term and sustainable bottom line savings.
This is one essential part of the process, as you will need to ensure you have secured the freight for transport to guard against freight damage and thus avoiding a freight claim. This is even more so if your freight has any special needs. With more and more shippers looking at LTL solutions in terms of shipping in order to cut down their costs, you would do well to know how this process works and how proper packing can allow you to avoid costly and time consuming freight claims.
Whenever you work with a professional transportation management 3PL, they will look after your interests, as you as a client are the lifeblood of their company. A good services provider will align themselves with other transportation companies to provide the best service they can in the long run, but you need to be able to ask them a few questions to check and understand their quality control procedures. You need to know whether they have a Quality Assurance Program, the condition of their business practice and its maintenance, whether they have control checks in case of anomalous events and contingencies to ensure your freight arrives on time and safe and more. A disaster recovery plan should also be a part of the way they operate to ensure all bases are covered when you work with them.
What tips would you offer for better freight management? Let us know in the comments section below!
This week I was out all week spending time with my 90 year old father in Tyler, TX making sure he was OK during a minor surgery. At 90, any surgery, no matter how insignificant, must have special attention paid to it. I got to spend some time with the old man and a little time away from the daily grind of the office, and it got me thinking about the freight business. In the freight world, no pun intended, things move quite fast. In LTL Freight, we are constantly looking to find the best carrier, the best rate, and asking many questions to ourselves to make sure we procure transportation that is both cost effective and mitigates risk. We ask: “Is my freight going to get to the customer on time?”, “Will it get damaged?”, “What happens if it gets damaged?”. I noticed similar questions popped up when it came time to take my father into surgery: “Will he be ok?”, “Did I choose the right doctor?”, “What happens if something goes wrong?”. I realized that like life, freight management is done well when you are not in reactionary or in anxious mode. You tend to freak out when things go wrong and you then make decisions that exacerbate the problem, well because frankly you aren’t confident in getting the outcome you desire. Confidence in life allows you to make sound decisions based on data and facts, and allow you to make future decisions which continue to result in you desired outcomes. So I asked myself, “How can Cerasis both make our shippers and our internal people feel confident?”. It came down to really two answers: People and the Relationship.
So what do I mean by “People and the Relationship” can help make you more confident in life, but also in freight? Well, one thing I know that makes me feel more confident about my father at the age of 90 is that he has been seeing the same doctor for several years. This doctor, when we visit him, is very clear in his communications on what is going on. He lays out a strategy for treating the root cause of the issue, and let’s us know the tactical next steps until we get to the desired outcome. Additionally, he is honest about the contingency plans in place just in case something does happen. Essentially, the doctor is laying the right expectations so that my anxiety is mitigated no matter what route treatment goes. Additionally, he treats my dad like a person, not only another patient he must see.
The same is true in the freight industry. There is somewhat of a black eye on the freight industry. It is supposedly riddled with fly by night brokers who stick it to the shippers and the carriers from time to time. But, I have to say, in my experience in running a freight management company, I know that this is really only a select few who make the industry have this connotation. Most are honest folks who want to make an honest living. The Department of Transportation has set out in Map-21 coming into affect on October 1st of this year, in order to battle this stigma, the increase of the Freight Broker Surety Bond from $10,000 to $75,000. Will this help clean up the mistreatment of shippers and carriers? Maybe, but time will tell. Anyway, I digress.
Much like a doctor who gets to know you and treats you as a person, and not just another patient, at Cerasis we try to instill into our people the importance of really getting to know the history of an account. We know that the more we know about the shipper, the better we can advocate for them and negotiate for them specific rates based on the intimate details of their historical freight activity. We can understand the best commodities, provide further cost savings by knowing they could integrate into our system with their existing systems, and make sure we set clear expectations about freight auditing, freight payment, and freight claims. All of this is so our customers can truly gain trust in us over time, to act as their outsourced logistics partner. In trust comes collaboration. Collaboration begets innovation. And Innovation begets creating user iterated products and services which continue to build value and save money for the bottom line in a sustainable manner.
So, proper freight management, like life, boils down to confidence. Good people who focus on relationships, treating the shipper like a person, and focus on value and outcomes, will make you the shipper confident.
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