You’re shopping around for a TMS – either for a system to use as your company gets started as a freight broker, or something to upgrade to from a low cost or free option.
What should be included with your new TMS? What should you expect? How do you use it efficiently?
Your TMS should be so easy to use that you can figure these things out with minimal training – and to that end, this article will walk you through exactly how to use the basics of Brokerware.
If you’re using a different TMS, this may not be as directly helpful for you as for our current clients, but you should still be able to find and use these features easily within your own software. These features should also all come standard, and not require adding on each feature as an additional fee.
When you log in, your dashboard should look like, well, your dashboard.
The colors should be yours, the logo should be yours – you should feel like you’re logging into your dashboard, not just borrowing someone else’s portal.
It should also be easy to spot areas that require attention. We prefer highlighting key with red, drawing your eye to them and indicating that you have quotes waiting to be confirmed as shipments, new customer entered orders, or pickups to confirm.
You should easily see all the features that save you the most time right there in your initial login portal.
Manage the essentials of your business – documents, invoices, or track shipments in real time.
Which shipments have been delivered? Which ones should have been delivered – but haven’t yet?
How much of your accounting information can you see from your TMS portal? Can you confirm charges, invoices, or match credit card payments to customers?
Can you locate the bill pay section from your portal?
Just how much hunting around through your TMS do you need to do to find all the features you need to run your business?
If your current TMS takes more than a few seconds to find the features you need, it may be time to upgrade.
To quote a rate for a customer, you can use the search function to find them – or you can click “customer” up at the top, and select them from there.
You have the option to either fully book a shipment for the client, or click the “quote” option, and provide a quick quote for them that way.
From here, you can add any supplemental charges that you know the client will incur, such as a fuel surcharge, multiple stops, fees for specific benefits – anything you’ve added that is exclusive to your company.
Once you’ve entered the minimum amount of information needed to generate a quote, you have options.
Want the low cost route? Find which of your carriers are offering that option.
Prefer volume instead? You can select that option too.
You can move to the billing screen, or simply save the shipment and view the shipping profile.
The next screen lets you see the carrier options for that particular shipment, as well as pertinent details about their services, insurance, cargo liability, cost, and the difference between the flat rate the carrier will charge and what you need to charge the customer to include all tariffs or fees their shipment will incur.
All of this in one screen!
Once you select a carrier, the relevant information needed for the shipment is added – tariffs, fees, or other charges that the customer will incur. At the next screen, you can then see their standing with insurance, authority, safety rating, and if their status is still in good standing.
You can assign specific salespeople to the shipment, or edit who “owns” the shipment – and their commission as a result. Does the customer have enough credit to cover the shipment? Need to edit the payer, or the carrier’s bill to information? You can do that in this screen.
Again…all of this customization and data in one screen. You can view labels, related documents, load plans, mileage, and more from the same screen.
Efficient, easy, and full of the information you need to keep business running smoothly.
Every single geographical location you ship to has its own sets of tariffs and charges associated with it.
Each customer and their shipping lanes will all have their own tariffs that need to be associated with them as well.
You can manage the tariff list for your customers from their customer profile, with a collection of links that allow you to quickly and easily find the specific fields you need to customize for them.
To manage the tariffs for your customer, you should be able to simply click on the pricing/tariff list link, and manage the tariffs from there.
You can add new tariffs, edit current tariffs, or delete tariffs that no longer apply.
Want to add a tariff to just a specific set of shipping lanes or service areas? You can do that – although only Brokerware offers you that option for web service based tariffs.
Want to add a tariff to all of your carriers at once? You can do that.
Want to add a tariff to just a handful of carriers? You can do that too – although that’s also something exclusive to Brokerware’s capabilities.
While most TMS providers will let you customize your tariffs, only Brokerware allows you the detailed customization often needed for companies handling multiple clients with highly specific needs.
You need reports to know how your business is doing, and you need them for customers as well.
For this reason, just about any TMS will provide you with reporting abilities. You should be able to see a transaction report, both detailed and as a high level summary, see your profitability, shipment summary, as well as customer activity summaries.
Your TMS acts like one giant reporting machine. Every data field you enter should be an option for report generation – and if your current TMS doesn’t let you generate customized reports, you’re losing out on options for providing value to your clients.
If you can generate custom reports, how easy is it to structure them?
An often underrated, but incredibly valuable (and time saving) ability is to drag and drop the fields you need for your reports. Select the fields you want to see data for, and then simply drag them into the order you want them displayed.
Make your managers happy, and make your customers happy with reports that display the exact data they want to see – in the order they like to see it.
Right on the heels of needing to generate and view reporting is the need to manage your accounting.
If your TMS doesn’t integrate with your accounting software – like Quickbooks – then you’re running the risk of errors due to double entry. Every time someone has to copy and paste data is a risk that it’ll be copied over incorrectly, as well as take up valuable time. A few seconds here and there as you copy data might not seem like a big deal, but they add up significantly over the course of a month – as we discuss in detail in this past blog post.
Insight into your finances is vitally important to running a profitable, successful business. You need to know who owes you money, and how much. You need to be able to audit your commissions, see disputes, and review your shipment summary at a high level.
If your TMS doesn’t offer you these abilities, why are you still using them?
Can you print checks from your TMS portal, or do you need to log in to Quickbooks or your bank directly?
Can you pay bills from within your TMS, or do you need to log in directly?
Your TMS absolutely should allow you do all of these things from within your portal – saving you time, and as a result, money.
SO WHAT CAN YOUR TMS DO?
If your TMS is missing even one of these features, there’s probably a slew of related features you’re missing out on as well.
These are all key features that are absolutely essential to running your business. This is about more than just the lowest price for an essential piece of software – this is about features that save you money, and enable you to earn more, too.
Does your TMS offer all of these features, but at an additional cost for each set you add on?
Do the math – is it really that much cheaper than the option that includes it all from day one, for one price?
Do you really want to work with a TMS provider that’s going to nickel and dime you over every little feature you could use? Especially when the software was designed to use those features in the first place – who wants to be prompted for an additional fee every time you try to use an intriguing feature in your dashboard?
Above all – how much does it cost to talk to customer service?
Is your current TMS provider running the clock every time you call or email them?
Does it seem like they’re about padding their own pockets more than helping your business succeed?
If they’re not, then try talking to our team. Enter your information below and let’s chat about how we could help your business succeed: