The Most Agile Transportation Management Software

Transportation Management Software (TMS) is at the core of most freight brokerage operations. TMS can rate shipments, dispatch loads, and use electronic tracking to give an Amazon experience to delight customers.

At 3PL Systems we like to build our TMS to innovate based on trends we are seeing in the market. Our software development team is agile delivering new software enhancements to solve real-world problems.  

New Feature Electronic Signatures

Running an efficient freight brokerage is key to being profitable. Give your shippers the convenience of electronically accepting your rate quote native in BrokerWare TMS. Say goodbye to printing, signing, scanning, uploading, and emailing back. Convenience is a competitive advantage.

We have the same ability for your carriers to accept your freight shipment via electronic signature. If you’re interested in learning more of the innovative features our engineers are working on contact us for a demo.

Mastering Sales with Richard Harris

If you enjoy our content please follow us on Spotify

In this episode of 3PL Live, host Jeremy Thone speaks with Richard Harris™ of The Harris Consulting group about the art of mastering inside sales.

Richard is one of the most influential sales leaders in the software industry with clients such as Google, Visa, and SalesLoft. He teaches sales reps how to ask the right questions at the right times.

We talk about impostor syndrome, sales automation programs, and mental health. Thanks for listening. We appreciate the support, and please share, like, and comment if you enjoyed it.

3PL Systems Team

3PL Systems Employee Spotlight on Blake Rangell

At 3PL Systems, we make Transportation Management Software with a lot of moving parts. We hire talented U.S. based technical support representatives to support our client base.

We appreciate the contributions of our team. In this episode of 3PL Live, we turn the spotlight on our staff and speak with Blake Rangell about supporting our clients with EDI 204, 210, 214, and API tracking/tracing.

We also talk about some popular integrations, including Hubtran for process automation and DAT onboarding.

3PL Team

The Art of Sales with Belal Batrawy

Happy New Year! 3PL Systems is excited to share an interview with Belal Batrawy, a top voice on LinkedIn for tactful sales advice. Occasionally we will interview people outside of the supply chain industry if the person is exceptional at their trade.

In this episode of 3PL Live, we explore how Belal ended up being the number one sales rep at four startups and dead last at two. We learn that Belal achieved this success without being motivated by money.

We explore some of the tactical ways people can sell better, such as giving the price upfront, talking about competition, and changing social paradigms in the buyer-seller relationship.

We also speak about psychological safety and a prototype to fail fast in the art of sales.

TMS UTILIZATION — YOUR COMPETITION IS USING A TMS, AND YOU SHOULD TOO

A recent article out of Logistics Management had something very interesting to say about TMS adoption in small-to-medium-sized companies (which includes most freight brokerages).

Here’s what the article had to say:

“Historically, TMS adoption rates for smaller shippers have hovered in the 10% range, according to De Muynck, while about 25% of medium-sized firms and 50% of large organizations used the application to manage their freight activities.

“These adoption rates are now rising thanks to the fact that most TMSs are now available in the Cloud and on a subscription-based model. ‘Recently, we’ve seen about 15% growth in TMS usage within the small- to mid-sized businesses market.’”

If you’re a new freight broker trying to break into the industry, or even if you’re an experienced broker who’s always hovered around the small-to-medium market, this means that the competition is starting to gain a technological advantage, and they’re doing so quickly.

Cloud TMS services, like our flagship product, BrokerWare™, allow the little guys to get a leg up on the competition. It used to be the case that small brokers were basically competing with each other on the basis of customer service — there just wasn’t a big difference price-wise or quality wise between different freight brokers.

Even 10 years ago, dealing with a TMS, the management of which and the implementation of which could be costly, time consuming, and of unclear value to the few small brokers who could afford it, was just not something that made a whole lot of sense.

Even in the mid market, you just didn’t see it very often — the price was high, training was a nightmare, and unless you had a huge list of recurring clients, it wasn’t even something you really needed.

That’s all changed now thanks to cloud-based TMSs.

TMS UTILIZATION ISN’T AS DIFFICULT AS IT ONCE WAS

Nowadays, many smaller freight brokers are adopting TMSs, often before they even get up and running, which allows them to be highly efficient from the get go and to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Now, I do want to take a step back here and make it clear that this only applies to paid TMSs — free TMSs just aren’t robust enough to help you set yourself apart.

That being said, one of the biggest factors that used to keep small-to-medium-sized businesses from adopting a TMS was the need for training — day-to-day TMS management just wasn’t something you could pick up easily, the systems were clunky for a long time, and getting buy-in from staff could be a nightmare, especially as you got towards the mid end of the small-to-mid market.

But it’s not 2003 anymore — we’ve come a long way, and

Simpler is better, especially if you already have a lot of employees. The last thing you want to do is to have to undergo weeks or months of training sessions, which not only can cost you up front, but which also costs you in lost productivity.

The truth is, a quality system, especially a cloud-based system that isn’t going to require a huge investment upfront, is going to be easier to implement. When it comes to a TMS, management needs to be as simple and straightforward as possible, and the less you have to manage on-site (and the more your TMS provider is managing on their end), the fewer problems you have to worry about.

A TMS DIFFERENTIATES YOU FROM THE COMPETITION — BUT SOON IT WILL BE REQUIRED FOR BUSINESS

As it stands now, a TMS is something that can really set you apart. For most freight brokers, it’s difficult to compete on price, it’s difficult to compete on quality, most of your customers view you as a commodity, and even providing excellent customer service can be just enough to keep people from hating you.

It’s sad, but it’s the truth.

All of this means one thing — you need to be as efficient as possible in order to make a buck.

A TMS is one of the few ways you can really achieve higher levels of efficiency. Many brokers find that they can reduce staffing levels by using a TMS.

They also find that they can more regularly achieve higher profit margins because the TMS quickly and efficiently compares clients and carriers.

Add to that auto-generated paperwork and a reduction in the amount of data entry required (which reduces errors), and you can see why more and more brokers are adopting TMSs.

LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW SIMPLE IT CAN BE TO IMPLEMENT A TMS IN YOUR BROKERAGE

If you’re ready to become a more efficient and effective broker, we’d love to help.

Contact us today to find out how our TMS BrokerWare™ can help you jumpstart your business.

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

INVESTING IN TRANSPORT SOFTWARE — THE ROI ON A TMS

When considering different pieces of transport software for freight brokers (also known as a TMS or a transportation management system), it’s critical to consider ROI.

As a business owner, even if you’re just starting out, you understand the importance of ROI — you don’t casually or lightly signup for ongoing costs unless you’re clear on how that’s going to pay off for your business, both in the short-term and the long-term.

This is a very different calculation compared to what a consumer is going to look at. When a consumer is considering the purchase of a gaming computer, they know that they’re pouring money into a hole, for all intents and purposes — their ROI comes in the form of fun times with friends.

Businesses do not have these luxuries, and freight brokers especially need to be enormously considerate of ROI as brokerages are generally run on razor-thin margins that can’t make up for large disruptions or reductions in cash flow.

So, what is the ROI on a TMS? How can it help you save money and make money?

Let’s discuss.

A TMS HELPS YOU ACCESS MORE CARRIERS AND BETTER RATES FASTER

Time is money, and nowhere is that more true than in the freight brokerage business.

One of the most time-consuming portions of the job is matching loads to carriers.

Now, for most freight brokerages, there’s a limited number of carriers that you have a contract with, which means the amount of profit you’re going to make on any given load is directly controlled by the carriers you have access to.

If there’s a carrier available and willing to take the load cheaper than everyone else (while still maintaining the quality that your clients expect), you want to know about it — but that may take time (which means employee hours) to find, and who knows, by the time you work everything out, that carrier might have already taken on another load.

Speed is of the essence, which is where a quality TMS comes in. If your TMS allows you to see all the available carriers for a particular lane, if you can do so from within a single portal, if you’re able to look at what’s available on popular load boards at the same time…

Well, you’re starting to see the value, I expect — any TMS that’s worth purchasing is going to have these features.  It is going to decrease the amount of time it takes you to find the right carrier for the load and lane in question while increasing your options.

Over time, this can really add up. If you increase your profits by even a small amount on even half your jobs, you make a big impression in the revenue you’re bringing in month over month.

But there are other reasons to invest in a TMS…

A QUALITY TMS REDUCES DATA ENTRY, REDUCES ERRORS, REDUCES PAPERWORK, AND CAN EVEN AUTOMATICALLY DISPATCH TRUCKS

What I’ve written here may seem like almost too much to believe, but it’s the truth — a quality TMS simply revolutionizes how freight brokers do business.

Many brokers deal with large numbers of LTL loads — that’s a lot of moving parts to keep track of, and this generally means you need a part-time or full-time dispatcher.

Now, TMSs aren’t artificial intelligences — they’re not going to eliminate the role of a dispatcher any time soon.

However, they can make your dispatcher much more efficient by automatically dispatching LTL loads — or a solid TMS may just help you grow your business to the point where you can afford to bring on a dispatcher in the first place.

TMSs also provide a return in ways you might not consider — by reducing the need for a large portion of your data entry, not only are you saving time and money by not having to pay someone to enter data (or having to enter that data yourself), but you also eliminate one of the major sources of errors. Data entry is repetitive and monotonous, and it’s simple for errors to creep in. Eliminating data entry means you can worry a lot less about some silly mistake costing you a great deal of money.

Many TMSs also auto-generate paperwork, again, reducing the amount of time you or your staff need to spend on repetitive tasks and reducing the opportunity for errors.

All told, this makes a huge difference — you can save a great deal of time, reduce staffing, increase efficiency, and increase profit margins.

Who wouldn’t want that?

CONVINCED YET? LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT A TMS CAN DO FOR YOU

Load board integrations, customer portals, rate sharing — it’s all in a day’s work for a quality TMS.

See it for yourself – request a demo by entering your information below:

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

WHY YOUR CUSTOMERS NEED THEIR OWN PORTAL FOR BOOKING LTL SHIPMENTS

One of the main reasons your customers choose to outsource their freight shipping is because they can’t get the same rates or deals that you can for shipments.  In addition to that, they place their trust in your business that you can find and coordinate the best rate, best route, and best carrier(s) for their shipments.

After all, that’s the main benefit in working with a 3PL, right?  Less stress, less worry, better quality shipping.

That might have been enough for the last few decades, but recently, customers are getting more demanding.

It’s not enough anymore to simply let them know the rates for shipments.  Now, they want tracking information, they want to be able to view and decide on rate quotes for themselves, and they want to handle everything for their shipments on their own.  They don’t want to call you every time they make a shipment anymore – they want the ease of taking care of shipments themselves.

booking LTL shipments

WHAT EXACTLY IS A CUSTOMER PORTAL?

In any transportation management system (TMS), you or your team will log in to your own portals to review all the data for running your brokerage.  Software like BrokerWare™ shows you pretty much everything you need for your business in one place: accounting, documents, quotes, shipments, tracking information, etc.

The portal itself is just how you log in to that software – since BrokerWare™ is hosted in the cloud, you can log into it from any computer, anywhere.  This makes it monumentally easy to manage your business: log in from home, work, or any location you have to work for the day.  If you hire someone new, there’s no installing the software locally – you simply confirm that you need to add a new user, and you can have them onboarded in a single day.

The ability for each user to have their own portal (and associated permissions) is what makes BrokerWare™ so popular among our customers, and their customers, too.

Your office staff can have their own portals, with their own permissions, which you set at an admin level.

Your customers can also have their own portals, with access only to the carriers and rates you’ve chosen.

It’s those customer portals that are so valuable.

CUSTOMER PORTALS ARE JUST ONE TOOL THAT ENABLE YOU TO PROVIDE A SUPERIOR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

Shippers today want an integrated, easy experience that’s reminiscent of how they ship things in their every day life.  You and I both know that shipping FTL or LTL isn’t at all like ordering a package from Amazon, but the average shipper doesn’t understand why that isn’t the case.

If Amazon provides tracking updates for their individual packages, and they can just log in to check them, why can’t they get similar updates for the shipments they book at work?

By using the BrokerWare customer portal, they can log in and check tracking information. 

Just like how Amazon’s tracking updates come in each time packages go through a check point (changing trucks at a distribution center, etc), you can provide similar insights for your customers by granting them access to a customer portal.

Seems almost absurdly simple, but it’s the kind of insight customers are starting expect from their 3PL providers.

You can provide that for your customers, increasing their satisfaction with the service you provide – and ensuring you retain their business.

More than just keeping your current customers, improving their satisfaction with your business is one of the best ways to get those all-important word of mouth referrals.  Happy customers tell others about your business, which of course, means you get more customers.

See what the customer portal is all about – enter your information below to request a demo:

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

IMPROVE YOUR LTL CAPABILITIES: AUTOMATICALLY DISPATCH TRUCKS FOR LTL LOADS

When you’re managing a business that operates primarily with Less-Than-Truckload shipments (LTL), you’ve already got a lot on your plate to manage multiple shipments.

From finding them, handling documentation, providing quotes, booking the shipment, to the invoicing – it’s a lot to keep on top of for effective shipping.

Plus, there’s the obvious: dispatching.

DISPATCHING IS AN ENTIRE JOB ROLE ITSELF.

Managing all the loads your business handles often means you need an entire position dedicated to scheduling all of the loads you’ve taken on.  When you’re overseeing a hundred loads or more a month, keeping them all straight isn’t easy.

That’s where the ability to automatically dispatch your LTL loads becomes so valuable – something that BrokerWare™ offers along with the other technology capabilities that help manage your brokerage.

You can increase your capacity to manage LTL loads without having to hire more dispatchers.  Instead, they’re able to dispatch trucks without having to call or email multiple points of contact to coordinate the loads.

This leaves your human dispatcher to work on thornier problems, such as customer support or complex shipping routes.

If you’re a smaller business, you may not have a dedicated dispatcher on your payroll.  Utilizing automatic dispatching can help you increase your capacity enough to grow your business to afford one – and take on more shipments each month.

BREAK DOWN THE SILOS IN YOUR BUSINESS THAT ARE THE BARRIERS TO COMMUNICATION.

The biggest problems in running a freight brokerage are often the communication issues between the load finders, dispatchers, and truck drivers as they manage the shipments you book.

Utilizing a comprehensive Transportation Management System (TMS) like BrokerWare™ improves communication throughout your business.  Your team doesn’t have to log in to multiple tools to dispatch, invoice, get quotes, or find loads.  Instead, it’s all in one place – making it easier for the entire team to work together effectively.

You can still segment how your sales team sees customer data (you can assign specific access through the salesperson portals that BrokerWare™ allows), but the rest of your team needs the ability to see the big picture to effectively manage your shipments.

One system, all of the information you need in one place.  Transportation management made easy.

JUST WHAT IS THE AUTOMATED DISPATCHING CAPABILITY ABLE TO DO FOR YOU?

As an integral part of the operations of your brokerage, the dispatching ability of BrokerWare™ includes booking, tracking, quote generation, notation, and document storage.

From the portal into the software, it starts with generating a quote – something you can permit your customers to do on their own as well [link to customer portal blog].  For shipments outside of your usual shipping lanes, you can also enable and utilize the RateShare capability.  Learn more about RateShare by reading through our past blog discussing it in depth [link to RateShare blog], as it can be an easy way to add a new revenue stream to your business!

Once an acceptable quote is generated, the customer or your team can move directly into booking that shipment. If the customer isn’t ready to book right that second, you can also save the quote for later.

Thanks to our integration with MacroPoint, you can automatically  track and manage the loads from within the BrokerWare portal. No need to log in to multiple tools – just a simple click of the mouse and you can see the information you need for each shipment.

Additionally, the ability to add notes or documents to specific shipments is a valuable time saving tool.  Bills of lading, invoices, labels – all of that can be located within the shipment details.  You or your team don’t need to hunt for the information a customer needs on their shipment.

Plus, it’s all synced up with QuickBooks Desktop or QuickBooks Online, so your accounting team is fully up to date on the status of each account.

CUSTOMIZED REPORTING OPTIONS COME STANDARD, TOO.

Anything recorded within BrokerWare™ is data that you can generate a report on.  Number of shipments, carrier data, revenue, you name it, you can generate a report.

Your salespeople can even see reports on what their expected commissions are each month, providing incentive for their efforts.

From dispatching to operations management, there’s not much that isn’t made easier when you use BrokerWare™.

Want to see it for yourself?  Enter your information below to see a demo:

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

SUPPLY CHAIN OPTIMIZATION FOR FREIGHT BROKERS—A QUALITY TMS IS YOUR BEST FRIEND

When it comes to the world of freight brokerage, margins are thin on the best of days.  Though working hard to achieve efficiency (and to keep operational costs down) is crucial to success, supply chain optimization (for freight brokers who are serious about growing their business, anyway) can help you clear some healthy profit margins and actually walk away with a little cash in your pocket at the end of the day.

Even if you’re just one little link in the supply chain.

And that’s something we all want, don’t we?

Of course we do. We want to be the lean, strong link that turns a profit again and again.

You see, clients and customers alike often look at freight brokers as a commodity—something like gasoline or electricity, something that should cost about the same no matter where they go, something that doesn’t really vary much in quality.

Now, you and I both know that this is far from the truth, but they don’t know that, and they’re the ones who matter—unless you figure out a way to set yourself apart from the competition through excellent service.

Being a commodity is not fun. Now, I suppose you could set up a cartel like OPEC and start controlling prices to combat this, but that’s not exactly a legitimate strategy for success (and, you know, it’s illegal).

So, for the new freight broker who’s just burst onto the scene, and for the experienced broker who is tired of living on razor-thin margins, there’s a solution to increasing profit:

It’s supply chain optimization.

For freight brokers, supply chain optimization is the single best way to increase your profit margins, aside from severely increasing efficiency, drastically reducing staffing costs, or conducting such a massive level of business that sheer volume overwhelms the tiny margins.

SUPPLY CHAIN OPTIMIZATION FOR FREIGHT BROKERS—YOU AND I BOTH KNOW HOW CRUCIAL IT IS TO INCREASE MARGINS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

One of the hardest parts of being a freight broker isn’t the thin margins—it’s the fact that those thin margins often come four to six weeks down the road (or more) when the client finally pays.

The pesky part about that is this: you probably paid the carrier at the beginning of the job. Which means you’ve been running on a bit of a deficit.

Sure, you can find ways to survive in the meantime. Factoring is one (not very fun and not very profitable) answer.

Living on small business loans is another (scary) answer.

Requiring your shipper to pay in advance is a (risky, potentially brand-damaging, potentially business-losing) answer (although, to be honest, I like the idea of them paying in advance as the rule, rather than the exception—this isn’t a restaurant we’re running here).

Perhaps there’s another way—we think so.

OPTIMIZING YOUR PORTION OF THE SUPPLY CHAIN, INCREASING MARGINS BY CAREFULLY CHOOSING THE MOST EFFICIENT LANES AND THE LOWEST-COST CARRIERS (WHO STILL MAINTAIN QUALITY), IS ONLY ONE PART OF THE PUZZLE

By optimizing the supply chain, the savvy freight broker can build up a nice little lump of cash to live on while slow-paying shippers take their sweet time paying their invoices.

None of that factoring nonsense (honestly, who wants to pay a percentage of their profit just to get paid a few weeks earlier? That sounds like a payroll-check loan death-spiral waiting to happen).

And just generally, the overhead to run a freight brokerage can be quite substantial, especially if you’re doing things the old-school way—you know, rooms full of phones and employees, people constantly calling or emailing or faxing this carrier and that shipper, trying to find decent rates with reasonable transit times as quickly as possible (to make sure they don’t disappear while you’re busy contrasting and comparing) while keeping about a million variables in your head to make sure you get the most efficient shipping lane, that the price makes sense for the time of year, the weather, the capacity of the lane, fuel charges…

Sounds exhausting (it was exhausting just writing it).

So, you can deal with all of that, or you can attack your efficiency problems and your overhead problems while simultaneously optimizing your portion of the supply chain, all with one powerful freight brokerage tool:

A TMS.

TRANSPORTATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (TMS) SOFTWARE HELPS YOU INCREASE MARGINS AND EFFICIENCY WHILE REDUCING STAFFING COSTS

The old school methods of freight brokerage involved a great deal of phone calls, emails, faxes, website checking, more phone calls, scans being put into emails and faxed simultaneously, quote finagling, paper shuffling, carrier-calling (some might say carrier-harassing)…

You get the picture. Maybe you’ve lived it.

A TMS cuts so much of that down it’s almost unbelievable, especially to those of us who have been in this business for decades and remember how it used to be.

A TMS can automate processes that used to be done, slowly, by staff whose only job was to handle those processes.

Slowly.

Call checks, quote management, load acceptance, rate checks, document generation—all these and more required a person doing the work (preferably a fast person). Mistakes could, and would, be made. The best rates were far from guaranteed. The most efficient lanes were similarly far from guaranteed.

A tool that could guarantee those things, that could not only check and compare rates, lanes, and transit times (and suggest the best combinations), that could generate and send emails and paperwork automatically… well, such a tool would be worth its weight in gold, wouldn’t it?

BrokerWare™ can do all of that and more.

Even better – we’ve got something new coming that’ll work for even the smaller freight brokers.  Just starting your business, and frustrated that there’s nothing out there that fits in your budget – and does everything you need it to do?

We’ve heard you.

Subscribe to blog updates by entering your email – or enter your information here on our homepage.