This already has been an unusual peak shipping season in the United States, with record-breaking volumes at several ports, shortages of trucks and replacement parts, labor shortages, sky-high container rates and fewer new drivers entering trucking due to the pandemic. In truth, the pandemic has created a sort of perpetual peak shipping season in which capacity is scarce, rates are much higher than in previous years and the role of technology is more important ever. As produce season winds down across much of the country and consumers begin furiously shopping for the holidays, the current environment isn’t likely to quiet any time soon.
One crucial tool that freight brokers and 3PLs like you have in your arsenal is real-time technology. Real-time load tracking, digital freight matching and load booking together can help your operations team react faster to supply chain disruptions, work more efficiently, build stronger relationships with carriers and reduce financial losses during this topsy-turvy who-knows-what-will-happen-next peak shipping season.
1. Finding and Securing Capacity
The most significant obstacle you encounter during peak shipping season is finding and securing capacity. This year’s peak shipping season is different from previous years in that capacity for the most part has been scarce for the last 12 months due to the pandemic. In this environment, carriers can afford to be choosy about the loads they accept. The pressure is on you to reach carriers first and to make your company easy to do business with. Digital freight matching technology and load booking automation tools help you hit both of these targets.
The insights provided by Trucker Tools’ digital freight matching platform allow you to contact only those carriers that are likely to have the type of capacity you need in the lane you need it in. When you do call a carrier, you already know based on the information in the platform that they are likely to have the capacity you need. This greatly reduces the number of phone calls, emails and other manual communications you have with carriers, which translates into greater efficiency for both you and your carrier partners.
Add Trucker Tools’ Book It Now® to the mix and you give carriers the ability to book your loads digitally through the Trucker Tools’ mobile app or free carrier platform. In addition to increasing efficiency, Book It Now® gives carriers 24/7 access to your loads, which can make you a preferred broker among carriers. Predictive load matching, another feature in Trucker Tools’ digital freight matching platform, tells you where trucks will be in the future, which also helps you get to carriers ahead of your competition.
2. High Operating Costs
Automation of manual tasks is one of the quickest ways to reduce your operating costs, increase operational efficiency and create new growth opportunities. If your staff members are doing everything “by hand” in your freight broker or logistics business, your operating costs are high. Why? The longer it takes for one of your staff members to complete a task, the more it costs you as the owner of the business. When you shorten the amount of time needed to complete tasks in your operations, you reduce your operating costs, increase the efficiency of your business and create new opportunities to move additional loads.
If, for example, you use check calls to track loads for your shippers, your team likely is making between five and 10 phone calls per load. These check calls are time-consuming and add up quickly. Real-time technology such as Trucker Tools’ load tracking platform reduces and can even eliminate manual check calls. The platform uses the GPS technology in the driver’s phone and the Trucker Tools app to provide you with real-time digital load location updates every five to 15 minutes that you can view in your TMS. Using Trucker Tools’ load tracking platform reduces the amount of time and resources required to track loads. It also frees up your staff members to work on other tasks, such as carrier and shipper development, or brokering more loads.
It’s also worth noting that when you use manual processes in your operations, you need to either have your current team members work longer hours or you need to hire additional employees if you want to grow your business. With scalable technology like Trucker Tools’ digital freight matching, real-time visibility platform and Book It Now®, you can expand your business without substantially increasing your overhead because you’ve automated many of your internal processes and workflows.
3. Financial Losses Due to Cargo Theft
Labor Day through the end of December also is the peak season for cargo theft. It’s when most retailers are moving the highest volume of high-value goods around the country. According to CargoNet, cargo theft increased in the third quarter of 2020 by 23 percent compared with Q3 2019. CargoNet also reported that U.S. pilferage, i.e. when small amounts of goods are stolen repeatedly, increased by 35 percent in 2020, with organized crime rings often targeting cargo at rest stops, truck stops and storage locations.
Trucker Tools’ integration partnership with Loadsure helps you reduce the risk of financial losses on spot market loads during peak shipping season. As a freight broker or 3PL using Trucker Tools’ digital freight matching platform, you can get instant freight insurance quotes and insure spot market loads on a load by load basis through our platform. Insuring a load takes seconds and a few mouse clicks, not minutes or hours on the phone as it often can with conventional cargo insurance.
One of the reasons Trucker Tools has partnered with Loadsure is that it’s easy to file a claim when you need to. Loadsure also processes claims quickly, providing near-instant access to claim payments. With Loadsure, you may be able to reduce your annual insurance expenses by as much as 80 percent, which is significant. If you opt to only use Loadsure in your operations and get rid of your annual coverage, you can potentially save even more.
For tips on building a stronger carrier network to see you through this perpetual peak season, be sure to view How a True Digital Experience Helps Brokers Win the Capacity Battle and Build Carrier Loyalty. Schedule a free demo of Trucker Tools’ real-time load tracking platform, digital freight matching platform and Book It Now®.