Starting a logistics company: Infrastructure you need to get started

So you’ve formed an LLC and established an operating agreement with your business partners. Great – but now what? What will you need to get started? Starting a logistics company requires some basic infrastructure needs you want to have in order to be successful.

Set up a professional-looking website.

You’ve gone through the process of setting up your LLC and operating agreement so you can be a real business. That’s great. Now you just need to look like one. If you’re going to be calling shippers and carriers to broker freight, you might get Googled. Those who look you up need to like what they find.

This doesn’t have to be super complicated. You’re going to need to:

  • Buy your domain name
  • Set up your website

Squarespace is probably the best platform to do this all on. It will be really simple.

What should you put on your website when starting a logistics company? Good question.

You are creating a website so you can establish credibility with customers, suppliers and new hires. If you want to get something simple up and then wait until you can delegate creation of the rest of the site to someone who’s a little more web-development savvy, then focus on achieving the following two things:

  • Show who you are. Use a friendly-looking photo of yourself.
  • Write, in your own words, how important great service is to you.

You are in a service business. What ultimately will decide your success or failure as a freight broker when starting a logistics company will be, do you deliver great service, and do people like you? There are a million other guys out there just like you. They would all be happy to take your freight. But assuming you’re price competitive, you have a great on-time percentage and that your shippers like you, you can survive.

The on-time percentage will come. Right now, you need people who visit your website to 1) Like you and 2) Read how much you value delivering great service.

 

Set yourself up on easy-to-use freight broker software.

You’re new to the game, so you really need to impress your first couple of clients. You really, really need those first loads to get picked up one time, get delivered on time and know exactly where that load is, preferably using GPS to track it vs. a log of driver update calls.

Most importantly, you need a software that has been built to make all your day-to-day freight-related tasks as simple to do as possible. You’re going to be spending a lot of time on a computer, clicking through screens to log information. If you had to chose, would you pick a software that takes 16 clicks to accomplish a task, or would you chose the freight broker software that has taken that same task and made it so the task can be completed in 1 click?

16 clicks or 1 click? When it comes to getting stuff done, clicks matter. Pick the most simple freight broker software solution.

Starting a logistics company: Affordable office space

Your office space doesn’t have to be fancy when starting a logistics company, but you may want to consider starting at a WeWork or other co-working space. This will allow you to list their address as your address. Showing you operate out of an office building can help increase your credibility with customers and carriers. Not only are co-working spaces great for getting started, but they will allow you to expand more easily as you grow and add people.

Starting a logistics company by setting up shop in a co-working space can also be beneficial from a quality of life standpoint. If you’re not used to working alone, the loneliness of self-employment can be a drag at times. Co-working spaces are generally filled with other entrepreneurs who know what it’s like to build a business. Not only can you meet new people, but those new people might know people who know customers. Referrals are great. What can you do to get more? Know more people.

 

Next: Starting Your Own Logistics Company – The Financial Model

 

Manage your freight remotely. Complete visibility to your transportation supply chain is as close as your phone, tablet or computer. Freightflow freight broker software is the most easy-to-use freight broker software available today. The best part? It’s completely free to try. Don’t wait. Get started today with your no obligation, 100% free trial.

 

How to start a logistics business: Drafting the Operating Agreement

Thinking about how to start a logistics business? First, you set up your new business as an official legal entity. Right after, an operating agreement is very important. Especially if you are going into business with a partner. What do you need to consider when learning how to start a logistics company and set up an operating agreement? We’ll explain in this article.

How to start a logistics business: the necessity of LLC operating agreements

Depending upon the state that you are running your freight broker business in, you may be required to create an operating agreement for your company. But, even if you’re not, it’s still a good idea so that you and your partners have a clear understanding for how things will and should work.

By setting the rules at the very beginning, you can protect yourself from a myriad of issues that, while may not be probable, could in fact become reality down the line. The future is anything but certain. Starting a business in the first place is taking a risk. Setting up an operating agreement is an act in reducing your risk. Take it seriously. Because, even if you choose to pass on creating an operating agreement, the state you do business in may have default laws to govern the way your business should be operated. This is your opportunity to set your own rules, and to have the company run your way.

 

How to start a logistics business: Laying out the Ownership and Management

One of the most important reason for having an operating agreement when learning how to start a logistics business is division of ownership. Put simply, how much of the business profits go into your bank account, vs how many go into your business partners’ back accounts? In addition, the operating agreement of your freight broker business should clearly define managerial structure. Processes for decision making about the business as well as what would happen if an owner wants to leave a business, should be defined. If you chose to go without an operating agreement, you may run into problems when you are making record profits, or if your partner chooses to leave.

Avoid State Default Rules

In many states, the default role for division of profits is that they are divided equally among all owners, regardless of interest. By setting up your own operating agreement, you can clarify that the shares of profits and losses be split according to percentage of ownership of each member.

Elements to Include in LLC Operating Agreements for freight brokerage businesses

Every operating agreement will be a little different, since even businesses in the same line of work are different. That being said, there are a few essentials that are contained in the majority of operating agreements. These terms include:

  • A breakdown of the ownership percentage of each LLC member;
  • The rights and responsibilities of the LLC members;
  • A detailed plan explaining the distribution of losses and profits;
  • The voting rights of all LLC members;
  • The management plan for the freight brokerage business;
  • Rules for meetings voting rights
  • The buyout or buy-sell rules that govern when a member’s sale of an ownership stake, or a member’s death or disability.

Ownership Percentage

Most often, each individual’s ownership percentage will be determined by the amount they contributed at the start of the business, compared to the total amount given by all members. But, you don’t have to do this. You can set up the ownership percentages in any way you would like. Just as long as it is written out and agreed to by all members who have an interest in the business.

Shares of Profits and Losses

This is most often referred to as a distributive share. Under most LLC operating agreements, a member’s distributive share is often just a simple calculation under their ownership percentage. If they own 25% of the company, they would take on 25% of the losses.

Profits and Losses Special Considerations

You may also want to make some special arrangements within the operating agreement that deal with unique situations. The operating agreement should dictate how much of the distributive share a member is allowed to take each year.

If, for example, the business is new, you may want to consider limiting each member to only taking half of his or her distributive share each year. So, to follow the above example, a member who owns 25% of the profits would only be allowed to take 50% of his distributive share, leaving the remainder of the capital in the bank to help aid growth of the business.

Meetings and Voting Rights

The operating agreement for your freight brokerage business should lay out details about how often formal meetings are to be conducted, and voting rights for decisions made in those meetings. In general, there are two voting rights agreements that LLCs commonly use. In the first example, each member votes their membership percentage. When you use this scheme, a person with a 35% ownership share has much larger voting power than a person that only has 5% ownership share. The other option is where each member gets one vote, regardless of the size of their ownership shares.

Transitions of Ownership

Freight brokerage businesses can see people come and go. It’s not entirely uncommon when learning how to start a logistics business to make sure your operating agreement states the procedures required for transition of ownership. Often times, operating agreements have different procedures for this, depending on the circumstances. What if someone dies? It’s not pleasant to think about, but for the sake of clarity in your business dealings, it’s necessary. What happens most often is operating agreements include simple buyout schemes that allow continuing owners to buy out the ownership share of a member that is leaving the company.

How to start a logistics business: Creating an Operating Agreement

Hopefully this article has helped give you an overview of what you should need when you do create that operating agreement as you learn how to start a logistics business. But, it would be extremely wise for you to work with a business or commercial law attorney to make sure you’re not leaving out anything essential to your specific business. You may want to consider a service like LegalZoom first. For $30 a month, you can speak with an attorney fluent in your area of need who has been rated by previous customers. Something to consider before sitting down with someone who will charge you $100 an hour or more.

 

Next: How to start a 3rd party logistics company: Infrastructure to Get Started

 

Manage your freight remotely. Complete visibility to your transportation supply chain is as close as your phone, tablet or computer. Freightflow freight broker software is the most easy-to-use freight broker software available today. The best part? It’s completely free to try. Don’t wait. Get started today with your no obligation, 100% free trial.

How to Start a Logistics Brokerage: Setting Up Your Legal Entity

Learning how to start a logistics brokerage? If you think you can do it, you’re right. You just need some guidance on how to do it correctly. This is the first in a series of articles which will explain how to start a logistics company. We will try to leave no detail uncovered. From officially forming a business, to scaling your enterprise and building the business of your dreams.

First, are you looking to leave an existing logistics company, and did you have a non-compete?

How to start aSetting up your business as a legal entity.

There are many benefits to officially incorporating your business as a limited liability company (LLC). Those benefits include:

  • Protected assets. LLCs provide limited liability protection to their owners who are typically not personally liable for the business debts and liabilities of the LLC.
  • Pass-through taxation. LLCs generally don’t pay taxes at the business level. Any tax due is paid at the individual level.
  • Increased credibility. Showing you’re official will give you credibility with shippers, carriers and the entire industry. And credibility in freight brokerage is really important.
  • Limited compliance requirements. LLCs face fewer state-imposed annual requirements and ongoing formalities.
  • Flexible management structure. In an LLC, owners can establish any organizational structure agreed upon by the company owners.
  • Few restrictions. There are few restrictions on who can be an LLC owner or how many owners an LLC may have.

Source: http://www.bizfilings.com/learn/creating-llc.aspx

How to start a logistics brokerage: Selecting a business partner(s).

It’s not impossible for you to sell to customers and also broker the freight, but you might want to consider starting the business with a partner. This way, one can focus on getting customers, and the other can focus on finding carriers. But this way you both can work on getting customers when there are no loads to be covered in the earliest of days. If you want to figure this out later, you can form an LLC and then add in your partner(s) in the operating agreement.

More importantly, you may want to spend time with someone before deciding you could go into business with them. This is a big, big decision and not one that should be taken lightly. Be particularly careful of getting into business with a friend, or someone whom you like to hang out with. When things get tough, are they going to have the grit to grind through long days and “get shit done”, with you?

Before selecting a partner, spend some time being honest with yourself about your own strengths and weaknesses. What are you good at? What are you not good at? Do you have relationships that you can leverage to benefit the business? What do you have a lot of experience doing, and what do you want to get away from doing? Once you’ve determined your strengths and weaknesses, you will then be in better position to figure out what you need most in a business partner as you figure out how to start a logistics brokerage.

 

Create an operating agreement.

What is an operating agreement?

“an agreement among a limited liability company members governing the LLC’s business and members’ financial and managerial rights and duties. Many states in the United States require an LLC to have an operating agreement. LLCs operating without an operating agreement are governed by the state’s default rules contained in the relevant statue and developed through state court decisions.”

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operating_agreement

You’re going to want an operating agreement that spells out the details of how things will work if you’re going to partner with someone to build your new business. The operating agreement will be used to define your organization’s operating terms and help protect your legal rights and responsibilities. Protecting yourself is imperative when learning how to start a logistics brokerage. Having a written record that outlines your company’s management policies and procedures will allow you to get down to business. Maybe most importantly, the operating agreement should spell out how you and your partner(s) will divide the profit.

There are many templates available if you Google “how to create an operating agreement”. Work with a good attorney to get things squared away. You want to know you haven’t left any stone unturned. Operating agreements can be tricky and may be written in “Legalese”. Again, you want to make sure a trained professional has walked you through every piece of language in the contract. If you’re strapped for cash, try LegalZoom. It’s about $160 for a 6-month subscription, which includes unlimited calls with an attorney.

 

Next: How to Start a Logistics Business: Structuring Your Operating Agreement

 

Manage your freight remotely. Complete visibility to your transportation supply chain is as close as your phone, tablet or computer. Freightflow freight broker software is the most easy-to-use freight broker software available today. The best part? It’s completely free to try. Don’t wait. Get started today with your no obligation, 100% free trial.

How to find freight shippers: 3 Keys to Expanding Your Logistics Business

Wondering how to find freight shippers? It’s a question as old as the industry itself. You have your feet (or wheels in this business) under you, and feel like you have several clients where you’re moving enough steady freight to at least sleep through the night. Or, maybe it’s the opposite. You’re shipping only very niche freight, say produce, from a specific region of the country. Either way, your business could benefit greatly from expanding beyond what you’re currently doing. Expanding your logistics business is definitely possible. You just have to be smart about how you do it. How? Here are three keys that explain how to find freight shippers.

How to find freight shippers: hire pros who know the industry

Logistics is a relationships business. Whether you’re on the customer side or the carrier side, an experienced professionals relationships are what can allow someone to flourish or flounder. But when you bring in someone with a track record of success in a particular niche, this can be a win-win situation. But, you should base some of the compensation on performance. Let’s say you’ve made steady inroads with the dry van full truckload market. You see opportunity to capture more freight from an existing customer who does a lot of LTL work. This could be the perfect opportunity to grow business with a current customer while expanding into a separate niche all together. Spend some time on LinkedIn to see if you can find people with LTL experience. Maybe even people who are running their own small operation. Would they be swayed to join your team with the promise of being able to do even more? Maybe they’re growing tired of being a small-time operation and would enjoy a change of scenery. Regardless, look for professionals who can come in and leverage their existing relationships to help you expand your business. This is essential when learning how to find freight shippers.

Start a new business so support your existing one.

You know you need to grow your client base in one mode of transportation. You also know you have to grow important relationships within one organization. This may be an opportunity to serve different customer needs. If you start as a straight 3PL, have you thought about creating a separate asset-based division to handle short runs within a large metro area? Adding assets to an otherwise entirely-brokered fleet could help you manage questions from future customers who want to know you have some of your own trucks who could handle freight for you. Would it be possible to consolidate services with a fulfillment business, or a corrugate manufacturer? What related services could you offer key clients that would see you as more of a single-source provider?

Protect Your Reputation at all Costs

In order to create opportunities to expand, focus on building the best reputation possible. Ask customers whom you’ve done great work for to post a review on Glassdoor or LinkedIn. Putting positive customer feedback in places where future partners and customers can see it will grease the wheels for your own success, since much of the background checking into your credibility will be done unbeknownst to you. No matter how big of an industry you’re in, and the transportation industry is surprisingly not that big. Starting a business isn’t supposed to be a smooth ride, particularly not in the early days. If you’re in the freight brokerage business, you have to remember that it’s a volume business. You have to move a lot of freight to make a lot of money. So, it’s going to take several years to move a lot of freight, or build up a large enough customer base to move a lot of freight. This also means you need to accept that there will be times where you need to tighten the belt, reduce costs and feel stress. So, don’t cut corners. Provide great service, every time. Over time, you’ll find that the golden rule will be your best margin protection. Good carriers will help you out. Customers will give you the benefit of the doubt. And your business will grow.

 

Manage your freight remotely. Complete visibility to your transportation supply chain is as close as your phone, tablet or computer. Freightflow freight broker software is the most easy-to-use freight broker software available today. The best part? It’s completely free to try. Don’t wait. Get started today with your no obligation, 100% free trial.

What Self-Driving Trucks Mean for Your Third Party Logistics Company

What do self-driving trucks mean for third party logistics? How will trucks operated entirely by computers impact the industry? There is sure to be a duel between regulation and automation. And it may not be a matter of if, but when, that these machines take to the right lane in droves. What do you need to know We’ve done the research so you don’t have to.

 

The state of self-driving trucks in the world

In the US alone, truck drivers move 10 billion tons of freight annually. But the job can be very tough. The hours are long and life on the open road can be lonely. Not to mention driving doesn’t leave a lot of time for physical activity. Drivers sit for a long, long time. There are 3.5 million truck drivers in the US. It seems impossible that they could all be replaced by machines. Or is that so far fetched?

Australian mining giant Rio Tinto already uses 45 240-ton driverless trucks to move iron ore in two mines. Why? It’s simply safer and cheaper. Just last year, in May of 2015, the first self-driving truck hit the road in America in Nevada. In Europe, an entire convoy of trucks drove across Europe to the port of Rotterdam. “Truck Platooning”, as it’s called is when self-driving trucks drive together in a single line to achieve further fuel efficiency with the reduction of wind drag. The truck at the front sets the speed while the others follow closely behind. The tactic also can help reduce congestion on heavily-driven highways.

There has been as much if not more discussion about self-driving cars, but self-driving trucks may beat cars to market. Why? Long stretches of highway driving offer simplified decision-making situation for computers to manage, thereby reducing the risk to humans when compared to more complex urban driving environments with more variables in play. Shippers are presented with a bigger economic incentive to adopt self-driving trucks. Whereas humans primarily benefit from an increase in travel safety, shippers stand to save a lot of money while improving output.

A strong feeling of denial from industry incumbents

Even with self-driving trucks in active testing phases, and clear tremendous economical advantages, industry incumbents don’t see innovation taking hold.

“You are not going to see a truck without a driver in it for a long time,” says Ted Scott from the American Trucking Associations. “The human being is an excellent driver 99.9% of the time. It’s just a tiny instance every now and then that causes a problem. Computers break down more than that.”

Scott further argues that public perception will remain a problem.

“People generally don’t like to drive around trucks even when they have a driver in them. Now you start telling them there is no driver in that truck?”

Safety is another huge concern, and rightfully so. The most obvious question is, how can a 40 ton self-driving 18-wheeler be safe?

According to atbsshow.com:

“In 2012, over 330,000 large trucks were involved in crashes that killed about 4,000 people in the United States. Close to 90% of those were caused by driver error. Truck drivers are human. We can be tired, stressed, and angry. Thankfully self-driving vehicles are computers that don’t share human emotions. In the recent years, some of the country’s largest freight carriers have started to equip their trucks with active safety features like lane control and automatic braking. It only makes sense to continue adding more autonomous features to trucks. While self-driving technology could potentially reduce accidents caused by driver fatigue and distraction, no system is foolproof.”

Despite valid safety concerns, economics of self-driving trucks will be hard for shippers to not take advantage of, given the cost transportation plays in the overall cost of the goods being shipped.

The economics and benefits

The potential saving to the freight transportation industry is estimated to be $168 billion annually.

Here’s how that breaks down:

Labor: $70 billion

Fuel efficiency: $35 billion

Productivity: $27 billion

Accidents: $36 billion

This is before including any estimates from non-truck freight modes like air and rail.

Let’s break those numbers down with a more tangible example.

According to TechCrunch:

“Shipping a full truckload from L.A. to New York costs around $4,500 today, with labor representing 75 percent of that cost. But those labor savings aren’t the only gains to be had from the adoption of driverless trucks. Where drivers are restricted by law from driving more than 11 hours per day without taking an 8-hour break, a driverless truck can drive nearly 24 hours per day. That means the technology would effectively double the output of the U.S. transportation network at 25 percent of the cost.”

Semi-autonomous freight trucks might also help curve the driver shortage. According to The American Trucking Association:

“The trucking industry employs more than 7 million drivers, but the number of drivers have fallen in the recent years. The ATA estimate a shortage of about 40,000 drivers that could grow to about 240,000 by 2022. As you know, truck driving is a tough job and not everyone is cut out for its physical and mental demands. With self-driving trucks and the potential for pelotons, less drivers will be needed in the future.”

Clearly, the transportation industry is ripe for disruption. But how would innovation impact the lives of third party logistics providers?

What this all means for third party logistics

So what does this mean for the third-party-logistics company? In short, it means more truck supply, with reduced cost, and higher productivity. It should mean higher margins in the short term, but as more brokers begin to attain lower means of transporting their customers’ freight, they will inevitably compete on price. The rates customers are willing to pay for freight will go down, and the only way to offset the declining pay rate is more volume, which could be supplied by autonomous trucks that can travel 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

The biggest risk to third party logistics companies comes when a technology company, like Uber, begins to make driverless trucks available to shippers just as they currently make uber drivers available to people. A shipper could merely order 4 autonomous trucks for a pickup on a Monday. The trucks would drive themselves, back themselves into the dock and then take off for their destinations when loading has been completed. Possibly when loading has been completed by an autonomous forklift.

 

Manage your freight remotely. Complete visibility to your transportation supply chain is as close as your phone, tablet or computer. Freightflow freight broker software is the most easy-to-use freight broker software available today. The best part? It’s completely free to try. Don’t wait. Get started today with your no obligation, 100% free trial.

4 Essential Freight Broker Sales Tips to Grow Revenue

If you’re going to make it as a freight broker, you’re going to have to develop your sales skills. Freight broker sales tips are everywhere, but we’ve compiled a list of the 5 best freight broker sales tips from around the internet so you don’t have to.

 

Cold Calling is about Process, Confidence and Commitment

Freight broker sales tips are wide ranging, but when it comes to growing a logistics company, you’re going to have to become good at cold calling. There’s just no way around it.

Process: First off, you need to have a script. Why? Because you need to manage how you talk to prospects and control the variables involved in selling. The script you follow will work. As you go, you can test a different variant of your script to see if it works better than the first version. You may also eventually develop a different style of script for people in different regions of the country. You may find that your cold open for a female in Alabama is different than how you start a conversation with a male in Massachusetts. The more variables in your process you can control, the faster you will find a process and style that works best for you.

Confidence: The problem with making cold calls isn’t that you’re annoying the person you’re calling. The problems start when you don’t present yourself and speak with confidence once someone does pick up the phone. Don’t get me wrong, it can be a draining process. But be regimented about the times of day you make calls, and be disciplined with the number of calls you make. Maybe you could improve if you had click-t0-call functionality as part of your CRM system?

HubSpot has a solid, free system to try. But, you want to be feeling confident, energetic but relaxed when making calls. If you are uncomfortable, that tension, that discomfort is going to come through in your tone, whether you realize it or not. So, set out a plan each day. Break your calling up into quarters. And remember, smile before you dial. Of all the freight broker sales tips you come across in your research, this one is probably the most important.

Focus on pulling out problems. Don’t sell anything unless explicitly asked.

When you do get a shipper on the phone, your mission is not the one call close. Unfortunately, just because you are cold calling does not mean you can use the Jordan Belfort penny stock pitch from The Wolf of Wall Street. (But, you should take note of the fact that he is enjoying himself while on the call.)

What you should do when you get someone on the phone is get your prospect talking, and hopefully talking about any problems or pain points they may be experiencing. This is how you learn about their business and learn about the opportunities you have to become a freight supplier that they value greatly. When you get a prospect to hit on something that’s not going quite right for them, ask more questions about that problem. You want to focus on digging deeper into that specific problem. The more you can uncover the pain, and even pain the prospect didn’t realize they were experiencing, the more opportunity you will find to become their pain relief, or problem solver.

Do your research before the call.

Want to really get a shipper’s attention? Do your research before the call. Yes, this takes time, but, if a shipper receives 100 calls a day, answers the phone 20 times, 10 people are friendly and five demonstrate that they know something about the shipper’s business, you can see who has moved to the front of the line pretty quickly.

If the prospect that you’re calling on makes a component that goes into some other finished product, well, what is the finished product? Are you calling on a muffler manufacturer in Sandusky OH? Those mufflers could very well be on their way to Detroit to be put into a car. Now, you might be saying to yourself, “but they have 1,001 freight brokers calling them for business.”. You’re right. BUT, you can apply this same logic to other industries. Use it to differentiate yourself through showing you are already familiar with their business.

Freight broker sales tips: know your own stats.

There is an off-chance that a prospect asks you specifically about your freight, your current customers and your capabilities. You need to be able to talk competently about your business. The best way to do this is to have everything tracked in your transportation management software. You will you be able to tell your prospect that you can see exactly where your freight is at all times. And you could even share impressive (hopefully) details around your on time delivery percentage over the last week or month. Maybe even mention how you have plenty of capacity in key areas where your prospect might need support. The data you track should be used as an asset. Particularly when it makes sense to demonstrate your abilities to a prospect.

 

Manage your freight remotely. Complete visibility to your transportation supply chain is as close as your phone, tablet or computer. Freightflow freight broker software is the most easy-to-use freight broker software available today. The best part? It’s completely free to try. Don’t wait. Get started today with your no obligation, 100% free trial.

Goal Setting Secrets of The World’s Top Freight Brokers

Goal setting may be one of those things that you don’t think is super important as a freight broker. But, the most successful freight brokers out there could tell you exactly where they stand in relation to their goals. Why is goal setting done by the world’s most successful freight brokers? We’ll explain.

freight-broker-setting-goals

When Happy Gilmore set out to get his grandma’s house back, he didn’t whine. He set goals and figured out how many tournaments he had to play in to get the money. His goals were smart, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. You might be laughing right now and that’s ok. But if you don’t take goal setting seriously in your freight broker life, the only one who is going to be laughing at you is the other freight brokers who are now getting paid to move your freight.

Commit to professional AND personal goals.

The 7am-5pm life of a freight broker can really wear on you. It’s an early start, no doubt. And if you’re going to commit to setting goals in your professional, 10 hour day, you’re going to want to insure you maintain some balance in your life. So, don’t just set goals for your freight broker business, then roll out at 5:01pm and head home to watch King of Queens reruns all night. No! Balance your life with some personal goals.

Do you want to learn a new language? Is there a skill you can gain that could potentially be beneficial in the long term? Do you want to run a marathon? Do you just want to be in better physical shape? There are a truckload of options for you (sorry) that will not only help you have better work life balance, but in the instance of focusing on fitness, you may even find that your mental clarity and decision making abilities improve.

Understand what SMART Goals are and use them as a freight broker.

What are SMART goals? “Move more freight” doesn’t count. There not just good ones. SMART is an acronym that stands for:

Specific – So you want to move more freight? From which existing customers? from which new customers? Push yourself to be more specific about what you want to achieve.

Measurable – Let’s say you want to move 20 additional loads per day from 4 additional customers in the next 6 months. How many sales appointments will you need to attain that figure? Back things out from your goal to be both specific and measurable. For example: closing four new customers may take 12 sales appointments, which may require 100 new leads, which may require 1,000 new website visits. When you think about measuring goals, take time to think through the entire process to achieve this.

Attainable – Is it possible to move 100 loads with average margins of 50%? Probably not. But don’t be afraid to stretch a bit when it comes to what you think you can realistically attain. You want your goals to be attainable, but you also want to push past what you think will be comfortably attainable for you. Why?

Realistic – Can you realistically add 4 customers in the next 6 months? Do you have the customer acquisition infrastructure so support the workload necessary to hit the example figures listed above? Making goals specific and measurable is great, but if they’re not realistic, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice.

Time-Bound – Last but most important, make sure you assign a time frame to whichever goals you want to attain. Consider starting with quarterly goals. This is a short enough time to where you can evaluate your progress but also long enough to obtain some actionable insights into what you are doing right and doing wrong.

Bring your team on board and solicit their input.

You can spend all your time thinking of goals for yourself, but, this is a great opportunity to bring in your team and work on goals together. Consider goal setting as a team-building exercise. Perhaps you want to combine goal setting with a team outing or happy hour. But, use goal setting as a chance to get your entire team on the same page in regards to the key performance indicators you want to hit.

When your entire team feels invested in the end destination, you are setting your freight brokerage up for success. Having everyone moving towards a common goal is one of the best decisions you can make as a leader in your freight brokerage. Transparency is increasingly becoming valued in today’s modern workplace. Uniting your team behind a common goal is one of the easiest, and most effective ways to create a culture of transparency and trust.

Post them somewhere where they’ll be in your face.

When you do invest valuable time into creating goals for you and your team, don’t just burry them in a google doc or desk drawer. Put them in a place where they cannot be avoided! If you’re using a freight broker software, make sure the entire team is able to see the metrics that you’re tracking towards success.

Consider using an old computer monitor as a defacto scoreboard. Set up a dashboard with your metrics and have them displayed in the office in a common area. Having live-updated metrics will help reinforce their importance, demonstrate a commitment to transparency and unify the team around a common goal.

Manage your freight remotely. Complete visibility to your transportation supply chain is as close as your phone, tablet or computer. Freightflow freight broker software is the most easy-to-use freight broker software available today. The best part? It’s completely free to try. Don’t wait. Get started today with your no obligation, 100% free trial.

Start a freight brokerage business: How to use the 80/20 rule to grow

Ready to start a freight brokerage business? Your application of the 80/20 rule could make or break you. What do we mean? Before diving in head first, you’re going to want to spend some time first thinking about all the things that you do.

Focus your efforts to start a freight brokerage business.

When you’re just starting out, you’re never going to feel like you got everything done that you wanted to. You’re going to feel like you’re spread thin. Getting things going is going to pull you in a lot of different directions. When you want to start a freight brokerage business though, you will want to pay close attention to how you are allocating your time. You will have a million ideas and a million and one suggestions from outside advisors. But spreading yourself too thin is a recipe for disaster.

How should you approach what you spend your day-to-day time on? Understand the 80/20 rule.

Why you should observe the 80/20 rule when you start a freight brokerage business?

Also known as The Pareto principle, the rule states that:

“For many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.”

Huh?

Basically, 80% of your sales will come from 20% of your customers. Or, 80% of what you achieve will come from 20% of what you focus your time on.

So how are you supposed to take this and apply it to how you manage your day-to-day activities? This is where self-examination will come in handy.

Your mission over the next 30 days should be to figure out which 20% of your time produces 80% of your business’ results. This way, you can spend more time on those activities and less time on the non-revenue-generating activities that secretly suck the life and profit out of your burgeoning freight brokerage business.

Source: forbes.com

Break out your work into categories when you start a freight brokerage business.

What are categories? Let’s define some.

Administrative: These are necessary to-do’s like paperwork related to keeping your LLC in working order, human resources documentation. Maybe you’re setting up your Zenefits account to handle all HR matters. Maybe you spent the morning managing your payroll system.

Sales and Business Development: This is time you spend calling, researching or visiting current or potential customers. Do we need to elaborate here?

Operations: This is time you spend managing your freight. From establishing the process for getting loads into your system, to carrier on-boarding, to what happens when there’s a late delivery. Systemizing everything you do in your organization falls under the category of operations management.

Marketing: Did you spend two hours updating your website recently? Did you spend three hours trying to design a sell sheet in powerpoint? Did you send out some tweets and make some connections with shippers on LinkedIn? Put this time spent in marketing.

Using these buckets, estimate the amount of time you’ve spent on each in the past month. Or, pay careful attention to how you spent your time over the course of the next month. How is where you have spent your time over the past couple of weeks impacting revenue or profitability? What activities can you say have not contributed to your ability to increase revenue, decrease costs or both? When you want to start a freight brokerage, everything you do should be evaluated under this lens.

 

20% of your customers will end up generating 80% of your profits.

When you start a freight brokerage business, be prepared: 80% of your profits are going to come from 20% of your customers. It’s better to think this will come true than to deny a principle that has been observed and embraced for hundreds of years.

Try applying the R-M-F rule. This involves looking into your customer lists to figure out who has bought most recently, who has bought most frequently and who has spent the most money. Honing in on this group should give you a basis for what types of businesses can comprise your 20%. It’s this group who you will want to prioritize your time around, and prioritize your time and targeting more customers who look just like them.

Source: entrepreneur.com

Understand your customer niches when you start a freight brokerage business.

Beyond figuring out who has bought most recently, frequently and spent the most money, spend some time understanding other characteristics that can allow you to put customers into buckets. What industry do they operate in? Is there heavy seasonality for some? Where are they geographically located? Do they require special, harder-to-come-by equipment? Do they ship a lot of LTL freight? All of these variables can help you understand the customers you want to focus on and those who you should actually fire.

 

How To Start a Logistics Company

Think you know how to start a logistics company? You may have several years of experience at a large 3PL. Breaking out on your own seems easy. You just need a phone, two (or three) computer screens and your carrier relationships, right? Understanding how to start a logistics company is a lot easier than the execution though. There are 5 factors that are essential to consider before making the jump.

After several years, maybe even an entire decade of running your own group at a major 3PL doing thousands of load per day, you may think to yourself: “I know how to start a logistics company. I certainly know how to move freight. Hell, my group moved 150 loads just yesterday. Why don’t I start my own logistics company?”. Hold your horses there, cowboy. You have the right attitude, yes. But understanding how to start a logistics company isn’t as simple as brazenly charging ahead, phone, computer and two monitors in tow.

How to start a logistics company: legal issues

You may feel like you’re ready to march out that door, like it’s a movie or something. But legally, can you even call the carriers or customers you currently work with? Or did you sign a two-year noncompete that would prohibit you from working with all those great people whom you’ve built great relationships with? How you’ll take your existing relationships into your new business venture can be very complicated. Be sure to secure all documentation you signed before starting at the company and review with a practicing attorney before starting any new business relationships. If you’re starting from total scratch, a simple way to get off on the right foot is to use 3PL software to simplify the management of your freight.

This is all not to mention that it’s in your best interest to register your company as a legal entity, a corporation, LLC, S-corp or otherwise. Forming a real company will serve as the basis for you to do everything legally and correctly.

“Before starting a logistics company, do your homework. Work out how you will build a sustainable business. Seek out customers and contracts BEFORE you start the business because transport contracts don’t magically appear later on.”

EntrepreneurMag.com

How to start a logistics company: get insurance

After setting up your business as an official legal entity, you next need to consider protecting yourself. Running a logistics company can be risky. For example, if you broker a load and the drive is involved in an accident which results in loss of the products, or worse, loss of life, your logistics company could be responsible. For total piece of mind, consult with an attorney to determine exact requirements for operation in your state.

Develop a business plan

“But I already know the business inside and out!” you say. That may be true, but, putting time into thinking about every. single. aspect. of your business will force you to uncover hidden obstacles you may not have considered otherwise.

Writing out your exact plan will help you uncover areas of your business that you may have overlooked. It will also help you flesh out the details of how you would secure funding so solve your early cash flow needs. Are you going to self-finance everything you need to get started? It can be done, but growth will likely be slower than if you take out a business loan from the bank.

But, keep in mind, it’s not uncommon for new logistics companies to need a line of credit in the amount of $250,000 – $300,000 in order to pay carriers before they can get paid by the shipper. You’ll want to develop a good relationship with your bank or banker, and show that you have excellent credit. Why? Because your business does not have any assets for for the bank to come after should you default on your loan(s).

Record keeping requirements

Keeping records of everything you do is every important, The code of Federal Regulations is very specific about the type of information you need to keep track of. You should keep a master list of all your shippers and carriers, but more specifically, a record of each transaction. This is where easy-to-use 3PL Software is critical to your success.

Your records must show:

  • The name and address of the consignor (shipper);
  • Name, address and registration number of the motor carrier;
  • Bill of lading of freight bill number;
  • Amount of compensation received by the broker for the brokerage service and the name of the payer;
  • a description of any non-brokerage service performed in connection with each shipment, the amount of compensation received for the service and the name of the payer; and
  • the amount of any freight charges collected by the broker and the date of payment by the carrier

Source: Entrepreneur.com

You have to keep these records for three years, and any party involved, shipper, carrier or otherwise, has a right to inspect those records. So, be prepared to cross all your Ts and dot all your Is. Good record keeping is important, and from the beginning you’ll want to be sure and use a 3PL software that is capable of tracking all this important information.

 

How to start a logistics company: finding an office location

When you’re just figuring out how to start a logistics company, it’s important that you secure a big fancy office space in a prime downtown location. Just kidding. That’s not really important at all when you’re starting out. One of the primary benefits of starting a logistics company is the fact that you can work out of your home when you’re just starting out. It’s definitely to your benefit to do so, as the cash you would put towards renting an office space could very easily be put to good use elsewhere. Once you’ve built up some steady clients after 2-3 months and have made a little money, consider finding a place where you and another person can conduct your business.

Consider renting from a co-working space Like WeWork or Industrious. In these types of environments, you can easily expand the amount of space you have from 1-10 employees without having to move buildings. Not only that, but you’ll meet other people who can, who knows, refer you to their cousin who’s a shipping manager for Kimberly Clark. This can be ideal, since you will want to have built up some cash in the bank before making the jump to that leased space where you can feel comfortable committing a large lease payment every month.

Understanding how to price your services

It should go without saying that you need to charge the shipper more than you pay the carrier for your logistics business to grow over time. That’s how businesses work. But who’s going to be responsible for managing pricing? Who understands the market and can account for the way seasonal transport changes rates? Hopefully you have experience and know the markets, but if not, consider trying to bring on someone with 10+ years of experience and ideally someone who has managed a carrier sales team at a large 3PL. Hey, who else is going to tell you that “It’s turkey season in Arkansas”, which is contributing to higher prices and tighter demand in southern states in August and September? That experience, and those carrier relationships can be invaluable.

Before you set your prices, you should build out a budget that examines your costs. Here’s an example:

Rent: $0-$1,500
Professional equipment (computer and monitors): $4,000
Licenses/tax deposits: $250-$600
Advertising/marketing: $2,000-$2,500
Utilities/phone: $100-$400
Professional services: $400-$850
Payroll: $0-$5,000
Supplies: $300-$500
Insurance (first quarter): $700-$1,400
Suggested operating capital: $5,000-$450,000 (cash or line of credit), depending on how many carriers you’re on the hook for paying.

Source: Entrepreneur.com

Developing a go-to market strategy

Once you’re out on your own, how do you plan to acquire customers? Understanding how to start a logistics company is going to take more than simply looking up any company at all that might ship freight. It’s not going to be practical to just start calling companies with no plan. Think strategically, and consider the following questions:

  • Who are my potential customers?
  • How many of them are there in the market?
  • Where are they located?
  • How do they currently transport freight?
  • Can you offer them something that they are not getting currently?
  • Will you need to say to persuade them to do business with you?
  • What are the services you offer?
  • How are you different from the competition?

Source: Entrepreneur.com

How to start a logistics company: securing your first contracts

This is the part of understanding how to start a logistics company where experience will play the largest role: securing those all-important contracts for business. How to start? Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your logistics business. You may want to start small, as in with one or two loads. Who is a shipper that doesn’t have a ton of freight but whom you could possibly get 1-2 loads from?

You may want to start by placing some prospective calls to carriers, first. Does a particular carrier have capacity to take a load from Berne, IN to Chicago, IL? If they say, yes, probably, you can now approach a shipper and let them know that you’re there for them if they need them.

Try focusing in on a select group of shippers, first. Don’t go for Kimberly Clark right off the bat; every logistics company in the world wants to move truckload after truckload of toilet paper. Maybe consider a party supply store that deals with an enormous spike in loads leading into the Halloween season? Try making small talk with the shipper when you do get them on the phone. This is still a people business, and the shippers who will eventually sign that contract with you have to like you first. If a shipper mentions their kids like playing sports, pay attention to that. When its appropriate (a judgement call on your part), ask how baseball season is going for little Johnny. Make careful notes of this in your 3PL software and you can reference.

 

Manage your freight remotely. Complete visibility to your transportation supply chain is as close as your phone, tablet or computer. Freightflow freight broker software is the most easy-to-use freight broker software available today. The best part? It’s completely free to try. Don’t wait. Get started today with your no obligation, 100% free trial.

 

5 Keys to Running a Profitable Freight Brokerage

Ever get the feeling that running a profitable freight brokerage is impossible? It definitely IS possible, it just takes discipline and a commitment to constant improvement.

Interested in running a profitable freight brokerage? Focus on the fundamentals of a great business plan.

In the first training camp after winning the NBA title for the first time nearly 40 years, Coach Steve Kerr opened training camp by putting his team through some of the most basic drills any coach at any level could put their team through. Why? Even if you’ve reached the pinnacle of your profession, you’re never too skilled to go back to the fundamentals.

The same can be said for running a profitable freight brokerage. Take time to examine the KPIs you’re using to run your business. Do this at least once a year, ideally once a quarter. What goals have you set? Are there any small overhead costs sucking the life out of your profit margins? Conduct a quarterly review of every cost that comes across the credit card. In the freight brokerage business, you’re just going to have to do it if you want to squeeze out every last bit of profit.

That means scrutinizing marketing spend, your balance sheet and cash on hand and of course, your margins on every load brokered. You should be able to easily tie your marketing efforts to a clear return on investment. Are you storing your cash on hand in a high-yield savings account? Are there any lanes you’re running that, despite technically making money, you’re actually losing money due to the time it takes to cover them? These are all important questions that warrant routine examination, even if they feel very very basic.

Make smartphones work for you, not against you.

You’re probably already paying for a smartphone. You may even be paying for your entire family’s smartphone usage. But are you taking full advantage of all that your smartphone can do for your freight brokerage business?

Calling your smartphone a smartphone is almost a disservice because let’s be honest; it’s really a small computer that makes phone calls. But, when your computer can fit into your pocket, this should free up time for you to leave the office. No, this doesn’t mean you can go straight to the golf course. Where you should go though, is to see your clients. Remember the 80/20 rule.

Odds are you started the relationship from an inside sales call. But, put a face to your name and voice. In this day and age, you should be able to manage your entire business using freight broker software that’s optimized to work on your smartphone, so provided you trust your team to do their jobs, staying glued to the load board in your office is a tactic of prior days. Remember, you don’t always need more clients. Sometimes you need to refocus on getting more freight from the clients you already have.

It’s a globally-connected world. Are you tapping into all the markets you can?

Are you limiting yourself by focusing too much on your own country? Considering adding operations in a foreign country may sound daunting. The language. The currency exchange. The regulations. There are plenty of reasons not to try. But when it comes to running a profitable freight brokerage, there are even more reasons to look to expand into foreign markets. For one, competition for customers may not be as fierce as it is in a developed market like the United States.

There may be instances where your expertise in a certain area of logistics handily beats out that of an incumbent carrier. The best way to find out? Devote some time each week to researching a go-to-market strategy in other markets. Or, work LinkedIn to make some connections with foreign transportation pros and just set up time to Skype and network. There’s an ocean of opportunity out there. It’s never been easier to monitor exactly where your freight is at all times, so don’t settle for what’s only moving in your own country.

Keep learning, keep searching for bull markets.

As Jim Cramer says, “there’s always a bull market somewhere”. The same can be said for the movement of freight. There can be a general consensus that the health of the freight industry goes along with the economy, but, finding an area of growth just takes a keen eye and a a commitment to evaluating the macro view of freight movement. If you felt like all your energy was being taken up by the day-to-day runnings of your business, you wouldn’t be the first freight broker to feel that way. But running a profitable freight brokerage business is going to mean committing to studying market trends and then taking action to expand into areas you identify as profitable. For example, are there any niche industry conferences where you could go to meet people and network? How about the California Association of Farmers? How the Canadian Association of Forrest Products?

Think outside the box when it comes to lead generation.

Is there a hot new conference for you to focus on? Can you use word-of-mouth-referrals with existing customers to drum up new business? Could some strategically-written blog posts get you noticed by a shipping office or decision maker? How can you add value, through information, for your clients, before you ever talk about shipping a single load of their freight? If you look at the greater landscape of freight brokerage companies, who really stands out? Can some blogging help you attract new shippers? Would some targeted Facebook advertising give you a way to generate leads in a really cost-efficient, manageable way? When it comes to running a profitable freight brokerage, at the very least, you should consider optimizing your website for search terms so you can attract shippers looking for freight brokers.

 

Manage your freight remotely. Complete visibility to your transportation supply chain is as close as your phone, tablet or computer. Freightflow freight broker software is the most easy-to-use freight broker software available today. The best part? It’s completely free to try. Don’t wait. Get started today with your no obligation, 100% free trial.