How TMS Software Helps Handle Data and FSMA Regulations

The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the most sweeping reform of food safety in laws in more than 70 years. Signed into law by President Obama in 2011, it aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting focus from responding to reports of food contamination, to preventing it from happening in the first place. The Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food (SFTA), is the last rule of the FSMA series, and it applies directly to the transportation of food.

The SFTA has specific requirements around temperature control and tracking, cleanliness, training, data retention, and temperature certification. (You can find a more in-depth explanation here).  Each of these regulations presents a new set of challenges for food shippers. Namely, the mandate on temperature tracking and data retention. And with this heightened focus on data and visibility, it’s made TMS and other supply chain software essential. Here’s how TMS software helps with FSMA rules and regulations:

Automation of administrative work

The new FSMA regulations – by definition, requires more paperwork. Everything must be documented and recorded. The rule states that carriers must have written procedures, agreements and training documents.  However, with TMS software, you have the benefit of automating each of these processes. TMS software helps immensely with productivity by greatly reducing the workload caused by processes that were historically manual. It allows you to simplify processes, collect the necessary data and ensure compliance, without having to worry about adding more to your workload.

Tracking & Data

The FSMA rule has put an emphasis on visibility through tracking and data collection. For example, in the new rule, the FDA considers container sanitation and temperature monitoring a preventative food safety measure.  Thus, a shipper is required to provide carriers with written instructions on sanitation and temperature controls for the safe transport of their food.  In return, the carrier is expected to comply and offer further documentation.

A TMS software serves as a valuable data repository, allowing you to quickly view, manage and analyze your data in real-time. Also important is the historical record of all loads you’ve carried. With a software that makes your life easier, you will find more time to work on other aspects of your business.

 

Added Shelf Time

Most refrigerated foods – especially meat, cheese, fruits, and veggies – already have a shorter shelf-life than other food products. These highly perishable products need to be in stores as soon as possible to ensure they are stocked and consumed when intended. With TMS software and various optimization integrations, you are able to reduce the amount of time products spend in transit by optimizing routes and avoiding potential setbacks. When your TMS software can drive time out of the supply chain with 100% visibility into every step, you are going to impress your customers and have a chance to grow your revenues and profits. 

 

For a complete overview of Food transport guidance and regulation, visit fda.gov

Startup Logistics Company: Scaling Your Enterprise

You’ve done it. You have officially launched a successful startup logistics company. You have a 3PL service you are proud of and you are financially stable – an impressive feat! Now, after much success and positive feedback, you naturally want to improve and start scaling your enterprise.

The scalability of any startup is based on its ability to grow and readjust to a larger workload without compromising performance or revenue. While your main focus may be on growth, you need to ensure you have the infrastructure to sustain that growth.  Making the leap from small-time to big-time is a process that involves reevaluating and redistributing many key aspects of your company.

Here are a few tips to help you start scaling your enterprise.

Delegate and Shift Responsibility

After building a company from scratch it can be difficult to take a step back but when it comes to scalability, but it’s necessary.  Your business needs to function successfully without your oversight into as much of the day-to-day tasks that you were responsible for out of the gate. Its growth depends on you shifting from the all-encompassing “doer” to senior management.

In order to do this, you need the right people to replace you. This is where hiring processes and talent becomes important. When writing about talent and scalable teams earlier this year, Alon Alroy stated, “Your product is not innovative; it is the people behind it who are.” And he couldn’t be more correct in his assessment.

Here are a few things to consider during the hiring process:

  • They are eager and possess more than one skill. Although it’s helpful to have a few token experts at their craft, it can be equally as beneficial to onboard employees that have multiple skills and a wide range of understanding about the supply chain industry. Even though you are trying to grow at this point, you are still a startup. And startups have an “all hands on deck” sort of atmosphere. When you hire someone with multiple skills, they are able to be agile, moving from one task to the next easily, which facilitates growth and cuts costs.
  • They have a good attitude. Stakes are high and at this point in the game, you need champions on your team. Talent, skill set and overall knowledge are important characteristics to consider. But to don’t completely sacrifice good character for talent. You need team members that are with you for the long haul
  • Hire leaders and Contributors. Look for those people that are capable of assuming more responsibilities in the future, people that are self-motivated and interested in growing their career.

Remove Manual Labor & Automate

Automate everything you possibly can. When you are in a growth phase, you are balancing limited resources with an increasing demand. In order to do this successfully, it helps to have the manual, tedious tasks automated. One of the most helpful automation tools is freight broker software. Good freight broker software can literally cut time in half by eliminating manual tasks and human error.

Boost Your Content Marketing Efforts

To scale, you need to be able to implement a well-curated content marketing strategy. Amplify your current marketing efforts and use previous data and insights as a guide. Content marketing is the best-known method for gaining leads and facilitating actions from your customers. Build content around the benefits of working with a 3PL and your specific services. What is content marketing? It’s the practice of producing helpful information that potential sales prospects can download and become leads in your marketing and sales pipeline. In essence, you enable yourself to be found by your potential buyers by having helpful content on your blog and website.

Stick Together

Many times as companies begin to expand and grow, the collaborative element can start to vanish. Eliminate unnecessary silos within your company by fostering communication and encouraging feedback. Remember, supply chains are built on relationships. Without open communication, it’s easy to make mistakes that could otherwise have been avoided.

Scaling your 3PL startup and taking it to the next level requires a shift in thinking to create company-wide involvement, communication, and forecasting. As you move into this growth phase remember these tips. With the right processes, automation and overall will to succeed, anything is possible.

 

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.