September 26, 2023

Brokers must bring operations, accounting teams together to boost cash flow


Brokers know that cash flow is one of the most critical aspects of their companies’ success — or failure. Despite this, the primary focus of popular industry technologies lies in freight delivery, not necessarily extending to proof of delivery or payment collection.

“When we think about TMS offerings and freight applications, we typically only focus on freight getting delivered. The conversations drop off drastically after that, but POD recovery is super critical,” Tai Software CEO Walter Mitchell said. “Your freight is complete when you’ve collected from the customer. That is the barrier of completion.”

In order to achieve this, brokers must start viewing their freight operations and accounting teams as equal players to getting to the finish line of each shipment. Connecting these teams, however, can be easier said than done.

“In logistics, we tend to run our businesses a little more siloed,” Mitchell said. “For example, our track and trace and billing teams may be completely separate, and it takes a lot of work to bring those teams together. It is easy to silo our companies, and it is hard not to.”

When brokers do create a culture of collaboration between teams, however, the rewards can be game-changing. By fostering a cohesive work environment, brokers make it easier to notice — and solve — discrepancies before they become problems.

This starts with the initial shipment quoting and creation process. Efficient collections hinge on the accurate creation of the shipment and collection of pertinent information from customers. That means finding out about potential delivery challenges before quoting the freight. While this can make the initial quote seem less competitive, it saves everyone time and money in the long run.

No matter how diligently brokers work during the shipment creation process, however, in-transit issues will occasionally pop up. Top-notch collaboration makes navigating these issues easier as well.

“If you find out there is an issue while the freight is in transit, it gives you an opportunity to address it before the invoice ever goes out,” Mitchell said. “If you take advantage of the updates at that point, you save yourself pain at the revision time.”

When discrepancies — such as an unexpected liftgate being added — that impact the invoice are detected in real time, they can be resolved amicably. In the liftgate example, the broker can call the shipper to figure out if a liftgate should, in fact, be required for the shipment. Depending on the answer, the broker can either settle the issue with the carrier or issue a new quote to the shipper. 

With this approach, the new quote would match the final invoice, preventing a collections issue before it occurs. Technology is the key to making this level of collaboration work in a busy environment like a brokerage. 

“Without having tools to bridge the gap between freight operations and accounting, you are losing money,” Mitchell said.

Modern solutions — particularly automation tools — make it easier than ever to connect seemingly disparate teams. In fact, carrier bills and POD retrieval and processing have a huge opportunity for automation.

While the benefits of these technologies are unmatched, the onboarding process for popular options — like EDIs and APIs — can be a hurdle for some companies.

“We have been using EDIs for a long time. It is not a new technology, and it does a great job of being able to facilitate connections. The problem is that it’s a heavy lift to put it into place,” Mitchell said. “The same thing applies to newer connections like APIs. The value is indisputable except for the lift to make it happen.”

One of the most notable advantages of email-based technologies — like Tai’s suite of email solutions — is that there is virtually no implementation work that needs to be done on the front end. 

The same thing can be said about utilizing a transportation management system that comes with a variety of ready-to-use integrations, such as Tai TMS. These solutions make it easy to access tools designed to streamline operations without requiring any significant effort from the user. 

By eliminating the big lift, these tools allow brokers to put automation in place for more freight, no matter how infrequently they may be doing business with each individual shipper. 

Even with the most plug-and-play technologies out there, changing the way a business runs can be daunting. Nevertheless, it is worth it for those hoping to keep up with their peers in tomorrow’s logistics industry.

“The change can still be pretty difficult, but there is a lot more realization happening that it is also very difficult to be successful at this job without automation,” Mitchell said. “Being able to take a break from running your business to make changes to the technology takes additional effort, but it is an investment into the business.”

Click here to learn more about Tai.


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