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Freight Management: More than Just Freight, It’s about People and the Relationship

This week I was out all week spending time with my 90 year old father in Tyler, TX making sure he was OK during a minor surgery. At 90, any surgery, no matter how insignificant, must have special attention paid to it. I got to spend some time with the old man and a little time away from the daily grind of the office, and it got me thinking about the freight business. In the freight world, no pun intended, things move quite fast. In LTL Freight, we are constantly looking to find the best carrier, the best rate, and asking many questions to ourselves to make sure we procure transportation that is both cost effective and mitigates risk. We ask: "Is my freight going to get to the customer on time?", "Will it get damaged?", "What happens if it gets damaged?". I noticed similar questions popped up when it came time to take my father into surgery: "Will he be ok?", "Did I choose the right doctor?", "What happens if something goes wrong?". I realized that like life, freight management is done well when you are not in reactionary or in anxious mode. You tend to freak out when things go wrong and you then make decisions that exacerbate the problem, well because frankly you aren't confident in getting the outcome you desire. Confidence in life allows you to make sound decisions based on data and facts, and allow you to make future decisions which continue to result in you desired outcomes. So I asked myself, "How can Thomasholmes both make our shippers and our internal people feel confident?".  It came down to really two answers: People and the Relationship.

People & Relationships

So what do I mean by "People and the Relationship" can help make you more confident in life, but also in freight? Well, one thing I know that makes me feel more confident about my father at the age of 90 is that he has been seeing the same doctor for several years. This doctor, when we visit him, is very clear in his communications on what is going on. He lays out a strategy for treating the root cause of the issue, and let's us know the tactical next steps until we get to the desired outcome. Additionally, he is honest about the contingency plans in place just in case something does happen. Essentially, the doctor is laying the right expectations so that my anxiety is mitigated no matter what route treatment goes. Additionally, he treats my dad like a person, not only another patient he must see.

The same is true in the freight industry. There is somewhat of a black eye on the freight industry. It is supposedly riddled with fly by night brokers who stick it to the shippers and the carriers from time to time. But, I have to say, in my experience in running a freight management company, I know that this is really only a select few who make the industry have this connotation. Most are honest folks who want to make an honest living. The Department of Transportation has set out in Map-21 coming into affect on October 1st of this year, in order to battle this stigma, the increase of the Freight Broker Surety Bond from $10,000 to $75,000. Will this help clean up the mistreatment of shippers and carriers? Maybe, but time will tell. Anyway, I digress.

Much like a doctor who gets to know you and treats you as a person, and not just another patient, at Thomasholmes we try to instill into our people the importance of really getting to know the history of an account. We know that the more we know about the shipper, the better we can advocate for them and negotiate for them specific rates based on the intimate details of their historical freight activity. We can understand the best commodities, provide further cost savings by knowing they could integrate into our system with their existing systems, and make sure we set clear expectations about freight auditing, freight payment, and freight claims. All of this is so our customers can truly gain trust in us over time, to act as their outsourced logistics partner. In trust comes collaboration. Collaboration begets innovation. And Innovation begets creating user iterated products and services which continue to build value and save money for the bottom line in a sustainable manner.

So, proper freight management, like life, boils down to confidence. Good people who focus on relationships, treating the shipper like a person, and focus on value and outcomes, will make you the shipper confident.

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Steve Norall

Steve Norall

VP Of Business Development at Thomasholmes
Mr. Norall oversees all aspects of driving new business into the Thomasholmes brand through strategic partnerships.
Steve Norall

Steve Norall

Steve Norall

Steve Norall

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