Tuesday, January 29, 2008

On Line Chat Question

We recently added online chat to our website. Browsers can easily text or call us with a question. Here’s a recent dialogue from our chat. I added some additional thoughts.

Question: Are you required to take training courses in order to actually start your freight broker business?

Our admissions director Lance answers:
No. You could start a brokerage business without any training whatsoever, but it would be tough to make any money.

Why is that?

Lance:
That would just be my opinion. Anyone can start a business, but if you don't understand the business or have a business plan of some sort, failure would be likely. (Most business start-ups don’t make it past 5 years)

What does the (freight broker training) coarse teach you that you can't learn from the books?

Lance:
Depends on what books. I am not saying you should take our course, but some type of training would be helpful. It is your decision.
We teach freight brokering and business start up essentials. We load our students up with lots of resources and networking opportunities as well as give motivation for success in life as well as business. I’d recommend researching all your training options and commit wholeheartedly to your choice. Browse our course description and compare it with other training options you are considering.

Consider your learning style. Are you a good book learner or do you retain more from an interactive format? Why does anyone take a course rather than just sit at the library and read?? Some businesses require licenses or degrees but most do not. A course requires you commit a good chunk of time to learning. Most of our graduates comment on getting more out of the course than they imagined. A course involves all aspects of learning: hearing, seeing, and doing. You gain accountability. You can ask questions of the instructor at anytime. Both our live course and our online course offer instructor interaction. Our advanced course is total immersion in interaction with the instructor/professional broker.

Training is not required but I believe it will give you the tools for success.

Moving forward,
Jeff Roach
www.brooketraining.com

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Money Matters

You may turn out to be a super freight broker but if you don’t manage the money well, you’re still broke. Spend less than you make and you’ll always have money at the end of the day.

We spend a good amount of time on financial issues in our course. Here’s a recap:

1. Be organized
2. Accounting is a part of the sales team
3. Control Your Cash Flow (if you don’t somebody else will)

Your customer will be happy if you can easily put your hand on the document they need. They’ll know quickly if you are organized
Organization helps the consignee (recipient of the shipment), who is a potential customer for your brokerage (or agency).

If your accounting systems are timely and correct, and your accounting department is friendly, it reflects on your professionalism.
Everyone is part of a team.

It’s important to maintain control of your cash flow daily (or weekly at a minimum). You can run a report on your operations transportation software to determine your weekly receivables that you expect to receive in, and your payables that you expect to go out that week, to keep a handle on your cash flow.

Moving Forward,

Jeff Roach
www.brooketraining.com

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

This is Hard

I got this question from a graduate: I got a chance at a load from a new customer. The route is Little Rock to Laredo and I can’t find an affordable truck. Should I go ahead and take the load and move it without a profit just to get in the door?

This is hard since I’m sure you have put in a lot of time building enough trust with this potential client for them to give you a chance. Nonetheless I’d say never move a load unless you make money on it.

Explain to the customer that you would rather explain why your rates are high once than apologize for bad service by quoting cheap rates.

You don’t want to set a precedence of low rates. Shippers are willing to pay more if they know for sure you will serve them well, get their load moved when they need and communicate with status and if any problems arise.

Stick to your guns. Charge a fair market rate.


Jeff

Jeff Roach - President
Brooke Transportation Training Solutions
jroach@transportationtraining.com
www.transportationtraining.com
www.brooketraining.com
www.justintimefreight.com

Friday, January 11, 2008

More thoughts on 2008 Forecast

In 2008 Companies are having to right size – lean and mean is the name of the game. I used to have a bigger staff, fancy office and more overhead. I enjoyed it, but I’ve downsized and still enjoy a comfortable living without all the overhead. Work hard, work smart and you’re company will grow. But be prudent in how much overhead you take on.

Here are some more excerpts from Traffic World:

“Even Schneider National, one of the faster growing large truckload carriers over the last five years, is playing conservatively for 2008. "We're hunkering down a bit to make sure we have the right size for what we expect the freight environment to be," said Mark Rourke, president of the $3.7 billion carrier's truckload division. A year ago Schneider estimated roughly 6 percent growth in 2007. That's been ratcheted down to 2 to 3 percent growth in 2008.

Rourke said Schneider's strong presence in brokerage and intermodal acts as an "internal mutual fund" that can help offset any downward trends that continue on the truckload side.

A change in the nature of mergers and acquisitions could evolve over the next year. Over the last 18 months private equity companies have circled around LTL and truckload companies to gauge their susceptibility to takeover. But as debt has become more expensive, those players could drop out - opening a window for acquisitions by competing carriers.

"That will put a different spin on things," said Ray Greer, president and CEO of Dallas-based Greatwide Logistics Services, a $1.2 billion 3PL owned by private equity firm Fenway Partners.

"Last year at this time those kind of strategic buys were largely nonexistent. Trucking companies haven't been able to compete with private equity because debt was cheap. Now that it's more expensive, it's more difficult for them to use debt financing to pay the prices they had in the past," he said. "Public trucking companies can use currency values, stock and cash to do the deal."

As a light-asset based company, Greer says Greatwide doesn't have the capacity issues of some competitors, and many asset-based truckers increasingly are interested in the model. "If you have a lot of assets sitting up against a fence, you become desperate and start putting them to use at lower yields," he said. "A lot of carriers are trying to shed equipment or put it to use in operating environments that have higher utilization like dedicated fleets."

Meanwhile, as carriers shed assets to "right-size" capacity, equipment manufacturers are feeling the pain.

With turnaround forecasts now put off until the second half of 2008, cost containment will become even more important as trucking companies work to keep their bottom lines stable.”

My advice is to dedicate the first half of the year to developing relationships with potential shippers. Keep on building those lines of communication and you will have work no matter the state of the economy.

Moving forward,

Jeff Roach
www.brooketraining.com

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

2008 Trucking Expectations

How are you going to adjust for the market economy? Here are excerpts from an article in Traffic World reviewing the past year and making predictions for 2008:

Trucking's Groundhog Year

At the beginning of 2007, with six months of downward spiraling freight demand already under their belts, trucking industry executives were confident tighter capacity and rate stability would be waiting at mid-year.

Now, shippers are girding for new rounds of strong contract negotiations with the weight of market power seemingly firmly on their side while carriers hope they've cut back operations well enough in some areas while remaining strong enough in others to take advantage of a recovery both in demand and in pricing power.

After getting burned on their expectations for 2007, many involved in trucking freight are decidedly conservative in their predictions for the coming year.

"The economic conditions look questionable for 2008," said Robert Russo, president of Port Jersey Logistics, a Central New Jersey-based 3PL. "We're planning for no growth. We'll attack the market as aggressively as we can."

That sentiment resonates at large and small trucking companies based on downward trends in the credit markets, housing, the automobile industry and too many empty trailers at the freight yards.

The outlook is just as bleak from the companies that provide the freight. A November survey by Bank of America Securities showed 58 percent of shippers believe the economy will continue to get weaker. "That's double the percentage of respondents who shared this view just three months ago," according to the survey.

Only 33 percent of shippers consider the economy stable, with 9 percent seeing any kind of strengthening.

One of the biggest dampers to economic expansion in 2007 was the late-season surge in diesel fuel prices, which sparked new worries about inflation in the general economy and had some shippers looking more closely at trading down in modes to cut the impact of transportation costs.

The drive in oil prices to nearly $100 a barrel pushed diesel fuel to a record $3.44 a gallon the week of Nov. 28. For truckers, that sparked higher concern operating costs would continue to weigh on profits well into the new year after 2007's particularly dismal third quarter.

"We think fuel will go to $150 a barrel," said Robert Walters, president of Anaheim, Calif.-based Freight Management. His company manages the transportation departments for large shippers…

I’ll site more of this article later. It looks like 2008 will be a status quo year. Carriers most likely will not get any significant rate increases.

For Freight Brokers that means we have to really be on top of our game with tighter margins while making sure the shipments we are given arrive on time.

Moving forward,

Jeff Roach
www.brooketraining.com

Monday, January 7, 2008

Self Employment Indicators

Here are excerpts I found quite interesting from a Small Business Administration article on the self-employed. Over the years we have educated many from the military to enter this new field of freight brokering. Disabled vets can qualify for full funding of our program. Education is a key factor for those who choose self employment. From my experience the greatest indicator for success as a freight broker is tenacity. Those who decide they are going to succeed, don’t give up, they keep making the calls and attending to their business with excellent customer service. They keep learning and network with others.

Education, Military Service, Wealth Predict Self-Employment

Prior Military Service Is Strongest Predictor Of Self-Employment

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Educational level, prior military service, and household
wealth are strong predictors of self-employment according to a working paper
released today by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business
Administration. The paper finds that individuals with prior military
experience are up to 11 percent more likely to be self-employed, while educational level can increase the likelihood of self-employment by as much as 8.3 percent.

“We often talk about the importance of education to our own personal
fulfillment and to the economy as a whole,” said Dr. Chad Moutray the paper’s author and Chief Economist for the Office of Advocacy. “This study shows
that educational attainment is also a strong predictor of self-employment,
with additional years of college significantly increasing the chance of being
one's own boss.” He added, “Homeownership - a measure of wealth - and veteran status are also vital.”

The paper, Educational Attainment and Other Characteristics of the Self-
Employed: An Examination using Data from the Panel Study of Income
Dynamics , analyzed data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) for 2003. The data set is unique as it tracks families (including adult children’s families) over time, beginning in 1968. The paper was released at “What Makes an Entrepreneur? Educational Attainment and Other Characteristics of the Self-Employed” seminar, sponsored by the Hudson Institute Center For Employment Policy

The paper finds, among other things, that:

* Having some college education increases the chances of self-employment
by 3.3 percent, a baccalaureate degree by 4.4 percent and graduate
experience by 8.3 percent.

* Prior military experience is the strongest predictor of
self-employment, increasing the likelihood by 9.4 to 11 percent.

* Homeowners are 7 percent more likely to be self-employed, while every
$100,000 increase in mortgage value increases the probability of self-
employment by 2 percent.

The Office of Advocacy, the “small business watchdog” of the federal
government, examines the role and status of small business in the economy
and independently represents the views of small business to federal
agencies, Congress, and the President. It is the source for small business statistics presented in user-friendly formats, and it funds research into small
business issues.

For a copy of the paper, visit the Office of Advocacy web site

The Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is an
independent voice for small business within the federal government. The
presidentially appointed Chief Counsel for Advocacy advances the views,
concerns, and interests of small business before Congress, the White House,
federal agencies, federal courts, and state policy makers. For more
information, visit www.sba.gov/advo, or call (202) 205-6533.


** To sign up for Advocacy updates via RSS feed, visit
http://feeds.feedburner.com/sba/rAIO **

** In order to receive e-mail notices of Advocacy's press releases, monthly
newsletter, small business research, statistics, and regulatory news visit
http://web.sba.gov/list. **

Moving forward,

Jeff Roach
www.brooketraining.com

Friday, January 4, 2008

Happy New Year

I took a little blogging break to head out of town to visit with family... and recover from a trampoline mishap I had while showing off to the nephews. 2008 looks to be a banner year for the trucking industry. I have a great article that tells of the past years industry statistics and gives future forecasts. I plan on dishing out a bit of the article in the next week's blog entries.

Take some time today and plan out your goals for 2008. I read an article on regrets recently. Young people usually regret something they did. Older people tend to regret what they didn't do. If you set some goals and work towards those goals everyday you are less likely to live with regrets. Try something new. As I say, if you aren't failing at something you aren't trying enough new stuff. I'm thinking regrets come from not going out on a limb because you are afraid of falling. Well I wasn't afraid of falling when I got on the trampoline but I did. I had to take a little time to recover, but I don't regret getting up there, actually landing two flips before I landed wrong. 2 successes then one failure. I can live with that record.

Moving forward,

Jeff Roach
www.brooketraining.com