Friday, February 22, 2008

Look for The Good

Look for the good, the bad and ugly will find you. Do you focus on your victories or your defeats? Do you complain over what went wrong in the day or the great things? Our thoughts turned to words are powerful motivators – both positive and negative. Have you ever been on a diet? Do you daily celebrate the pounds you’ve shed or fuss over the pounds left to go?

I purpose to start my day thinking, I will get done today what I should get done. Then at the end of the day I feel accomplished. Some days I start out aimlessly and by the end of the day I feel like I didn’t get anything done of consequence. Even on those days I can turn it around by honestly thinking through the day and recognizing the accomplishments.

As we end this week I want to remind myself and you to enjoy each day to its fullest. Each day is a gift. Yes even Monday is a gift. Last evening I dined with a young couple that are both in sales. I was so encouraged when they both raved about how much they enjoy their jobs and look forward to each new day. I tire of those who grumble about work, getting up, getting dressed, getting out the door, drudging through the hours only to go home eat, fall into bed and start all over the next day. In all jobs you gotta take out the garbage but there should be plenty to enjoy about the day or else find a new challenge to invigorate the day.

Moving forward,

Jeff Roach
www.brooketraining.com

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What Worries Trucking?

Greg Williams of Exel Transportation provides today's insight into the economy and trucking. Looks like trucking may rebound slightly ahead of the more general recovery..read on:

As economic pundits sit around debating whether the US economy is in a Recession or not, it has been obvious to those who watch the transportation industry that a freight recession has been underway for a number of months.

For many taking that view, there are also some longer range predictions that the malaise will be over before the end of this year; that housing and other industries will begin recovery in the latter part of the third quarter; and further that modes like trucking will begin to rebound slightly ahead of the more general recovery.

One of those anticipating just such a rebound is Edward M. Wolfe, senior managing director and the Airfreight & Surface Transportation Analyst for Bear Sterns. In issuing his annual overview last month, he titled the presentation, “In Like a Lamb, Out Like a Lion” and fully expects transport to lead the economy back in 2008.

Meanwhile, while waiting for the boost, the trucking industry is dealing with a number of chronic problems will still exist, even if and when business gets better. For the past three years, the American Trucking Associations has commissioned the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) to survey the industry and define the major matters being addressed by carriers. Its Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry—2007 was issued in October last year. Even in this short period of time, some of the Top 10 issues have changed their place in the order, moving up or down the list. Here’s a look at those 10 issues as defined last year with additional insights by Atria’s vice president, Research, Daniel Murray.

1. Hours-of Service (HOS). While this was the top issue last October, edging out Driver Shortages, which had previously been number one, its importance has diminished over the past few months. “I think HOS is a relatively stable issue and I would expect that would drop at least several places on our survey,” observes Murray. “This really came out during the height of the instability—court cases, interim rules and even congressional action. There were so many unknowns regarding HOS at the time that I now think we can go back to running companies with HOS in the background.”

The most recent District Court ruling preserving the 11- and 34-hour provisions of current regulations, the HOS controversy may be put on hold for quite a while.

2. Driver Shortages. Though this was a major matter in last October’s survey, with the lessening of demand for freight transport there has been less need for drivers. As always, it’s not just the need for drivers, but the requirement for those with good driving records and skills.

“Talk about a dull edged sword,” says Murray. “There’s an easing on the driver shortage issue because of how bad the economy is. But we all assume that’s a temporary situation.” As the overall economy recovers and demand for more freight movement ratchets up, so will the need for more drivers. It’s an issue that’s not going to go away.

3. Fuel Issues. The reason for this issue being third in October was given as the ability for carriers to recover some of the expense through fuel surcharges. Of late there is increasing focus at many levels on developing and using alternate fuels, ranging from ethanol to hydrogen and everything in between.

4. Congestion. This issue has moved up considerably from year to year as a headache for those using the highways. ATRI points out that average truck speeds and system reliability within many urban areas continues to decline. While several suggestions are offered to attempt to find initiatives to begin solving the problems attendant to congestion, there is obviously no panacea.

5. Government Regulation. While those surveyed in the October report weren’t specific on the matters that caused them concern, the sheer number of them were a burden. “When we went into the issue of Government Regulations,” recalls Murray, “as we surveyed this was a time of major rule making—everything from HOS to EPA engine standards for 2007, driver education. There’s even niche stuff, at least investigation of roll stability mandates on vehicles. They had done that on automobiles and everyone knows they are doing the same on large trucks.”

6. Tolls/Highway Funding. As the survey was conducted last year, the industry perceived an increase in the number of tolled roads in the US and the potential for what was characterized as the “balkanization of the US transportation system.”

Murray notes that as this Presidential election year moves on to November, Congressman James L. Oberstar, the powerful chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is frustrated because he hasn’t heard the word “transportation” come up once from either set of candidates. “He’s getting really nervous,” claims Murray, “since there will be a new administration. One way or the other a new funding bill is coming to guide us for six years and no one seems to be carrying the torch on this one. All the more reason I think highway funding is going to become more prominent than less.”

7. Tort Reform/Legal Issues. “If there weren’t so many zealous lawyers, this might not be as major an issue,” says Murray. “When you look at government statistics, automobile drivers are responsible at a minimum—the smallest number we’ve ever seen—for more than 55% of all truck-automobile crashes. When the automobile driver is responsible for the vast majority of these accidents but the tort law allows you to sue the person with the deepest pockets, it’s very clear that no matter how hard we work to reduce crashes and minimize the truck driver’s responsibility, we’re going to have law suits. It’s essentially an equity issue and tort reform would fix that.”

8. Driver Training/Driver Education. This made the Top Ten list for the first time in last October’s survey report. In the short run, this issue will become more prominent. It will be extremely critical when the industry finally pulls out of this weak economic period. Murray speculates that there will be new regulations detailing minimum driver training qualifications. They will require substantial accreditation, including 120 hours of classroom and 44 hours behind the wheel.

“Trucking companies will have to become accredited schools if they do anything with entry-level drivers,” he says. “It’s sort of the perfect storm. When the next economic up tick hits, there’ll be a major driver shortage again and we’re building a system that almost will not allow us to bring new people into the market. So I expect this issue to go up a notch or two.”

9. Environmental Issues. Anti-idling regulations and other emission reducing efforts are having a strong influence on carriers. “I suspect the thing that’s put Environmental concerns in the Top 10 is its complexity,” says Murray. “For instance, we have air quality issues requiring 200 or 400 pound anti-idling devices which ironically may improve their quality but diminish fuel efficiency. The heavier the truck gets the less efficient it is. So you have almost conflicting Federal policies between fuel efficiency and air quality.”

10. On-Board Truck Technology. Last October’s report was the first in which this issue made an appearance in the Top Ten. “The majority of respondents were not talking about technology mandates,” claims Murray, “but proactive technology solutions. We have tens of thousands of road stability devices hitting the marketplace: lane departure warnings, some of the new collision warning systems, integrated systems. They are bought because they can give really quick paybacks on efficiency and safety. That’s one of the few items on the list because industry is excited about some of the new on-board technologies.”

Looking to results of the next study, Murray says he thinks, “safety, highway finance and congestion are going to be right at the top in 2008 and they are all inter-related to each other. With the new transportation bill in the works, I think we’re going to see some programs that deal with truck funding and truck safety mandated.


Thanks,

Greg Williams
Director, Financial Analysis and Business Development

Please note new address below effective January 22, 2007.

Exel Transportation Services, Inc.
17330 Preston Road, #200C
Dallas, TX 75252
USA

Monday, February 18, 2008

Economic forecast: good

Be ready for a boost in our industry. I found article about housing interest drop which will have a ripple effect to boosting trucking.

Fed Fed Drops Interest Rate - How Will It Effect The Trucking Industry
By Noah Ostroff

The economy has been in a jack-knife lately with no end in sight. With businesses slowing at record paces, how will this effect the transportation industry, specifically the trucking industry?

Since 2006 our economy has been on a downward spiral. Some may say we have the media to thank for that one. The housing industry has become the center of attention in many media outlets over the last 2-3 years. First they said how good the housing market was, spurring up a housing boom from 2004-2006, then they began talking about the housing bubble, then it was on to the bubble has bursted. For some reason the general public has lost all control of what is good and bad anymore and they have turned to the media for their "expert" opinion.

With the housing market at all time lows, this has had a major effect on the trucking industry. Fortune 500 companies such as Toll Brothers Inc. (NYSE:TOL) have seen a major drop off in their sales around the country, thus effecting their manufacturing division as well as their transportation division.

Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve dropped interest rates 125 basis points, which should spur up a little activity in the housing market. With interest rates near all time lows, home buyers, and even investors must overcome their fear and get back into the market. Now is the time where millionaires are made. While sellers are looking to make a deal, buyers have to be looking to make deals.

Within the next 2 months we should see an increase in manufacturing activity throughout the country, ultimately getting the trucking industry back on track. At the next fed meeting, they are projecting a 25-50 basis point cut. This should also have a positive impact on our industry.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Noah_Ostroff
http://EzineArticles.com/?Fed-Drops-Interest-Rate—How-Will-It-Effect-The-Trucking-Industry&id=983881

If this prediction holds true we brokers need to be ready with reliable truckers to help transport the materials needed to support a robust housing growth. Even if the future is not as rosy as Noah predicts, if you are building your relationships daily, building up your reputation with integrity and going above and beyond your customer's expectations you will be a valuable asset to our industry.

Moving forward,

Jeff Roach
www.brooketraining.com

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Dream, A Goal, A Purpose

When an entrepreneur starts a business they have a dream, a goal and a purpose. To solidify forward progress we should spend some time writing out those platitudes…and review periodically. Here is the mission and vision I remind myself of so that I stay on track in my business:

Our mission:
Educate and motivate the Go Givers and the Go Getters.

Our Vision:
Help others realize their God Given right to success, put the past behind and start fresh daily. We are responsible for our future. We are the only ones who can use our abilities.

Help those who really need to work from home have a viable opportunity and to give them a map with clear directions. We believe the only true joy in life is in helping others. Not for the glory but because we all need help, grace and humility.

Even though our focus at Brooke Transportation Training is freight brokering, we are truly in the small business-business.

We have the resources every small business needs:

• Business plans for every type of business from Palo Alto.
• How to books from Entrepreneur.com.
• Motivational products from Ziglar Training.
• Business consultants and trainers through Brooke Consulting
• Top ten elearning courses (click Gatlin's blue logo on our site).

In Texas we have the top monthly freight broker-training course. We train people how to be freight brokers from home. This is an ideal career for people with disabilities, work from home moms and truck drivers.

We will be announcing a date for a full day of advanced sales training from Bryan Flannigan, a top trainer for Zig Ziglar. We will be testing this market and local demand. I will be sending emails to mortgage companies and insurance agents to promote Bryan’s advanced course.

The goal of this blog is to help people wanting to get into the best home based business (freight brokering) as well as offer other product essentials for the small business on our web site. Check out our affiliations. We advise you to visit them. We are proud and honored to be aligned with such prestigious groups.

Moving Forward,

Jeff Roach
www.justintimefreight.com

Friday, February 8, 2008

Carrier Files

Yesterday I gave a list of things to include in permanent customer files. Here’s an idea of what your permanent Carrier files should hold:

1. Your master Carrier-Broker Contract Agreement
(you MUST have this before you arrange the first load with them)
2. Their insurance certificate showing adequate cargo and liability limits. It should list your brokerage as a certificate holder.
3. A copy of their motor carrier authority and MC#
(motor carrier #)
4. A W-9 from the carrier. If the carrier doesn’t
send back their W-9 information you required with their Carrier Packet, call them before you pay their first invoice, explain that you have to have their W-9 to get their payment out, and they will fax it right over. If the carrier is a sole proprietor rather than a corporation, their W-9 will have their social security number on it instead of a corporate tax number, and you will need to send out 1099 income forms to the sole proprietors each year.
5. Any notes on the carrier (such as reasons that they are gold start/premium carriers for you, or any reason not to use them); if you have an unfortunate situation with a carrier on a shipment, and you will no longer be able to use that particular carrier, don’t get rid of the file! Instead, keep the reason on file, and in your system. That way you won’t forget and accidentally set them up at a later date.
6. Marketing information on the carrier (brochures, etc.)
7. Their contact information
8. Equipment types, specialized equipment & # of trucks
9. Any special services that they offer
10. Any special niches that they focus on, or geographical
areas that they service (favorite lanes, etc.)
11. Any correspondence that you receive regarding the carrier

None of these are date regulated files; in other words, they are not related to income and expenses that will be used for tax reporting. Do not put individual rate confirmations for shipments, and carrier bills/invoices in your permanent carrier files, they need to be in your annual files and by year. Insurance claims on loads also don’t go in the permanent file, they should go in separate claims files.

Keeping up your organization get increasingly important as you grow. You need to always easily locate the info you need to work efficiently and profitably.

Moving forward,

Jeff Roach
www.brooketraining.com

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Fill up that File

Yesterday I wrote about my filing system basics. Set up a place for customer files then start filling it up as you make your 50 calls a day. Get a big file, think big and work hard to be a student of your customer. The more you know about them, the more comfortable they will be about working with you.

*SOME THINGS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR PERMANENT
CUSTOMER’S FILE:

1. Their brochure
2. Their signed credit application and credit report
3. Their contact list – phone & email, 2nd contact & after
hours number
4. Carriers and/or brokers that they currently use
5. Any known rate info or rates that you’ve given them – (make sure that you always date rates and info that you give your prospects and clients)
6. All signed agreements with your client
7. Ongoing correspondence notes with dates and copies of letters sent out
8. Special situations, or special equipment that they need
9. Any special billing requirements that they may have (such as things that they require on their invoices, etc.) – it is also a good idea to keep this on a separate spreadsheet of clients that have special billing requirements, to refer to while you are invoicing.
10. Articles or other information about your client


Remember that this is predominantly a relationship business, so learn more, and gather more information about your client and their company and needs, as time goes on, so that you will become a more valuable consultant to them. You want them to begin to see you as a valuable asset to their shipping operation – so the more knowledge that you are about their needs, and the more help that you can add to their shipping department, the better.

Moving forward,

Jeff Roach
www.brooketraining.com

Monday, February 4, 2008

Filing Tips

It is important that your office basics, such as your filing systems, are organized and in order for your accounting functions to go smoothly.

YOUR FILING SYSTEM:
Set up two filing areas: permanent files and annual or dated files

A.) Permanent files – These are files that are not date specific, like any warranties, bank documents, business start-up papers, etcetera. They are best filed alphabetically.

Color code your files for easy recognition- for example, you could do each of your customer files in green files (money coming in), all of your overheads in red files (money going out), and all of your carrier files in plain manila files (over time you will have the most carrier files, and manila are the least expensive). Blue files could be informational (such as info on your phone system, insurance policies, etc.).

You should start a file for each customer and a file for each carrier as you secure them. These informational customer and informational carrier files are permanent files; hopefully you will continue to have a relationship and do business with them for years to come, so they are not date specific.

B.) Annual, or dated files – These are files that go along with a specific year. Some examples are your office bills or overheads, your individual files for each shipment, and any claims files that you are facilitating for your customers (because they relate to a specific dated shipment and are time-sensitive). Annual files relate to your income and expenses for a particular year, and will be stored after the year is over along with that year’s tax records. Learn the laws regarding record keeping for brokers, for the records that you are required to keep on each transaction.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about what kind of documents to file in each of these systems.

Moving forward

Jeff Roach
www.brooketraining.com