Ready to go bigger in your truckload brokerage this year? It may be time to think smaller.
By smaller, we’re talking less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments. LTL shipping demand is on the rise, driven in part by huge e-commerce increases among consumers during COVID. LTL rates have risen by nearly 10% in 2021, and carriers are scrambling to add drivers to keep up with demand.
Four Tips for Adding Less-than-Truckload Services to Your Brokerage
For brokers who focus on full truckload (TL) delivery, increased LTL activity is a major growth opportunity. Adding LTL to your services lets you go after all your customers’ freight, expanding your book of business with existing clients and allowing you to bring new ones into the mix. While on a shipment-by-shipment basis, TL makes more than LTL, efficient LTL operations justify expanding into this space and can deliver significant gains for LSPs that execute effectively.
That’s where automation comes in. A transportation management system (TMS) is the backbone of the modern brokerage, especially as your business branches out into new areas. Automating your LTL services with the support of a TMS can help your business:
● Boost revenue without needing to add more workers
● Optimize offerings and services across all modes, including LTL and truckload
● Provide more responsive service to customers, including self-service options
With a dynamic, connected platform like 3Gtms, brokers can turn a handful of pallets into steady, loyal customers. Here’s how to build an LTL offering that works for your customers and your business.
1. Empower customers with self-service
Providing customers with self-service options from start to finish is one of the biggest – and most overlooked – keys to making LTL work. Since these are lower-volume, lower-margin orders, customer calls for quotes or execution will quickly overwhelm your operations team. A better idea: adding an online customer portal where shippers can quote, ship, or track LTL orders themselves.
The Quick Ship Portal from 3Gtms is a simple tool your customers can use to manage their own LTL freight. Brokerages can white-label the portal with their own logo and branding to create a seamless experience for customers. An intuitive screen walks users of all experience levels through the process, helping them manage even complex tasks like determining freight classes. By empowering shippers to help themselves, brokerages can improve convenience for customers and free up their team to focus on other tasks.
2. Streamline execution
Once your customer selects an LTL carrier, executing shipments should be automatic – without your team having to pick up the phone. A TMS keeps LTL orders moving with no manual intervention required and cutting-edge software allows customers to print shipping documentation themselves, while the system tenders loads, tracks and obtains proof of delivery, processes freight payments, and calculates customer invoices. This end-to-end process means your team can focus on shipping exceptions that truly require their attention, allowing your brokerage to handle more freight per person.
3. Optimize TL and LTL together
If you’re already providing full truckload services to customers, a TMS can help you optimize your offerings across the board. Customers can access TL and LTL services through a single portal, making it easier for them to expand their business with you.
When customers are ready to ship, a dynamic TMS like 3Gtms goes beyond centralizing carrier data to find the ideal rates and schedules for every shipment. Pool distribution planning combines truckload and LTL orders to determine the most effective multimodal combination of lanes and rates. With continuous optimization, 3Gtms updates bookings automatically if better options come in. That means more responsive service for customers, with less effort required from your employees.
4. Choose technology that grows with you and your customers
If LTL services are part of your growth strategy, your brokerage needs a TMS that can scale with you over time. To become a broker of choice, look for a cutting-edge platform that makes business simpler and more efficient for you and your customers. Key features to consider include:
● Advanced customer portals. The more you can empower your customers to handle themselves, the more easily your own business can scale. Look for tools that take care of the complexities for shippers, encouraging them to keep coming back again and again.
● RESTful APIs. APIs for quoting, order management and consolidating, tendering and execution, and tracking make it easier for your advanced customers to integrate with your brokerage. Choosing a TMS that connects with your other business tools, like your ERP, WMS, and business intelligence, can also help streamline operations and reporting.
● Strong network of LTL carriers. Connecting your shipping ecosystem to multiple LTL carrier options allows you to price shop more effectively and save money in the long term. Using a technology with pre-configured carrier integrations is a huge advantage, but the technology should also easily integrate with any carriers that are unique to your business. Additionally, the solution should support different rating options, such as direct tariff rating, for flexibility and visibility upfront.
● Customizations. A configurable platform lets your team adapt workflows around your brokerage needs without having to call your technology provider for every little change. Consider a platform you can adjust by customer to serve a wide range of shippers, including the ability to customize rates and route guides, calculate invoices by gain-share, or change freight auditing levels.
Setting the Stage for Growth
Introducing LTL in your brokerage is a major step toward becoming a full-service partner for your customers. The right TMS sets the stage for successful growth, allowing you to expand into a variety of offerings based on customer needs – all without having to upgrade or install new software.
For more strategies on expanding your truckload brokerage, read our latest ebook.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
Contact our team to learn how 3Gtms can help you integrate LTL services into your brokerage simply and profitably.