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LTL’s FIND INTERNET SERVICES TO BE KEY TO SURVIVAL

Web-Based Management, Tracking Cuts Costs, Wins Back Customers in Recession

In a fight for their lives against growing competition, a more demanding marketplace, and poor economy, less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers have begun offering web-based freight management and tracking that's helping to significantly cut costs and win over customers.

Standard Forwarding, Roadtex Transportation Corp., and Land Air Express of New England have begun offering such value-added web-based services as real time-shipment tracking, online pickup requests and Proof-Of-Delivery documentation, customized month-end service reports and EDI, resulting in important productivity gains and new business opportunities.

“There is no doubt in my mind that our customers want quick, online information on their shipments,” said Tom Spencer, Vice President/Administration for Land Air Express (http://www.mylandair.com/) of Burlington, Vt., which started using the FACTS2000 web-based freight management and tracking system from Carrier Logistics Inc. (CLI) of Tarrytown, N.Y., six months ago. “It makes it easier for our customers to do business with us and gives us a competitive edge over companies who don’t offer this unique benefit. It also enables us to keep up with shippers’ demands."

“With web-based connectivity shippers can get immediate access to information on the status of freight and place pickup orders online instead of having to call us and get the shipment traced, sit on hold and wait for a fax,” said Spencer. “And if they want backup, Proof of Delivery or copies of their bills of lading, they can go right to our Internet site and immediately print it up. It saves on phone calls, paper, and postage, and our bills get paid faster.”

In addition to its user-friendly design, Spencer notes that the web-enabled system is also very secure, which was a chief concern to many of Land Air’s customers.

“Shippers are only able to see their own company’s documentation and shipment status,” said Spencer. “CLI did a nice job of putting together a comprehensive, easy-to-use system, with a lot of security measures built in, without any unnecessary bells and whistles.”

One of Land Air Express’ largest customers, Country Home Products, Inc., a Vermont-based seller of power equipment for outdoor use and landscaping, has praised the system for its convenience and simplicity.

“The system is a confirmation and extension of how Land Air deals with us by providing the highest-quality customer service,” said Bill Joos, traffic analyst at Country Home Products. “It’s timely, accurate, and simple.”

Joos adds that the web-based system’s ease-of-use has proven especially valuable during the company’s busiest times of year, when Country Home Products adds seasonal staff to its call center to handle the increased volume of customer inquiries. “We can have as many as 80 people in the call center, many of them temporary workers who don’t have a lot of experience using computer equipment. But the Land Air system is so easy to use, they have no problem getting access to the customer shipment information they need, and that allows us to provide the type of high-quality service our customers expect from us.”

Standard Forwarding (http://www.stdfwd.com) of East Moline, Ill., also commends the web-based system, which averages 1500 to 1700 hits per week, for reducing labor and overtime costs and augmenting their sales and marketing efforts.

“We see the system as a real time-saver, cutting back about four hours of labor per day for the billing person who was taking customer calls,” said Ross Jackson, Technical Services Administrator of Standard Forwarding. “She used to spend her whole day answering phones, responding to shipment status requests, accessing documentation and faxing. Now she’s free to assist in performing additional functions and relieving the workload on other billers when necessary, so we’re doing more with the same number of people, which is definitely a cost savings.

“It’s also helped us close our books sooner because customers have quicker access to documentation and invoices,” added Rainey Brown, Executive Vice President of Standard Forwarding. “Plus it’s given us a bigger advantage in the marketplace by having this functionality. When our salesmen go in to visit customers and prospects, more and more they’re asking if we have the ability to retrieve information on-line. It’s a huge selling point in getting and keeping business.”

For Roadtex (www.roadtex.com) the Internet module has made the company stronger since personnel can now be deployed according to their areas of strengths, instead of manning the phone lines.

“Since Roadtex is an LTL and Truckload carrier specializing in time-sensitive and expedited shipments throughout the United States, customers would prefer to use on-line services,” said Robert Kelley, Vice President of Roadtex Transportation Corp. in Hillside, N.J. “What we have experienced is customers want rates NOW, pickups NOW, deliveries NOW, and proof of deliveries NOW! They don’t appreciate a massive portal of a web site. They just want it fast and simple NOW."

“Using this Internet feature has considerably cut down on the number of phone calls we get from customers inquiring about their shipments,” added Kelley. “Just imagine getting 20 of those types of calls at the same time. It’s a very manual, labor-intensive, stressful scenario.

“What these shipping companies want today is information,” said Kelley. “Having the ability to share this data with our customers, along with the enhanced responsiveness and flexibility it’s afforded us, now puts us in the same arena with much bigger players.”

   
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