As holiday freight makes its way from highways to store shelves, we’ll soon enter what traditionally is the slow season for freight brokers. But rather than simply waiting around until business picks up after the holidays, there are practical things you can do now that will put you in a good position for that sure-to-come time when you’re “too busy.”
- Train your employees—and yourself. As the general manager of Keypoint® TMS software, I have the opportunity to see how brokers across the country interact with their technology. What I’ve found is that most companies use only 5 to 10 percent of the capabilities of the software they own. Use the slow season to train employees on new software or improve their skills on any of your mission-critical technology. Whether it’s TMS, freight matching, or any other software, employees should know the functions of all the options under each menu. And don’t leave training up to “the last guy who used it.” Bring in experts, such as professional trainers from the software vendor.
- Upgrade your technology. Adding or upgrading office technology can be disruptive, so this is a great time to make changes. Invite vendors in to demo their products. Have employees evaluate hardware and software products that work best for them. Make sure the systems you purchased years ago still meet the demands of your business today.
- Market to your customers. Pick up the phone and call customers that have slipped off your radar. Compare year-over-year changes in customer volumes to identify areas of concern. Your TMS should be able to easily provide this information and it can be priceless. Also, use this time to increase the visibility of your company in the coming year. Send out a holiday card or gift. Start up a newsletter or a blog. Create a presence on Facebook or another social media outlet that your customers can connect with. While you’re at it, review your website to make sure information is up to date and that the design reflects that of a professional and competent organization.
- Explore new markets and new customers. Look into expanding into new markets or taking on new cargo types. Be sure to bring in people with expertise in that area to avoid potential pitfalls. If you have a specialty, look for new customers in that industry. Join industry associations and attend trade shows to meet the decision makers in your given specialty. And remember, carriers are your customers too. Think of ways you can reward or recognize them for what they do for you during the year.
- Take a vacation. The most valuable asset of your company is you, and your employees. Take some time to recharge your batteries. This is the time of year when your customers expect people to be out of the office. Take advantage of this time of year and return to work refreshed and energized.