Dallas Racklin | AMT Squirrel Works
Disruption is the name of the game in logistics. Last year it was the ELD mandate, the driver shortage and a booming economy. This year the AOBRD deadline, the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule, and IMO 2020 together create the potential for some rough riding in the first few months of 2020. With all the ups and downs, perhaps because of them, digital freight brokers are reporting record-setting profits.
In logistics, strong customer relationships are still the No. 1 priority, and successful 3PLs work overtime to create and cultivate trust and respect. But with rapidly evolving transportation technologies, the importance of speed is a close second. Anyone who’s been working in logistics for more than a couple of years understands the magnitude of change. Ten years ago, phones in a brokerage rang off the hook. Technology has quieted some of that noise, but it’s increased the pace of our work as well as the speed of service customers expect.
The truth is that customers can and will give their freight to another provider in mere minutes. A carrier can book his truck before you’ve hung up the phone. Many industry experts believe it’s the best time to work in the logistics industry. Here at Squirrel Works, we believe there’s never been a better time to work for a 3PL or a transportation program because of the amazing technology we can use and offer today.
Transportation management systems (TMS), tracking and visibility software, and customer rate calculators are the most common technologies 3PLs tout. And they should be, as they have completely changed the game. But there are many must-have tools that increase productivity and efficiency for front line employees, and today we’ll examine a few of our favorites.
Social Media works for logistics and trucking operations. Take the Rate Per Mile Masters Facebook Group, for example. This is a master group that includes drivers, dispatchers, and other experienced transportation professionals who post and comment about relevant topics concerning our industry. If you’re not a member of this group you must change that now—especially if you’re a 3PL. This group provides an insider view of the most compelling issues affecting drivers and will help you gain new insights into this ever-changing environment. And it’s only on Facebook. But groups like Rate Per Mile Masters aren’t all Facebook has to offer. Facebook is a great place to reach customers. A whopping 92% of digital marketers use Facebook for advertising, while 74% of users visit Facebook at least once a day. This level of engagement offers small businesses a great opportunity to interact with their target customers on a regular basis.
The truth is, change and innovation often arrive together. And in logistics, disruption is the name of the game.
LinkedIn and Facebook serve different purposes. The mechanics of the LinkedIn platform are similar, but the audience is white-collar professionals who want to network. You won’t find many trucking companies on LinkedIn, but you will find shippers and supply chain professionals. LinkedIn offers groups for like-minded professionals who share valuable insights on the state of the market as well as best practices and government regulatory information. Don’t worry, you don’t have to master the art of social selling to make LinkedIn valuable. Just keep your profile up to date and buff up your networking skills while using the app.
Ring Central is a premiere selection; however, feel free to substitute a VoIP system app of your choice. Ring Central (or the VoIP of your choice) can potentially lessen the time you spend working. For example, you have to leave the office to run an errand. With the right connectivity and Ring Central, you can do so without missing a beat. Ring Central is cool because it includes instant messaging, SMS, Phone, Voicemail, and Conferencing capabilities baked into a single application. In an industry where time really is money, it’s invaluable to be connected (when you choose to be).
Vocus is an email tool that tracks sent emails and alerts the sender in real time when the receiver opens the email. This is an indispensable tool for sales professionals who need to know when a prospect engages with their email. No longer will you wonder to yourself, “Did Super Prospect receive my email?” But that’s not all Vocus does. It also works as an email sourcing tool that helps you locate emails of prospects while verifying the validity of each account. In the past, many Gmail users ran into issues with duplicate emails. Vocus solves that problem.
Vidyard is a new email tool for our team, but we’re sure it’s going to add value to our arsenal. Vidyard is a video company that enables you to use video instead of text in your emails. We all know how difficult it is to stand out in someone’s already full inbox. Vidyard fixes that. When a video with a personal message pops up in your prospect’s inbox, curiosity compels a quick open. Boom—you’ve got immediate engagement! Even better, Vidyard offers a freemium tool. That’s right. No strings attached, just a free tool. Their support team makes setting up Vidyard easy and effective. And if you don’t get the desired results, the Vidyard team, with a variety of additional resources, provides assistance to set your videos up for success.
Mailchimp is a great tool that helps you automate your processes. And that gives you an advantage. Do you have an email you send out regularly? With Mailchimp, you can throw that email into an automated campaign, sit back, and watch the tool go to work. And Mailchimp integrates with most popular Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools. Yes, there are several good email automation tools out there, but most of these tools need a “middleman” to work properly with your CRM. Not Mailchimp. In addition, you can connect your analytics accounts to receive accurate reporting on how well your email campaigns are driving website traffic. Mailchimp is the most cost-effective tool you can implement while still maintaining a good user experience.
The truth is, change and innovation often arrive together. And in logistics, disruption is the name of the game. In fact, some experts believe we’ve entered a new normal. In this new landscape, you’ll have to work harder to stay ahead of the curve. You must be tech-savvy, and we’re not talking enterprise tools here. Yes, it’s a great time to work in logistics, especially if you take advantage of the apps and tools that can help you take your business to the next level.
Dallas Racklin is the Marketing Strategist at Squirrel Works, a Digital Marketing Agency for the logistics industry. Connect with him on LinkedIn or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com, Mari Kova/Shutterstock.com