Transportation and Logistics – 10 Things Shippers Want to Look For When Selecting a Freight Carrier

The current economy has provided the Transportation Industry with an influx of new companies that are looking to try to break into Shipping Freight. These companies are smart, because they are not looking to compete with the Big Boys, like the Fedex, UPS, and Conway’s of the world, but they are looking to fulfill a niche market.They hire a cousin to be the driver, and a friend to work the books. They acquire all necessary licenses and pay the fees that need to be paid and their in business. From this point on many of them proceed to the market place to offer, not value, but cheap rates, thus dropping the Industry market value down considerably. So with this in mind, a typical shipper probably has, at the least, 15 knocks on their door from potential new shipping vendors who say they want an opportunity to bid on their Freight.Most customers at this point take the rate sheet, or at the least, take the sales reps card to perhaps give them a quote opportunity. The issue that faces a warehouse Manager is that every sales rep that enters the door is talking about 1 thing, and one thing only- cheap rates. It’s not a wonder why Warehouse Manager’s are at their wits end with Sales Calls. This article consists of some general guidelines that a shipper should consider when looking to hire a freight carrier. This list is compiled from consulting with many clients in the industry, as well as several Operation Managers.10 Areas That a Shipper Wants To Examine Prior To Hiring a Freight Company:1) Service Commitment- Make sure to ask questions directly concerning the destinations that you ship. Often times carriers will list transit times and destinations that they might not serve directly, but may have agents working for them their. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with an Agent relationship, but this is something that you want to make sure you ask the carrier.2) Accountability- If a carrier promises you something make sure you hold them to it…Freight is not an exact science, so many things can come into play with regards to shipping- weather, load factor, mechanical issues, the list goes on and on… Make sure carriers take ownership of their promises and guarantees.3) Price- I list this 3rd on the list because, believe it or not, price is not as big as people want to play it out to be. You see, if your product doesn’t make it’s destination safely and in good transit time, it won’t matter if you received a dirt cheap rate because you will have a very unhappy customer. At times customers can live with a long transit time, but those times are, few and far between, in today’s market.4) Follow Up- If the Carrier doesn’t get back to you in a timely fashion, or forgets altogether, then you definitely want to reevaluate your choice of vendors. Whether it be your sales rep, or your customer service agent, poor follow up runs through the company typically.5) Operations- Grumpy operations personnel make for poor service all around. If you ever feel as if “you are bothering your operations representatives” then you definitely need a new company. In freight you might be dealing with employees who have been in the business for over 30 years, and really don’t like their jobs- they often take it out on the customer. Don’t fall into this trap!6) Technology- We are in Y2K!!! If a company is not able to provide you with online capabilities and up to date information on your shipments then this might be a sign to look for another company. Please understand, there are many shippers that prefer to have a live person than use online technology, and that’s fine, but the Freight carrier needs to be able to back that up with online technology for quick reports and a more efficient Distribution system.7) Customer Service- We’ve all had those bad service experiences going out to dinner with our spouse, a rude customer service operator, so I’m sure you can relate to this topic. Never settle for rudeness because of cheap rates, you’ll end up regretting it in the long run-guaranteed.8) Ease of Engagement- This speaks for itself, because it should always be easy to get a hold of your Sales Person or the Operations Team. Companies that are good in this category do things like, answer the phone within 3 rings; follow up with emails/phone calls the same day; take a proactive approach to service rather than reactive.9) Recoverability- I coined this term a few years back. When something bad happens, the good companies get right on it and maintain solid communications with the Shipper and all necessary parties. We all know that things happen, but it’s how Carriers respond and recover that make them GREAT.Often times mishaps are what help solidify a Customer-Carrier relationship- ironic.10) Gut- More important than all of the other topics combined is to make sure you use your gut instinct. If you don’t feel right about the carrier, or if you can’t seem to find anything good about them other than price then you might need to take a mental note and look deep at their company because the GUT is usually right on the money.

5 Elements of Successful Strategic Health Care Agency Marketing Plans

The importance of proper healthcare marketing plans can not be understated. Even though many health care businesses understand this fact, they may not always possess the skills, time, or resources to establish a proper strategy. Creating a successful marketing plan is no easy task. All throughout the process business and markets can change throwing all the hard work completed into the trash. Here are 5 elements of a successful strategic health care agency marketing plan.1. Establish goals and metricsGoal setting, as in other aspects of success, is especially important in the health industry. Markets can change quickly and unexpectedly due to all the interconnected niche markets and new technological innovations made daily. To properly prepare for and measure success it is important to establish goals and benchmark metrics to be met. These will depend on the current status of your business as well as future projections and goals.2. Define strategic objectivesOften times goals are presented without a clear statement of purpose on how exactly the achievement of those goals will be measured. Make sure you properly define strategic objectives and what constitutes metrics met, exceeded, or failed so that you can properly analyze your results and make proper adjustments going forward.3. Use appropriate media channelsThere are many ways to promote and market health care brands. Digital marketing and new media marketing strategies requires extensive knowledge and experience to properly execute. Be aware of the challenges you face and make sure your chosen media channel is optimal before sinking hard earned resources into it. Online marketing takes time to place a foundation and bear fruit.4. Use timely executionThe success of many marketing plans is dependent upon a confluence of many factors coming together at precisely the correct moment. Make sure you have created a scope of work agreement so you can have a blueprint in place of when to launch all your media and marketing channels and how your master plan will all come together.5. Hire great talentDigital marketing for brand building and audience engagement require designers and digital strategists with expertise and relevant web experiences. Creative ideas and gorgeous design must come together with sound strategy and vision for successful campaigns to work. Many in house marketing departments simply lack the breadth of experience to guarantee results. The end result could fall short at a steep price. When in doubt, hire professionals to get the job done.Follow these tips for brand building and health care marketing and you are sure to move forward on the right foot.

New Twist to Finance Commercial Real Estate

In the last few months we have seem a resurgence of new investment firms. Thanks to the Job Training ACT of 2012. After approval there were certain procedures which had to be negotiated. Most of these were opposed by an assortment of banks and investment bankers. In the end, the S.E.C. approved it with some reservations, but intact. It’s goal is to provide capital to real estate and businesses to jump-start the main street economy. In that year span, and continuing today, banks and investment firms are at best, cherry picking low hanging fruit loan, opportunities in prime recovering major markets, passing on properties which are in the gray area, location wise, or with financial hiccups. Some banks are still awash in poorly originated mortgages, with under water value, and stressed borrowers.Despite the previous down turn, most of these Job Training Act 2012 506 C offerings are either “blue sky” investments. Providing no assets, no collateral, no current cash flow, These rely on outrageous pricing, assume discount buying of assets, and of course, promising an exceptional yield. It’s the Wimpy character, from the Popeye cartoons, “please lend me money for a hamburger today, and I’ll pay you Tuesday”. Not a good recipe for investors, or the borrower, for that matter. What is startling, is the fact that there are great commercial loans without a home! Possibly even more amazing, there are investors which have the ability to invest. Investors tired of stock market inconsistency, and poor yields for bonds and C.D.’s! In the old days we bartered every thing. Even is the 1930′s cash was a scarce commodity. This was done personally, a dozen eggs for a sack of potato’s. In the next economy we are progressing to a personal stake in lending and borrowing. How do we make it work now?First of all, one of the fantasy of lending, usually promoted by loan brokers, there is not a loan for every borrower! That panacea resulted in the last catastrophe. However, value is value. Value tends to re-assert itself over time. Even in period of financial difficulty, many based on factors which beset the whole country and the world, can be overlooked, as can property value at a certain point in time. In a contrary view-point, If it was valuable, it will be again! Remember $300.00 gold? We will need collateral. In the synergy of promoting these investments, the collateral in a commercial loan is the real estate. Loan to value will be negotiated to an acceptable level. A safe value. Business cash flow is just as crucial. Collateral never made a payment. With Capacity of the business, can it expand? grow both in product and management. These are the three “legs” of the stool to place an investment upon. Not all “legs” need to be level! Over compensation in one area with help the cause as a whole. Credit is suspect qualifier. I do not believe I ever had any debtor who wouldn’t pay his note if he had the money! But that is different story.How does this work if you are seeking a loan? In this case find a private investment advisor you are comfortable with. Ironically, many of the financial titans who opposed the Act of 2012 Jobs, originally, are now active participants! A private investment firm will review your business, advise what their investors will expect. If agreeable terms are reached, an application will be drawn in detail to spell out the terms of what you are applying for. This used to be a term sheet, or commitment, now an application with terms and conditions. There will be processing, possibly some regulatory notification, title, on site visit, and appraisal requirements. It might take 6 to 8 weeks to settle.What expect. Interest rate between 1.5% to 2.5%+ over the C.D. rates for a comparable term. Amortization can be interest only up to 3 years, term can be 1 year up to 30 years. Most loans are limited liability to the borrower, will have bankruptcy remote status, prohibition of other debt with out pre-authorization, and are all first lien position. There are closing costs, determined at approval, most are paid at settlement.In the “new” world of lending, the market maker in commercial real estate might be your neighbor, or several neighbors, resulting in an expansion of capital for American businesses.