Meet the TI Team Member: Mia Nardi

At Trans International, we know that teamwork is crucial to the success of any business. And we take pride in bringing together a team of professionals who balance and amplify each other’s strengths to better service our clients. Today we’re pleased to share a Q&A with one of the newest additions to the TI team: Mia Nardi.

Mia Nardi | National Sales Manager

Mia Nardi | National Sales Manager

1. What is your role at TI?
I am a National Sales Manager covering MN, MI, South East, Central and Southwest WI.

2. What made you interested in joining the TI team?
When I met Denise and Jaime, the owners of Trans International, it was clear to me that I wanted to a part of their past, current and continued success. They are simply two dynamic, professional women. They harbor a culture that’s hard to find these days!

3. What parts of your experience, history or resume will position you to serve as a valuable resource for TI clients?
My drive to succeed and my passion to make a difference in this organization. I thrive when I’m challenged to utilize my sales, leadership and strategic planning skills to help a company continue to grow.

4. What are you looking forward to as a member of the TI team?
The ability to utilize my experience to help the team grow and to grow myself in a new industry by learning from my peers.

5. What do you enjoy most about your role?
I appreciate Jaime and Denise’s empowerment, their drive, their support, and their knowledge. I’m also enjoying learning the ins-and-outs of a new industry.

6. Do you have any fun or interesting hobbies to share?
I love spending time with my mom – she’s my best friend. I love to travel, dine out and entertain with friends. Oh, and I love fashion – therefore I love to shop!

Interested in learning more about Mia and what she can do for your business? You can contact her at mnardi@ticominc.com.

5 Reasons to Avoid Gain Share Models for Freight Audit & Payment

What is the “gain share model?

In the typical gain share model, a broker or 3PL works with a shipper to discover potential savings in return for a flat fee or percentage of the savings they are said to have obtained.

This brokerage model has received a variety of differing sentiments from the supply chain industry. Some shippers are comfortable with a gain share relationship. Others feel the model lacks credibility and should be avoided for the following reasons:

gain share

  1. Reward goes to the third party. Gain share brokers want to find savings for you in return for a percentage. This means they are incentivized to find errors. However, the downside is that they are most profitable when they discover simple, quick-fix errors, and less incentivized to find the larger, more complex areas of loss. At Trans International, we have seen an invoice where a carrier billed one million dollars for a 500-pound shipment – a simple decimal place error. When operating with a broker under a gain share model, the shipper would have to pay the third party five, ten, or even twenty percent of that million-dollar error. However, any accounts payable department could have caught an error of this size – without requiring a percentage share.
  1. No incentive to fix errors. If the third party is going to keep making money by catching the error, there is no reason for them to notify you or the carrier to fix the error. If they do, their revenue will go down and you will no longer be a profitable client. This means the third party may allow errors in billing to continue so that they can keep profiting from them.
  1. Unsustainable business model. Gain share is thought of as an easy-start engagement, as there is virtually no initial cost to the client. However, at some point, the third party will have found all of the errors and the customer will have worked to resolve them, resulting in future invoices being billed correctly. When this happens, the third party’s gain share model is no longer a sustainable source of revenue, so they will look to convert customers to a different payment process with the hope that the customer will remain loyal, regardless of the new cost.
  1. Skewed data tracking. Everyone reports data differently, and when a broker profits from errors found, they may be tempted to track client savings inconsistently. It’s important to ask a few questions: Does the broker track what you would have spent and earn a percentage from that? Do they track what they found in errors? What about refunds and rejected errors? Data can easily be skewed to increase revenue on a gain share model.
  1. Lack of attention to service. Are gain share brokers looking out for the long-term interests of the client or the short-term gains? Third parties don’t always look deeply into the reasons clients have chosen their carrier partners. But this partnership is important. Ideally, the broker should investigate whether the client’s carrier provides quality service and meets customer expectations for delivery. However, gain share brokers may steer their clients to use a preferred partner to create deeper discounts across the board, without thoroughly considering the individual needs of the client and the potential long-term benefits of using a slightly more expensive, better-qualified carrier.  

Why is the Trans International approach different?

Our model is based on a transaction fee for each shipment, which allows us to provide our clients more in savings each year than the typical gain share model. We also ensure that clients have visibility to their savings through automated reporting, delivered right to their inbox. We focus on providing quality service and correcting issues with freight carriers, rather than promoting the recurrence of issues. What’s more, we realize that carriers are partners to our clients and that they provide a very important service, so we thoroughly investigate and outline long-term implications when suggesting any changes to the relationship. Last year, the savings we found for clients in correcting carrier billing issues, rejecting duplicate invoices, and providing guidance on best shipping practice more than paid for our services.

Interested in learning what savings we can find for your business? Just reach out.

Transportation Payment Trends Part 2: Auditing Practices

Last week we shared the first of our three-part series of posts inspired by American Shipper’s Transportation Payment Benchmark Study, which surveyed nearly 190 payers (shippers and 3PLs) to uncover insights and trends in freight payment technology, auditing and strategy. This week we’ll discuss the study’s findings on current auditing practices.

Auditing is an important process for any business, especially freight. Performing audits both before and after making payments ensures that finances stay on track. As the following findings show, many businesses are diligent about auditing, while others are leaving room for error.

  • The Finding: Two-thirds of system-based respondents see value in their audits, whereas 44 percent of manual respondents find audits valuable.
  • What It Means: Auditing manually is very time consuming. When using a system to audit, the respondents saved time and in turn were better able to recognize the value of audits.  

FreightAuditTrends

  • The Finding: Forty-four percent of manual shippers were uncertain if their audit savings met expectations.
  • What It Means: The time commitment and margin of error that results from auditing manually can lead to uncertainty and discontent.
  • The Finding: Sixty percent of the manual shippers surveyed had never hired a third party to conduct an audit of their ability to accurately pay freight bills, had only conducted one of these types of audits in the last five years, or were uncertain if an audit of this type had been completed. Whereas only 32 percent of systems-based shippers hadn’t or were uncertain if an audit had been conducted by a third party audit in this timeframe.
  • What It Means: Systems-based shippers are more aware of their payment process and better equipped to have a third party review it. Meanwhile a significant number of manual shippers are unable to be certain that their payment processes are being handled efficiently or accurately.

This freight payment audit data demonstrates something we could easily predict – that systems-based shippers are more aware and certain of their current payment processes. Furthermore, because they don’t have to dedicate time and effort to manual auditing, they are better able to recognize the value of audits.

At Trans International, we’re proud to provide our clients with a number of services that can improve auditing and payment systems. We offer freight bill auditing, reporting, and payment systems to easily organize, assure and fulfill our clients’ freight payments.

We’re curious, how does your company handle freight payment and audits? Let us know in a comment or contact us directly and we’ll do whatever we can to provide the system you’re looking for.

Transportation Payment Trends Part 1: Technology

Being the best in your business means constantly staying on top trends. At Trans International, we make a point of consuming all of the industry research we can get our hands on, so that we can serve as knowledgeable advisors for our customers. This blog post is the first of what will be a three-post series inspired by a study we recently received from American Shipper.

American Shipper’s Transportation Payment Benchmark Study surveyed nearly 190 payers (shippers and 3PLs) to provide insight on trends in freight payment technology, auditing and strategy. We’ll share highlights from the study on each of these topics in the coming weeks, starting with freight payment technology.

Below are some of the survey’s most interesting findings about trends in freight payment technology:

  • The Finding: More than a quarter of customers don’t use any technology to pay freight bills.
    What It Means: A fair amount of shippers are not comfortable using an automated payment system, or have not found one that fits their needs and budget.
  • The Finding: When dealing with international payment, large shippers are twice as likely to handle it manually, where as small and medium shippers are 50% more likely.
    What It Means: Automated freight payment platforms are more available domestically and many companies are likely expecting the platforms they currently use to extend their services internationally.
  • The Finding: About 40% of domestic payment and 25% of international payment is outsourced.
    What It Means: With a large amount of payment being outsourced, companies need the ability to monitor transactions to a higher degree to ensure accuracy.
  • The Finding: The number of respondents using one freight payment system for all of their needs was lower this year than last.
    What It Means: Companies are becoming more interested in using payment systems for a variety of specific needs, but are struggling to find one system that fits them all.
  • The Finding: More than three times as many systems-based respondents are planning to extend payment terms this year over last.
    What It Means: Using an automated shipping process provides respondents with the free time to fully analyze their own strategies and tactics, such as payment terms.

Overall, this data told us that today’s shippers are looking for payment systems that are very user-friendly and offer international services, customizability, and an easy way to monitor transactions. All of these components are currently included in Trans International’s Freight Bill Payment options and software products, meaning we offer all of today’s most-desirable payment services through one provider.

This is something we’re very proud of, but it’s not enough to just be on top of the trends – system providers need to be able to fulfill your specific needs, too.

That’s why we want to know: Is there any technology you’d like to see from an automated shipping payment system that wasn’t on this list? Tell us in a comment below or contact us directly and we’ll do whatever we can to provide the system you’re looking for.

WBENC National Conference: Insights and Inspiration

“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”

Many people have said these words in many different ways, but the idea remains the same: To improve yourself (and your business) you have to surround yourself with the most knowledgeable people. That’s why every year some of our Trans International team attends the WBENC (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council) National Conference to gain knowledge and inspiration from the smartest women in business.  As a certified Women’s Business Enterprise, it’s a very special event for us.WBENC Conference

This year, the conference was in Philadelphia and hosted over 1,000 attendees and more than 150 corporate sponsors. We had some great conversations with representatives from Walmart, Ford, GM, The Clorox Company, Toyota, and others.

What I Learned
How do you retain what you learned? Share it. Here are some insights that I picked up:

  • WBENC will work for you if you work for it.
    It’s a great group. It’s even better if you’re involved. That means attending events and participating in every way that you can to learn and make connections.
  • Register to get a head start.
    Register at all supplier diversity portals ahead of time because the first question a corporate contact will ask is, “ Have you registered with us?”  If you can get this step out of the way ahead of time, the conversation will go farther, faster.
  • Divide and conquer.
    Myself, Jaime (CEO), Mike (Director of Logistics Consulting) and Peter (National Sales Manager) split up to take in as much of the conference as we could. Dividing allowed us to see more, do more, and meet more people.

What Inspired Me
A few highlights that inspired me to keep bettering myself and our business:

  • UPS used teddy bears to help rebuild a business after 9/11.
    After September 11, a supplier business located across from the twin towers lost nearly everything under the rubble from the falling buildings. The UPS procurement contact from the supplier diversity program called the business and asked how they could help. That day, UPS placed a large order with the business – for teddy bears. The money from the teddy bear order that UPS placed gave the business enough capital to help rebuild. UPS gave each of us a teddy bears during the presentation, which, for me, helps serve as a reminder of the importance of supporting our clients whenever possible.
  • Walmart has a new women-owned logo.
    All clothing and products made by women-owned companies will have the new logo tag. It’s exciting to see such a big brand showing so much support for women in business.
  • Zuckerberg is proof that women can do it all.
    Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerberg, was one of this year’s speakers. Randi was one of Facebook’s first employees Facebook and pioneered the social media giant’s marketing program until she branched out to run her own company, Zuckerberg Media. Yes, Randi’s career accomplishments are impressive – but what really inspired me is that in addition to being a successful business person, she’s also a mother, wife, actress and singer. She somehow finds time to do it all and reminded me that it is possible to do the same.

Did you attend this year’s WBENC National Conference? What did you learn? We’d love to hear about it in a comment below.

Denise Lawien
Chief Operating Officer

New Look. Same Promise.

If you’ve been a partner of ours for one, 10 or 20 years, you might have noticed the facelift our site and branded materials received recently. Don’t worry, you can expect the same quality service you’ve received from us all along. We’ve just updated our brand face to better represent the company we’ve always been and the progression we continue to make.

Our new branding is more than a refresh, it’s a statement – a masthead for our community. It’s a promise to our clients. An infrastructure for our carriers. It also showcases our commitment to evolution and the service, quality and integrity Trans International represents as a brand.

Each colored swatch of our new logo represents Trans International’s corporate promise.

Our five “C’s”:

  • Company
  • Community
  • Clients
  • Carriers
  • Commitment

We’re excited about our new branding, which has also been applied to our social media platforms. We hope you’ll connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, if you haven’t already.

Driver Shortages, MAP-21 Changes and Driverless Tractors Ahead

Transportation & Logistics Council’s 40th Annual Conference:

On March 17, Trans International participated in the Transportation & Logistics Council’s 40th Annual Conference in Nashville, TN. This year’s conference had a record-breaking number of attendees, including shippers, carriers, brokers, 3PLs, attorneys and insurance brokers. It was a great crowd to network with and learn from.

For me, it was a chance to meet new people and take part in a unique educational opportunity. It’s not often that I get to hear from all sides of the transportation transaction in one venue.

One speaker of note was Jack Holmes, President of UPS Freight. Holmes talked about the “Customer Experience” and what it means to UPS. He discussed how the shortage of 250,000 drivers expected by 2022 will affect the price of transportation in the future. He also talked about “driverless tractors” and how this farfetched-sounding idea is not as implausible as we once may have thought. With driver shortages on the horizon, the research institutes (ATRI and NFAC) have been looking into a wide array of possibilities.

Administrator Anne Ferro of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was another engaging speaker. She covered carrier safety ratings, new Hours of Service Rules and MAP-21 legislation and detailed how each affects the broker and carrier environment. The FMCSA continues to monitor unsafe carriers to keep them off the road and keep our highways safe. One role of the FMCSA is licensing commercial motor vehicle drivers. Under the new MAP-21 rules, brokers have to meet licensing requirements to be considered “authorized brokers.” This change, which went into effect in 2011, thinned the broker market from over 23,000 brokers down to today’s 14,000 brokers.

Lastly, we heard from Michael Cole, Senior Director of North America Transportation at Kraft Foods. Cole shared Kraft’s transportation philosophy with us. He explained that the main focus at Kraft is to utilize shippers of choice and partner with core carriers in order to demonstrate transparency. In a further effort to exercise transparency, Kraft set up an advisory board for joint planning purposes. The board sits seven of Kraft’s top freight carriers who advise on best practices. Imagine sitting across the table from your competition and talking about your best practices; what a unique and beneficial opportunity. To keep their model steady, Kraft only allows their largest carrier to carry 6% of their volume. For a brand as large as Kraft, 6% is still a lot of volume – and the numbers prove it. Their freight demographics for 2013 included 500,000 shipments, 3,800 locations, 8,500 lanes, six primary modes (LTL, TL, Air, Rail, Intermodal, Backhaul), not to mention specialty freight like reefer and freezer trucks.

While in Tennessee, I also took the opportunity to visit a piece of local history – The Hermitage. The Hermitage is the former homestead of Andrew Jackson. The tour was fascinating and packed with history. We heard stories of the Westward movements and the changing role of women. It was a reminder of how far women have come in a relatively short time. Not long ago, it would have been unthinkable for a woman to be at the helm of a business – and today, Trans International is a WBENC certified company.

At the end of the trip, driving through Tennessee to Knoxville, the view of the sunset in the Smokey Mountains was breathtaking. It was a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the road while reflecting on all of the fresh insights I’d received about today’s transportation industry.

Did you attend this year’s Transportation & Logistics Council’s Conference? Or do you have thoughts about some of the topics discussed? I’d love to hear about them in a comment below.

Thanks,
Denise Lawien
Chief Operating Officer