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BlueGrace Logistics

What is EDI and how does it work?

What is EDI and how does it work?  This question is asked to me every day.  I am not an expert in the technology field, but I do understand the terminology and the basic functions of the EDI cycle since I have been involved in setting up all of our carriers/partners so that they can communicate with our BlueShip™  system via EDI.  I came across this short paragraph that will provide you with some understanding of the EDI cycle in the transportation industry.  Furthermore, I have listed the technical definitions for each of the EDI codes.  

The typical cycle for Transportation is as follows:

A vendor sends a Motor Carrier Shipping Information document (EDI 204) to the cartage firm to specify that there is a shipment to be picked up. The cartage firm sends a Response Load Tender (EDI 990) to the vendor, specifying if they will pick up the shipment. When the shipment is picked up, the cartage firm may send back the status of the shipment to either the vendor or the ultimate receiver in the form of a Motor Carrier Shipment Status Message (EDI 214). The triggering of this document being sent can be pre-arranged (the parties will make an agreement of when the status is sent) or either the shipper or the ultimate receiver can request a status by sending a Motor Carrier Shipment Status Inquiry (EDI 213). Once the shipment is completed, the cartage firm sends the Motor Carrier Freight Details and Invoice (EDI 210) to the vendor to pay.

 EDI 204 – Motor Carrier Shipping Information-EDI 204 is used to tender a shipment to a carrier and/or forward the shipment details to a carrier, consignee or third party. It provides the carrier (and/or third party) with a detailed Bill of Lading rating and scheduling information pertinent to the shipment. Its basic use is to be an initial shipment tender between shipper and carrier. It can be used as a Load Tender (telling the carrier when to pick up the goods) or a Bill of Lading (specifying to the carrier what exactly is to be picked up.  The usual procedure is to send EDI 204 to the carrier. The carrier will respond with an EDI 990 (Response to Load Tender), which specifies that the carrier will pick up the goods.

 EDI 990 – Response to Load Tender-This transaction is sent by the motor carrier in response to a shipper sending the carrier a Load Tender (EDI 204 – Motor Carrier Shipping Information document with the Load Tender option).  The document will contain the carrier’s acceptance, conditional acceptance or a decline, if they decline to accept the load tender. It can also contain the reason for the conditional acceptance or the decline of the load tender.

 EDI 213 – Motor Carrier Shipment Status Inquiry-This transaction is used to request the status of a shipment from a motor carrier on a single shipment or a set of shipments.  It may be sent to the carrier by the shipper or the ultimate receiver of the goods. This document is an ad-hoc request for the status. If the carrier and the shipper and/or receiver have a set schedule for responses (in the form of an EDI 214 Motor Carrier Shipment Status Message), then this document is never sent.

 EDI 214 – Motor Carrier Shipment Status Message-This transaction is used to pass information relating to the status of an assigned, loaded-en-route, or delivered shipment. It is sent from the carrier to either the shipper or the ultimate receiver. It may be sent as a response to an EDI 213 (Motor Carrier Shipment Status Inquiry) or at regularly scheduled intervals. The carrier may also send it if there is a change in the shipment status (e.g. the truck is delayed in customs).

 EDI 210 – Motor Carrier Freight Details and Invoice-This transaction can be used as an Invoice to request payment for services rendered or as details pertaining to freight shipment charges. An Invoice will typically be sent for each shipment.  

*information/definitions taken from http://www.logistics-edi.com/

Mike Sumnick, Director of Operations 
Follow me @msumnickBG

BlueGrace Makes Holiday Donation to Metropolitan Ministries

With the Christmas holiday approaching, BlueGrace Logistics donated toys for children of all ages to Metropolitan Ministries. Metropolitan Ministries’ mission is to care for the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless in our community through services that alleviate suffering, promote dignity and instill self-sufficiency.  We would like to thank all of you who donated money or a toy this holiday season!   Happy Holidays from BlueGrace Logistics! 

toy drive | metropolitan ministries

Holidays Impact on Transportation

transportationEver heard of the “Holiday Rush”?  Sure you have but have you ever considered the impact it has on transportation providers?  Ever asked why you shop on cyber Monday and get free shipping but if you wait a week, you will have to pay for a premium shipping service to make delivery by Christmas?

Frustrating as it is for us, it is even more challenging for the companies hired to transport those goods.  They have to increase their work force three fold, find ways to dedicate more trucks to the same routes, and manage a flow of inquiries which quadruples through this short period of time.  Then, after the holidays are over, those same shipping companies must cut back on the resources as quickly as they brought them on to remain profitable.  

Now look at the company you own or work for, could you manage such an expansion and contraction in a thirty day period?  Yeah, most likely none of us could manage this type of activity.  What those transportation companies perform every year at this time is truly amazing.  So the next time you procrastinate and have to select an “Expedited” service to get that special someone their gift delivered by Christmas, remember even though it cost more, it is well worth it!  

Eric Chambers, Sr. Vice President of Sales and Marketing
Follow me @ebluegrace

BlueGrace Makes Charitable Donation to Metropolitan Ministries

BlueGrace Logistics is pleased to announce that together the employees have donated a thousand plus cans of fruit to feed families that are less fortunate in the community.  In addition to donating a thousand cans of fruit, BlueGrace raised $325 to give to Boxes of Hope to provide holiday meals for families. Metropolitan Ministries’ mission is to care for the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless in our community through services that alleviate suffering, promote dignity and instill self-sufficiency.  BlueGrace wishes to thank all of you who donated during this holiday season! 

charity | metropolitan ministries | food drive

Top 5 Reasons to Attend the Transcomp Exhibition and Intermodal Expo 2010

While attending last year’s Transcomp Exhibition and Intermodal Expo in Anaheim for the first time, we noticed the tremendous value of attending the show.  This year they are bringing it to the East coast, hosting the show in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida from November 15th through the 16th.   Anyone in transportation and logistics needs to attend this year’s upcoming show because:

1.  Networking
The Transcomp Exhibition is the one show this year that brings together the top providers of transportation and logistics from the entire United States.  All attendees usually tend to be executive level and have the decision making power.  Not to mention this is a great opportunity to further your relationships with partners, vendors, and customers.

2.  Promotion of your company and services
This is the one show that is known industry wide as the must attend event of the year.  Therefore, you are able to raise brand awareness for your company and services.  If you are on the other end of the spectrum, you will have a lot of competition that better enables you to chose the right provider for your needs when shipping your products.

3.  Discover new ideas in the market place
Be ahead of the curve with upcoming technology that will improve and streamline your shipping processes while also saving you money. Last year, BlueGrace launched the iPhone app that allowed you access to the TMS (Transportation Management System).  This year we will be launching Dock to Doc, our latest technology that gives you automatic access to your shipping documents such as BOLs (Bill of Ladings) and PODs (Proof of Delivery).

4.  Education
Throughout the show there are several key speakers that address the state of the transportation industry and where it is headed for the upcoming year.  Take back to your office a better understanding of your industry market place.  This will enable you to make more informed decisions within your business.

5.  Enrichment
Learn about the state of the transportation industry along with new and upcoming technology as well as develop relationships so that you can grow your business with the necessary knowledge and information that you obtained  from Transcomp Exhibition and Intermodal Expo to make key decisions that will further develop you and your brand.

We look forward to seeing each of you at the Transcomp Exhibition and Intermodal Expo!  Stop by BlueGrace’s booth 1809 for a chance to win an Apple TV and tell us why you attended this year’s show!

Conference Call Do’s and Don’ts

There are many things you shouldn’t be doing while communicating with co-workers, customers or potential customers over a conference call. With the help of Eduardo Braniff, here are a few things to focus on during your next conference call.

1.  DO focus on the conversation. This biggest mistake a caller can make is getting distracted by other things going on. Focus on the call/phone as if it were someone in the room with you.

2.  DO schedule the call correctly. Make sure you have allotted the time for this call as the only project or task you need to accomplish during this time period.

3.  DO prepare your environment. For a call in a home, car, hotel room, etc., make sure you prepare an office environment, so that you can focus on the call with minimal distractions.

4.  DO notify the group of your calling situation. Calls may require you to be on a cell phone or in a noisy place. Let your fellow callers know, so that they can prepare for the extra noise or the possibility of your call getting dropped.

5.  DO listen. It is much easier to get distracted during a conference call than a standard meeting. Make sure you are not only listening, but effectively listening by keeping up with the conversation and giving valuable input on the where the conversation currently is at.

1.  DON’T multitask. When sitting in front of your computer or in your office, there is always something to do that can take your mind off the conversation. Make sure to follow DO #2, so that this time is spent for the current conversation and not the emails piling up in your inbox.

2.  DON’T interrupt. It is tough to keep a controlled conversation with people in different areas communicating with each other. Limit sidebar conversations and keep a flow of conversation rather than talking over people. Consider having a moderator to make sure it flows better.

3.  DON’T fall asleep.  I know it shouldn’t have to be said, but this can be a common occurrence for those on a call that don’t follow DO #3. If you are too comfortable during a call, and not fully involved in the conversation, it can cause you to fall asleep and ruin your credibility/reputation.

4.  DON’T forget the phone is a microphone. Most conference call devices are not the standard phone and actually contain a much better microphone in them. They are able to pick up side bar conversations, the rustling of papers or the sound of a coffee cup or soda bottle on the table.

5.  DON’T ignore the other people in the room. By focusing on the conversation over the phone, you can neglect some of the people in the room. It isn’t bad to have a conversation with other people in the room, just make sure it is one that is involving the current conversation. 

– Ben Dundas, Systems Analyst

The Value of Superior Customer Service

“Thank you for calling, how may I help you?”  These are eight simple words that we hear so frequently on a daily basis. We hear the words so often that it does not faze us when we hear them; however, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that every time we hear those eight words, we are embarking on a customer service adventure.  Every call that we receive is a mini-adventure in helping one of the many valued clients that we serve.

Our job in Customer Service is to streamline the logistical processes of our customers in an effort to make sure that their products are delivered to and from their locations in the most efficient and timely manner possible through our technology and the assistance of our expert account managers.  Inevitably, there are always situations that arise needing some T.L.C. and that is where you can separate yourself from other similar companies in your industry; with your superior customer service.

The first-class customer service offered by our highly trained and dedicated staff; from our Diamond Desk to our Specialized Services to our General Customer Service Representatives are always available to provide assistance to our customers at the highest level available. To be best-in-class, pride yourself on handling any situation that arises as quickly and efficiently as possible.  This can be made possible by the dedication and experience that your team of customer service representatives puts into every transaction they process.

The level of excellence to be attained continues to be raised everyday as representatives understand more and more what a vital role they play in the continued success of their business and their clients.  Our customer service representatives’ attention to detail and willingness to assist on the hundreds of issues that take place every day is truly a testament to our customers and the level of service they will receive as long as we have the opportunity.

At BlueGrace, with incentives in place such as the BlueStar and TrueBlue Award programs, we recognize members of the Customer Service Team for their continued service in helping to maintain the level of superiority our customers deserve.  Like programs ensure that your level of customer service will continue to rise as you move forward in your efforts to become undisputedly the preeminent name in your Industry.

– Mike Eligon, Executive Assistant

BlueGrace Logistics…Leading the “Technologistical Revolution”

After serving ten years in the United States Army under the Military Occupational Specialty 92Y, or the official military title, Unit Supply Specialist, I figured that a company named BlueGrace Logistics would be the perfect fit for someone like me.  After all, the army has prided itself on grooming all of their Supply Specialists to be “Seasoned Logisticians.”  From the onset of my career here at BlueGrace Logistics I realized that the difference between logistics in the army world and logistics in the civilian world were like night and day.

In the army system of logistics there was a program called the Unit Level Logistics System (ULLS), which was supposed to make the job of a Supply Specialist as simple as a few pushes of the ‘Return’ key (yes it was DOS based so there was no mouse clicking.)  During my everyday routine of ordering pencils and toilet paper, I found that logistics was extremely boring and probably not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, especially if it involved doing any more logistics in Iraq.  With the possibility of being shipped over to the bowels of the earth at any possible moment, I decided to leave the United States Army and try my hand at making it in the world without the shelter provided to me for the last ten years by Uncle Sam.

Life on the outside was way tougher than I had anticipated and after becoming a civilian consultant for the army, I found myself caught up in the same web of monotony that I had tried so hard to get away from by leaving the army.  It was time for a career change but since the job market was so tight at the time I decided to make a career change; I applied for a job at a logistics company against my will.  Fortunately, the company was BlueGrace Logistics and I was immediately able to see that the only thing Army Logistics and BlueGrace Logistics had in common was the word ‘Logistics.’

From the very first interview to the day I started working, it was made clear to me that the mission of BlueGrace was more than just getting pencils and toilet paper from one place to another.  They were responsible for moving the products that keep our economy alive.  I had no idea that there were actual options in logistics like, expedited, guaranteed, and a world of accessorial options that I still have not learned what they mean yet.  BlueGrace is about making the movement of products easier for their clients and this is a side of logistics that I was never exposed to in the army.

The BlueGrace way of logistics was a refreshing dose of technology compared to the DOS based ULLS system the army attempted to make me believe was the best approach to logistics available.  I thought that it was just a ploy to get customers to ship with BlueGrace when I heard that they actually had an iPhone app that could quote rates for their customers, until I saw it in action for myself.  It was as easy as entering the pickup and drop off information, and it even had a huge menu for accessorial options to give the most accurate price possible.  The web based Transportation Management System (TMS) is cool to me to, but there is just something about being able to pull quotes on an iPhone that has me speechless.  Even though the army has just recently introduced their Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced (PBUSE) system, which is also web based, it pales in comparison to the BlueGrace TMS because of the complexity of it all.  It is a very confusing system to learn unlike the TMS, which was so simple that I picked up how to track, book, and manage shipments within 48 hours of first being introduced to it.  I felt like a freight tracking professional within my first week at BlueGrace.

My transition from the army to the civilian world has been improved by bounds and leaps as I learn the ways of BlueGrace Logistics.  It has been quite an exciting and rewarding experience for me.  The sheer amazement of the technological advancements in assisting customers with shipping their products from one side of the world to the other has been nothing short of spectacular.  BlueGrace has shown me the exciting side of the logistics world, helping to restore my faith in having a fun and satisfying career in the logistics industry.  As an executive assistant in charge of the “Blue Star Tracker” I see that many customers share my views about how helpful BlueGrace Logistics really is, as we continue to grow as a giant in the 3PL industry.

– Mike Eligon, Executive Assistant

How to Lose Miss Universe

Have you ever thought about the mistakes you have made in your life? How do you react to them when asked? Do you find the good in them or just dwell on the past? These are all questions that many people would be prepared for, especially in circumstances where you may be asked about them.  This could be job interviews, press interviews or even a friend asking “Did you have any regrets?”

Earlier this week, Miss Universe contestant Maria Venus Raj was asked the question “What is one big mistake that you’ve made in your life, and what did you do to make it right?” Her answer was that she has never made a major mistake in her life. If she really hadn’t made a major mistake in her life, this would definitely have been the first. This is how a favorite to win Miss Universe ends up as fourth runner up (Only five women made it to the question round).

Mistakes happen. It is realizing and admitting to your mistakes or faults, that is a step in growing as a person, employee and company. The greatest learning experiences that I have found in life are making mistakes and struggling to find a way to come back from them with pride and confidence in myself. We as people are not perfect, and we as a company are not perfect. The true character of a person and perseverance as a company shows by what you do once a mistake is made. For those of you that may be looking for a job or even a promotion, remember that this is important to your success. It is important to becoming that team leader, manager, top executive or even the best 3PL service provider. You never know when you will have an opportunity that is as important to you as being crowned Miss Universe was to Miss Philippines.

Here are a few links on making mistakes, admitting to them and learning from them:
Should you admit a mistake?
10 Ways to Handle Your Mistakes
Can You Admit You Were Wrong?

– Ben Dundas, Web Analyst
Follow me @ben37dBG

Industry Spotlight – George Steinbrenner

George Steinbrenner SpotlightOn July 13, 2010, longtime New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died at the age of 80. What most people do not know about the man, who helped a then struggling major league baseball team become one of the most successful teams in history, is that his career began in the shipping industry. 

Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, Steinbrenner joined his family’s business, the Kinsman Marine Transit Company, shortly after graduating from Purdue University.

Steinbrenner was quite a force in his business dealings, working successfully to revitalize his family’s struggling company. One thing I believe is key when running a business is knowing which commodities are practical for the times and knowing the best way to maximize its profitability. Steinbrenner realized that Kinsman’s true potential lay in the transportation in grain over ore.

Investing in the different facets of an industry is also something I believe to be beneficial in expanding any business. After securing a gross annual income of 100 million dollars, Steinbrenner saw the potential for profit by investing in shipbuilding, acquiring the American Shipbuilding Company in the early 1960’s. In an effort to maximize cost effectiveness, Steinbrenner relocated all operations to Tampa, Florida in 1984. 

Anyone who has followed baseball for the past 40 years can attest to Steinbrenner’s knack for building success. Although some of his methods proved controversial it is undeniable that George Steinbrenner is undoubtedly someone to emulate.

– Jon Cuello, Partner Invoicing

More Trucks Means Better Prices…Hopefully

truck | freight | truckingAs many have noted, truckload capacity is a very interesting issue right now. The full truckload market is completely one-sided in favor of the driver and carrier. The economic downturn caused most trucking companies to cut down on their drivers and equipment with many even selling their trucks overseas. For those who like numbers, there is currently an average of 3.02 loads posted on DAT360 from Transcore for every one dry van truck available at any time. For flatbeds, the numbers get much worse with a current average of 23.95 loads posted for every one flatbed truck available.

As the economy has picked up, even though slightly, companies have started producing more. While this is great, it just adds to the existing capacity issues. The numbers above confirm the effect.These factors have caused truckload rates to reach all time highs. The increased demand combined with higher rates should incent companies to grow their fleets. According to a report from ACT Research, the orders for Class 8 commercial vehicles reached its highest point in June this year. Orders are up 93 percent over last year.  “Early second quarter reports from publicly traded truckload carriers confirm the improving freight transportation environment, as revenues and profits are up significantly from 2009,” said Steve Tam, vice president with ACT. “Overall orders are still below normal replacement levels, but momentum is building as trucker profitability improves,” added Tam.

Basic economics says that increased supply will help bring prices down in the near future. This is just another step in the right direction for all those working with full truckloads.  Those who have worked with BlueGrace Logistics on full truckloads have noticed that the pricing is at an all-time high and finding trucks has been extremely difficult. We have been working hard at finding trucks and developing relationships with many strong carriers, with nearly 100,000 trucks in our network. Through those relationships, we are starting to see that the capacity in a large group of our carrier network is opening up these past few weeks. Hopefully that trend will continue for our customers and us.

– Ben Dundas, Web Analyst
Follow me @ben37dBG

RFID Tag You’re It

Technology continues to evolve faster and faster and it is impacting every industry including transportation.  As someone who has spent their career working in the technology field, I strive to stay up to speed on the latest changes in technology, especially those that have a direct impact to my industry and me.  I see technology empowering businesses to become more efficient, secure, and more profitable.  Of course technology can bring new problems such as different security concerns but if developed and implemented correctly, the advantages can greatly outweigh the disadvantages.  One technology that has actually been around for a while but is beginning to be much more widely used is RFID.  RFID, which stands for Radio-Frequency-Identification, is the system that allows products to be identified and tracked with radio waves using a tag applied to the product and an external reader.

RFID is becoming more popular in the transportation industry by providing better efficiencies and security.  RFID can provide better security to help companies have more visibility of their shipments and detect any tampering with the shipping seal.  RFID can also help shipments gain green lane status while going through inspections.  Better security can also aid productivity as shipments spend less time in inspections and there are fewer chances of having problems in customs.  Productivity and efficiency can also be increased in other ways with RFID by providing better identification of shipments and fewer errors.  Companies can lose track of shipments in large warehouses or container yards when the ID numbers are written down incorrectly forcing staff to waste time searching for the lost shipment.  One company mentioned they have two to three employees searching for lost containers every day.  Even locations that use barcode technology to eliminate manual errors can increase efficiencies with RFID since it takes time to scan a barcode of each item whereas a RFID reader can identify all of the items at once allowing the employee to move onto to the next shipment much quicker.  RFID can also help improve a company’s profits by increasing customer satisfaction thereby increasing the chances of future purchases.  When shipping products to customers, mistakes can occur when the employee has to manually prepare the shipment and manually verify that the shipment is complete.  If the products contained RFID tags, the shipment could be verified against the order before leaving the facility that it is complete and contains the correct products ordered by that customer.

The examples above are just a few of how RFID can be used to improve business processes today and I’m sure we will continue to see new ways this technology can be used in the future.  The question is, how can RFID be used to improve your business?

Justin Belcher, Vice President of Technology
Follow me @JBelcherBG

How to Improve Yourself Professionally and Personally through Feedback

“Everybody needs feedback, and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than paying a trainer.” Doug Lowenstein Upon brainstorming ideas on how to improve yourself both professionally and personally, I came across a common thread in all the training that I have done with various companies.  The one commonality is that each company required feedback.  One might ask, what is feedback? According to CBS Business Network, feedback is defined as “the communication of responses and reactions to proposals and changes, or of the findings of performance appraisals, with the goal of enabling improvements to be made. Feedback can be either positive or negative.”  Feedback should be encouraged within every organization on all levels even between managers and employees flowing not only downward but upward as well.  Everyone has things that they can improve upon, so why not get the specifics on how to do so from the ones that see you in action everyday, your coworkers.  

An  example of positive feedback, “John, I noticed how you were speaking to that customer, do you have a second to talk about it?”  Then, if John gives his permission that is the time to give your feedback. “John, I thought it was really great how you called the carrier for the customer to find out where their freight was and followed up with them until their freight made it to the end destination.  You did a really good job of reassuring the customer that the shipment would be on time.”  On the other end of the spectrum, some negative feedback would be, “Julie, I noticed when you were speaking to that prospect you weren’t really clear about the solutions we offer, do you have a second to discuss it?”  Once permission has been given, “Julie, when you were speaking to that prospect you weren’t really clear on how our transportation management system could benefit the customer.  Next time you should explain how it can integrate with their system, has the ability to create customized reporting, and automatically generates Bills of Lading.”

With the positive feedback, this encourages the employee/coworker to continue their excellent customer service, where as the negative feedback explains ways that the sales rep can make improvements.  Each form of feedback was both clear, concise, and detailed so that the receiver of the feedback knew exactly what the giver was referring to at the time.  You should also give feedback as soon as possible after the action you want to mention occurred and encourage the receiver to give you feedback as well.  This enables employees to make improvements both personally and professionally by engaging in open communication.  Do you encourage your employees to give each other feedback?  If so, how has this helped your organization to grow and develop your workforce?

2nd Annual ARM’s Away Golf Outing

As many of you are aware, last year we started an annual golf outing to honor my wife’s mother, Arlene Ruccio Meyer, who lost her life to breast cancer.  It’s tough to put into words how grateful we are for the amazing support we received and generosity we were shown by all who contributed.

I never actually had the opportunity to meet or know Arlene; however, I can only imagine the type of woman she was based on my blessed relationships with her husband, her son, and the love of my life, her daughter Sherri.  Every day I am so fortunate to share my life with the woman that Arlene helped create.  And for those that participated last year, I am confident that the day’s beautiful weather was a direct reflection of the happiness Arlene was feeling looking down on the start of something special.

At the time of Arlene’s passing in 1983, our technology was limited and the public’s awareness was nowhere near what it is today.  Although research has allowed us to make tremendous strides since then, we’re still far from a cure for breast cancer.  In fact, I’m sure each and every one of you knows someone who has been affected by this devastating disease.

This year, we were fortunate enough to go up to The Cancer Institute of New Jersey on Friday to present them with a check for $11,012.66.  Please see the above picture with Dr. Deborah Toppmeyer.  I can’t tell you how much praise we received for the large amount of money we raised for breast cancer research. 

– Jason Eckhardt, BlueGrace New Jersey

Meet Brent, Starting Fly Half and All Star Customer Service Rep

Brent Couffer

Brent Couffer began his career as a Customer Service Representative here at BlueGrace back in March of this year.  Brent’s role at BlueGrace is to provide the customer with top-level service by addressing any needs that may arise at any given time.  In fact, Brent even went as far as to email a customer back in forth late into the evening to ensure that a shipment was moved on time.  As Brent once told one of our inside sales rep’s, “You keep bringing in the customers and I’ll make sure that they are taken care of!” Brent’s favorite aspect of his job is putting smiles on people’s face and absorbing/learning as much as possible about the logistics industry and business in general. 

Prior to working at BlueGrace, Brent was a full time student at the University of South Florida (USF) where he studied Finance.  Oh yeah, let’s not forget to mention that he is the President and starting fly half for the USF Rugby Football team who are ranked fourth in the nation!!!  When Brent is not busy working and playing rugby, he enjoys spending time on the water in sunny Florida.  Also, he is one of our all stars on the BlueGrace Kickball Team.  If you have any questions or would like to contact Brent, please email bcouffer@mybluegrace.com or post a comment. You can also follow Brent on Twitter @BGWeezy.

Introducing Ben Dundas

Ben Dundas

BlueGrace would like to introduce you to Ben Dundas, our current Systems Analyst.  Ben graduated from the University of South Florida in 2009 and went on to work at Feed-a-Bull where he focused on web and art development.  Ben began working for BlueGrace back in February as an Inside Sales Representative and quickly transitioned to his current position as a Systems Analyst focusing on web development.  One of his current focuses is to improve the functionality and information on the website.  Another feature that has just been added to the website is live chat to improve our customer experience. 

Ben will be working diligently to meet all of the goals for the website.  Of course, when Ben is not working, he enjoys watching football and spending time with his family.  Ben’s favorite team is the Bucs; however, he is an avid USF Bulls fan.  In fact, Ben was on live national television 5 straight USF games in a row! That’s impressive!  In addition to sports, Ben also plays a major role in his fraternity Delta Chi. If you would like to contact Ben, please email bdundas@mybluegrace.com or submit a comment below. You can also follow him on Twitter @ben37dBG. Feel free to submit any website suggestions. Feedback is always appreciated!

Admitting you don’t know is better than pretending you do

In a service industry such as transportation and logistics, the three most powerful words a salesperson can say are “I don’t know.” Admitting that you don’t know everything about freight shipping is better than pretending you do.  As we grow we need to remind ourselves that although we strive to be experts in transportation, we never truly know everything.  There are several different types of customers out there. Mainly, the ones who know everything, the ones who know nothing, and the ones who think they know everything but they know nothing.

The customer who knows everything will tell you what they want, educate you, and you will earn their trust when you don’t insult them by pretending to know what you don’t. The customers who know nothing rely on you to get them the right information. They don’t want you to mislead them in attempts to earn a fast sale. And finally, the customers who think they know it all will never respect a sales rep that pretends to be something they are not. Nobody has ever had a problem with a sales rep telling them “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”

The key to continued growth is forgetting what we think we know about our customers and continue to ask questions about their current service and their needs.  This is also true for prospects.  Once you hesitate to pick up the phone because you have already called someone ten times, you have failed.  Preconceived notions about customers as well as transportation carriers cause you to be complacent.  People, business practice, and customer’s happiness change daily. If you don’t have the determination to pick up the phone against your will, then you will miss out. 

Outside sales is no different; when you have gone through your territory ten times and think you know everything there is about each business, you have lost your edge.  You either have to have the determination to go back in to that business and treat it like you have never been there before, or have been hit in the head enough times like me that you really don’t remember being there.  Both will allow you to gain new opportunities. It is only when you can admit not only to others but to yourself that you do not know it all is when you can begin to learn it all!  

– Steve Hicks, Account Executive
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Industry Spotlight – Fred Smith

fred smith | fedexHave you ever wondered what it takes to turn a business plan into a global success? I turn to Fred Smith, founder, president and CEO of FedEx.

It is well understood that FedEx is a leading name in logistics. I attribute its phenomenal growth over the past four decades to what Smith values as some of the most important fundamentals in building a business. Those are constant innovation, development of crucial business strategies and ensuring mutual respect between management and employees. These are fundamentals that I consider to the building blocks of any successful organization, including the one in which I work.

It was as an undergraduate at Yale University where Smith first proposed his business plan for FedEx in the form of a term paper, outlining his strategy to develop an overnight delivery service in a computer age. Ironically, he received a grade of C and was told it would not work. His professor clearly did not see the greater potential of the intangibles. 

Smith did not let this deter his plans for his future. Upon graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, he joined the United States Marine Corps in 1966. It was here where he studied military logistics, observing procurement and delivery procedures. Additionally, his relationship with Lieutenant Colonel William V. Cowan would eventually assist Smith in FedEx’s Middle East expansion. 

Smith founded FedEx in 1971 with an initial investment of 4 million dollars. Over the next forty years, he would turn his dream into a global transportation powerhouse, commanding over 30 billion dollars a year in revenue, employing 280,000 people worldwide, serving over 200 countries and dispatching more than 8 million shipments a day. 

Perhaps most important to Smith is his relationship with his employees and how he views them as an integral part of FedEx’s success. Ensuring loyalty to the business by fostering strong relationships amongst personnel at all levels is something he considers critical to a successful business and something that all businesses should hope to achieve. These are the intangibles his Yale professor seemed to have missed. People are the single greatest asset in any organization. With one as successful as FedEx, it is clear that Fred Smith has always subscribed to that philosophy. That is what it takes to turn a business plan into a global success.

– Jon Cuello, Partner Invoicing