Tremendous growth leads to challenges related to the distribution of this rapidly expanding health and beauty products distributor. With much of their business moving toward “big box” retailers, the need for carrier management would be required to fulfill the commitments made to their clients. The true cost of doing business seemed more complex than fulfilling orders.
MUST ARRIVE BY DILEMMA (MABD):
With vendor scorecards dwindling, and charge backs against purchase orders mounting, the need for a better solution was apparent. From numerous carrier meetings, to drive on time compliance, to costly upgrades in service levels, the trend continued to show little improvement. Lead times were not an issue, and inventory levels were manageable, yet carriers could not seem to comply with the Must Arrive By Date (MABD) displayed on the BOL. Purchase orders were being shipped with ample lead time and in most cases, early with guaranteed service at a premium. Even with upgraded service, the carriers would refuse to refund the charges since they were delivered “on time”, per the standard transit. BlueGrace began by analyzing the data and scorecards to determine root cause of the issue, and set a baseline for current state performance. Next, an assessment of ERP integration capabilities was performed. Through minor customization, the potential for real-time connectivity to BlueShip TMS was an opportunity. This connection would allow BlueGrace to receive incoming orders from specific clients and apply custom business rules to achieve the Overall goal. No matter when the order was received, BlueShip would effectively route the “Best Value Carrier” AND provide the most optimal ship date. This meant that each order, once approved within the ERP, would be rated and routed; with a Wal-Mart approved carrier, at the lowest cost, with standard service and shipped on the day that would best fit that carrier’s network to allow for a delivery within the specified MABD window. Our client showed a 90% reduction in charge backs within the first 60 days of implementing this program. Combined with the dedicated support at BlueGrace proactively tracking each flagged order, the company received the best scorecard performance in recent history.
FREIGHT COST ALLOCATION:
The next phase consisted of reviewing what the true cost of each order was when freight cost was allocated. BlueGrace analyzed the average freight cost as a percentage of sale. This percentage was incorporated into the product cost to determine pricing to the end customer. BlueGrace knew there was opportunity to drill down and allocate a freight cost not only at the customer level, but the customer location, customer location type (Direct to Store or Distribution Center) all the way down to the SKU level. Since freight cost was not passed to the client, this would either show a net margin loss or show opportunities to reduce the freight cost allocation to become more competitive. The result highlighted regions that were more costly to ship to, products that did not have enough margin potential to validate shipping cost and insight into regions of the country that would benefit from an additional warehouse location.
BlueGrace provides scalability for growing companies to achieve their goals without labor or technology investments. Our expertise and processes provide our clients with the bandwidth to operate efficiently and drive direct cost eduction through our procurement and dedicated management.
Gas prices are now reaching under 3 dollars for the first time since 2010! It seems like a miracle driving around seeing signs in the 2’s, but it IS a reality. Obviously the lowering of the price of gas is due to a drop on the price of oil, but do you know why? Researchers say there are various reasons, such as drilling in Iraq and Libya, or because Americans have reduced fuel usage in the past few years by driving more efficient cars and/or carpooling in order to save money, while in turn creating an overstock of fuel. The low gas prices are predicted to last through the holidays, however, it is likely they will rise above 3 dollars by spring or summer.
Do these new gas prices lower shipping rates? It is a little early to say but it is likely to happen, as carriers will have extra money for gas. Transportation such as bus and airfares have not yet lowered and may not, since the holidays are still the most expensive time to travel, and the demand during the season does not subside.
Make sure to check back for more updates on reduced rates!
The answer is YES. Most states will be voting on different propositions that deal with transportation and traffic. In Florida alone, three different counties will vote on these issues: Polk, Alachua and Pinellas.
In Polk County, voters will head to the polls to decide whether their sales tax should increase by a penny. The increase will equate to approximately 64 million dollars per year and will be divided evenly for road improvements and transit.
In Alachua County, a similar one cent referendum is proposed, but for a contracted period of eight years. Only a portion of the money would be spent on roads and transit, with the remaining funds spent on pedestrian projects.
In Pinellas County, voters will decide on a one cent sales tax increase that will be spent on bus expansion and a rail system that will link Saint Petersburg and Clearwater.
Many other states are voting on similar propositions like Austin, Texas. Austin is among the heaviest traffic congested cities in America. There is a state proposition for highway and transit improvements, and also a city proposition for a new rail system with nearly a one billion dollar price tag.
This election has the ability to improve our highways and relieve the roads of their congestion leaving less opportunity for embargo. The relationships between the shipper and carrier is what we here at BlueGrace manage, therefore these propositions can help our business while helping other businesses in the same.
The thought of being your own boss is what most of us dream of, but is it possible? One of the best ways to start your own company is to buy a franchise. Starting your own business from the ground up can take a lot of sacrifice. It can take years before a profit is made if a profit is made at all; most businesses fail in the first two years. The economy is weak, but slowly making its way back. It’s time to get in on the ground floor and make an investment that will pay off in the decade to come. Buying a franchise offers safety nets that are crucial in today’s economy. If you are looking to buy a franchise, just remember to think R.I.C.H
In deciding to buy a franchise, the freedom to research the company is available. When doing research look for a few things like reviews on the business, success rates, competitors, location, and economic demand.
Not all but some companies will offer guarantee profit from insurance companies. After researching different franchise opportunities, make sure to look into the benefits each company offers.
The best business incentive to buy a franchise is the built-in cliental, as opposed to building your own following. A franchise offers brand recognition with costumer loyalty that a business can only gain after time. The main responsibility as a franchise owner in regards to marketing is expansion, which is much more achievable than start-up.
Being the boss has its advantages and the best is setting the hours! Depending on the type of franchise, it is possible to not even leave the house. It is true, owning a business comes with a lot of demands and a lot of hours, but the beauty of a franchise is the establishment the company already has, so it’s up to the buyer to create their own schedule and keep it up.
So remember all you future business owners, think R.I.C.H!
BlueGrace Logistics, one of the fastest-growing logistics services firms in the country, is enhancing our presence in the Chicago area.
To support our hyper-growth, we are opening an office in Oak Brook, IL, a suburb of Chicago. The BlueGrace Talent Acquisition Blitz (TAB) in Chicago will take place February 24-25, in an effort to scout new recruits to join our team.
BlueGrace President and CEO, Bobby Harris, is expected to be in attendance to meet with prospects and hand select the top candidates to help grow the Chicago office. TAB will be held at our Chicago headquarters: 700 Commerce Drive in Oak Brook.
We will be looking to fill 20 positions, including sales, truckload operations, customer service and management positions. All new hires to join our Chicago team will receive a $1,000 signing bonus!
BlueGrace Logistics was featured on Fox & Friends segment “On the Job Hunt” on Fox News Channel on Tuesday, February 4! This segment discusses companies that are currently hiring. They mentioned how we have open positions in both our Tampa and Chicago office, including sales, customer service and operations.
However, there were some errors in the segment that need to be addressed. In the first mention of BlueGrace, the reporter mispronounces our name, saying “BlueGrass Logistics…” Yea, like the music. Just so you know, we’re not hiring banjo players!
They then go onto to describe us a company who does “bubble-wrapping” and say that we’ll “take care of the tape for you.” Well, that is not remotely close to what we do.
We are true consultants. To simplify it, think of BlueGrace Logistics as the Expedia of freight (no pun intended). We have a full staff of freight experts and have built a proprietary and cutting-edge transportation management system called BlueShip. We are the middleman between customers and transportation carriers to provide more options to businesses and bring in more revenue to carriers. Overall, our business model drives productivity into our industry.
Are you interested in learning more about job opportunities with BlueGrace Logistics? Please click here.
BlueGrace Logistics is honored to have our CFO, Mike Dolski, named as one of the finalists in the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s 2014 CFO of the Year. Mike has implemented a number of successful strategies that have led to success and growth for BlueGrace. He implemented “Rules of Engagement,” which has compelled both our organization and our partners to build strong, mutually beneficial relationships. This strategic move has helped BlueGrace grow more than 7,000 percent from 2009-2013.
Mike has also played a crucial role in positioning BlueGrace to prepare for the growth of our franchise channel. He mentors new franchisees, helping them understand the importance of protecting their initial cash flow versus maximizing their initial gross profit.
“It was unexpected but I’m honored to be considered for this,” Mike said. “We have all worked very hard to create a fun and strong company and I’m appreciative that my efforts, and the efforts of our wonderful employees, have resulted in my inclusion on this list.”
An awards ceremony will be held on February 26 at A La Carte Event Pavilion to honor finalists. Congratulations Mike!
One of the best trends I have seen in the U.S. logistics industry is the bounce back of U.S. manufacturing, albeit slow recovery. During the economic recession, the U.S. relied on outsourcing jobs and manufacturing to countries such as China and India. Although doing this helps U.S. businesses reduce their bottom line costs in the short term, does it actually hurt our country?
As for me, I hope to see and ship a lot of new products in the 4th quarter for the holidays… and it means more when they are “Made in the U.S.A” What are your thoughts on the direction of goods manufactured in the US? Are you also in the transportation industry and can offer your insight on this topic? Leave a comment below!
As we’re all aware, the ebb and flow of capacity, fluctuating demand and speed-to-market often poses unique challenges to shippers. A powerful way to combat this is by shipping full truckloads (TL).
Building complete loads not only promotes efficiency but supports our economy whether it’s thriving or tumultuous. By consolidating freight, you help cut your own cost because TL utilization is improved and you convert less-than-truckload shipments into less-expensive full truckloads. Why have two trucks half-full when you can have one carry the entire load?
Because full truckload shipping is generally more intricate, a 3PL’s involvement smooths out your supply chain management by considering the details of your shipment so you don’t have to. We relieve you from headaches caused by grappling over questions like:
-What is the size and shape of my freight? How will the packaging of this impact my shipping?
-What are the routes looking like where it’s being transported? Is there construction?
-How will the time of year affect my transportation? How do I plan around holidays?
Now this is something you don’t expect to see on your way home from work…
One of our team members captured this scene of a dry van that caved in, and as you can imagine – causing major delays during 5 o’clock rush hour on northbound I-75.
This is a caution to heavy weight shippers! You cannot overload a trailer in the middle of the van. Instead, the weight (under 45,000 lbs) must be evenly distributed throughout the trailer. Perhaps this shipment was best fit for a flatbed. Flatbeds have reinforced steel beams underneath that are designed to support heavy loads compared to a dry van.
Every facet of American life is touched by transportation. With freight being the economic staple that it is, every haul is a piece of a complex logistical puzzle that powers our nation. We’ve dug up some interesting factoids to help shed some light on just how large of a role transportation plays!
According to the 2012 3PL Study, shippers who partner with third-party logistics providers report an average cost reduction of 13% and nearly two-thirds (64%) of survey respondents reported an increase in their use of outsourced logistics services.
3.5 Million: The approximate number of truck drivers moving America’s freight. To put this in perspective, 1 in every 15 people working in the U.S. is employed in the trucking industry.
Fact: Trucking is the dominate mode of transportation for our nation’s freight movement by approximately 71%.
1.2 Million: The number of trucking companies operating in the U.S.
The highest-valued imported products in the U.S. include: agricultural products 4.9%, industrial supplies 32.9% (crude oil 8.2%), capital goods 30.4% (computers, telecommunications equipment, motor vehicle parts, office machines, electric power machinery), consumer goods 31.8% (automobiles, clothing, medicines, furniture, toys).
There are 149 ports located in the U.S. South Louisiana, Houston, New York/New Jersey, and Long Beach often hitting the top of the list when ranked by tonnage or TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units).
American businesses transported over 19 billion tons of raw materials and finished goods in 2002, valued at $13 trillion (including domestic commodity movements and domestic transportation of exports and imports).
More than$1 out of every $10produced in the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) is related to transportation activity.
After exposing your brain to all of this info, the importance of transportation should be crystal clear. You can see how each load is merely a link to an ever-globalizing supply chain. There’s never been a better time to get involved in this industry!
Any of these numbers surprise you? Share your logistics facts and figures with us!
Although the Weather Channel forecasts a below-average hurricane season in 2012 – there is still uncertainty and history says you can never be too prepared. As Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro instructs,
“people in hurricane-prone areas should be equally prepared every year regardless of seasonal outlooks.”
So what can your business do to prepare this hurricane season? Our team has outlined a few simple procedures to integrate throughout your entire supply chain to help you be proactive and prevent potential loss.
Team: Are you prepared if your team is short-handed? Remember that cell phones, email, land lines, etc may become unavailable, which can cause great confusion. To avoid this stress, be sure to have multiple channels to communicate important messages and announcements to your staff. Satellite telephone systems offer a reliable form of communication for your immediate staff members.
Customers: If/when your business is notified of a potential storm, let your customers know immediately so that they can plan ahead and adjust their inventories. Are there any products or materials that will be high in demand before or in the aftermath? The key is to remain flexible.
Supply Chain: Daily operations and supply chain processes can be complicated very easily in the presence of severe weather. An easy way to prepare is to run through best and worst case scenarios with your team so that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and how to respond quickly and effectively.
Suppliers: Do you work directly with a single supplier? Is the business located in a hurricane prone area? If so, plan ahead with the supplier and ask how they have prepared to provide services or products in times of disaster. It’s also a good idea to maintain good relationships with multiple suppliers especially if you find yourself in a pinch.
Freight: Be prepared to make special arrangements for your shipments. If the roads are dangerous, truck drivers will be pulled off for safety. An easy proactive measure is to schedule your freight shipments earlier or work with a logistics provider to see if there are any alternative routes. Keep in mind port availability. In the case of heavy rain and flooding, your freight may not be able to move. Consider all modes of transportation.
Insurance Provider: Be sure to have a copy of your policy and get any questions answered from your provider so you’re not left wondering.
Data: Backing up your data is critical. In today’s global economy, businesses function on computer systems and databases. Be sure that your business documents, records, etc are stored at an off-site location.
No matter how many hurricanes, tropical storms, or natural disasters occur – it only takes one to impact our communities and cause major disruption. Get a plan started today and re-evaluate periodically, especially if severe weather is on the way.
We hope that these hurricane preparedness tips and reminders are helpful to your business. Of course, it is our hope that you will never have to put your plan into action. If you would like more information on how to formulate your own plan, build a kit and get involved, check out this natural disaster preparedness resource from FEMA.
The Shipper’s Key to Railroad Freight is Planning Ahead of Time Based on your Business Model.
When it comes to transporting your heavy load, have you looked into all transportation modes? The U.S. rail system is one of the largest contributors to our economic well-being, providing an efficient long haul transportation alternative. In 2009, following a historic $26 billion railroad investment, Warren Buffett was quoted saying
“Our country’s prosperity depends on its having an efficient and well-maintained rail system.”
With increasing diesel fuel prices and rising carbon emissions – The planet can’t afford for you to ignore the benefits of rail freight shipping!
Suppose that your business has freight going from Tampa to Los Angeles, about 2,500 miles. While road may take 4 ½ transit days, rail would take approximately 10 days. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “That’s a big transit difference!” We agree – but how fast could YOU travel with 100 tons on your back?! Not to mention the difference in environmental impact. Did you know that rail is the most energy efficient way to move your goods on land? In fact, rail uses on average 4x less energy than truck, reducing carbon emissions by 75%! The point is… If your business can plan ahead, then you can utilize rail to transport your goods and significantly reduce your supply chain costs and carbon footprint. Sounds like a pretty good deal, huh?
This issue of #BGInvestigates identifies a few questions to help you identify if rail is the ideal mode of transportation for your business.
Approximately how many tons can a rail car handle? While a truckload can handle about 43,000 lbs., a rail car can handle 100-110 tons.
How do you receive a freight rate for rail? Contact one of our Freight Experts via email or phone (800-697-4477) so that s/he can identify the rail lane options and select the best route for your freight. This is a customizable process and it’s important to know all of your transportation options.
Is booking railroad freight difficult? Not at all! After receiving a competitive price to transport your goods, you can fill a container when time allows and schedule a truck to pick up your freight from your business location. From there, the driver will take it to the rail yard where your freight will be loaded and sent off by railroad to its drop off destination.
So what do you say? Does rail seem like the right track for your business? Contact one of our Intermodal experts today to analyze the advantages and cost savings potential to move your goods via rail. As we continue to research new methods that will save you money and the environment while improving efficiencies, we’ll report them to you! Did you find this post helpful or have an idea the BG Investigates Team should look into? Don’t forget to mention it on Twitter (#BGInvestigates).
Have freight that’s ready to be shipped by rail? Share a picture! Are you on Pinterest? Pin it!
The transportation industry is no exception when it comes to government regulations. In the coming year, many regulations will be enforcing drastic changes in the transportation industry. These changes will impact the bottom line of truck drivers, carriers, shippers, consignees and even consumers. As regulations increase, trucking companies are forced to increase shipping costs, in turn, driving the cost of products in the market to rise. BG Investigates points out why it’s important to be aware of new industry laws and regulations.
Many transportation regulations are highly controversial in regard to their costs and effectiveness. Specifically, the CSA 2010 law was passed in December of 2010 and remains a top concern. According to the FMCSA, a part of the US Department of Transportation, the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) initiative is a regulation that is working to further reduce commercial motor vehicle crashes, fatalities and injuries on our nation’s highways. The trucking industry (including common carriers) feel the impact of this regulation as drivers are taken off the road due to safety concerns. Although this helps to increase safety, the loss of truck drivers due to CSA regulations has caused driver and capacity shortages.
“We are really starting to see the impact (of CSA 2010) in the industry right now. Every day we are seeing carriers that are being rated down to conditional and last week we saw five carriers shut down by the DOT for unsafe ratings. Obviously that increases the capacity constraints we have in the market by reducing the amount of drivers on the road and causes an increase in rates,” says Chris Reeves, Director of Specialized Services.
The debate continues on many other government policies. The Hours of Service regulations published in December 2011 were enforced to control the amount of hours a driver can be in operation. The HOS rules cause changes in the current transit times for shipments, as drivers are not able to travel as long. There are severe penalties for both the driver and carrier for violations. Industry groups argue that these regulations should change before they officially go into effect July 1, 2013.
The laws and regulations of the transportation industry are constantly changing. Whether you are a truck driver, carrier, shipper, consignee or consumer, you should consistently be informed to be compliant and understand the effects it may have on your business model. BG Investigates will continue looking and reporting the status of new transportation laws and regulations that affect you, so keep an eye out for future articles. Contact one of our knowledgeable representatives at BlueGrace Logistics with any questions about industry regulations or call 800.MYSHIPPING.
The nation’s 2nd highest gift-giving holiday is fast approaching and retailers and shippers alike are kicking it into high gear. According to the US Census Bureau, there are more than 23,000 florists in the United States! Flowers account for 70% of all gifts bought each year on Mother’s Day.
The journey begins with the snip of a stem – the clock is ticking to get the flowers to their destination. The majority of flower supply stems from Colombia and Ecuador. Christine Boldt, Executive Vice President of the Association of Floral Importers of Florida describes the supply flow after being placed immediately in a refrigerated truck for transport to a cool warehouse at the airport, “They go through a process we call ‘pre-cooling,’ in which any warm air that might be trapped in the box is vacuumed out. That allows the flowers to cool faster than they would if we simply left warm air inside the package.”
Following the “pre-cooling,” the blossoms travel through the center of the U.S. flower distribution system: Miami International Airport (MIA). MIA houses approximately 2/3 of the supply (about 35,000 – 70,000 boxes every day) with huge spikes in volume around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day! In an effort to challenge Miami International Airport’s market dominance, California-based Mercury Air Group’s opened a 12,700-square-foot refrigeration facility at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
Retailers are the final link in the cut-flowers supply chain before reaching your mother’s hands. Retailers include traditional florist shops, online stores, supermarket chains, roadside vendors, gas stations, drugstores, etc. Supermarkets account for nearly 40% of our flower sales and are steadily increasing sales throughout the slower parts of the year.
From harvest to retailer, perishables are a challenging transport, but 3PLs are here to help. BlueGrace® Logistics offers freight shipping services and solutions that aid in simplifying the supply chain process. Our dedicated representatives provide complete consult in helping shippers choose the best mode of transportation as well as the right carrier for their needs. Our customizable transportation management system, BlueShip™, provides detailed visibility of time-sensitive shipments so you’re always aware during transit.
We know the importance of on-time delivery. Whether it is flowers or materials, let BlueGrace® handle the logistics while you manage your other critical business operations. Contact a member of our team for a free, customized freight quote today!
If you’re involved in the shipping process of flowers, please add your input! Do you work in the floral industry and have any tips to share? Let the community know by commenting on our blog!
Happy Mother’s Day!
-Jennifer Masters, Business Information Analyst
This is one of the most frequently asked questions in the industry. Add “third party” to “logistics” and you may as well be wearing a sign that says “barrage me with questions, please!” Confusion may be created because the meaning is so broadly applicable across a diverse range of trades. The scope of “logistics” could describe the operations of a thriving corporate enterprise or the play-by-play of a day in the life of a soccer mom. While both accurately depict the word, those are not exactly the everyday logistics we manage at BlueGrace® Logistics.
Optimization. One way BlueGrace creates value is by helping customers optimize existing transportation and logistics functions. We take a deep dive into the inner-workings of your transportation management to identify inefficiencies. With these discoveries we engineer solutions for specific processes in your supply chain and aid in execution across all departments. We strive to create new opportunities which ultimately increase efficiency and your bottom line.
Preservation. With so much change and variability in the supply chain, optimization is a recurring process. We don’t abandon you once changes are in place, it is our job to take that extra step and ensure those improvements are maintained and your success continuous.
Reporting. When you work with a logistics provider, we know that the ultimate goal is to take care of your shipments from start to finish without having to chase anyone for updates along the way. This is why we provide complete visibility through BlueShip™, our transportation management system. Using information like real-time tracking, we allow you the freedom to dictate what, when, and how you view your shipments and reports. Our customized reports take the guessing out of your supply chain.
Understanding. This part of our “logistics” is one that we hold in the highest regard. BlueGrace is comprised of over 150 years of experience in logistics, freight and transportation management. Our expertise helps you make the best decisions for your company. We strive to gain a healthy understanding of your business goals and how you wish to attain them.
MMA is one of the fastest growing sports today and the fighters demonstrate admirable character and values (not often seen in other sports). Not to mention, the UFC has made a huge impression on the sports industry as whole through its social media madness! Although professional MMA fighting is banned in certain states, that hasn’t stopped the UFC from growing its devoted fan base. In fact, the President, Dana White, embraced the power of Twitter for branding and fan engagement. He invested in a media agency to teach the fighters how to use the social platform and instructed them by saying, “I want you to Twitter your *** off!”
Like Dana, President and CEO of BlueGrace Logistics, Bobby Harris, is an enthusiastic advocate of Twitter. Last year, Bobby championed an open social media policy for all BlueGrace employees; instilling trust to represent the brand, all BlueGrace employees complete a Twitter boot camp and social media training in their first week of employment. They’re educated on the power of social media, how to engage and build relationships, and why it is part of the #BGExperience. BlueGrace employees (fighters) interact with customers (fans), partners, and their fellow peers via Twitter.
Dana White and the UFC are to be commended on their commitment to social media and for demonstrating what #GreatnessIs … just ask their millions of die-hard fans! The UFC and BlueGrace Logistics made the critical move and experience the power of social media and business everyday – has your business?
Share your social biz story with us! Have you started? Are you way ahead of the game? Do you believe in the power of 140 characters? We want to know!
This is a fantastic read and I wanted to share it with you! Logistics Management reports how a closeout retailer, Tuesday Morning, partnered with a leading transportation provider, Averitt Express, and increased their bottom line. Headquartered in Houston, TX, the retailer strived to find a solution to transport its “obnoxious freight” and keep inventory moving. The experts at Averitt Express, one of our valued partners, provided a distribution center (DC) bypass solution, eliminating significant transportation costs and shipment days for Tuesday Morning.
Kudos to the transportation professionals at Averitt and congrats to the team at Tuesday Morning! It’s evident you are a dynamic match!