How long can a small fleet survive without dedicated office support – like a spouse or family member – doing invoices, payroll, and other administrative tasks while the owner drives? Not for long. But survival is not the goal. Whether a company has one truck or 20, all stakeholders want the business to thrive.
One way to succeed is by reducing office work, freeing time for owners and employees to focus on more valuable activities like finding better loads, and forging stronger relationships with customers and drivers.
If you are using traditional office tools, like spreadsheets, or modern conveniences like apps, you might be spending too much time on activities that do not move the needle. For instance, are you searching multiple data sources to find load details and documents? To track expenses? To respond to customer inquiries?
There is room for improvement. A transportation management system (TMS) can help with the above areas and much more. Fortunately, the technology is no longer too complex, expensive, or technical for small fleets and owner-operators. For too long these common misconceptions have prevented smaller fleets from exploring affordable, intuitive solutions that can streamline their operations, saving everyone time so they can execute deliveries more efficiently and grow their client base.
Let’s set the record straight: You don’t have to be a large fleet to benefit from a TMS. Here are the reasons why:
How Small Fleets Can Benefit from a TMS
What exactly have small fleets and owner-operators been missing? Larger fleets use modern TMS solutions to streamline customer communications. They receive and respond instantly to load orders and provide shipment tracking requests. Likewise, they automate driver communications like sending dispatch instructions, capturing load documents, and monitoring hours of service.
Larger fleets also efficiently manage tasks like payroll and invoicing with their TMS platforms. The systems can automatically calculate driver earnings and manage financial transactions and expenses in a single, unified platform. Tracking critical business metrics such as profitability at a granular level is also made possible from having a single database that connects with other systems to improve operational visibility.
All of the above benefits, as well as the following, are now within the reach of small fleets and owner-operators:
- Automated office tasks: Affordable and accessible subscription-based TMS platforms that integrate with existing technology, such as ELDs and accounting software, can streamline and automate routine business functions like attaching POD receipts to loads, invoicing, and completing weekly payroll to save significant time and money.
How it works: Instead of switching between multiple apps or tabs, you can see all details for a load, such as the bill of lading (BOL), rate confirmation, and invoice details in one screen. When you enter a load into a system and include an accessorial charge, like for a tarping fee or detention event, a TMS can automatically create an invoice that your customer will accept. And you can immediately send the invoice electronically. There’s no need to manually print and ship invoices, saving time for more important activities like finding the next load.
- Integration with valuable services: Another significant advantage is the integration between a TMS and freight matching services and electronic logging devices (ELDs).
How it works: You can search for loads from a load board, like Truckstop, within a TMS without going to a separate website. This saves time and makes it easier to manage the load search process. Integration with an ELD, like the popular Motive platform, will remove any guesswork from compliance to ensure that drivers have the hours available to do the work.
- Optimized load planning: A TMS can optimize how small fleets and owner-operators plan loads by accounting for appointment and transit times. Fleets can also monitor revenue per mile and other important data points to make more profitable decisions.
How it works: Once carriers find a load, they can utilize a drag-and-drop planning grid to optimally sequence and schedule loads for dispatch based on pickup and delivery appointments, travel time, miles, and drivers’ available service hours, among other factors. As the load progresses, a TMS automatically updates the driver’s status, eliminating back-and-forth phone calls and messages. The back office can also communicate directly with drivers through an integrated mobile app and automatically share details about the next load without sending follow-up emails or text messages.
Poised for Growth
Beyond daily efficiencies, small fleets and owner-operators can set their businesses up for continuous optimization and growth by adopting a modern TMS.
For a customer service advantage, TMS solutions can make it easy for small fleets to share locations and set delivery-time expectations. Instead of trying to catch a customer on the phone, fleets can send tracking updates directly from an integrated mobile app and provide expected arrival times.
These and other improvements to small fleet operations can result in big wins such as gaining new customers, elevating your status with existing customers, and finding better-paying loads.
Ready to retool your office and begin to experience the same benefits as larger fleets for an affordable price? TrueTMS makes it easy to get started. The platform has a new integrated Load Search feature with Truckstop.com and everything else a small truckload carrier needs to streamline operations. Sign up for a free, no-risk trial today: https://info.truetms.com/signup.