Author: AM Transport

3PLCarrier ManagerCustomer Service

By Justin Hatten, CTB As a carrier manager at AM Transport Services, communication is key when dealing with issues on a daily basis. AM Transport prides itself on customer service and when a carrier is running behind for a pick up or delivery, it is vital for a carrier manager to gather information so they can pass that on to the account managers, who quickly alert the shipper and receiver. If a delay occurs during the transportation of a shipment, a carrier manager’s responsibility is to follow up with the driver and/or dispatcher to find out why, whether it be hours of service, a flat tire, a mechanical breakdown, an accident, heavy traffic or inclement weather. Once this information is relayed to the account managers, they reach out to the customer and provide a detailed explanation and an updated ETA. As soon as a load is booked, a carrier manager should begin an e-mail chain with the carrier confirming that they received the rate confirmation and understood the terms of the shipment. Although this can be done over the phone, an e-mail serves as an important line of communication in writing and a search tool. While delays are the most common problems carrier managers handle, in certain instances, a customer may ask that a load be returned due to damages or the wrong product being loaded on a trailer. When that situation arises, a carrier manager contacts the carrier to see what rate they would need to take the load back to the shipper. If that isn’t an option due to capacity or cost, locating a warehouse where the product can be stored until an available truck is found to return it is another possibility. After a load is delivered, carrier managers follow up with the carrier to make sure there were no shortages, damages and overcharges or possible detention at the shipper and/or receiver. If damages are reported, carrier managers immediately request photos and paperwork from the driver before the account managers contact the customer to make them aware and confirm that there will not be a claim. In a fast-paced environment at AM Transport where the phone is constantly ringing and e-mails are piling up throughout the day, mistakes can happen, but these can be minimized by constantly communicating with co-workers, carriers and customers via phone and e-mail. After covering a load, it is important for a carrier manager to make sure the carrier sends back a signed rate confirmation, which includes carrier pay, the AM Transport load number, the commodity and weight, equipment type needed, a pick-up/reference number, addresses and hours for the shipper and receiver and special instructions, such as pick-up/delivery appointments, possible lumpers and driver assist. Once the rate confirmation is received, it is imaged into the AM Transport load along with other documents pertaining to the shipment. Before heading out for the day, a carrier manager should carefully check over all the loads on their dispatch screen to make sure everything has been picked up and delivered or are on track. If a load is picking up or delivering in the evening/overnight or on weekends, the after-hours team or Saturday-morning worker needs to be provided with a carrier contact and ETA along with possible lumpers. While not every shipment goes smooth, communication is the one thing we can control at AM Transport....
3PLSalesSelf ImprovementUncategorized

By Jordan Pottorff, CTB Today marks two years since I joined the AM Transport team. It’s been a wild two years - both personally and professionally – but there’s something about AM Transport that makes me eager to come to work. First, you have to understand the culture AM Transport has worked to create. We have a great group of people who genuinely like each other, we do a lot of fun stuff as a team and in our community, we have a variety of great music playing throughout the day, and we care about what we do. I know all of this having now spent two years with the company, but I accepted the job offer to join AM Transport with relatively no knowledge of the transportation industry or the company as a whole. I was a sports writer by craft before moving back to my hometown of Olney, and despite knowing of AM Transport’s existence since I was a kid, it was a blind leap into a new career. Since June 15, 2015, I’ve learned more about the transportation industry than I can wrap my brain around. I walked in the doors for the first time not knowing the difference between a dry van and a reefer, let alone what it took to book a load, and now feel comfortable talking about the upcoming ELD mandate, technology trends, customer & carrier expectations, our service offerings and more in this ever-changing industry. A few weeks of in-depth training got me to the point where I could fly solo - albeit with training wheels and countless questions to a handful of experienced coworkers - and start down a two-year road that had me spending nine months as a carrier manager before joining the sales team last Spring. The nine months spent as a carrier manager laid the foundation of my knowledge in the transportation industry and gave me a good idea of what it takes to be a valued partner in this industry. There were highs and lows that seemed to change by the hour on any given day, but I found being consistent and level-headed was usually the answer no matter which way the pendulum swung that day. When I decided to take on the opportunity to move to the sales side of the business, I had very limited experience in sales but knew I was excited to get started. Since joining the sales team, it’s been anything but easy. There are countless obstacles to overcome as a broker looking for freight in an unfavorable market but that’s where consistency truly is key. I remember landing my first customer relatively quickly and thinking it would continue from there. Like any worthwhile endeavor, I hit a wall and the frustration followed shortly after as the common rejections – “we don’t work with brokers”, “we have an annual bid, call back at the end of the year”, “you’re pricing isn’t competitive”, “we have our own trucks” – came in tenfold, and that doesn’t even mention the hundreds of voicemails that are commonplace in this position. I’d be lying if I said the rejections didn’t wear me down but that’s where the consistency and remaining level-headed became so important for future successes. I, along with Rob, Jason & Heath, knew a change was needed in our approach to land new business, and like the future of this ever-changing industry, we’ve leaned on technology to get over some hurdles. Now it obviously takes more than investing in good technology to see more victories in the sales world but it gave us an advantage that has led to more of a niche in the transportation world as we continue to develop our targeted approach to add new customers. The past two years have flown by. It took a little bit of time to feel completely comfortable in my new position, but the culture and passion the company and my coworkers' display have me 100% confident a bright future exists for both myself and AM Transport as a whole. Onward and upward!...
3PLConferenceThird-Party LogisticsTransportation

By Erik Jensen, CTB When I found out I would be attending the 2017 TIA Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, I was extremely excited. I’ve been working at A.M. Transport for four years and always look forward to hearing about the conference and the wealth of information attendees come away with. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity, so I leaned on Mike and David who would attend the conference too with questions as simple as “What should I wear?” to searching questions such as “What do you enjoy the most about the conference?” And while I knew the experience would provide me with new-found perspectives, I was surprised at how much there was to take in when we arrived. The conference exceeded my expectations in three particular areas: 1) the sessions with so much industry knowledge shared on panels and by speakers, 2) networking and meeting with new industry friends, 3) the trade show and exposition where I demoed and tested some great technology. I am an information junkie, so the education sessions were my favorite part of the conference (I ended up attending nine specific sessions). These sessions ranged from “How are Shippers Leveraging Their Relationships With the 3PL Community?” to “The Path to Growing a Freight Brokerage” to “I’m With The Government And I Am Here To Help: 3PL Rules And Regulations.” I didn’t attend a session that didn’t enlighten in some way, but the Economic Update really stoked my interest. Noel Perry of Transport Fundamentals and FTR Associates shared a bunch of eye-opening information that I’d be happy to share if you have any interest in it. I’m pretty sure I have about eight pages of notes. Networking and meeting new people was a blast. Folks were nice and willing to share tidbits of information that helped make their companies successful. As a first-time attendee, I found it a bit shocking. I’m pretty competitive—so it was odd to see 3PLs and brokers sharing ideas and methods with their competition. But this is what makes the TIA Conference so special; everyone wants to see everyone else succeed. I spoke to people in the industry for just a couple years and others who’ve been in it for 40+ years. Each person shared the same inspiration for their craft and desire to keep learning. I felt as if I’d walked into a group of old friends and left with the intention of keeping in touch to share thoughts and information as we continue our growth process. The Exhibition Hall (trade-show) was something else.  The big-shots were there with impressive booths displaying their products. It was thrilling to see how other systems worked in comparison to ours. While I had fun checking out the displays, I really enjoyed talking to the younger start-up companies that were trying to get their feet in the door of our industry. They had great products and a lot of initiative. Most of these companies are attempting to automate the mindless daily processes that eat our time. I have a feeling a few of them are on to something big. And yes, we were in Las Vegas, so of course, I had to do a little bit of gambling. And yes, I lost. It’s ok, though, because I gained more from four days than I lost at the table (I did have a little explaining to do to my wife—she’s not much of a gambler). Overall, I had a great time and expanded my knowledge base at the TIA Conference. I’m still processing the unforgettable experience, and I sure hope I have the opportunity to attend again. As for those eight pages of notes—I do have them. And if you are interested in hearing more about the individual sessions, give me a shout. I’d love to share....
CommunityOffice Environment

By Michael McKinney, CTB When I heard our people were making a Christmas album, I was a bit nonplussed—my eyebrows furrowed, and a bah-humbug sigh escaped my pursed lips. You see, my first reaction or instinct about something is often not in line with my beliefs. I can be a little narrow and reactive—driven by the urgency of now, by productivity and efficiency. It’s not a trait I treasure; however, I am lucky to be surrounded in my workplace by creative people whose love of fun can bring unexpected and long-ranging benefits to all of us who work at AM Transport. Take the Christmas Album as an example—talk about a labor of love and creativity. Now you might be wondering, as I was, what in the heck are we doing producing a Christmas album—we’re here to generate revenue. It’s a pretty good question—one I’ve been pondering. First of all, I’ll give you a little information about our Christmas Album Who Knows Christmas: These Guys! The album features 13 full-length Christmas favorites from Blue Christmas to Winter Wonderland with the additional full-office rendition of We Are the World. Out of 32 on staff, 22 participated in the making of the album. We had duets and trios. People gave up their after-work time to sing songs together. As I watched it coming together, as I saw first-hand the excitement and genuine cooperation that went into the making of the album, I began to realize that the music itself was a gift to AM Transport, a gift that would create long-lasting bonds. Let’s talk about vulnerability. Brené Brown, whose ground-breaking research has resulted in the famous TED talk, The Power of Vulnerability as well as the best-selling books The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly, asserts that “vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation and creativity.” Now that’s pretty interesting, as most of us think of vulnerability as a very dark emotion, something we want to avoid because society tends to equate vulnerability with weakness. What if Brown is right, and vulnerability is essential to creativity and innovation? If that is true, then coming together as colleagues and creating a Christmas album might be the smartest thing the team at AM Transport could do. After all, can you be more vulnerable than you are when belting out Christmas songs in front of your colleagues and friends I had the pleasure of watching the joy and exhilaration in the people who sang songs together and alone for the Christmas album, and I began to realize how lucky I am to spend my days with a group of people willing to initiate and participate in team-building activities that other companies might pay thousands of dollars for. Vulnerability may well be at the heart of creativity and innovation, but I believe it is also an important component of what researcher Amy Edmondson calls “psychological safety” in the workplace. In Charles Duhhig’s excellent book about cultivating productivity in business and life, Smarter, Faster, Better,Edmondson defines psychological safety as “a shared belief, held by members of a team, that the group is a safe place for taking risks,” as well as “a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish someone for speaking up.” It follows then, that what the participants in the Christmas album felt as fun, exciting, creative, and joyful also helped to cultivate in them a sense of psychological safety in their work groups. Singing is hard work. Let’s be honest—singing in the shower is nothing like singing in front of colleagues and friends. There is a vulnerability inherent in the act of throwing our voices out into the world. Each time one of the AMT crooners did this amazing thing, he or she received not only acceptance but encouragement. This cannot help but grow confidence in the group as a whole, confidence that this team is a safe place. And as if “psychological safety” were not enough of a benefit, I was pleased to see the singers stretching beyond their comfort zones, taking risks. I firmly believe that this will translate to their work in teams and to the cohesiveness of the workplace. In fact, I ended up loving the idea so much, that I too participated on the group rendition of We Are the World and enjoyed first-hand the camaraderie and fun that comes from trying something new and risky with a group of friends and colleagues. I can’t wait to see what this creative group comes up with in the year to come. I plan to keep my furrowed brow to myself and jump right in....
CommunityIndustry NewsLeadership

A Much-Needed Slap to the Head By Michael McKinney, CTB Often we don’t even know we are sleeping. Let me explain; a few weeks ago, I attended a Small Giants Passport Event in Boston with David Abell. It was a much-needed wake-up call—a metaphorical slap-to-the-head! AMT belongs to a group called Small Giants. Small Giants is a collective of business leaders who heartily believe in making money but “share a passion for values-driven leadership, committing to let purpose and people drive our strategies rather than financials.”[1] Within the Small Giants group, we’ve found other small to mid-size businesses who want to make a difference not only in the lives of their employees, but in the community at large. Passport Events are offerings from Small Giants that bring together 20 values-driven business leaders for intimate conversation and workgroup discussions and in-depth visits to some very successful value-driven businesses. In Boston, we were lucky enough to visit the successful and warm business workplace of Life is Good. I was excited to visit Life is Good as in the McKinney household, we are the proud wearers of Life is Good t-shirts. The highlight of touring Life is Good was the opportunity to hear co-founder Bert Jacobs talk about the company he and his brother John founded in 1994 and to talk to him about what is important to him as a business leader. Theirs is an amazing story about resilience and optimism. In fact, the mission statement of Life is Good is to spread the power of optimism. Bert explains that believing in optimism isn’t an exercise in blindly accepting what is, but rather an empowering belief in open-heartedness and open-mindedness. Being optimistic doesn’t only inspire us to do good, it also feels good. Something I found most interesting about the Life is Good mission is that Bert says that mission—to spread the power of optimism—underlies everything they do in the company. When things have been tough, that mission gives them something to fall back upon. Everything they do must help them spread the power of optimism. What a powerful mission! In support of that mission, Life is Good donates a full 10% of its profits to support children in need due to violence, poverty or illness. The trip to Boston rejuvenated me, and it inspired and continues to inspire me to be more optimistic in my own life. Bert Jacobs gave us an effective method of generating optimism in our daily lives. It’s easy and makes a difference. I’m calling it my new “Get-to Pledge.” Here’s how it works: When my daughter has her fourth ball game in as many days, Instead of saying, “I have to attend another ball game,” with an irritated tone, I say, “I get to see my talented, healthy kid play ball tonight.”  It works across the spectrum—GET TO instead of HAVE TO. Try it a few times, and you will see. And speaking of talented kids—when I arrived home from Boston, I was so excited about the trip that I was discussing it with my daughter Madeline who is a high school freshman and a wonderful artist. We talked about optimism and its power to change lives. Inspired by our conversation, she drew this great picture I will leave you with.   [1] From the Small Giants Website...