How Inefficient Processes Hold Your Freight Brokerage Back
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In this episode, Blythe and Sean McGillicuddy, Chief Revenue Officer at Tai Software, explore how inefficient processes can hold back freight brokerages. Sean shares valuable advice on optimizing operations, leveraging data and analytics, and developing a strong brand identity to attract and retain customers. He also discusses auditing processes, utilizing TMS analytics, balancing marketing/sales efforts, implementing AI/automation, and understanding modern buyers’ needs – all aimed at helping brokerages improve efficiency and drive growth.




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Show Transcript

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Sean McGillicuddy: 0:05

How many of those trucking companies are quoting you regularly that you're not actually even giving them an opportunity? Like they're trying to send quotes your way and you haven't even tendered a load to them, right? So you should probably call them. And if you don't have a way to see that, I think that's a problem for brokers, right? Like if that lives in somebody's inbox somewhere and you can't see that you have a. You have a trucking company that is like desperately trying to work with you on that lane and maybe they're just off by a little bit and that's why they haven't won the freight. But you should call them. Call them and be like you know, if you were, like you know, 10% lower, I could. I could run this lane with you all day, like is that, is that realistic for you or you kno w, have that conversation.

Blythe Brumleve: 0:46

. Welcome into another episode of Everything is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight. We are proudly presented by SPI Logistics and Tai Software, and I am your host, Blythe. Brumleve. We've got a special episode for you today. We've got Sean McGillicuddy. He is the chief revenue officer over at Tai Software and we're going to be talking about marketing and sales in a tough economy, especially for freight brokers one of my favorite topics to talk about. So we got the perfect guy on to chat more about it. So, sean, welcome to the show.

Sean McGillicuddy: 1:15

Hey, thanks for having me again. Good to see you, Blythe.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:18

Absolutely. Now, before we started hitting record, I told you that I was listening to a bunch of interviews that you have done with a friend of the show, Mary O'Connell, a host over at Check Call, also really an older interview that you did on Kevin Hill's Put that Coffee Down RIP to that show. I used to love that show but obviously it's retired now that Kevin Hill's on to brush past research. But you made a note about when you first joined Tai Software that you really wanted to be the person in charge of marketing and sales and I think that for a lot of folks who worked on either side of that coin, there's historically this battle against each other when something goes wrong you blame the sales side, at least if you're a marketer, and then on the sales side you blame the marketing department if something goes wrong on that side of things. So I'm curious as to how you first approached bridging that. You know sort of, I guess, sometimes volatile gap between those two.

Sean McGillicuddy: 2:15

Yeah, well, luckily for me, when I came on, we were pretty small at the time and got to be kind of one of the ones that spearheaded our rebrand and kind of one of the sort of co-founders of the brand, even though I wasn't here when they created the software itself, but I was the only one at first, right, so that made it kind of easy because, whatever I was doing for marketing, I knew what to expect, what was coming in as leads or things like that. But it's so important, I think, to have to have them under the same umbrella because, like you said, if you get salespeople that are saying, like, well, the leads are bad, right, like that's that's what Kevin Hill's podcast was all about was like that ol d um, glenn Gary, glenn Ross, where the leads are weak, no, you're weak, right, like that, you know, but I want to hear the feedback. Right, if the leads are bad, then we should go talk to marketing. And then if marketing is like, well, no, I mean like these look all pretty good when we do an audit, but like they're not getting followed up on, right, and I don't like there to be a an argument between the two. Luckily, we have a great culture in that regard, where the teams work together.

Sean McGillicuddy: 3:19

But that was my big thing was I wanted to make sure that one person was over both. That has done both, cause I've I've had my career has been sales and marketing right, where I've been in the trenches making cold calls, but then I've been on the lower level marketing side as well, where you're just trying to create demand and then hope somebody kicks it off. But a good chunk of my career has been both, just because it's like I like I get bored easy Right, so I like I got a passion for both sides and I think I'm really good at keeping them tied together and that's what everybody I think everybody needs to do that, and especially when we're talking brokers, brokers you know what were some of those first things I guess you tackled.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:55

Whenever you're, you're doing marketing, you're, you're in charge of marketing and sales, so what were some of those first things that you were like we have to get this in order.

Sean McGillicuddy: 4:03

You got to know who you are right. So, like, branding is is different. Branding is a different thing from marketing itself, right? So you have to make sure that you're you know who you're, what your brand is, what is your identity Like, what do you feel that you're good at? Right, and so, um, I've worked for multiple organizations where they just didn't have that part dialed in, where it wasn't.

Sean McGillicuddy: 4:26

They just, like you know they're kicking out marketing, but it's like but are we even good at that? Like, are we even like, if we got a bunch of leads on that particular topic that we're pushing out content on, would we even be able to do a good job on it? Right, like, we got a lead and we get them all signed and then we're just setting ourself up for wasting money on the sales side because we spent money to put it out. We get it in sales reps, close it, and now you're trying to service this account. That doesn't really fit your wheelhouse. So it's always good to start with what. Do we? Just knock it out of the parking and make sure that that's?

Sean McGillicuddy: 4:58

Every communication that you put out needs to be related to that. You can't be pushing out content that confuses people and they don't really know. I want everybody With Ty, I want everybody to know that our goal is to be the absolute best TMS for freight brokers that are doing LTL and full truckload in the US. And that's the core and then we can broaden from there. But branding-wise, that's what I want everybody, because I know that's what we kill it on. So if somebody comes to us because they think we do that, I want to be able to put them right into a process that shows them that exact process.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:33

And so it's really about building the brand, first figuring out who you are and then developing that messaging around it. So then you're bringing in the leads, the high-intent leads that are then hopefully going to convert, is reading between the lines here.

Sean McGillicuddy: 5:46

Yeah, exactly. So if you're a broker and you you know like I mean just to keep it, I guess, simple but like, let's say you're doing reefer over the road and drive freight over the road, it's like put that out there right, like know that about yourself, be okay with that. It's okay if you get other leads that you know you can service. Like all right, yeah, we can do flatbed. But if you know you have a trucking network that you just like.

Sean McGillicuddy: 6:09

If you get one of those, if you get a shipper who is doing reefer over the road and that's like you know, you got a path to it. You got a whole trucking network for that on these particular lanes, all the marketing that you're doing into bringing in. So if it's a particular region that you service for Reefer Freight, then you know that if you get one of those leads you put that messaging out you get one of those leads, you can kill it Immediately. You're going to have the best pricing, you're going to have the best process. You're going to make such a good impression that that shipper is going to want to continue to do all their business with you.

Blythe Brumleve: 6:51

Yeah, absolutely, and I think that that makes so much sense because for so long, I think for a lot of companies, especially one that I used to work at, it was an asset-based brokerage and our motto was finding ways to say yes, which, from a marketing standpoint, I get it, but at the same time we were saying yes to everyone, and when you're everything to everyone, then it's really challenging to find out where you really specialize in and where you can be a differentiator when it comes to your marketing, and so I think that for a lot of businesses they kind of fall into that trap. Now you had mentioned processes a couple times, and I understand that you're working on an article right now to help freight brokers realize where they're losing sort of the efficiencies in their processes. Can you kind of break down a couple of those key points that you're working on?

Sean McGillicuddy: 7:31

Yeah, I'm looking for a lot of ways to just be helpful to brokers in the market that we're in. It's been really tough for a whole year now and I don't know if you heard the news, but a couple weeks ago the Fed said well, almost like we don't know if we're going to cut rates, we might just keep it. It's like a wait and see. We might just keep rates at the all-time high that we're at Not all-time high, but like a 22-year high that we're at in interest rates. So there's no telling when we fully bottom out in the market that we're in and when it starts to turn around there's predictions. But I think it's a really good time to figure out where you can be more efficient. So the article we're putting out is it's not trying to pitch anything or sell anything, it's just areas to focus to find out if you're being efficient. So the categories being upon receiving shipments from your customers and then how are you pricing and setting your target buy and sell rates right. And then when you're searching for load coverage, right. And then track and trace, updating your clients, gathering the paperwork on the backend of a shipment, and then obviously the accounting side, the bill audits and the invoicing right. So these are seven areas where there are eight areas where you could measure your team to find out if they're wasting time. So it's nice and clear cut to figure out.

Sean McGillicuddy: 8:52

Just as an example, on the front end, if you're receiving a bunch of orders from a large client who's EDI connected, you could ask your team how efficient is our EDI connection? Are we doing a good job with that? Is it failing often? Are we missing orders? Like, are we having to like? Like? Is your top rep actually spending a bunch of time on the phone every month just trying to troubleshoot why the EDI is not working Right? That's a and that's not the case for everybody, but we see that, we see that and like that. That can be a major time waster where that rep could be out making money servicing your customers instead of doing it like a technical thing that they don't need.

Sean McGillicuddy: 9:26

Or maybe all your orders are coming in through email. Well, how long does it actually take to read the email, type it in and then take the next steps in your process? Is that efficient? Or have you ever timed your guys? We did that when we put out marketing content. That's like we can save you time here we actually time people. We timed them in their old system. When we do our research on it and we get to find out how much time those brokers save when they switch over to Ty Interesting and I'm not trying to push Ty specifically when we're talking about this, but you should ask that question how long does it take your team to do some of the simple tasks that you kind of overlook? How long does it take them?

Blythe Brumleve: 10:09

How are you measuring that time? I imagine maybe it's like a browser plugin or something like that. How are you actually measuring the time it takes for those tasks?

Sean McGillicuddy: 10:17

You can do things like that. There are tools on the market, but I, honestly, if you're just trying to literally just sit there with a stopwatch and just tell your top rep and then know that they're going to do it faster than they normally would, but still it gives you a pretty good gauge, right? Like so, if you don't really want to overcomplicate it, like find out how long it takes them to just enter an order and then find out like what and this is almost like Six Sigma kind of stuff, like when it comes to management but like what do they do next when they need to get a price? Do you have a pricing specialist on staff that handles that? Or do you let your reps set their own prices? If so, what are they looking at and how many different things do they have to look at before they put a price on a shipment to get it back to your shipper, right? So if that's like if they got multiple screens and there's no true process, they might be taking a long time and you might be losing opportunities because it took too long to respond. Or if it is a pricing specialist, is that guy overwhelmed? How do we give him a little bit more resources to respond quickly.

Sean McGillicuddy: 11:18

Other area where it could take you way more time than it needs to, to where you could be telling your team hey, stop going to the load boards. Make sure that you're going back to these carriers, but if you don't give them, like a nice, simple, easy path to do what you want them to do, they're going to post to load boards because that's like, at the end of the day, they got to get loads covered. That's their job. Carrier rep, right? So how many tools are they having to go to? Like these things add up significantly, we found in these eight areas that it's literally like you, you can?

Sean McGillicuddy: 11:54

you can reduce up to 50% of the workload, right, and it's and it, so it gets really. And not everybody wants to do that research, right? So and this isn't for everybody, right, like some people are like, look, I'm making money, I don't care, I don't, I don't care to go do all that. But if you're trying to get better and you want to scale your business, or maybe you just want to save, save on labor, right, like, how do I get the most out of who I have? Cause I don't have. We're in a tough market, I can't bring on more people, so how do I get the most out of who I have and save on?

Sean McGillicuddy: 12:19

And if you care, then these are areas where you should see how long it actually takes. You may think they have all the tools they have or they need, but if it takes you 20 minutes to go through a whole process of figuring out what the price should be and then getting it back to the customer and then trying to reach out to all your carriers, and so before you even have a load covered, it might have taken you 20, 30 minutes just to get set up. So what if you found ways to reduce that down to five minutes? Now, all of a sudden, your reps that you really trust are like doubling the productivity and the amount of loads they can get covered for you.

Blythe Brumleve: 12:56

Are you in freight sales with a book of business looking for a new home? Or perhaps you're a freight agent in need of a better partnership? Or perhaps you're a freight agent in need of a better partnership? These are the kinds of conversations we're exploring in our podcast interview series called the Freight Agent Trenches, sponsored by SPI Logistics. Now I can tell you all day that SPI is one of the most successful logistics firms in North America who helps their agents with back office operations such as admin, finance, it and sales. But I would much rather you hear it directly from SPI's freight agents themselves. And what better way to do that than by listening to the experienced freight agents tell their stories behind the how and the why they joined SPI?

Blythe Brumleve: 13:36

Hit the freight agent link in our show notes to listen to these conversations or, if you're ready to make the jump, visit spi3plcom. It's almost like your own internal bottlenecks of your own internal supply chain and how you're appropriating different people to different resource-heavy tasks. And I love process optimization. I say I love it. I have a love-hate relationship with process optimization and I think that the biggest challenge for folks is just to put it down on paper. To write it down and have everybody be on the same page. Do you have any, maybe like recommendations on how you approach you know sort of process management, or maybe like process auditing, because maybe what a lot of folks probably would have to do is audit their processes first or maybe just document them first.

Sean McGillicuddy: 14:23

Yeah, well, it can be really. It can be really tedious, and this is where people like kind of don't want to do it. But you, you don't have to even use anything fancy like pen and paper is fine. We use a product called Miro for like sort of just writing out or like documenting what the process looks like now and then when we go to adjust it. It's like a flow chart kind of platform, but there's all kinds of. Google has one. They're not expensive. Some of them are free even, and you could literally. That's why I say you could write it on a big piece of paper. But it's nice to be able to zoom out and see the whole process. But you kind of have to go through. You may have to interview your team and go Okay, I'm in this department and we only communicate with customers, so what does that look like?

Sean McGillicuddy: 15:07

We receive orders, we send updates to customers, okay, so let's focus on one thing at a time when you are sending updates to customers, how do you get the most recent update in order to send it to the customer? And if they call in, what process do you have to go through? And this is where it gets really tedious, right, but there are huge areas of time savings where, if you could calculate, or if you could find out how much time it's taking, then you can calculate how much money it actually costs you just to get an update from a trucker and then send that update to the shipper, right, because it seems like it should be nice and simple and straightforward. But it might take you a while to even get ahold of the trucker, right, or maybe you don't even have the right tools to get a quick update from them, maybe you're not tracking or you don't have some way to easily send a mass text to them and things like that.

Sean McGillicuddy: 15:59

So now it could be like you spend two hours a day just trying to get updates from truckers and send them to, and you know and send them, and so what if we could save you at least one of those hours? Right, and if that's, and if you have five people doing it, well, now we're saving you five hours a day in labor and right. So it's like it's tedious, but you got to write it out and then look at the whole thing and then go where could we reduce? And it's not the same for everybody. These are just good areas to. This article is about areas that could be potential problems for you. You may only find improvement in two of them, but they're all pretty Across the board. What I see with brokers is they could all use at least an evaluation in these eight areas.

Blythe Brumleve: 16:40

When you're onboarding new brokerage to Ty, where are some of maybe the? I would imagine you're covering some of the more common ways of where they're having these different bottlenecks, but I'm curious if there's any sort of ones that are easy wins for them to implement, like right away.

Sean McGillicuddy: 17:03

As far as process optimization or even process auditing, yeah, I think A common area that seems to take longer than I think it should is finding load coverage, and I think not only does it take longer than I think it should, a lot of times companies don't even have a uniform process, so you actually don't even know how many you're not covering and how many you're just completely missing. So in addition to trying to find a faster way to do it, there's all kinds of ways Like if you just like if you just had a uniform process where you could make sure everybody gets trained on it this way, right. And then so cause, everybody needs to know what carriers you want them going to and they need an easy way to reach out to those carriers, right. But oftentimes we see that you know everybody's just doing the best they can trying to get loads covered and they're making money. So there's not necessarily a reason to dig into it, unless you're in a market like we're in now.

Sean McGillicuddy: 17:53

So if you don't have a way for, let's say you got a guy who's kind of mid-level, like he's above junior, but he's not quite an expert. He doesn't know every, because some of these guys just have it all in their head, right, it's just like it's fast for them because they're just boom, boom, boom. But you can't scale with it being in somebody's head. So you need a written process, for I receive a load from a customer. It's this lane, it's this type of freight, here is the carriers that I should be going to and if it just lives in somebody's notebook or in somebody's head, then how do you create a uniform process out of that?

Sean McGillicuddy: 18:25

So now you have guys that are experts, right, that that just kill it for you and you can't figure out. Well, why can't these other guys get better at it, right, like, and you just, and then some some people almost leave it to. Well, I guess you know over time they'll get as good as these guys, but that's not. I don't think that's the most efficient way to look at it. I think you could uniform the process and make sure that the more junior level guys know exactly what the more seasoned guys do and what they're supposed to. You know what steps they're supposed to follow.

Blythe Brumleve: 18:53

And then I would imagine too that if you're going, if you haven't started this process yet, but you are just, you know, keeping the lights on, you're worried about covering the business that you have now you don't have time to do. You know, you say in your head you don't have time to do all these things. But these are also scaling problems too. So when the market does turn back around and you want to scale, you want to put gasoline on the fire. These problems are still going to exist that are going to prevent you from scaling. Correct Right.

Sean McGillicuddy: 19:21

Exactly, yeah, and it's like one of those time periods where, even though it seems like you don't have time for it like if you're just sitting there like man, I wish things were turning around quicker. Well, now's kind of the time to just say, look, I just got to make time for for planning. It's because it's going to make you more efficient in a tough market. But, just like you said, when you, when things start to scale back, you're going to be more ready for it. Right, Rather than just being like don't just be a victim of what the market's doing. Right, Like you gotta, you gotta be proactive about your, your planning.

Sean McGillicuddy: 19:49

Like one of the things that's a principle for us at Ty is is, as a, as a leader, I have to set aside a certain amount of planning time every week, Right, so I should be constantly looking into efficiencies and I mean it's kind of, I mean it's pretty much my job, right, Like at that at this level is like I have leaders that run the teams. I should be looking into things like this to figure out, like, where are their problem areas? Are there holes? Like I should be constantly trying to make it more efficient, and I don't think enough people just embrace that. Part of running a business, too is like that's what business is. It's just constant problem solving, like have some fun with it because it's never going to stop Right, Like when, when the market turns, you're going to have problems with demand. Demand's almost too heavy. I can't handle it right. So make sure that you're just constantly problem solving.

Blythe Brumleve: 20:34

Absolutely, and everything you're saying so far, I'm like, yes, yes, I do all of that already in my business.

Blythe Brumleve: 20:39

But now you're making me want to go back and just sort of look at everything, all my processes, and just reevaluate, just make sure that maybe some little tweaks here and there that can help us in the future, you know, be able to scale as well, and these are, you know, not just you know freight broker problems, but these are problems that exist and things that you could take for any kind of business. And you know, process optimization is not something that is a sexy topic, but it's absolutely something that will help you today and tomorrow as well. So, real quick, while I'm just obsessed with this topic, but if you are doing this regular, or if you do the same one time, when is the next time that you should be looking at your processes and optimizing in them and auditing them? Is it like you said, that you kind of budgeted a little bit each week, or is it something that you take a massive look at it once or twice a year?

Sean McGillicuddy: 21:29

that you take a massive look at it once or twice a year, if you can afford it and you can put things in place that would track everybody's doing what you're supposed to be doing or what they're supposed to be doing, then you get to really see when you implement a change. You audit something and then you implement a change to address how slow the process was and now you've sped up the process. Is it continuing to stay that way? Is anybody drifting into their old habits? Are we actually winning more because of it? So, if you can do it regularly, but I think you just you got to identify, like we wrote this out, because I think there's eight key areas.

Sean McGillicuddy: 22:04

Any broker could probably look at this, no matter how you do business or what your structure is. You could look at these categories and find areas where you could be efficient. But for any business really, I think you could start there. What are the key areas where we have to be fast and we have to be efficient and win? Whether it's three or a hundred of them, depending on the size of your business, you should always know what areas that you should be looking at and then, on a weekly basis, you could rotate or you could rotate through those categories to find out, you know, because there are tools out there, but it's not always, it's not a perfect world, like sometimes you actually just do have to get in the trenches and kind of do the job with your people. I do that now Like I'll jump in and we'll we'll look through, like I mean I still cold call right, because it's like I got to know that what I'm, what we're trying to warm up in marketing, is actually like there's a process there for the sales reps and if I don't do that kind of thing, I'm never going to know.

Sean McGillicuddy: 22:58

So we're I mean that's our philosophy at Tie2 is like we're always in the trenches, even our CEO, like he's everybody's in the trenches with you know, with the people that are on the front lines and where we know, because I need to talk to them and I need to know what. What they think is inefficient. That's kind of the gold of it is like if you structure those categories, you go to the leader of that department or even the folks that are doing that job and you go guys, where do you think it could be more efficient? I've identified this as a category where I feel like we could probably be doing better. What do you guys think we could be doing better? And if they give you a handful of things, jump in and experience it with them, get on the phones with them or start posting loads with them or start trying to get loads covered with them, how long is it really taking?

Blythe Brumleve: 23:40

I love that approach. It's definitely something I didn't know that we were going to spend 20 minutes or close to 25 minutes on process optimization. But here we are and I think it's a valid topic for this time of the year or not this time of the year, but just this time of sort of economic downturn Everybody's kind of waiting for things to pick back up. So what better way to get yourself ready for that than to just make sure that you're just ironclad on all of your processes and leave room for adjustments in the future? And another aspect of what people tend to do more during an economic downturn is they want to learn all about sales. They want to learn all about marketing.

Blythe Brumleve: 24:16

And I'm curious as to because back when I did marketing at a 3PL, the TMS that we use obviously not Ty, but the TMS we use there was no marketing capabilities, there was really no sales capabilities. It was a management system. I could export a bunch of different emails from the platform, the TMS, but that didn't really give me any kind of insight as to who I was selling to and why or what I was trying to raise brand awareness to. I'm curious if that's still the case across the market within TMSs just based on your knowledge, or maybe there are some additional features that Ty has within their platform that helps sales and marketers as well. Give me a lay of the land of what the TMS freight marketing and sales aspect looks like.

Sean McGillicuddy: 25:01

Yeah, I think all of the well, it seems like a lot of the higher level TMS that are on the market have at least some functionality for, you know, making those processes more efficient. Um, I think, I do think it's kind of a mistake to assume that you're going to get, like uh, uh, a TMS that is like also everything right. Like, I think, yeah, cause you, you gotta, like you want to use tools that are that are efficient to you know, to those different processes. So what I think is most important is that your TMS can connect to whatever tools you're using, right. So I don't wanna miss, I don't wanna not see that I have somebody who we got an opportunity with, like, let's just say, a shipper, for a sake, like, we've been going after them for a while. We finally got a few opportunities from them, but then they went stagnant, right, I don't want to miss that, right. So my TMS should be able to tell me, like, who's in it, like who are my inactive customers and what are those graphs look like? When were they doing the most amount of business with me? What kind of freight was it? And then, like, what happened if they stopped? Like, why, why did they stop sending us loads, right, did we make a mistake somewhere? Things like that. So I think you got to be able to track the data of, because, I mean, in the freight industry, it you know like.

Sean McGillicuddy: 26:17

So sales and marketing on new net, new business, is obviously something you have to always think about, but retention is is super important because you, when you get, you can't just call somebody I mean you can call them a customer, but you can't call them a full customer if you're only getting, like two loads a week out of them, but you know that they do a hundred. You know like, so we're getting such a small piece of the pie and you have to focus on the, the sales aspect of of retention, right, like the relationship aspect. And then and you have to be able to, you know, one of the things that we do is, um, you have to be able to almost market to your trucking companies as well, right, the ones that you want to create loyalty programs with because they run on these particular lanes, that you have a large customer that runs that daily and you want to make sure that you have a good relationship with trucking companies that can run that so you never miss a beat. So you got to leverage your TMS for the marketing data aspect of it, right?

Sean McGillicuddy: 27:09

How many of those trucking companies are quoting you regularly that you're not actually even giving them an opportunity? Like they're trying to send quotes your way and you haven't even tendered a load to them, right? So you should probably call them. And if you don't have a way to see that, I think that's a problem for brokers, right, like if that lives in somebody's inbox somewhere and you can't see that you have a trucking company that is like desperately trying to work with you on that lane and maybe they're just off by a little bit and that's why they haven't won the freight. But you should call them. Call them and be like you know, if you were like, you know, 10% lower, I could run this lane with you all day, like is that realistic for you? Or, you know, have that conversation.

Blythe Brumleve: 27:50

That's super interesting because it's not even you know. When I asked that question, I was thinking more along the lines of, like email campaigns. You know this kind of produce is coming up, I don't know. You know Christmas tree shipping, you know around you know September or whatever it is that that's coming up and I could send email campaigns around that. But you're really talking about looking at the analytics within the TMS to figure out where maybe some of these hidden gems are.

Sean McGillicuddy: 28:12

That goes back to the branding thing we started with, right. So if I have a network of trucking companies that are really, really reliable, I need to know that on these certain lanes, because it can't just live in somebody's head, or the top management or your top rep can't be the only one that knows that, because any marketing content that you put out, regardless of how you push it, doesn't mean anything if it's not tailored to what you can do. Well, right? So if you, if you have a lane that you've only run a handful of times, but like every time you put it out there, your network seems to always quote you really competitively on it, Then you're you're making a huge mistake by by not trying to find more opportunities like that. So push marketing content out to that region of shippers that run that type of freight, right. Because you just have to know, because it tells you more about who you are and what you should be talking about in the market in terms of your marketing content.

Blythe Brumleve: 29:08

Brokering success demands a battle-ready strategy. Tai TMS equips freight brokers with the ultimate battle station for conquering a tough market. With Tai, brokers gain access to a comprehensive platform where rate intelligence and quote history converge on a single screen. It's not just a page, it's a strategic command center designed to help brokers win. Tai equips your team with all of the data they need to negotiate with confidence and allows them to communicate directly with carriers and customers from a simple control base. Revolutionize the way your brokers perform by giving them a competitive advantage with Tai TMS. For more info, go to tai-softwarecom. Backslash battle stations and we also have a link for you in the show notes to sign up for a demo. Interesting and so switching gears just a tad to the I guess, the distribution side of things. We've talked a lot about what happens internally and knowing who you are as a brand and working within those constraints within your TMS. Now, on the flip side of it, when we're talking about email or social media campaigns, are there any brokerages out there that are doing it right in your opinion?

Sean McGillicuddy: 30:20

Yeah, I mean I, I think, I mean I think there's a lot. I mean there there are, uh, we have some customers that are thriving through this time period, right, so, and you know, and then other ones that are um, just, they've been around a while there, they've done a really good job and they're in a good cash position and so they're looking for the efficiencies that we're talking about, um, but I think the, I think the ones that do it right really treat the relationships well and they understand that. You know, and I'm a tech provider but I'll tell you, as a broker, the tech is never going to be your selling point, like some of the digital brokers have made that mistake. Like they think just because we have optimal tech, that's going to win us customers, but the customers don't, the shippers don't care unless you tell them why that matters to their customer experience. You tell them why that matters to their customer experience, right, so.

Sean McGillicuddy: 31:10

So, yeah, I mean you could send out um, you could send out email blasts. That tends to be um in brokerages. I think you really gotta. You can't just send out blind emails and then just hope, like you get it. I mean email marketing is not, it's not great, to be honest, like it's not what it used to be. People are sick of the spam and you know, I mean we we run some campaigns like that too, sometimes cause you kind of have to, but like you got to see what you can get but nobody likes them anymore. So then you got to be more personalized, right? So you that's why I say know who you are, because then you can get a list of shippers and let's say you, let's say you, buy a list of a thousand shippers in a particular area that you want to service and then you tell them exactly what you do.

Sean McGillicuddy: 31:48

Well, whether it's just a straight email marketing campaign or it's a sales and marketing combined campaign, where you have some marketing content that the sales reps are personally reaching out and trying to deliver, well, the folks out of that list. If you're doing a good job and you have identified that this is an area where this particular commodity gets shipped a lot, right? Or you know that this is a list of the same types of shippers, if your messaging is correct, you should be able to get about 20 to 30% of that list that you sent out to come back and run a load with you, right? And if you make it easy on them. And that's where, like, our TMS makes it so that if you were, if you do get a message from them, hopefully you build the customer into your TMS too, so you can kind of start tracking, like, if you get, like you're putting out that marketing, we'll have they emailed you back and have they sent you a load opportunity? Right, so we have a way to scrape the email and then fire back in a quote or at least make it easier for the rep to fire the email back. So, and then easier for the rep to fire the email back, and then you can start tracking how many came from that list and how many of those shippers are now giving us a shot.

Sean McGillicuddy: 32:53

And then are we set up to be able to win, because if you get 20% of that list to respond and send you a load opportunity and then I always say, if you're a salesperson, don't let them just send you one, because they're going to send you probably the hardest one Try to get them on the phone and go, hey, because they're going to send you probably the hardest one Like, try to get them on the phone and go, hey, I'm happy to do this one for you, but do you think you give us five so that we really have an opportunity to show you what we can do right, and then hopefully your messaging is so clear that whatever they sent you is exactly what you can handle, and then you just knock it out of the park and then you can try and expand right, like then you can try and go after, like you said, being more broad in terms of what other freight do you have. Can you give us a shot at that? But you want to be able to crush it on the first one.

Blythe Brumleve: 33:34

So you only want to put out messaging that tells what you do? Well, and forgive me if this is an ignorant question, but it sounds like you used to be a broker. Did you used to work in a brokerage?

Sean McGillicuddy: 33:42

No no. I've talked to a lot of brokers right, and I feel like at this point, I've learned so much from customers.

Sean McGillicuddy: 33:50

Yeah, I probably could go open a brokerage, but it's. You know, I really I have an extreme passion for working with the brokers. I really feel like they're the unsung heroes of the industry. I think we have a very fragmented supply chain. We saw that during COVID and I think brokers really are here to be the experts and I don't think they're going anywhere. I think any industry that has brokers usually there's a reason for it. It's because it's a little confusing and somebody wants a person they can trust to send that over to. But I spend a lot of time talking to our customers on both the folks that are interested in us as a prospect and then customers that we've had for a long time, and we do a lot of research to know, like, how we can be better.

Blythe Brumleve: 34:31

Now we have talked a lot about sort of the you know the human connection and you know developing those deep relationships, knowing who. You are being able to message that effectively. Now we can't have a conversation on this podcast without talking about AI. How are you envisioning AI being used in a TMS and then also being able to balance the human side of it?

Sean McGillicuddy: 34:56

Yeah, this is actually something we've talked a lot about over the last year, just because chat GPT came out and all of a sudden everybody's like, how can AI? I still most people don't really care that it's AI unless you tell them what it's going to do for them, right, like it's not about that it's AI. It's like what is it actually doing to help me or make my business more efficient? But one of the ways we're using it is in that email functionality tool that I mentioned, where we can scrape an email and we can. We can basically read it and say, well, we can build that load for you to save the data entry. And then we've got generative AI inside the tool, cause you can email from within tie. So if you just want to write like really quickly, like here's an update, right, and then you can help me write with Gemini and then it writes the email for you, right, so it makes it sound a little more.

Sean McGillicuddy: 35:46

And those tools are cool because you can kind of make it your own voice. I don't know if anybody's ever used them Like you can. You can actually have chat GPT or Gemini. Their output can be in whatever voice. You say like hey, I'm a little bit more straightforward. Can you make sure that the lane or hey, I want this to be a little fluffier and nicer, or whatever? Like you can, you can kind of tailor it down and I think it.

Sean McGillicuddy: 36:07

I think it saves people time, I think I think where it becomes even, I guess, bigger is you just want, if you're going to use AI or you're going to use any kind of automation, make sure it is to free up the human and don't try to eliminate the human Cause.

Sean McGillicuddy: 36:22

It's not going to happen, especially in our space. Like, like I said, like shippers go to brokers because they're tired of dealing with the headache and they know that you're an expert in it and you can make this more efficient and easy for me and you deliver that service and you have that touch of like the shipper wants to know, that, like, at the end of the day, like, even if there's a problem, I can pick up the phone and there's this person that I can trust on the other end, that I can trust on the other end and they're going to. Even if it's bad news, they're going to tell me how they're going to address it and I don't have to worry about it, right, so? So the AI should all be. It should always be related to how are you taking that really high level human being who's done a really good job for your business, and making them more efficient, making them able to cover more, more ground?

Blythe Brumleve: 37:04

And that's something that that Ty is obviously you know more ground, and that's something that that Ty is obviously you know very much um invested in, just from you know, a work standard, just being able to empower the, the, the human employee. I'm curious if you know what other sort of automations, um integrations, things that you have coming down the pipeline for for Ty.

Sean McGillicuddy: 37:23

Well, um, we had a lot of cool things that we had had rolled out over the past year here, but one of the more recent ones was we've been integrated with green screens for a long time, but we made it so that you could take that email functionality we have and you could read the email, build the shipment and then you could use green screens plus your data that lives in Tide to rate it and then add a margin and then you could automate the quote back. Now, not everybody likes the automation of it going back to the shipper. They like to get their eyes on it. So we actually made it so you can stop and then just verify that this all looks good and send it back, which is really cool.

Sean McGillicuddy: 37:59

It's funny with these tools because they take a little while for folks to adopt, because it feels a little scary.

Sean McGillicuddy: 38:07

So you got to be able to have steps in place where the human being feels like they have really good control over it, right?

Sean McGillicuddy: 38:13

So that's why we implemented also something on the back end of our system where the user can actually log in and create their own workflow automations. So if you want something to trigger an action from one of your human beings. You can make it so that you can build it out Like almost like all the CRMs have been doing for a long time, right? So, um, those different automations like people really like to have control over what the automation or what the AI is going to do, and I don't blame them because it's a little, it's a little abstract, right. So I want to know what it's doing and I want to have like a, an active record. That's. The other thing, too is like we have an activity log so you could pull up a shipment and look at all the automations that happened and you could see if something failed or if you're like, well, I don't like the way this is going, and then you can actually jump in and adjust it for yourself.

Blythe Brumleve: 38:56

And that it's just as you're talking. I'm like, wow, it just sounds like there's so many cool integrations and just ways that you can think about using a TMS. But I can't help but wonder for maybe, like a new freight broker that's coming into the industry, maybe what advice would you give them to sort of navigate all of the things that have been intrinsic to the role of the freight broker versus all the technology solutions that are out there? Kind of has to feel intimidating at times of where to even put your energy. So any advice to new freight brokers, or maybe people who are starting up their own freight brokerage.

Sean McGillicuddy: 39:33

Yeah, I heard a really good quote. They listened to that podcast, the All In podcast, which is like four business guys that are I love it, yeah, it's great. So they were saying how, like, if somebody ever comes to you and says they're going to start a business, you should tell them not to no-transcript, no-transcript starting brokerages. That were thinking that it was going to be like a side hustle and I'm like, no, it's not a side hustle, this is not.

Sean McGillicuddy: 40:24

if you want a side hustle like there's plenty of other things you can go do for a side hustle. Brokering is not a side hustle You're not going to. It's just not. It's not the way it works. So know that it's going to be challenging and, like I said, if you're going to go out there and don't expect simple, just don't expect that you're going to be able to blast a database with emails and then get customers, be ready to really fight. You're going to really have to have a lot of good conversations with people and you're going to have to be really patient and you're going to have to try to human to human, get your opportunities. And you got to know your stuff. If you don't know what you're doing, don't just.

Sean McGillicuddy: 41:02

I had somebody a while back that was like well, I'm going to specialize in reefer LTL and I'm like why are you doing that? And they're like I just have noticed that it's hard to get it covered and so I'm going to just be a broker that does reefer LTL and I'm like do you have trucking companies that you work with now that can do it for you? And if the answer is no, well then there's not a good opportunity. That's a hard market to enter. There's a reason that it's hard to get LTL reefer covered. It's not something that the common carriers do and you like.

Sean McGillicuddy: 41:30

You gotta have a so like talk to talk to trucking companies. Go, go, start forming partnerships with trucking companies Now. Find out what lanes they like to run and then have an idea of of. That'll give you an idea of who you can go target on the shipper side, cause that goes back to what we talked about in the beginning is know who you are and so even from the start, if you're going to start a brokerage, know what lanes you're going to be able to run. Know what types of freight you're going to be able to run. Don't just do it on a whim. Have some really good, deep conversations with some trucking companies and start to get those relationships going and then go try to win some business that you can connect with them.

Blythe Brumleve: 42:07

I love it. I feel like that was such a perfect place to end this. But I have a few more questions for you, because at the end of each show I do like to ask, you know, I call it the relatable eight questions, which is just generally, you know, around like marketing, sales, just philosophy and some fun questions, so it's kind of a rapid fire area. But first question is and you kind of have already answered this one but how do you think about marketing?

Sean McGillicuddy: 42:32

when it comes to you versus the company. As far as myself, marketing versus my company's marketing.

Blythe Brumleve: 42:37

Like your personal brand, if that's even a passion of yours. Some people it's not a passion of theirs to market themselves.

Sean McGillicuddy: 42:45

I think I don't necessarily market myself, but I think it's good to know who you are Like. I mean, and you could think of that like like brand, what do you want to be known for? Cause you better start acting that way, cause there's no hiding right. I mean, this is a, this is an industry. Especially at the industry we're in, these guys have, like freight brokers, have like the best bullshit filter of like anybody I know, right, so just be yourself and know what that is. And if you want to be a person with integrity, you know, I like to be really straightforward to people you know, and so most, most of my team, most of the customers I work with, they know that I'm I'm kind of blunt Uh, I'm not mean about it but I want to be, you know, kind enough to be honest with people.

Blythe Brumleve: 43:21

That's a good answer, very good answer.

Sean McGillicuddy: 43:29

What is your favorite social media platform and why? You know I try actually to stay away from them, but I got Facebook and Instagram off my phone just because I don't like having the distractions. I pay attention to them because you kind of have to if you're in marketing, right. I really actually like that. Linkedin has been gaining so much steam lately. They're doing a lot to try and be helpful to people that sell, people that do marketing. I'd be lying if I told you there wasn't a mild addiction to TikTok, though.

Blythe Brumleve: 43:54

Oh God, yes, I feel you on that. It is the most creative platform. In my opinion, that's where the funniest like I either. I know you know people have their gripes about it, but I either laugh or I learn. Every time I'm on that platform and I think it's just maybe my algorithm, which I'm very I guess I'm very meticulous about pruning it and if I see something on that's going to make me mad or aggravate me, I'll immediately click like not interested app. That I can really. It has those fine tuning capabilities versus other apps where it seems to really gaslight me or just show me things that I just don't, frankly, care about.

Sean McGillicuddy: 44:33

Yeah, you have to do that with TikTok. You got to like don't like the things that make you angry, you know, dislike them, because it will just send you things that just constantly make you angry, which is why I have a kind of a love and hate relationship with it and I've deleted it a few times.

Blythe Brumleve: 44:48

Same. I have this app called Opal that now it blocks it out Certain timeframes of the day, from like nine to five. It will block out all of the distracting apps, but as soon as I am waiting on my phone for it to hit 5 pm so I can open it back up again, and I can go on it for an hour.

Sean McGillicuddy: 45:05


Blythe Brumleve: 45:07

Okay, next one what is your favorite SaaS tool that you use every day and can't live without, but it's not your own, so it can't be Tai, even though you probably use it every day. But another SaaS platform.

Sean McGillicuddy: 45:19

No, I do. Actually, we use HubSpot internally and I do really like it. I think there's a lot of good things within HubSpot. I know there's a lot of good things within HubSpot. I know it's like that or Salesforce, basically as far as top CRMs, but I actually do really enjoy using it. I think it's a good product.

Blythe Brumleve: 45:35

Absolutely, I agree. It's definitely my CRM go-to. The rest of the stuff, though, I found that I still like my tried and true MailChimp and Zapier and things like that. I don't know if that's good or bad, but you know, it remains to be determined. Next question Biggest lesson you've ever learned in your career?

Sean McGillicuddy: 45:58

So and this is sales related make sure you know everything about your prospect and their company. You know everything about your prospect and their company. Um, a long time ago I was selling trucking insurance and, uh, there was a large trucking company that I quoted their insurance three years in a row trying to win their you know cause. Sometimes it takes a little while to win their trust when they've been with somebody for a long time and, um, I thought they were pretty honest folks and when we got to the end, they kind of opened up the books the last year and I got to see what they were doing and I pointed out that their other insurance broker was doing some things that were, I would call it, past gray area, like not good, like not legal, like could get you in a lot of trouble if you're caught doing it. But it also made the insurance product more expensive if we were doing it legally and doing it correctly.

Sean McGillicuddy: 46:51

And at the last minute it was a family business. The brother who I hadn't met came in and was basically like I don't care, we're going to do it this way because it's cheaper. And then that was the end of our relationship, because I felt like I had pointed out. Look at all the trouble that you could get in for this. This could completely crush your business. I really felt like I was doing them a favor and at the end of the day that didn't matter. They were fine with it. So I think, know who you're doing business with and be okay with just walking away. If somebody is just not a good partner, just walk away. The money is not worth it. If you constantly try to deliver value to the market and do the right thing at all times, the money will come, as long as you're delivering a good service and you're honest.

Blythe Brumleve: 47:38

Well said. Favorite freight business that isn't your own.

Sean McGillicuddy: 47:44

That's a good point. I have a few, I would say, so I will tell you that the guys over at Concept Logistics and then ARL Logistics those are two customers of ours that have been just I just it's a good relationship. Also, Boost Transport's another really good one as a customer of ours. They're companies that we've gotten to see grow within our platform as they ramp up their business and they're just good people. That's cool. When it comes to tech products, I do love green screens. I think those guys are doing some really cool things over there and, yeah, I'm rooting for them. I hope they keep growing the way they are.

Blythe Brumleve: 48:22

Heck yeah, and it's cool to see it's such a good product, just from what I've heard and the things and testimonials that I see. But then on the back end, just all of the people who are working on it are genuinely good people and super fun to hang out with, and always fun at conferences too, by the way. Yeah, okay, all right, a couple more here. What is a book or podcast that has changed your perspective on something you used to think about, or used to emphatically think about?

Sean McGillicuddy: 48:48

So I talked to my team about this book regularly and I probably said it on other podcasts, but there's a book called Crossing the Chasm that Bob Clare from Megacorp turned me on to this book like three years ago or something, and that was before they were even a customer. We were just having a good conversation and that is it's. It's basically exactly the philosophy that we've been talking about in terms of like know who you are and aim at that, and aim at it for as long as you can. Don't start getting broad too quickly, right, cause it would be very easy for a company like us to say, hey, we're killing it in LTL and full truckload brokerage. Like, you know what else can we do and we are always thinking about that, but we don't want to like, diversify too quickly.

Sean McGillicuddy: 49:30

I think a lot of companies make that mistake of like, hey, we're doing this, let's just start. Like you said earlier, like you can't be everything to everybody, it's a failing plan, right? You have to just know what you do well, and then go find customers that need that. You know that. That need that problem solved, that that need that. You know that need, that problem solved. That you know you can solve. Do that for a long. That's what that book's all about is like just stay focused on what you do well until you're nice and solid and know for sure this is like you know, we're a staple, we're here to stay, and then you can broaden out on what other products you want to offer.

Blythe Brumleve: 50:02

Awesome. Yeah, that sounds like a book that I have to add to my reading list. I have a growing amount. Every time I ask this question to a guest on the show, it's like, okay, I need to just go ahead and make like a freight book club and then so everybody can be on the same page of all the books that they need to be reading. All right, Last couple here Guilty pleasure TV or movie.

Sean McGillicuddy: 50:22

So this might say a lot about me. So my wife and I watched this YouTube show called kill Tony and, uh, we're big comedy, standup comedy fans. So these guys the podcast is a few comedians that are like veteran comedians. They pull names out of a bucket for people that that signed up to come up and do one minute of standup comedy. Oh, no.

Sean McGillicuddy: 50:42

So, and so they just so. It's like whatever, whatever comes. So some of them are like aspiring comedians that have been doing it for a few years and it's like their golden opportunity and it turns into something Um, they start getting more gigs out of it and sometimes it is awful and then they kind of roast. They kind of roast the guys that are bad.

Blythe Brumleve: 50:59

So like it's uh yeah, it's uh, it's not for everybody about that.

Sean McGillicuddy: 51:03

Yeah, no, seriously. Yeah, it takes a lot of guts to get on stage at all, so I give credit to anybody who does it, but but they definitely, um, they've made a lot of careers, uh, for comedians like that. A lot of really good comedians have come out of that show and then some people have gotten pretty, pretty roasted. It's not for everybody. They're definitely crude, um, you know, if you have a delicate sensibility in terms of comedy, uh, don't watch it delicate sensibility in terms of comedy.

Blythe Brumleve: 51:27

don't watch it. Just don't watch comedy in general, Save yourself.

Sean McGillicuddy: 51:29

Yeah, they go over the line pretty regularly.

Sean McGillicuddy: 51:35

All right and last one what is your favorite supply chain or logistics fact? I forget exactly what the percentage is, but I love that. So logistics makes up, like I want to say it's like 8% of GDP or something like that. It's, yeah, it's, it's. It's just such a we're in an industry that is like the largest niche ever, you know, and and I just think there's so much opportunity and there's so many different verticals and it's so much entrepreneurial spirit because of that and I just that's why I love love working in this space, that's why I love brokers. They just are so gritty and determined and and they do a really good job in this space.

Blythe Brumleve: 52:13

Well said, that's a perfect way to end this one Now. Now for Sean. Where can folks follow you? You know, maybe sign up for a demo over at Ty so you can see some of those different features that we've been talking about during this interview. You know, anywhere else where folks can follow your work?

Sean McGillicuddy: 52:27

Yeah, so we're at uh um tie-softwarecom. We'll have that article um out there if you want to read that Um. Also, I'm on LinkedIn, um, if anybody wants to reach out. And then we're going to be at uh TIA. So I would love to meet anybody in person at TIA.

Blythe Brumleve: 52:44

Awesome. Tia is such a fun event. So so definitely, and obviously the acronyms are very close together, for for anybody who maybe will will get those mixed up, or maybe it's a a good thing, maybe it's a cohesive relationship in that regard, right, all right, thank you, sean. We'll make sure that we put those links in the show notes to make it easy for folks to check out, and thank you so much for coming on the show.

Sean McGillicuddy: 53:05

Thanks for having me, blythe, good to talk to you.

Blythe Brumleve: 53:07

Absolutely. I hope you enjoyed this episode of Everything is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight, telling the stories behind how your favorite stuff and people get from point A to B. Subscribe to the show, sign up for our newsletter and follow our socials over at everythingislogisticscom. And, in addition to the podcast, I also for our newsletter and follow our socials over at everythingislogisticscom. And, in addition to the podcast, I also wanted to let y'all know about another company I operate and that's Digital Dispatch, where we help you build a better website.

Blythe Brumleve: 53:37

Now, a lot of the times, we hand this task of building a new website or refreshing a current one off to a coworker's child, a neighbor down the street or a stranger around the world, where you probably spend more time explaining the freight industry than it takes to actually build the dang website.

Blythe Brumleve: 53:53

Well, that doesn't happen at Digital Dispatch. We've been building online since 2009, but we're also early adopters of AI, automation and other website tactics that help your company to be a central place to pull in all of your social media posts, recruit new employees and give potential customers a glimpse into how you operate your business. Our new website builds start as low as $1,500, along with ongoing website management, maintenance and updates starting at $90 a month, plus some bonus freight, marketing and sales content similar to what you hear on the podcast. You can watch a quick explainer video over on digitaldispatchio. Just check out the pricing page once you arrive and you can see how we can build your digital ecosystem on a strong foundation. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this episode. I'll see you all real soon and go Jags.

About the Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Creative entrepreneur in freight. Founder of Digital Dispatch and host of Everything is Logistics. Co-Founder at Jax Podcasters Unite. Board member of Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. Freightwaves on-air personality. Annoying Jaguars fan. test

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.