The Future of Freight Broker Software
Episode Transcript
DD Spotify DD Apple Podcast

In this episode of Everything is Logistics, host Blythe Brumleve and Walter “Mitch” Mitchell, CEO of Tai Software, discuss logistics innovations that will revolutionize operations and accounting workflows for freight brokers in 2024 and beyond. Mitch highlights automation and AI breakthroughs that slash manual tasks by up to 90% while making shipments more profitable. He also shares best practices for system migrations, untangling carrier relationships, and using data to gain competitive advantage.




Are you experienced in freight sales or already an independent freight agent? Listen to our Freight Agent Trenches interview series powered by SPI Logistics to hear directly from the company’s agents on how they took the leap and found a home with SPI freight agent program.

Maximize your website’s performance and security with Digital Dispatch’s web hosting and management.



Everything is Logistics is a podcast for the thinkers in freight. Follow the podcast to never miss an episode.

Follow EIL host Blythe Brumleve on social: LinkedIn | TikTok | YouTube

Show Transcript

See full episode transcriptTranscript is autogenerated by AI

Blythe Brumleve: 0:05

Welcome into another edition of Everything Is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight. We are proudly presented by SPI Logistics and Tai Software. I am your host, Blythe Brumleve. This is the first official recording of 2024, and we got a great guest for you today. It is Walter Mitch Mitchell. He goes by Mitch. He's the CEO of Tai Software. We're going to be talking about the state of the TMS market as we head into 2024, or as we are in 2024 as of recording this. So, Mitch, welcome back to the show.

Walter Mitchell : 0:41

Yeah, thanks for having me again. I'm really excited to be your first guest of 2024.

Blythe Brumleve: 0:45

Yes, absolutely. I tried to take a little bit of a break from making new content, but it only just. I think it just sort of makes you want to burst the door like the Kool-Aid man whenever you do something. So I'm going to try to hone in on my excitement for this conversation and this interview, because there's a lot of movement going around, or a lot of movement going on, and there has been over the last few years within the tech space, especially within logistics. I have heard the words revolutionize and innovative to a nauseam level, and I'm sure maybe you have too. I'm curious what you think of the current. You've spent, god, I think, like 20 years on already in logistics tech, and so I'm curious if you're as sick of these words as I am.

Walter Mitchell : 1:34

Yeah, they get used a lot and unfortunately I can't get sick of them because we're one of the people that use them right and I think you have to, as a technology provider, kind of embrace the innovation and embrace the evolution. But they do get a little exhausting so it can be a little tough, but on the upside we want to be making sure that we're presenting good technology to everybody in the space and specifically in our case, for freight brokers, and unfortunately we end up using those words a lot for that.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:04

I think it's more to a lot of the AI transcription tools and things that we use, especially on the podcast side of things, where I'll load a transcript up and I say write me an episode description, and it uses those words nonstop. So it's not even really that the people within the industry are using, is that the robots are using it nonstop, and so every time I see it I'm like stop it, AI.

Walter Mitchell : 2:29

It's a little frustrating at times you got to tell the AI tool to please write this again without the word innovative right.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:36

And see how it comes out Like I need that to include that in the prompt itself.

Walter Mitchell : 2:41

Yeah, it's just going to blow up then, right. It's going to give you a now You're fired.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:48

Now I did want to, but before we get into the details of Tai's offering and we're definitely going to dive into that I wanted to kind of get a, I guess, more of a perspective of how far we've come as from a TMS perspective in this industry, where back when I worked at a brokerage it was a handful of TMS providers and they did everything. Now it feels like we're starting to, within the last sort of handful of years, we're starting to get more sort of niche focused TMSs. Is that where you kind of see the industry evolving into, or do you kind of see that this is going to be almost like a plug-in store, like a WordPress store, where you're going to have these different tools that speak to specific needs into the bigger conglomerate? What is sort of your take on the evolution, I think, of TMSs?

Walter Mitchell : 3:40

Yeah, very much along the lines of niche players, and the reason for that is the unfortunately, the years go by really fast, right? So when I look back at when we were getting started in building the first TMS I was involved in, at that point the barrier of entry was that we just needed a TMS. That's where the brokers were, that's where logistics providers were. They had to have something other than Excel files, something other than the piece of the paper they were shuffling around through their desks, and that was great, a really important step in the process of moving forward with technology. But today we're in a very different place and we like to talk about operational excellence, but what that really means is we don't need a TMS anymore. We have TMSs. What we need is a TMS that serves our people, and so what we get to do is shift the focus and we're shifting the focus of a TMS being a checkbox on our list of technologies. We have like having email and like having phone system. It's just these checkboxes. But today it has to be something different. Today we have to look at a TMS from the perspective of how does it help my operations people? How does it help my accounting people? How do I make them better? How do I make their job easier? Same with the AI tools for the generative AI. We use them because they're making our life easier. We, as the user, become the center of the story, and that's the evolution and the innovation that's coming in our space now. So I just wanted to bring those words back for you. That's the innovation and the evolution that's coming in our space is that we have to make sure that we're shifting the focus from well, the business needs a TMS to the people who use our TMS have to have a great product and have to have the tools that meet their needs really, really well, and what that means is you can't have one generic product that's going to meet everyone's needs. You have to be a little more specialized. You have to focus in and we all kind of know, like LTL freight and full truckload freight, they are not the same. Parcel is not the same. These are very different areas, expedited, not the same. Now, it doesn't mean that they can't work together and that we don't want the connectivity, but as technologies evolve, connectivity becomes easier. Specialized tool sets become more important.

Blythe Brumleve: 6:12

And so, as you're, you know one thing that I picked up there, and especially from. We had a conversation back in March of 2023, where you talk about how the onboarding experience involves those employees that are already in the trenches, that are going to be using the software. And I came from a brokerage that invested in a new TMS and it was a disaster because they didn't involve the operations folks. It was an executive level decision. They bought the program that they thought their employees would like, but how do you, I guess, how do you navigate and sell to that solution to the end the trenches employees and help bring them into the fold?

Walter Mitchell : 6:56

Yeah, that's a really great point and what we want to do. Sometimes it doesn't work out this way, but what we want to do is get the stakeholders not just the leaders of the business involved in the process. Let them see some of the things that the different TMS can provide, because, really, we're dealing with change management here and we're dealing with transitioning something that a staff of operations people and accounting people use every single day, all day long, and so just coming to them, being like, hey, by the way, here's something new, that's not enough. You have to do more than that. You have to make sure they're trained well. But if you can go a step further and get their buy in earlier on and let them see the benefits, like, hey, we're going to transition to a different TMS. It's going to be a little bit of work, we're going to change your daily workflow, we're going to change some processes, but here's the benefits. Here's why we want to do it, doing that in again, it involves them as a little more of the centerpiece, allows the buy in, allows the transition to go smoother. It really is a win all the way across the board.

Blythe Brumleve: 8:02

What are the table stakes that a TMS should have in 2024 and beyond?

Walter Mitchell : 8:08

Yeah, I think the key is that you have to be looking at a TMS from what's in it for your staff, what's in it for the operations person, what's in it for the accounting person. So let's shift the focus around them and then the table stakes discussions become we have to have automation, we have to have the entire workflow from order booked all the way through till customer pays, so that we're including accounting as part of the operational freight exercise. These are things that are critical in a TMS and it's easy for us to look at just one segment of the movement, not the entire life cycle of the shipment till payment. So when we're talking about the table stakes and we're talking about what year TMS has to have, you have to be thinking about it from that perspective of integrations to tools that help you do your job well, so that those integrations are connected in a way that reduces friction, that adds value to your operations team and your accounting teams.

Blythe Brumleve: 9:17

The accounting portion is so important because back in the day I'm going to reference this one a lot because I just remember how painful it was but when we were switching TMS providers it was about a year and a half process and during that process we had no account. This new TMS didn't even have an accounting functionality to it and so it just bogged down our entire accounting department and ultimately that company did close down, and so it's a very I think it was a hard lesson learned, very difficult lesson learned that you have to keep your finances and accounting team running very smoothly and efficiently, and I think there's a lot of folks that are thinking about their finances as they start the new year. They probably already have their budgets in place. Accounting is a very vital part of the entire company puzzle. But I guess what are those important accounting features with inside a TMS that someone should be focusing on or looking out for?

Walter Mitchell : 10:17

Yeah, there's a lot, but you're saying it exactly right is that we have to be thinking about the accounting staff, the entire process. We have to be thinking about the accounting staff and the accounting ops is what we'd like to phrase it. So you have freight ops and accounting ops. Those together make ops, and so thinking about accounting ops for one during the workflow, when we're first creating shipments, when we're first entering customers. Let's think about accounting then, because what we do know is that if we get the shipment right at the beginning, collecting is a lot easier. What we also know is that nobody likes to pay for freight Right. It's collections is tough, managing our aging and our days to pay is tough. These are really difficult jobs in logistics space and we want to simplify that. So let's think about it early and let's also make sure we're involving them in the whole story of our freight exercise, so that we're not letting accounting be an afterthought, like, well, yeah, I'll just send out my AR. No, you have to think about it more than that. Like what does your AR look like? What does the document attachment process look like? How does the payment process work here? Will it flow nicely? These are all components that we need to think about while we're investigating even the freight offside.

Blythe Brumleve: 11:41

Now, I imagine that you guys are a big proponent of integrating new tools and technology, ai being the obviously the big focus of 2023. And I think it's only going to grow in more adoption in the coming years. It's just, you know, I guess, depending on your outlook, it's an unfortunate reality or it's a very fortunate reality. Now, for you guys, I tend to think of it as a fortunate reality. So how is it? How are you incorporating AI into these different workflows, like what you said, from the freight ops to the accounting ops and everybody in between?

Walter Mitchell : 12:16

Yeah, so for us at Thai, the AI tools are a component of the tool set available to make your life better, right? So we've incorporated AI in a couple of different places. The key place for us is incoming emails. So incoming emails become an opportunity to create shipments in the TMS with zero interaction from your team. And that's really cool, because your customers aren't necessarily setting in a template, right. It's different every time and we're able to extract enough information out of those shipments, out of those natural language emails, using AI tools to create shipments in the TMS, saving a handful of minutes each shipment. We're able to get tracking updates back, and just managing 75% of your mailbox without a lot of interaction from the operations team is a tremendous win that leverages AI. Now, on the other side, on the accounting team, we're also doing a lot for document processing with AI. So an email comes in with a document attached to it. Maybe it's a POD, maybe it's a carrier bill. We'll run that through the AI tools. Come back with results from what that is, match it up to the shipment, attach the bill to the right shipment, approve the bill if it matches what the bill amount was. Just make that process easier. So we're using AI in those cases to make the operations person's job easier, smoother and better, and then same with outgoing emails we have. The generative AI is one of our favorites right. Everybody loves it. I think that was. The winner of 2023 was open AI and the generative AI movement. So we've got that integrated as well. We use the barred version of open AI, which is almost what we should say, maybe better than open. Then chat GPT. Who knows? I don't know.

Blythe Brumleve: 14:09

We're not willing to go down that road.

Walter Mitchell : 14:11

I'll take it easy on that component. But generative AI is helpful, so you can take, for example, on our outgoing mail. When you're going to respond to a customer and you can say shipment's running late, hit the help me write button and it'll rewrite that into something very nice that your customer will appreciate and then you can send it out. But meanwhile you only had to type three words.

Blythe Brumleve: 14:32

Wow, I feel like I need that because before we started recording, I was just talking about the deluge of emails that I've been getting and it's difficult to sort through, and I know that is only a fraction of the emails that a freight broker is getting. So kudos to you guys for helping folks to manage that, because it does get very overwhelming very quickly and you can just start drowning in emails and then before you know it, you've missed out on one or two emails that could be really important, and so I love that you're tackling that approach, and I would imagine that AI and automation are kind of interchangeable, I think, in a lot of scenarios, so it sounds like there's some automation that's happening there as well. Is that a safe assumption where, if X happens, y happens?

Walter Mitchell : 15:19

Yeah, absolutely. I think both of them can be tied together, because we want to use AI as a tool to help us with automation, but not all automation requires AI. So both so important and focusing on using the automation and simplifying pathways for the team is super important to the overall process, and even things like, for example, keeping on the email track when an email comes in if there is something special that needs to happen or something that the system can't do. Triggering in and automating an alert message to the right operations person or the right group is just a small thing that makes a big difference in the overall usability and the reduction of friction for the operations team's jobs.

Blythe Brumleve: 16:08

Are you in freight sales with a book of business, looking for a new home? These are the kinds of conversations we're exploring in our podcast interview series called the Freight Agent Trenches, sponsored by SPI Logistics. 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. I want 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. 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. Are you a broker, ready to level up your business? Well, I've got a game changer of a solution. Let's face it your TMS choice can make or break your company, and that's where having the right ally becomes key to success. Meet Tai Software, an all-in-one platform with user-friendly automation that makes your day-to-day operations smoother and smarter, whether you're running a big brokerage or a startup. Tai's got your back through every phase of your domestic freight Gear up, because your logistics journey is about to get a serious upgrade. Face it now by heading over to tai-software. com for a demo, and I think too, it sounds like it removes some mundane decision-making, because when you're making so many decisions throughout the day I think it's Mark Zuckerberg famously he wears a black shirt and jeans every single day because that's one less decision that he has to make. So I'm wondering if maybe freight brokers are going through the same thing, where they're making all of these decisions every day and then an important one comes across their desk and they're already fatigued from answering or making so many decisions. So if you can remove a little bit of that, they can have their best efforts on the things that matter more. Is that a safe assumption?

Walter Mitchell : 18:14

That is absolutely right. We want to focus on the things that we need more attention to, and you're talking about drowning in your mailbox and just in freight alone. If we drown in shipments, like if we look in an LTL broker, the volume of shipments they're managing is pretty high. So if we can take those shipments and automate 75% of them, it's a huge win. If we can automate 90% of them, now we're really talking about something compelling. If we can automate 96% of them, this is now mind-blowing, but there's always going to be a percentage that really requires that brokerage to set somebody in front of it and be like all right, what happened? Something went crazy, and that happens. It's something that we need to think about and build into the automation pathways that we want to automate, or I like to call it the fast lane, the shipments that are easy, and slow lane, the shipments that have trouble Because things happen. Maybe a driver got a flat tire and it delayed them for half a day, or maybe there's a well, I know we've got big storms going on. Well, I guess during the winter we always do it. So when you get bad weather somewhere and the driver gets stuck for a day, these things require attention. These things are going to happen. There's no way to prevent them. So let's make sure we surface the exceptions and fast lane the easy stuff.

Blythe Brumleve: 19:42

You've mentioned LTL a couple times already and that was one of the bigger things that in your marketing and in your messaging that I have kind of honed in on. Because everybody knows LTL is very challenging. I'm curious as to how Thai helps uniquely with those challenges.

Walter Mitchell : 20:01

We have a pretty strong LTL background and now today we actually run more full truckload freight, by both volume and revenue, than we do LTL or, I guess, run in the TMS because we don't do any of the brokerage itself. But the LTL history that we have is pretty strong and pretty deep and what we learn is that LTL is about that fast lane, the easier we can move things across. The rating component on LTL is very much different than what it is on full truckload and the automation capabilities on the LTL side are very much higher than they are on full truckload. So we've really streamlined that process and worked well with our customers to make sure that that LTL process is moving really fast. And one of the things that's a big challenge in LTL right now and the hot topics are limited access and over dimensions. Those two things are kind of the wild west of LTL right now and we've tackled the limited access and the residential delivery and the lift gate component by working with a partner, shiplify, and what Shiplify does is they work with the carriers. So the carriers are already working with Shiplify to determine is this address limited access? Does this address require a lift gate? We're using the exact same tool that most of the big LTL carriers are using to identify it right when the order comes into the TMS. So what that does is it means that we're warning you and we're showing your customer that, hey, you need to put a lift gate, delivery fee on this right before the shipment gets quoted, which means that we're going to have less revisions, less changes when we get down to the accounting side and it's going to match what the carrier says and that's a big piece, right. We can maybe say, like well, it looks good, I don't think they're going to need a lift gate, but if the carrier thinks they do and the driver does, then they do. And so reducing that argument and allowing the shipment to flow through the fast lane by fixing the accounting problem first and fixing that limited access challenge first is really a key to the LTL efficiencies.

Blythe Brumleve: 22:15

I love that that was such a great breakdown, because I had a bunch of questions in my head like follow-up questions, and then you just kept answering. Then I said OK well that works out pretty well Now, speaking of questions that were being asked before this interview actually went through. There's a great subreddit. For anybody who doesn't know, reddit is kind of like a community forum where you can talk about a bunch of different topics, and one of those forum discussions is called Freight Brokers, so it's our Freight Brokers, and there's so many great chats going on in there on a daily basis. There's dozens of posts every single day. So I'm curious to see what some of the Freight Broker community thought of Ty and what kind of questions that they had, and so I just wanted to pull up a few of the key points that I kind of honed in on and I was hoping that you could break down for us, and so these were folks that were asking about Ty and how they can help with these topics. So this first one is the build versus buy discussion. Should a mid-size broker, should they be building their own custom one, or should they be buying one? Are they kind of at that good stage to do either or or maybe both?

Walter Mitchell : 23:25

Oh, that's my favorite question. I'm so glad you asked this one. I can go on for days, so I'm gonna try not to. But the way we operate and the way from a technology perspective, the way I like to think about it is about context and how the product that you're looking to implement provides that context. So is it context or is it core? And what that means is that my customers, for example as a software provider, they don't care what I use for a CRM. I don't. Nobody's gonna pay me for a CRM and so because of that, that's a context-related item for my company, and so I buy a CRM, even though I have software developers and we can build our own CRM. We buy one Subscription management tools, accounting profile or accounting tools like QuickBooks. We buy all those, we subscribe to them, we use them off-the-shelf products, and we do it because our customers don't pay us for those. Those don't give us the competitive edge. So the same thing should be looked at from a freight broker's perspective. Does the TMS you use? Is that the value proposition you're coming to your customer with? Are you going to your customer and saying we have the best TMS in the market, or are you going to your customer and demonstrating to them we are the best freight broker in this space, we will help you the most on your freight experience. And so in that case, the TMS is not your differentiator. The TMS is the tool your team uses to differentiate, and so I think the most of the time, the right answer is buy, and then the next component is okay. Well, no, I have special use cases. Well, buy and supplement is the best option, and we do that too. Some of the things that our CRM does aren't exactly right for us, but we buy a CRM which covers 98% of what we need, and then we customize that 2% or 5% on top of it to make it exactly what we need, and that allows you to move faster and easier than it does to build from scratch. And I think as we move along, we see that even with big companies because that's where it goes next is like well, when I get big enough, I'm just going to have to build my own, but that's not necessarily true either. That's where companies like SAP and Oracle and Salesforce. They exist to support really large customers too, but they allow you to build on top of it. So when you're looking at a TMS, if you're having that challenge of build versus buy. Look at it off the shelf, tms, and then ask how can I build something on top of that that gets this? 80%? 90% of my service is done inside the product itself and add a little bit on top of it so that I have that customization I need.

Blythe Brumleve: 26:28

Yeah, because I think to your point as a marketer, as a former marketer inside of a brokerage, the TMS that we used was very ancient. They had a quote unquote CRM inside of the feature and it was just a glorified email list and so the only thing as a marketer I could do was just export the emails and spray and pray, and that was the gist of our marketing plan for a long time. So it kind of sounds like with Ty that you can have that strong foundation and then be able to pull in Maybe you particularly love this tool or this integration and then you can start to integrate those into that strong foundation. Is that correct?

Walter Mitchell : 27:09

Yeah, absolutely, and I think it's so important for all of the different technology components that we use to work together with others. And so at Ty, we don't have a CRM built into our TMS, but we connect to tools like Salesforce. We connect to other CRMs or you can make your own connection to your own CRM, because we're not in the business of trying to be a TMS and a CRM. I mean, competing with somebody like Salesforce and being a TMS at the same time is a pretty daunting task. So let's let the CRM do what it's good at and let Ty do what we're good at, and the same thing applies to companies like GreenScreen. Greenscreen's done a great job of building some amazing dynamic pricing components. Ty as Ty, we wanna let GreenScreen do what they do, integrate it in really nicely to the platform and allow you a fully servicing application that you can use as your platform.

Blythe Brumleve: 28:09

And this isn't a Reddit specific question, but it is in line with this, because you guys not only GreenScreen, I think, you just announced a partnership with TruckStop as well, and so I think that, from a user standpoint, having those tools instead of you know a million different windows open. Having that, those tools and that information right in front of you can help you, I think, make you make those decisions a lot quicker, and then your customers get answers a lot quicker and everything is streamlined and the accounting department is happy.

Walter Mitchell : 28:41

Absolutely right and that ties right back to what I was talking about and getting the operations person, the people on the ground doing the work every day, making sure they're the center of our story, making sure they're the center of our solution and so that they do have GreenScreen information in context to what they're doing, that they have the and we try to integrate with all the key players in the logistics space, that service brokers we don't have them all, but we're trying and we try to make sure that those connections are built so that they're best practice. So, keeping on the GreenScreens one, we work really closely with their team to make sure that we're representing their product the right way and when the broker needs it, so that the broker only goes out of our system when in special cases, but the majority of the time they're able to work right from our system. Same with, like Trucker Tools and is that we wanna make sure that we've got all of that information pulled right into the TMS when the user needs it, so they're not having to fight to find out where the current location of the truck is or to initiate Trucker Tools tracking. We wanna make this seamless forum and focus on the user.

Blythe Brumleve: 29:56

Now another one I think that is slightly related to that, a question that comes from Reddit. That it was asking about is Tai built for speed and scalability, which it kinda sounds like maybe you've already answered this question, but related to full truck load and LTL. So I think that that's probably a resounding yes at this point for speed and scalability.

Walter Mitchell : 30:14

Oh yeah, speed and scalability are key. Making sure that your operations team can do more and more effectively is absolutely the core of what we're about.

Blythe Brumleve: 30:25

All right. And last one was a user asking about the use cases for an executive in the Tai system versus a broker.

Walter Mitchell : 30:35

Yeah, great question. So the broker is the center of our focus at Tai. We wanna make sure that the brokers and the people running freight are able to do their job really well Now as it rolls up to the executives. Of course, we have a ton of reporting and out of the box reporting that allows for that information to be visible, see what's going on in your business in real time. That's a super important part of what we do at Tai. However, we also keeping on this integration side. We also allow connectivity to business intelligence tools, getting that BI connectivity so that you can use Power BI or Tableau or whatever platform you want to get even deeper reporting into your system fully supportable but out of the box. On your day one at Tai, you can turn it on. You can get all these reports that show you exactly how profitable your business is. You can pivot profitability based on sales, rep, based on customer. All of that's right there, out of the box, so that the executives see what they need to be able to make decisions about their business and to predict what's coming up and what's happening in the business in real time.

Blythe Brumleve: 31:46

If I'm running a small, maybe startup, brokerage but I'm growing and I'm maybe going to be finding myself in that mid-market level. What are some of those things that I should be looking at from a small brokerage standpoint that isn't using tie yet but might be interested in the future as my company starts to grow?

Walter Mitchell : 32:09

Yeah, Tai's. Really our sweet spot is with the brokerages who are looking to grow. And I keep talking about operational excellence, I keep talking about making it so that your team can do their job better and has a great experience. So if your business is looking for a TMS that can help facilitate that, then that's where we want to be. That's where we want to really provide a lot of help. And so, as a small broker, it's important to think about a TMS from okay, well, where am I today and where do I want to be in two years? Where do I want to be in five years? And then think about, like, maybe it is a good idea to have a TMS for a year and then switch over to another one, another a year down the line. Or maybe it's a good idea to grab a TMS that's going to support me at year five and take that whole discussion topic off the table. But that doesn't mean that you don't change the way you use your TMS in two years, right? So if you have a TMS that can scale with your company and that can grow with your company, it reduces some of those friction points later on.

Blythe Brumleve: 33:15

What does that migration process look like? To go from, say, another TMS provider to maybe Tai? Is all the data kind of migrated efficiently or is it just kind of a case by case basis On how? I guess I would be concerned if I was a small brokerage, like, am I going to lose all of that data? But then Was that data junk to begin with, so so how does that migration process work?

Walter Mitchell : 33:43

Yeah, it definitely takes some effort right. There's no way you can transition to from a platform that's running your it's really running the core of your business to another one without a little bit of friction. But the onboarding team for Tai, they understand the process really really well and will help transition all that data. Usually we do, we think of best practices to bring over one year's worth of shipment data, because that's really the most important block of shipment data. We can do more, but we find that that's the sweet spot. Bring over all your carriers, bring over all your customers. But while you're transitioning, tms is also a great time to purge some of those old customers that maybe don't move freight with you anymore and you don't really want to deal with. Bring over what you need, but we definitely help move all of that information across so that the transition is relatively seamless and and and. Then one of the things that we see that I think that I get to watch from my point of view, which is really interesting is From a broker's point of view. It's it's a tough transition and you probably only change TMS is Every five to ten years. It's probably very infrequent. Or maybe you've never switched TMS is before, but our operations team is doing them all the time, every day, all day long, and so there's a very different emotional context to that and that our operation, our onboarding team, is very calm and they're very Systematic about it because it's they've done it so many times and they do a really great job of helping calm down the broker and helping the broker realize, like, I understand, this is tough for you, but it's not tough for us. Similar to the way the broker treats their customers is that moving freight is easy for the broker, but it may not be for the shipper. It may be something challenging for them, but that's the value the broker brings, and the same value comes from our onboarding team.

Blythe Brumleve: 35:38

Do you have any examples of some of those challenges that that some brokers face as they're migrating or onboarding over?

Walter Mitchell : 35:45

Yeah, one of the biggest challenges I think is is timing working out Well. When do we transition our accounting system? What do I do with all the shipments that are pending in transit and that are in transit right now? How do I bring those across? And you know. Then of course, there's the training of the team, so these are all areas that can be challenging and Can offer a little bit of slowdown in the process.

Blythe Brumleve: 36:12

Yeah, for sure, and I, but I think it during our last conversation I think you said in as little as two weeks that a new company can be onboard. I mean, obviously, training and getting used to the system is gonna take a little bit longer than that, but I think it's less daunting if you know that, hey, that this team is experienced in this and they can get us through a. It might be a rough couple weeks, but at least we're going to be in a better position Moving forward because we had this level of experience.

Walter Mitchell : 36:41

Yeah, let's rip off the band-aid, let's get it done quick so that we're not suffering in the middle. And You're exactly right, we do aim for around two to four weeks for a standard transition, but for larger companies it will take a little bit longer. You know they should expect about a three-month transition. But from our side, you know, as I was saying before, the onboarding team is really good at it. They understand the process really well. So for them it's it's very systematic. There's ABC DE and let's just keep running down this checklist and get her done.

Blythe Brumleve: 37:13

I was listening to a conversation with you and and Mary O'Connell from the check call show love that show. I encourage everyone to go. Listen to me, she marries great. But you had touched on a few things that I wanted to to expound on During this conversation. One of those was the aspect of maintenance, which is something that I didn't even really think about, especially, you know, as a You're a software provider. So it's almost like once you make the sale and then you onboard them, it could be very easy to just move on to the next customer, but for you guys, you actually focus on the maintenance side of things from your platform Also a cybersecurity angle, which I would love to get into but from a maintenance perspective, you know what kind of stuff are you guys working on in Tai to make it better for everybody else?

Walter Mitchell : 37:58

Yeah, maintenance is. Maintenance is another contributor to that build versus buy, and it's one of the things that I think it's ignored. When you think like I'm going to build a TMS or I'm going to build this out, you have to account for the ongoing maintenance that goes along with it. Software is not something you can build and then leave. That's not the way it works and you have to think of it like your business. You don't just build your business process and leave it. You build your business process and then you start executing it and then you adjust it and adapt it and you grow it and you nurture it. The same thing happens with software, and so at Tai, we allocate 35% of all of our resources to maintaining the product, which means we're just changing things that already exist Make them more efficient, make them better, make sure they run right, make sure they're adapting to new technologies and that part of the process is super important. But then, from a business side, what we consider the most important component of our business is keeping our current customers, making sure that we're meeting our current customers' needs, and so we spend a tremendous amount of time and energy helping make sure that our support team is well educated and responding quickly and building trust with our customers and working as more partners, then as a vendor, and what we find with that is it helps us understand changes in the business. Like I was talking about LTL a little bit ago, with the over dimension or oversize, as well as limited access. This is something that's changed over time. Seven, eight years ago these weren't nearly as big of issues, but today they are. We have to adapt to that and maintain the processes we have, just like the brokers have to adjust their processes.

Blythe Brumleve: 39:47

Now, what about from, I guess, a cybersecurity angle? I mean, I was just watching a documentary the other night about how scammers and hackers and they've really just exploded in growth since 2020. And they're targeting more B2B operations, they're targeting more B2B companies. There was a hacker who literally drove around a company's headquarters looking for Wi-Fi vulnerabilities from his car. So I'm just curious as to you know, I know that cybersecurity is a big issue. Cybersecurity is important to a TMS, but I guess I just didn't realize how important it really is. Can you kind of, I guess, talk about your approach to it and how Thai addresses this growing concern?

Walter Mitchell : 40:27

Yeah, and as a software provider, we take cybersecurity very, very seriously. We feel like it's our duty to our customers to make sure that security is top of the chain for us. Right, we have to be considering it so that we think about security and that our customers don't have to. And there's a common thought that, like, well, I'm not really a target, and that may be true, like you won't intentionally be a target, but you may unintentionally be a target, and this really applies to the on-premise TMS products that are out there, where you're like, well, I just host this in my office, I'm probably fine. And the answer to that is you're probably not. You're probably more of a target than if you were with a big company, and the reason for that is because the hackers and the guys out there that are posing these ransomware threats, they know that there's millions of the same firewall system that you have running on your on-premise environment, even though there's not a lot to protect behind it. It's relatively small compared to, like, caesars or MGM, right, it's relatively small, but it's an easy target because there's a million of them and they can just go, fire off All of them, ransom them all, and maybe they're only going to get five or 10 grand from some, some they're never going to get responses from. They don't care. It's an easy pathway. So feeling like you're safe because you're small or feeling like you're safe because you're on-premise that's a really dangerous way to think. And what we should be thinking is let's make sure that we have cybersecurity experts at our fingertips and, as a software provider, we pay attention to security a lot. We make sure that we're always aware of the threats and the vulnerabilities, but we also pay cybersecurity companies. We also have them available to us at any time and our team is trained on it. Our team is trained to know what happens when there's an attack. What do we do? What's the next step? And we rehearse it. And I think that's a really important part of this overall conversation is does your technology provider know what to do in the case of a threat?

Blythe Brumleve: 42:38

Okay, now I have to know how do you rehearse it. What does that look like? Is it somebody pretending to be a hacker and then you guys are? It's all hands on deck.

Walter Mitchell : 42:47

Exactly. Yep, all hands on deck. And then we run through the process of making sure that we call the vendor, that we know how to get a hold of the vendor, we know what information we need to provide and we know how to respond accordingly. So yeah, that's exactly how we do it.

Blythe Brumleve: 43:04

Yeah, with that episode that I was talking about, the guy who drove around the building looking for Wi-Fi vulnerabilities he didn't find any at that specific office, but then he just drove down the street to one of their sister offices that was a little bit smaller and he was able to find a vulnerability there, and because all of their offices are talking to each other, it made it very easy for him to get in at the smaller location and then he now has an entry point into the larger location. So I think that that's definitely a proactive approach that you guys are taking, which is always commendable. Now we've talked about a few different partnerships that you guys have had a truck stop, green screens, trucker tools. What about anything that's coming down the pipeline? Do you have anything that you're working on? Or, oh, I would imagine that you're going to announce that when you're ready to announce them?

Walter Mitchell : 43:55

We do so this year. There's a lot going on. Our product team is always very active. I already just announced the Shipify that actually rolls out with us this month, so that's the newest thing that's coming out and we're really excited about that partnership. We'll be readjusting some of our current partnerships as well, so, like, for example, mycare Portal we've been working with them for a long time a really great company overall and we're updating our integration with them to really bring the care fraud prevention to the front of our application and making sure that we're adapting accordingly, that we're maintaining our side of that. So that's an area that we're going to be changing, but also around configurability of our TMS and really giving users more pathways to support what they need to do. We started on this journey a couple of years ago, but we continue to push forward on making sure that different workflows are supported in the Tai platform and different team assignments and ways to work that aren't always the same pathway.

Blythe Brumleve: 45:05

And now, as we come to the end of the conversation, I typically like to ask a few marketing-related questions, so I hope you'll play along with me, but we kind of hinted to this earlier, so I was hoping that you could answer a few of these. But how do you think about marketing when it comes to you and your company?

Walter Mitchell : 45:23

Yeah. So for Tai, we think it's really important to make sure people know who we are and what we're about and for us, you know like I've had a lot of passion around providing great functionality for freight brokers. We care a lot about freight brokers. We care about LTL full truckload freight is our specialty but we want to make sure that everybody in the market knows that Tai can help you be more efficient if you're running LTL and full truckload freight. That's what we're all about and we're not going to be apologetic about it. We're different than other TMSs. We're going to help push technology forward and we feel like that is going to add a tremendous value for both the industry and for the people that use our system.

Blythe Brumleve: 46:07

Next question related to marketing is what's your favorite social media platform and why?

Walter Mitchell : 46:13

Oh, that's a tough one. So, to be honest with you, linkedin is really my primary. As a company, we work with all of them, but LinkedIn is really the main place that I have the most attention and that's where I post the most frequently, and I find it to be really great because it's so easy to reach a good number of people. On a professional level, however, it has been interesting because you brought up Reddit, and our Chief Product Officer, daniel Eli, has been talking a lot about Reddit being a good opportunity to connect with people and the conversations there being a little more natural. But then even the latest one that you brought up was Discord, which is typically a gaming platform, so as another place where freight brokers are communicating. So I think it's kind of exciting and fun to watch this evolve and to change a little bit, and we'll pay attention to all of them.

Blythe Brumleve: 47:12

Yeah, likewise I echo both of those, at least the first two. Discord I like I just wish that there was a way that I could see you know, sort of I almost wish I could have the same features as Reddit that are in Discord, but I wish I could see kind of like a digest each day of the conversations that are taking place. It is very feels, very manual right now where I have to scroll through all of the conversations just to see if it's relevant to me. So hopefully you know, maybe Discord will offer those kind of digest and I think with the Lost Freight community read Lusailot is he's responsible for growing a lot of that presence as well. He's he's talked about maybe creating some content around a digest of what's going on in the Discord community. So definitely that would be much needed.

Walter Mitchell : 47:58

I would love it if you did that. So that is one of the challenges that I've run into is it is hard to continue to pull in all the information that's available, so it can be a real challenge and and you're right about that, on the Discord, so hopefully, it'll be able to pull that off.

Blythe Brumleve: 48:13

All right. Next one is what is your favorite SAS tool that you use every day and can't live without? That's not your own.

Walter Mitchell : 48:21

HubSpot is that tool for us. We use HubSpot as our CRM and as our marketing tool, but for us it becomes the core of our business. So for us, hubspot is what we sell to our customers. So Tai what Tai is to our customers, Hubspot is to me, so I'm able to see everything in there at long activity, I can see our goals, I can see everything that we're targeting right in HubSpot, and I keep it open on my computer every day, all the time, and I'm always watching the dashboards.

Blythe Brumleve: 48:51

That's the most fun about having a HubSpot account is watching a lot of that movement and a lot of those communications and then seeing seeing your progress throughout the year. That you know, especially as a lot of us looked at a lot of our data at the end of last year. Okay, next one is a favorite freight business that isn't your own.

Walter Mitchell : 49:11

Ooh, all right, that's a tough one. Well, I'm a little biased in. My uncle owns a freight business, so I probably should go there. But I don't think I don't know that I really have a favorite as much as I have, over the years, just built so much passion around freight brokerage and the. I feel like you know you get this, this feeling in the marketplace where brokers kind of a dirty word right and nobody wants to embrace the broker. But I firmly disagree with that. Like I feel like the broker is such an important part of the logistics process and provides such a tremendous value and sure there's a couple of bad apples out there that they give it a bad name overall. But the brokerage itself is somewhere that I built a lot of passion around and I really love being able to contribute to their journey and contribute to that part of the process and to partner with, with the freight brokers. They're great.

Blythe Brumleve: 50:07

I was about to say. I would imagine that a lot of the recent partnerships could definitely be a favorite among those, because they help everybody do their jobs more efficiently. Okay, last couple, what is a book or podcast that has changed your perspective on something you used to think about?

Walter Mitchell : 50:26

Yeah, so there's a. There's a book called Switch that I really love. It's relatively recent on my read list it was sometime maybe early 2023, but it talks about change management and talks about how we as people operate in a changing environment and how we deal with that. It's been a really great book. It's really helped us shape our team, help us shape our onboarding and, overall, just make us better.

Blythe Brumleve: 50:53

That's a great pick. I'm gonna have to see if Spotify just added the ability to listen to a bunch of different audio books, and it's been my favorite thing ever. So now I'm leaning. I know I'm hosting a podcast right now, but I'm listening to a lot of more audio books as of late, so definitely we'll have to add that one to the list. And then, finally, I'm gonna put you on the spot with this one. What is your favorite supply chain or logistics fact?

Walter Mitchell : 51:20

Ooh, all right, my favorite supply chain or logistics fact.

Blythe Brumleve: 51:27

Something like like a favorite one that I heard recently was you know, not recently, but about. It always comes to mind when I ask this is you know, 90% of all goods was brought was in your house, was on a ship at one point or another.

Walter Mitchell : 51:40

Yep, that's a pretty good one. All right, I'm failing you on this question, so. So I guess we have to end. Have one question that doesn't go as well because I don't remember the stats, but I did love the. I saw recently the the percentage of shipments that run over the road compared to rail and I thought it was really compelling and interesting to see how much freight goes over the road compared to rail. It's I really thought that there would be more rail shipments than there are, and that was really surprising to me. So that's one of my favorite things of recent.

Blythe Brumleve: 52:15

I wish I remembered the actual stat, but but I think you're right because that's typically what happens in sort of a down market is everybody wants to save money, so they throw their shipments on rail and they get to save a little cash. But there's also the component of society wanting things fast and you know the down. A little bit of a downside with rail is that it's going to get to you slower.

Walter Mitchell : 52:38

So that's.

Blythe Brumleve: 52:38

I think that that's a good one, thanks.

Walter Mitchell : 52:42

I'm glad I came up with one.

Blythe Brumleve: 52:44

I kind of put you on the spot, so that that's one lesson that I will learn as going into 2024. I will make sure I send that question in advance so people can pick a really good one, but that is still a really good one. So kudos to you for coming up with it on the spot. Thanks, all right now, as we sort of close out the conversation, the interview, is there anything else on the horizon that you think is important to mention that we didn't already talk about? And, if not, where can folks follow you and more of your work?

Walter Mitchell : 53:12

Yeah, well, I really appreciate you having me on your first podcast for 2024. It's going to be an exciting year. It's going to be really interesting to see the economic changes that happen this year and how the supply chain reacts to it. But regardless of what happens with the economy and regardless of what happens with the supply chain in general and capacity, what we know is we have to do the best we can to run a good business and for 2024, that's what we're looking forward to is, regardless of which direction that goes, we're going to be here to support freight brokers and we're going to be here to do the best we can and and control what we can control and deal with what we can't. And so for 2024 if that's something that we would love to talk to all the freight brokers out there, especially doing LTL and pull truckload and you can reach us at tai-software. com. That's tai-software. com and you can find me on LinkedIn we're looking forward to connect with everyone.

Blythe Brumleve: 54:08

Thank you. That's his favorite social media platform, so make sure you hit him up on LinkedIn. Thank you, mitch.

Walter Mitchell : 54:14

Thank you.

Blythe Brumleve: 54:19

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 wanted to let y'all know about another company I operate, and that's Digital Dispatch, where we help you build a better website. Now, a lot of the times, we hand this task of building a new website or refreshing a current one off to a co-worker'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. 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.