On March 9th, our Key Account Lead, Rob Doherty spoke with Chris Jolly on Coffee w/#The Freight Coach. At Rose Rocket, Rob helps some of our larger customers implement and use our transportation management software or a TMS system. Rob is a wealth of industry knowledge, having started out in the transportation industry about 12 years ago. He’s worked in many departments within a trucking company, from claims, to pricing, to dispatch — he’s seen it all.
During this episode, Rob and Chris talk about how much value technology, like a transportation management system can bring to an organization — from helping with visibility into freight to integrating with other tools a business needs. Rob also highlights some unique features the Rose Rocket TMS has.
This episode is great to listen to but if you’re tight on time, we pulled out some of our favorite parts of the conversation.
Tune into the episode here or read on for a few highlights.
(Highlights have been condensed and edited for clarity)
Chris: So, what was one thing that stuck out to you early on in your career that was like,
"Why isn't this digitized? How is this still a manual process?"
Rob: That's a great question. It was really the question that eventually brought me to Rose Rocket. Having spent so much time in different departments within an LTL trucking company, I just saw how much value technology did bring, right? We were using a very recognizable TMS system and it did bring value, but it was weird that on my smartphone, I could order a hamburger and I can watch the truck do the pickup but not the truck.
I can watch the person pick up the food, bring it to me. It was seamless, and it was paperless. When I was at work though, it was a lot of shuffling of paperwork, a lot of emails, a lot of phone calls, and a lot of just redundant work. So, that's what's spurred my interest, I think, in technology. Why was it that I'm working within this very, very progressive company and the technology that we had didn't really meet the expectations that I had with my personal life outside of work?
Chris: That's where I was too, because I'm of the broker’s mindset. I was brought up in the old school environment, making all the calls and doing all that, but I'm such a proponent of technology, because there's so many manual redundant processes. The thing that I don't understand is everybody uses this phrase, "Time is money," but nobody wants to invest to clean up their processes to save them time.
But everybody will say, "Our sales reps need to be on the phone growing their book of business," but they're not going to invest in technology to make that possible, because minutes turn into hours, hours turn into days. If you broke it down and you're looking at your sales team or your operations team and they're losing a month of productivity in a year. So, really, they're working 10 months out of the year. You got four weeks’ vacation. You're losing a month of productivity due to the fact that your processes are so manual. They take so much time. To post a load, it takes five minutes. That's one load.
Rob: One of those things is it's a death by a thousand cuts scenario, right? You eventually just assume that that's the way that things are and there's nothing better. Before you know it, that's coming directly off your bottom line. To me now, I mean, seeing what we can do with technology at Rose Rocket, you can't do those things.
Chris: I think as a broker, when I was brokering, the thing that I had the hardest time with is the multiple different platforms that we had to use. That's outside of our TMS. You know you got multiple load boards. You're checking compliance. You're doing whatever out there, mapping out a route. Even though as a broker, you don't give out directions, I'm going to say that right now. But you're out there and you're utilizing route optimization through maps and everything else.
I always thought, "Why can't we just be in one platform? As a broker, why can't I do everything in one spot?" Because you don't think about it, but you're moving 25 loads in a day or something like that. How much time are you spent navigating through multiple platforms? I don't think people pay attention to that.
Rob: No, you're preaching to the choir. I mean, it's why we call ourselves the platform TMS, because we recognize that every broker, every carrier is going to have multiple softwares, multiple tools in their tool belt to get their job done. But modern software, like Rose Rocket, it plays nice with other software. The idea is that we're a platform TMS system, because we want to integrate with other tools that you have, right? So, you're a broker and you've signed up a new carrier.
Do you really want to have to go and log into another carrier compliance tool on yet another tab on your browser to make sure that the carriers above board? No, you should be able to log into Rose Rocket, add in the credentials, the MC, the DOT ID for the carrier, pull in that data from the carrier client software, and see it within the tool that you're using to dispatch that carrier, communicate with your customer. We're a platform TMS, because we want to bring all of those tools together. I mean, those tools are awesome, right? There are amazing software companies out there doing amazing things. We want to bring it all together. We want to bring it into one place for efficiency.
Chris: I've worked on some very, very nice TMS. I've worked on some basic versions of TMS. Essentially, they get the job done, but how big do you want to grow your business? You can't use a starter kit to build out a brokerage with it.
Rob: Yeah, absolutely. It's got to scale with you. The software has to scale with you. As great as Excel spreadsheets are — I used Excel spreadsheets to manage orders and do all the things that I need to do. It's no way to go from a $50,000, $500,000, $1 million a year brokerage to X, whatever your goals are. There's just no way.
Chris: TMS software, it's only going to get better from where it is right now. It's only going to improve. I want people to realize that choosing the right TMS is legitimately going to... I don't want to say make or break your business, because I was on the Excel spreadsheet as well at a point in my career. But I think if you're out there and you see the true value of where you're going to bring your brokerage or your company, you have to look at a 5- or 10-year lens. It's not an expense. It's an investment, because with the right TMS partner, the integration capabilities that they have at their disposal is only going to skyrocket their business.
Rob: You hit the nail on the head. It's not going to break your business to be on Excel, but it's going to put a ceiling on it. The fact of the matter is if you want growth, if you want to meet customers and meet partner carriers where they are, which is on the internet, you need a software that's there as well. I mean, pricing isn't my forte, but we have a subscription model, right? So, you're a startup brokerage. You're a small brokerage. You don't want to spend a million dollars upfront for a software that gets dropped on you and then the provider waves goodbye. That's not what we're about at all. It's a subscription-based model. I liken that to the freight world anyways, right?
Coming from my background, we had lots of regular customers. We would have a contract with them, but you're only as good as your last shipment, so to speak. You got that right here. That's great. That doesn't mean that they're going to ship with you today per se. But anyways, the idea is that you're a small brokerage. You care about cost. It's easy to get into Rose Rockets. There's a trial phase. And then if you like us, we'd love that, obviously, you would stay. If not, then we part as friends.
Chris: Yeah, I've personally demoed this product. It's clearly been built by transportation professionals for transportation professionals. The biggest thing I can say is it's the little nuances. It's those little things like that when you're building a load and you can just have those little mini screens that pop up in that step to where you don't lose your work and everything else, because I'm not a computer person at all. I have wasted so much time in my career, because I have to close it out and restart it, because I forgot where I was essentially at that point. So, the flow of it with your workflow, it's so vital, I think. Back to these, it's these little things. It's these little time saves.
Rob: The little things make the big things, right? The team at Rose Rocket is very deep as far as trucking experience. I've worked in the industry my entire career. All of my teammates, the ones that I work with directly on support, on onboarding, they're from the industry. That's super important for a couple reasons. Obviously, we're the voice of the customer inside the company, inside Rose Rocket. So, if UX or if the product or engineering has a question about how something should be in the system in Rose Rocket, they come to us. Again, we're not speaking as outsiders. We have lived and breathed the work. The other great part about that is when it comes to support, right?
When you call into our support, you're not talking to somebody who has just mastered Rose Rocket — they've also mastered the industry. So, you're not calling in and having to explain yourself three times, four times, five times. You're talking to somebody who knows why it's important that the proof of delivery be such a way, that the invoice be sent with the documentation that you need. I think that's really important. I think that it's important that you're talking to people from the same ilk as you.
Chris: I want to talk to you guys about Rose Rocket. I'm a broker. I've started my own business. What's one thing that separates you from everybody else that's on the market right now?
Rob: One is our customer portal. So, I hinted at this earlier. The world is changing. Consumer expectations are seeping into the B2B relationships, right? So, why is it that I can order something on Uber Eats and have complete visibility to it, but if I'm moving an MRI machine, a $10 million item, and it's being handed off between multiple carriers and what have you, why can't I see what's going on? So, there's a head on collision, let's say, or there's influence from the consumer world, B2C world that is seeping into the B2B world.
So, our customer portal is a huge thing. It allows our customers to interact with their customers efficiently. They're not dealing with emails or phone calls about tracking and tracing, about proofs of delivery, invoices, things like that. The other thing I would say is we have a lot of functionality when it comes to planning.
So, you can obviously plan and execute a full load. That's pretty straightforward. But what if it's an LTL shipment that has your broker and you're relying on a couple of partners to execute the shipment? We've got excellent functionality around legs, movements, multiple carriers, multiple partners handling different aspects of a shipment. And then of course, the third thing is, as I already mentioned, it's the idea of platform TMS. The idea that every release, we're adding integrations with the other services that you use on a daily basis. We don't charge you for it, right?
Chris: Free is always a good price, you guys. Free.
Rob: My favorite price. You need to connect with your SaferWatch account. You need to connect with your QBO or your Samsara or Geotab accounts. We do that. We build that integration, and then we make it available to you. It's just a matter of turning it on and away you go.
Chris: So, let me ask this, you're talking about SaferWatch right there. If I have a carrier that's active in my system and then they go into whatever, their do not use, they got something, is there a feature that I can have that can put them into a do not use in my internal system?
Rob: Yeah, exactly. So, a couple things happen. So, you've connected your Rose Rocket account with your SaferWatch account. You've got Robert Doherty trucking in there, ABC trucking. Something's happened. They're no longer compliant. What happens is the two softwares talk. Inside Rose Rocket, it turns off the ability of the dispatcher to dispatch to that carrier, one. Two, you see visually when you try to call up that carrier, that their score is in bad standing essentially. It's real time. It's visual. There's no question about it. It's again, an example of you don't have to do the swivel chair integration, right? You don't have to swivel into a different software and then come back to Rose Rocket. It's all in one place.
Chris: So, what if I already have them assigned to an active shipment? The load hasn't picked up yet. It's supposed to pick up later on today, for example. Will it somehow notify me that these guys have fallen out of compliance?
Rob: Yeah. So, if you're inside the dispatch, it's a manifest in Rose Rocket. There's a score that's constantly being updated based on the carrier's compliance in whatever carrier compliance software that you're dealing with.
Chris: Okay, now, that's good to know. That's always, I think, the hardest thing, because obviously, as a broker, you're only as good as your last shipment. Things happen, okay? We've both been in this industry too long to be surprised by something, but I want to know, because I need to protect the integrity of my relationship with my customers. I got to put the best carrier on every single shipment. I can't roll the dice. At least, I have in the past. I'm way past that in my career to ever roll the dice on any shipment. But I think right there, I mean, especially from a small business standpoint, to have that ability right then and there like that, because the cargo claims and everything else that can happen is a real thing. Those things can bankrupt your business.
To put that into context, you guys, spending a little bit extra upfront on your TMS to potentially save your business due to it notifying you that a carrier has X amount of things that have gone wrong in the past week and now, you have the ability to pull them off of a shipment prior to knowing. Because I know from my experience in the past with a TMS, once they're assigned to a load, they're good, but you can't assign them to the next day, for example. So, it's like having that instant notification of that, that could legitimately save your business right there. I know that somebody out there would be like, "Oh, that's extreme." I've had a lot of extreme situations happen when I was brokering freight, okay? You name it, it's come up.
Rob: Yeah, it's an empowering tool to level up.
Rob: You also have the ability to run dashboards, analytics. You can see, for example, "Who are you giving freight to? How are they performing?" Because back to your point, it's about building relationships, right? I don't want to have to do all the work, right? If I'm a broker, I don't have to necessarily want to do all the work of posting it to a million load boards. If I've got a stable network of partner carriers that do good by me, that do good by my customers, I want to know though. I want to know that. That's great analytics and data comes in.
Chris: That's key right there, because I am all about that relationship, but I also know, working in a startup environment, you're wearing multiple hats. So, it's tough to track driver progress and everything else accurately. To be able to have a report that states that, lane data, for example, because I'm all about that core region and that core fleet type to start when you're building out your business. Having that lane data... If a carrier ran, say, Chicago, Illinois to Des Moines, Iowa for me six times and I build a new one, is there a feature in there that automatically emails a carrier?
Rob: Yeah, not like that. There's a way to automatically see who has done that for you in the past. So, you're creating the order, let's say, there's a way to view previous quotes and pull that up. It basically shows you a history of that lane. It tells you which carrier you would have moved with previously, historically.
Chris: Okay. Now, is it ranked off of the amount of times that they've done it, Or is it the last three carriers who did the load for you?
Rob:It would be the most recent.
Chris: In regards to visibility, I think real visibility is going to be the separator of transportation providers. It's been talked about since I've been in this industry, but people are notorious for having their tracking not work when things go wrong. So, how do I get it? Because I'm of a full transparency model with my shippers and my customers. I want them to know every time I update a load. If I have 24-hour tracking on it and I have it set for an hour tracking, I want them to be notified, because I want them to see all these things.
Rob: Yeah, no, no, no, there's a couple of options when it comes to visibility, right? You've got the ability, for example, to, of course, mark orders picked up, mark orders delivered. In between that, you can set location ETA. You can do that manually, but we've already talked about that. That's not really what you should be doing. So, again, we've got integrations with MacroPoint, with FourKites, where you dispatch the load to the carrier. Carrier identifies the driver for you. You basically activate the MacroPoint, for example, the FourKites integration.
You're now seeing in real time within Rose Rocket, within that specific order, where in the world the truck is. You can choose to share that information with your customer as well. So, I talked about the customer portal. You can choose to share real time visibility with your customers. So, now, you don't get those phone calls, "Where is the truck?" from your customer, because you've given them permission to see and leverage quite frankly... Think of it this way. You are allowing your customer to leverage your MacroPoint service, your integration. That's happening through Rose Rocket in one place for the customer as well.
Imagine you're a broker on Rose Rocket. You've tendered a load to another Rose Rocket customer. The two instances of Rose Rocket can talk. So, the carrier who's using Rose Rocket has given their driver the Rose Rocket Driver mobile app. They've turned on their telematics with ELD integration. It knows when it's reached the geo fence at a certain customer location.
The idea is that everyone becomes aware of that, including the broker and the broker's customer who's using our portal. So, you don't need to worry about making that email and making that phone call. The information is passed through. That's including when the driver does upload the proof of delivery. It's signed by the receiver with the in and out time. It's passed through to everybody. Everyone's on the same page. It's that continuity of information that is going to help everybody to your point, right? It builds trust. It saves you time from having to do those emails and phone calls, staying on top of everybody. It's the future, quite frankly.
Chris: So, you brought up right there that the driver uploads the BOL. So, if I'm a broker, how does that work? If he uploads a BOL, does it automatically save it to my load profile inside of the TMS? So, from a billing standpoint, because POD retrieval is the biggest headache, I would say, out there. I mean, I get it drivers, they're supposed to drive. But if you have that little capability to snap it up inside of your TMS and have it there with... Because we take cell phone pictures all the time. That's an acceptable practice by a lot of people. A lot of shippers and receivers will take that. So, to be able to have that and have it automatically uploaded from a billing perspective, that first time saved right there alone.
Rob: It's better than just a photo, because we have the technology now to clean up the images, right? It's not just like you're taking selfies. Although I wish I could clean up a lot of those, but the idea with document capture, of course, you're taking a picture of a document in maybe a poorly lit area or you don't have a perfect setup for it. The tool, technology can help you, right? It crops out the noise. It cleans up the image. You change the contrast. So, it's as if you would put it through a scanner in the office except you didn't have to wait days to get it and you didn't have to make multiple phone calls to chase it.
Chris: I love it. So, I'm going to stay on the billing thing here, because I know for a lot of brokers out there. If it auto populates the BOL, how does the close out process work? Because I got to close it out. I got to create an invoice for my customer. Does that all auto generate strictly from inside? Do you guys have an integration with whoever you use for accounting, or does Rose Rocket create an invoice for you?
Rob: Yup. So, essentially, what we do is we take it right up to the creation sending of the invoice. The reason we do that is because our software has the status change history. It's got a place for internal notes. So, if my job is to create invoices and I want to see if the dispatchers, the planners or the brokers leave any notes there that are meaningful to me, going to exempt detention charges this time for A, B, C, whatever, the idea is that we have all the data about the order, what's happened to it. We've got the backup. We give somebody the opportunity to review that information and click save and send. When they do that, they're emailing the customer a copy of the system generated invoice.
So, our system generates an actual invoice. It sends the backup that you require, the customer requires. And then it immediately exports to whatever financial management system that you have QBO, Xero, et cetera, right? So, there's no additional work. It's just a matter of generating the invoice and sending it once you're satisfied that it all checks out. And then of course, the data goes to the accounting software, which is where you keep your books and where you do your financial reporting, all that stuff, because that's what that software is built for. It is built for accounting and best practices in that area.
Chris: But at the end of the day, every business needs help in that regard, especially depending on how big of an organization you're working for. As a small business, which the overwhelming majority of people in transportation are technically a small business, those things right there, to have it talk to that, to where you can see your money is vital. It's vital to your organization.
Rob: I mean, it's so frustrating. You can think about it. You got to spend money to collect money, right? You've got to hire people to chase other people for money. When you're all on the same page as the detention charges, for example, were happening, you'd have no need for it, right? Yeah, it'll be a better world when everyone is on the same page and plays nice. That's exactly what we're about. That's what Rose Rocket is about collaboration.
Chris: I love it. I mean, you have to collaborate in this industry. The days of the silo are slowly starting to deteriorate, not as fast as I want. I mean, that's the thing is you have to work together in that regard. So, I guess, man, what's next for Rose Rocket? What's one thing that you guys are really excited about?
Rob: I think the things that we're most excited about are what we've talked about right now as far as collaboration, we're seeing more and more of an appetite for that. We're seeing more and more brokers and carriers wanting to work together, wanting to be transparent and overcoming that, for lack of a better word, paranoia that comes with hiding, not being transparent.
Chris: Yeah. That's the best word to use, transparent.
Rob: Yeah. It is. We've all felt it. I have felt it. I've experienced it. Now, that I'm inside a software company that is trying to build something to help and seeing how it's helping our customers collaborate and save time, it's magic, for lack of a better word. So, anyways, we're really, really, really excited about that and continuing to listen to our customers and build functionality that we need. I told you about our support and our record on that front, but we've got a really, really great onboarding team whose mandate is also to collect feedback from customers. They are regularly talking to customers, collecting feedback.
We're the translators as I might have alluded to. We talk to the customers. We speak their language. We understand the things that they need. We basically take that in house and explain it to product and to engineering. We've got lots of great stuff on the roadmap. I encourage anybody listening that's interested to call the sales team here, and they can go through all those things. There's almost too much to talk about.
We hope you enjoyed reading some of the highlights of Rob and Chris’ conversation! When you have the chance, be sure to listen to the full episode.