J&B Group: A Back-Office Upgrade
J&B realized that their portal-based payables process had big problems and turned to HubTran for help.
From humble beginnings, J&B's very American success story started in 1979 when Bob Hageman began selling meat out of the back of his truck in Minnesota. Since then, the company has become one of the largest food service and cold chain 3PLs in the Midwest, with much of that growth powered by its brokerage division. With this growth, J&B launched a lean-value stream project to identify bottlenecks and constraints.
The exercise quickly uncovered significant bumps in carrier invoice processing. This was a surprise to J&B, since they had already implemented a system to manage payables - a portal that allowed carriers to log in and submit invoices and paperwork.
J&B found out the hard way that portals come with problems. The first of which is carrier acceptance. Getting carriers to change their invoicing process for J&B was like pulling teeth. Each carrier had to create an account and log into the portal every time they wanted to invoice. This was a lot to ask, since even the largest brokers make up only a small portion of any one carrier's loads. Getting carriers and factoring companies to comply was a real bear. And because J&B worked with many carriers on an infrequent, spot basis, those carriers resisted even more.
Pam Ekstrom, Financial Reporting Manager at J&B, identified another pain point, "The main area of waste was a persistent 24-hour delay in moving load information and approvals between us, the invoice system, and our TMS. Everything stopped for a day, even if we had all the paperwork required for processing. And if the documents were missing? We'd have to reject the invoice and wait for the carrier to provide a new one, which could be days, weeks or months." More than a little hiccup.
Before and after.
"Trying HubTran was a quick, easy, and affordable choice for us," says Ekstrom. "Before we even started, we knew it was a more efficient solution. And because HubTran was already integrated with our TMS provider, the start-up was almost instant. We were also sold by the value proposition for our carriers - we could tell that HubTran would be much easier for them."
J&B's efficiency transformation with HubTran was dramatic. "An important metric is Days to Bill, and HubTran has helped us shorten that. All that paperwork congestion is gone."
While efficiency may be HubTran's biggest selling point, it's nothing without accuracy. "Errors have been virtually eliminated," notes Kristine Rausch, J&B Accounting Coordinator. "Having the correct load information for every single invoice, right from the start, is great. Change requests, delays, lumpers - anything that could cause an invoice to not rate correctly - all get resolved without the carriers even knowing about it. Not the case with the old system."
HubTran also allows brokers to communicate OS&D directly with the carrier and allows you to mark the load as "exception" for easy tracking. Kristine explains, "Even OS&D issues, which were especially hard to communicate the old way, are now easier. OS&D happens on about 15% of loads. With HubTran, we're getting resolution in five minutes when it used to take up to three days or more."
Feeling the love.
When Kristine talked to carriers about the portal, she got an earful. J&B's carriers hated putting in the time and effort to make the system work: Being trained, filling out forms and dealing with system failures were a burden. Kristine notes, "Our job as brokers is to make the carrier's job easier. Not harder."
"We already knew why carriers disliked the old system, but the more we used HubTran, the more pronounced the differences became," says Rausch. "Making the process easier for carriers is important to us. The market is tough, and it's changing fast. New challenges, like complying with the E.L.D. mandate, are a big deal. We didn't want to lose good carriers by making it harder for them to work with us."
Peace at last.
HubTran is better at managing invoices for brokers and 3PLs because it doesn't require carriers to sign up or change how they work. And because HubTran's artificial intelligence learns from every single invoice it handles, it only gets smarter and faster as you use it. All of that makes carriers happy, and makes your back office more efficient.
Pam says it all: "The bottom line is that when everything is done automatically and done right, the carriers aren't stressed and the back office isn't stressed. Everything hums. HubTran gave us a sense of order and calm. Now there's no need to staff up as we grow. No panic. So easy."
"Making the process easier for carriers is important to us. The market is tough, and it's changing fast."