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You pay your staff a lot of money and you need return on investment for the time they spend at work but overloading them with tasks will backfire and see them resign or become burnt out.

There is a productivity ‘sweet spot’ that will see your team feeling positive about what they achieve in a day without being overwhelmed, but it’s not always easy to find it.

To help you out, these are some popular and outside-the-box workplace productivity shortcuts to reduce your team’s daily workloads and stress levels:

 

Use AI

The obvious use of AI is ChatGPT, which has been around for about a year now. This platform is free in its basic form and can be used to come up with ideas and get you off a blank page when it comes to creating content. Note that the words it generates always needs to be edited; people don’t like to see an obviously AI-written article, email or social media post).

If your staff are losing time crafting emails or content, get them to see if they can find ways to use this tool to shorten the process.

 

Here are a couple of tools that leverage AI to help you achieve more time with fewer resources:

 

  • Midjourney is ChatGPT for images. It incorporates AI functionality so you can make original images with a few prompts.
  • Chatbots are a worthwhile investment to speak with your customers when nobody from your team is available. They can’t answer every question but they can qualify leads, which is a great timesaver.
  • BHuman.ai allows you to create a video of yourself then upload a script with different words. The platform will automatically make fresh content so you can personalise your communications with clients.

 

Fire some clients

This comes back to the 80/20 rule… that 20 per cent of your clients take up 80 per cent of your time.

Some people enjoy complaining and making things difficult. This makes your staff second-guess themselves as well as losing time responding to issues that other clients don’t have a problem with.

If you have clients who make your heart sink when you spot an email or realise it’s them calling, think about letting them go. This can make space for two or more clients who are less trouble and take time-wasting jobs off your staff’s plates.

 

Create and save video instructions

Once your team starts to grow, without fail there will always be someone who is unwell, on holidays or off work to deal with a personal crisis. These things are inevitable but the result is other people have to try to figure out how to take over.

Ask your team to use software like Loom, or even their phone, to record videos of their essential daily tasks. Upload everything to your drive or Dropbox folder and your fill-ins will be able to hit the ground running.

 

Use a freight consultant

If your business sends a lot of goods, you’re probably losing hours dealing with carriers, following up on missing deliveries and trying to find the right service/price.

A freight consultant will take this off your hands, giving you access to a more streamlined freight experience on an ongoing basis. We can also walk you through the technology and automations that will reduce manual data entry and minimise human error.

This is an investment that delivers ROI in terms of money as well as time because a freight consultant can also let you know if you are spending too much with your existing carriers.

 

Raise your prices

This is a less direct way to free up staff time but it can be effective.

Put it this way: if you doubled your prices and lost 50% of your clients, your team would have half the work and you earn the same amount of revenue.

Doubling your prices may not be an option, but if you have not adjusted what you charge over the last couple of years it may mean your staff are working harder than ever to meet their targets. This leads to mistakes and can cost you even more money.

Speak to your team about their workloads; they may have ideas to help maximise productivity; and think about what can be outsourced so your team can put their skills to the best use.

 

Want help to reduce the time your staff spend managing freight in 2024? Reach out to EFS today!

 

Australia is a big country and this can make things challenging for any businesses that sends goods back and forth. You need to have the right freight provider on your side, but the fact is that not every carrier is suitable for every job.

 

At Effective Freight Services, we usually start our relationship with our clients by reviewing the systems, processes and providers they use. Often, we can identify ways to save time and money by expanding the number of providers.

 

Freight in Australia: Is one carrier enough?

 

In a word, no. It makes more sense to have a range of freight providers in your contact list.

 

The first reason for this is that different providers can cater better to different needs. Some have ‘last mile’ deliveries nailed… others specialise in cross-country shipping and have a more cost-effective way of providing this service. The one you use day to day might not be equipped when you have an above-average size delivery, or if you need to send items somewhere remote at short notice.

 

The other reason to work with more than one carrier is that building relationships with multiple freight companies enhances reliability and reduces the risk of disruptions. In the unpredictable world of logistics, unexpected challenges like weather conditions, strikes or equipment failures can disrupt supply chains. By spreading your deliveries across different providers or at least having backups to call on, you can mitigate the impact of these disruptions on your small business. It helps if you have an existing account because you’ll have a point of contact to reach out to.

 

Having multiple freight companies on call will also be helpful as your business grows. You may start to find that a single carrier can’t meet all your needs as you grow.

 

Then there’s customer satisfaction; do you have buyers who are willing to pay extra for same or next-day delivery? In this case, you’ll need a provider that can make this happen. This can pay off by improving your customer satisfaction rates.

 

Lastly, when you work with multiple providers, you can compare quotes and negotiate on price (or do so with the help of a knowledgeable freight consultant).

 

Don’t feel like you have to be disloyal; having different providers on call doesn’t mean you can’t have a contract with one provider and rely on them for the bulk of your freight and logistics. This is still a good way to get good value and have some certainty around prices.

 

The only reason you may decide to ‘pick and stick’ with a single provider is if your business has very limited freight needs, with the same goods going back and forth between the same locations at the same time each week. In this case, there’s less need to have an alternative, although it doesn’t hurt to have backup for emergencies.

 

So, which freight providers are best?

 

Having a few carriers in your contact book makes sense, but defining who is the ‘best’ is a much harder question to answer as it depends on your business, your budget and your timeframes.

 

This is why you need a freight consultant who can help you by recommending the couriers and freight carriers that meet your specific needs. At EFS, we have a range of contacts within the industry and we also have our ear to the ground for feedback, so we know which providers are getting the best reviews.

 

We generally recommend our clients have a key freight provider and a few backup companies that can help manage overflow and special deliveries. If you’d like to know which providers are best for you, get in touch today!

Freight and deliveries may seem like a simple matter of pick up and drop off, but requirements vary dramatically between businesses and types of products.

For this reason, we recommend a tailored freight solution, almost regardless of the size of your business and the industry you’re in.

Find out more about the benefits of a tailor-made freight strategy and service:

 

What is a tailored freight solution?

A tailored freight solution takes your business’s unique needs and challenges and creates a customised approach to your transport and supply chain processes.

Rather than a basic ‘one size fits all’ model, a tailored solution uses data-driven insights to optimise routes, streamline processes and enhance the overall efficiency of this side of your business.

When you work with an expert freight consultant, they will put together a tailored freight solution based on all the available options as well as your budget and goals.

 

The benefits of a tailored freight solution

Here’s how having your freight needs specifically tailored to you can help your business:

 

  • More efficient route planning

One of the primary advantages of a tailored freight solution comes from better route planning. Australia’s massive size and limited transit routes pose unique challenges for transportation, with huge distances between cities and regional hubs. Customised freight solutions leverage technology and data analytics to optimise the routes your goods travel on, ensuring they reach their destinations swiftly and cost-effectively.

 

  • Reduced costs

When it comes to freight and logistics, one of the major pain points for most businesses is cost-effectiveness. Using tailored freight solutions will help your business significantly reduce overall freight costs by optimising routes, consolidating shipments and employing efficient transportation modes.

For example, you may have goods that can travel by rail instead of road or air, and you may be able to negotiate a standing order with a provider that means you pay less.

 

  • Improved flexibility

Staying flexible is key to keeping ahead in an ever-changing market, and flexibility is a big part of tailored freight solutions. Tailoring a freight solution but revisiting it regularly will help you adapt to fluctuations, seasonal variations and any unforeseen challenges that will inevitably come up.

 

  • The right network of providers

A tailored freight solution will connect you with the providers you need for interstate, last minute, air and bulky goods freight, depending on your needs. With these relationships in place, you won’t find yourself scrambling for contacts at the last minute.

 

  • Set yourself up for growth

When you work with a freight consultant to tailor your freight, talk to them about your projections for the future.  This way, you can lay the foundations for expansion by connecting with providers that can take on more jobs as your business grows.

 

  • Happier customers

A satisfied customer is a repeat customer. If your delivery services are on point, they’ll be more likely to stay loyal. Set up a tailored freight solution that keeps your customers’ needs in mind and your business reputation will grow.

 

Choose EFS for tailored freight solutions

It’s hard to tailor a freight solution when you don’t have insider knowledge of the industry. Hand the job to a team of specialists who can save you a great deal of time and money. At Effective Freight Solutions, we can tailor your freight arrangements so they meet your current and future needs.

 

Get in touch to find out more.

There is always something going on in the Australian trucking and freight industry. Take a look at some news updates from December and January.

 

Recent road closures

 

Late January saw Victoria Highway and the Adelaide-Darwin railway line made inaccessible due to flooding.

 

Supermarket shelves were empty in and around Darwin over the weekend of January 20th and 21st. Heavy rain caused the closure of around 600 km of the Stuart Highway, as well as the entirety of the Victoria Highway. To make matters worse, bad weather also caused damage to railway lines in the Carpentaria and Barkly regions, causing more disruptions to loads headed north.

 

Unfortunately, weather disruptions are set to continue, with ex-cyclone Kirrily bringing rain to north-east Queensland.

 

Read more: https://www.freshplaza.com/oceania/article/9594439/floods-disrupt-transport-networks-in-australia-affecting-fresh-produce-supply/

 

 

New camera technology to shape NSW freight industry

 

New trials are being carried out in NSW of revolutionary new camera technology that could reduce congestion and increase road safety nationwide.

 

The solar powered, high-definition cameras will take pictures of heavy freight movement in order to help the government better understand freight movement around the state.

 

After a picture is taken, artificial intelligence within the unit can tell the difference between different types of heavy vehicles, for example, a container carrying heavy vehicle, B-Double or Semi-trailer. The photos will be separated into different categories to help keep track of road usage in NSW, including the type of vehicle and the type of product being transported.

 

Read more here:

https://bigrigs.com.au/2023/04/13/more-machine-learning-cameras-to-track-truckies-through-nsw/

https://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/system/files/media/documents/2023/Machine-Learning-cameras-factsheet.pdf

 

 

Should truck heights be extended?

 

Calls are being made for truck heights to be extended after the latest statistics in NSW showed a significant fall in over height truck incidents. November 2023 saw only four over height incidents compared to 25 in November 2022.

 

The call, by the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), is for the maximum height of trucks to be raised to 4.6 metres, a rise of 0.3 metres from the current limit.

 

The reasoning behind the call for change is that the current restriction is causing operators to apply for 1,143 permits a year. Raising height restrictions could save the industry $95,000 in permit fees and save time to a value of around $91,000.

Read more: https://www.fullyloaded.com.au/industry-news/2312/ata-calls-for-truck-heights-to-extend-to-46m

 

 

Is ‘HyWay’ driving the way of the future?

 

Countrywide Hydrogen has started a feasibility study into increasing the possibility of hydrogen-powered freight between Adelaide and Melbourne.

In a bid to lower carbon emissions across the country, the study will investigate possible hydrogen refueling sites along a new ‘Hyway’ (that’s a Hydrogen Highway), that includes Portland, Warrnambool and Mount Gambier.

 

Hydrogen fuel cells work similarly to batteries and are a possible game changer for road vehicles. While having a similarly low carbon footprint to electric batteries, hydrogen fuel cells are considerably quicker to refill. They are also refilled in a manner much more akin to filling up a regular petrol or diesel vehicle, making it easier and more familiar.

 

Read more: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-12-29/planned-hydrogen-fuel-cell-freight-highway-adelaide-to-melbourne/103250276

 

 

Truck executive jailed over road crash

 

A former transport executive was jailed for up to three years over what was described as ‘reckless workplace behavior’ in the lead-up to a crash that killed four police officers.

The individual was found guilty of failing to follow health and safety standards while working as national operations manager.

The offenses that led to the penalty reportedly included completing false timesheets, failing to ensure drivers were managing their fatigue appropriately and systemic failures to ensure safety measures were followed.

 

Read more: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-01-23/connect-executive-jailed-eastern-freeway-fatal-police/103380902

 

Stay up to date with industry news by following Effective Freight Solutions on social media.

Here’s a quick update about how our wallets and bank accounts are going to be feeling once 2024 gets underway.

As you’re no doubt aware, the Reserve Bank of Australia raised interest rates multiple times over the last two years in an attempt to get inflation under control. Results have been slow to appear, which means there has been no choice but to keep pushing them higher. This has led to the ‘double-edged sword’ problem of rising costs and higher mortgage payments.

While a number of factors influence interest rate decisions, the consumer price index is one of them. Fortunately, the latest CPI results in Australia indicated that inflation is finally slowing down. And interestingly, it’s fuel prices that contributed most to the drop.

 

CPI figures for November 2023

The cash rate is currently sitting at 4.35 per cent, a 12-year high, with some economist predicting that the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) will raise it to 4.6 per cent in February.

However, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported the monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) indicator rose 4.3 per cent between January and November 2023. This is down from 4.9 per cent in October, indicating that the wind is dropping out of the sails of inflation.

Reduced fuel prices were a big factor in the results, with the ABS sharing that automotive fuel prices rose 2.3 per cent in the 12 months to November, down from the annual increase of 8.6 per cent in October. In monthly terms, automotive fuel prices fell 0.5 per cent as crude oil prices continued to soften, reaching a five-month low.

These lower costs for petrol may continue.. as reported by 9News, the USA is producing more oil than they ever have and that has led to the price drop at the bowser as other producers cut their cost per barrel in order to maintain market share.

Meanwhile, the average price of food and non-alcoholic beverages still rose 4.6 per cent in the 12 months to November, but there is a downwards trend; a 5.3 per cent annual increase was reported in October.

 

What will happen to interest rates in February and beyond?

It’s early days, but the recent fall in CPI means Australians may experience interest rate relief sooner rather than later.

Australia’s largest lender, the Commonwealth Bank, recently predicted that we will start to see interest rate cuts in 2024. The Chief Economist at CBA, Stephen Halmarick, said that interest rates should fall by as much as 0.75 percentage points in 2024 and then drop again in late 2025 to a more reasonable cash rate closer to 3.6 per cent.

In the more immediate future, the RBA is widely expected to hold interest rates as they are, and mortgage holders will be saved from a rate rise in February. Whether or not this continues will depend on factors including unemployment figures, local inflation and the global economy.

Expert predictions do seem to align with the Government’s macroeconomic outlook, which says the Treasury believes inflation in Australia peaked in late 2022, and that it will moderate as global price shocks and supply constraints continue to ease. According to the 2023/2024 Budget’s outlook, the CPI is forecast to decline from 6.0% in 2022–23 to 3.25% in 2023–24, bringing things much closer to the Reserve Bank’s target of between 2 and 3 per cent inflation.

From a global perspective, the economy does look set to remain sluggish throughout the year thanks to ongoing conflict around the world, continued challenges with supply chains and high levels of public debt. While Australia’s economy and resources put us in a good position, we are still impacted by global economic events.

In terms of fuel, the crisis in the Middle East may see prices start to rise again but it’s a ‘wait and see’ situation at the moment.

The February interest rates announcement is set for the first Tuesday of the month. Based on CPI figures, economists believe they will stay put, and some say we have even seen the last of the rises for this cycle. However, time will tell as there are a number of factors involved with the Reserve Bank’s decision.

 

Stay in touch with freight and economic news by following EFS on social media!

Last year, we interviewed a number of our clients and business owner contacts to find out what they think about freight and logistics and what types of challenges they are facing when it comes to parcels and deliveries.

The answers they came back with are helping us refine our services as freight consultants in 2024.

This is what we learned from our survey:

 

Key freight concerns for Australian businesses

When we asked our customers what their biggest concerns were in dealing with freight solutions, there were three standouts:

1. Delays

Easily the biggest concern for Australian businesses when it comes to freight is delays; with 61 per cent our of customers citing this as their biggest source of frustration.

2. Visibility of freight

Freight visibility, including real-time tracking, is the next big area of concern, coming in at 44 per cent. People want to know where their deliveries are at any given time and they want solid assurance of their arrival.

3. Cost

Not surprisingly, in the current climate, the cost of freight is on business owner’s minds. There have been huge fluctuations in the cost of fuel and deliveries since the start of the pandemic and it’s hard for business owners who aren’t familiar with the freight industry to know what represents a fair deal.

The business representatives we spoke with also worry about:

  • Damaged goods
  • Unexpected freight charges
  • Packaging challenges
  • Time-consuming processes
  • Poor customer service
  • Supply chain disruptions

 

Important factors for customers

Our research also asked our customers what factors influenced them when selecting a freight solution.

The top three were:

1. Reliability of freight

Customers expect their items to be shipped on time and in proper condition.

2. Cost-effectiveness

In line with major concerns, the cost-effectiveness of the service is a strong contributor to the customer’s choice of freight solutions.

3. Customer service

It’s all about having a point of contact and getting help when you need it.

 

How to solve freight problems

Our research also found that some business owners see a freight consultant as an additional cost rather than a cost saver. However, the clients who have worked with us for five years or more understand that we provide a network freight solution that consolidates freight options to meet their requirements.

Using our services is an easier and more cost-effective option than going directly to a carrier, and we are able to provide the added benefit of quality customer service.

While we can’t take responsibility for solving the problem of late deliveries ourselves, we can recommend the providers with the best track records for reliability. We also have the contacts to help our clients find the current status of freight or missing deliveries.

If you’re looking to find the best carriers and save on freight costs, we can help by providing:

  • A centralised solution with access to a broad range of carriers, tailored to your needs.
  • The right carrier for the route and the freight to deliver the best efficiency, reliability and cost savings.
  • Knowledge and expertise across the freight network, meaning your business can save money.
  • Online systems and processes are considered industry-leading, making your freight processes more seamless.

Our survey respondents also said EFS is a trusted partner that is responsive, reliable, and easy to deal with. They recognise that customer care is our superpower and are happy to recommend us because of this fact.

 

Looking for better outcomes for your goods in transit during 2024?

 Now that we have a clear understanding of our clients’ key challenges, we’re on a mission to help overcome them. We are also communicating with the freight providers in our network about what their clients expect to see more of so they can improve in the most important areas as well.

 

To find out which solutions will reduce your freight headaches, contact Effective Freight Solutions today!