TIMOCOM 23.11.2023
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Customers share their top TIMOCOM tips: How HTR Logistik uses the freight exchange

Customers share their top TIMOCOM tips: How HTR Logistik uses the freight exchange

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The HTR Logistik team, wearing black tops, stands in front of its vehicle fleet and office container

Nestled in the picturesque municipality of Oberstadion in northern Baden-Württemberg, family-run logistics company HTR Logistik serves the whole of Europe – but that wasn’t always the plan. Read our blog post to find out how what seemed like happenstance turned into a major success – and what the experienced transport company’s top tips are for using the freight exchange.

Tucked between green hiking trails, crystal-clear streams and majestic lakes, the Trappe family runs a successful transport company. They started out of their own home back in 2008, and had just one vehicle to use as a transporter. Today, HTR Logistik provides transport services for around 50 regular customers. ‘And new orders keep coming in,’ says dispatcher Martin Trappe. Especially since they started using TIMOCOM. But it wasn’t all plain sailing with the freight exchange to begin with.
 

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Lemons and lemonade: From working out of your own home to providing Europe-wide logistics


Transport as a means to an end

As the old saying goes, ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’. And that’s exactly what the Swabian founders of HTR Logistik did: In 2007, Hans-Jürgen Trappe, who at the time performed quality assurance for a well-known car manufacturer, got the opportunity to start his own business, which saw him insert electronics into switch boxes and assemble them at home. Working out of his own home meant constantly having to bring individual parts such as metal boxes and electronics back to the house on Euro pallets, so he bought himself a vehicle that was right for the job. Trappe’s wife was heavily involved and helped out with anything that needed doing, be it writing invoices or even getting behind the wheel. Their two sons also lent a hand. At first, it was after work and at weekends. But then it wasn’t long before the whole village got involved and worked hard to help with the assembly.
 

Transport services become the core business

But then in 2008, the world was rocked by the global financial crisis, which resulted in a major slump and caused the business to stagnate. The Trappes didn’t give up, however. ‘We already had a transporter, so we wanted to put it to use. We started by asking our old employer if they had any loads available for trucking, and we then expanded our radius to include other companies in the area. This ended up with another pallet being added every now and then,’ the dispatcher continues. The stream of orders from the surrounding shops, producers and traders started to grow, and as the customer base continued to expand over the years, so did the transport business. The company made it through the crisis and flourished in the years that followed. Eventually, the number of calls that Trappe Senior was receiving became too much for just one person to handle alone, so eldest son Martin joined the business full time and took over the scheduling. The services the company provides include acting as a supplier for major car manufacturers, as well as transporting scaffolding and casings throughout Europe. According to Martin, these areas have also slowed down considerably again due to the current crises: ‘We had a lot of just-in-time orders before the war in Ukraine started, but then the numbers simply dropped. Product lines came to a halt because cables from Ukraine hadn’t arrived, for instance.’ Despite these problems, the company was able to weather the storm, as it could also find other customers thanks to TIMOCOM. You can also see this positive entrepreneurial attitude in Martin's summation: ‘Sitting around and waiting won’t make things better. You have to go and make something happen.’

Viewing empty runs as an opportunity: Expand your business thanks to TIMOCOM

‘We had another one of those typical overnight jobs – 1,000km to Hungary. The problem was, it was one way – which meant an empty return load,’ Martin explains. One of many empty runs. ‘Letting the trucks come back with empty return loads is a disaster,’ the dispatcher adds. These one-way journeys, also known as empty runs, aren’t just a pain from a financial point of view – they’re also a waste of resources. So the Trappes started to ask around and try out digital freight matching platforms where they could find the return loads they needed. But as time went on, even these platforms became too ‘small’. The offers on them were too limited to sustain the company’s growing trucking load needs, so HTR Logistik decided to opt for TIMOCOM based on recommendations from colleagues in the industry. Although the monthly flat rate is higher than on smaller loads boards platforms, it has certainly paid off and made empty runs a thing of the past.

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‘It’s incredible how quickly you can find the right freight offers and transport partners with TIMOCOM. We were surprised – in a positive way!” says Martin Trappe, who is a dispatcher at HTR Logistik. 

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Experience and common sense: Top tips for using freight exchanges

With TIMOCOM, the transport company can find both trucking loads and transport partners across Europe. It can also continually expand its field of business thanks to the large network. But there are one or two annoyances to deal with – such as the superfluous e-mails from transport service providers that sometimes end up in your inbox. And that’s despite HTR Logistik making sure that the offers it posts contain as much detailed information as possible.

 ‘Many potential contractors ask the whether the offer I’ve just posted is still up to date, or whether the delivery date is fixed – even though it says right there that it’s a fixed date,’ Martin explains. It’s often an irritating waste of time. On top of that, communication ends up going through too many different channels, which leads to chaos. Here are the dispatcher's top tips from the customer’s point of view to help improve collaboration on the freight exchange:

Top tips from freight-forwarding expert Martin Trappe to help improve collaboration on freight exchanges:

  1. Read offers carefully. This will save you time and spare your patience. Most of the questions other users ask, for example regarding fixed dates, tonnage and so on, have already been answered in the offer itself.
     
  2. Avoid being flooded with e-mails – take a structured approach.
    Martin uses the Quotes feature for his offers, as e-mails can get lost. This allows him to keep track of all the processes pertaining to the freight offer in one place on the digital marketplace.
  3. Manage your orders within TIMOCOM. This will make things clearer and more efficient.
    The customer can create their transport order directly through TIMOCOM and send it to the service provider. They then receive a notification via the bell symbol or via e-mail (if this has been activated in advance). Clicking ‘Accept’ makes the transport order legally binding.

 

It’s all about attitude: The biggest hurdle to overcome is shaking off the old ways of thinking

‘Working as a dispatcher is already stressful and chaotic enough,’ says Martin, explaining his job in a nutshell. Which is why it doesn’t make much sense to reply to unnecessary e-mails and send extra ones, when freight can be assigned directly and automatically converted into a transport order. Doing things digitally saves times, money and inconvenience. What’s more, doing anything else would be a step backwards. ‘Stepping out of your comfort zone and making the switch to digital is vital. That’s when you realise that the “old” way of working is actually pretty cumbersome.’ At the end of the day, it’s about using the opportunities you have to your own advantage. It’s thanks to this mindset that saw HTR Logistik come into being in the first place and has proven itself to this day.

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Olga Polasik-Rüffer

Senior Marketing Communications Manager

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