People Who Move the World: Compliant Customs
Compliant Customs offers brokerage and consultancy services that combine volume and value to create innovative solutions for customers.
When founder and director of Compliant Customs Clint Latta told his friend Bryden Halloway he was starting his own wholesale customs clearance business, Halloway was stunned.
"I actually thought he had rocks in his head," says Halloway. "You'd just be the busy fool at the end of the day." That was in 2009 and now Halloway is not only Operations Director at the business but also an equity holder. "It's been a bit of a rollercoaster, but there's more ups than downs and I've thoroughly enjoyed it."
Compliant Customs' success comes from combining volume with value. Latta was a consultant before he started his own wholesale clearance business and saw that a number of freight forwarders were outsourcing their customs clearance to other freight forwarders. He saw this as a marriage of convenience with potential negative long term consequences.
By bundling consultancy services with customs processing for his clients, he was able to offer something unique and cost-effective. Today, they are servicing in excess of 100 freight forwarders in the Australian and New Zealand market.
Going beyond his initial offering and growing the business however required scalability. And that meant new processes and systems. “Particularly when we’re looking at the customs side of things – such a high volume, low margin product – this necessitated a focus on automation and streamlining of both onshore and offshore business processes,” says Halloway.
The idea of outsourcing work overseas however raised concerns about data security, staff training, and quality control. “For the offshoring, there was a lot of IP that we wanted to push offshore and we were a little bit hesitant to send more than the basic data entry processes overseas,” says Halloway.
Rather than manage an external provider, they opened their own offices in the Philippines early in 2017. They now have more than 60 staff in Manila and have projected over 100 staff by the end of 2017. “That was kind of the lightbulb moment for us, and it’s actually been one of the better decisions we’ve made. We’ve got control over the hiring process, control over training all those staff and the values that they present in their work and their dealing with customers. So I’d say that’s a pretty big difference.”
CargoWise One not only enabled this expansion but also helped to keep global operations running smoothly. With the Manila operation, Sydney headquarters, a Melbourne office and another recently opened branch in Auckland, accessibility is critical. “We’re in the cloud…wherever you are in the world, working remotely or in any of the offices, you can login with zero difference between each one.”
Effective training has been a major focus for the company, a historically challenging task made easier by the eLearning materials available. Halloway says that even those most resistant to technology solutions have found the system beneficial and easy to use. “We put a lot of work into training,” he says. “It’s a bit of a change for a lot of people at the start [but] once they sit in and get a feel for it, it pretty quickly turns everyone, even the most stubborn of customs brokers.”
Compliant Customs had been on CargoWise One since 2009 and Halloway instituted a number of efficiency initiatives once he came on board, including a move to paperless workflows.
As the business continued to grow, they engaged a WiseService Partner
to help fast-track their productivity. "Like the human brain, I knew we were using 10% of the capability we had," says Halloway. "It's allowed us to grow the volume of work we were doing considerably with the resources at hand and not having to put as many bums on seats." Halloway estimates the WiseService Partner helped them unlock productivity gains of more than 25% in a short period.
Halloway and Latta are already turning their attention to their next productivity project – electronic integration. The majority of Compliant Customs’ clients are using CargoWise One, so they hope to significantly reduce double entry using the software’s enterprise to enterprise (e2e) capabilities. This should free up more time for the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand offices to focus on client-facing and high value tasks.
With the system taking the stress out of managing his operations, Halloway has more time to do the best bits of his job. “The things I love the most about [my job] are fixing problems, and customer service. When it looks like there’s no solution and being able to pull a rabbit out of a hat, performing above expectation, it’s a good feeling,” he says. Letting Halloway and his staff focus on solutions, not paperwork, is good news for customers and for Compliant Customs.