Carrier relationships can feel forced and unnatural at times, when just starting out. But if you take the right steps to cultivate a meaningful relationship, your carrier relationships can literally carry your freight brokerage business to new places. Remember, you can have the best customer sales team in the world, but if you cant cover the load, none of that matters!
As you build your freight brokerage business, it can be easy to get lost in the art of logistics sales and trying to find more freight to move. But slow down there, freight cowboy. Before you start moving 80 loads a day from that dream customer, you’re going to have to know you can get those trucks. Getting trucks requires you have rock solid relationships with your carrier.
Treat carriers as partners, not vendors.
Your carrier database grows and grows. There seems to be an unlimited number of options of carriers who can cover your load. Except, you just missed pickup for an easy-to-cover lane. The pickup was in an industrial park just outside of Indianapolis, of all places! How frustrated are you right now? Maybe not as frustrated as your carrier, who isn’t feeling the love.
Do you talk down to your carriers? Don’t do that. Yes, you may be paying them, but to build truly beneficial carrier relationships that will grow your freight brokerage business long term, you need to treat carriers as partners. Talk to your carriers as equals! You are in it together. They need you to get paid before you can pay them, so, of course they want to come through for you!
As a new carrier starts to demonstrate success for you, make sure you sell them on a long term vision for your relationship. Be sure to let them know that you appreciate them coming through for you on these first few loads, and that you see potential to get more from this customer. Tell them that you would love it if you could continue to bring them more freight! Single transactions don’t build freight brokerage businesses, relationships do.
Providing value is a two-way street.
Your carriers are working to make your job easy for you and you can do the same in return. The best way from the start? Great, detailed load information. In this day in age, you need to be utilizing a freight broker software that gives you access to all load detail with a single tap of the screen. It sounds simple, but you would be surprised. Be sure to emphasize the importance of this with your whole team. It’s the little things that seem obvious that, if not done correctly can really trip up the growth of your freight brokerage business.
Success for both sides in the relationship between the people, not just the freight brokerage business.
You may be working to build a freight brokerage business, but don’t forget, you’re doing it with people. When you call to talk to your carriers, don’t get right down to business. Ask them how things are going. Find some common interests. Is it football season? Find out who their favorite team is. If you play fantasy sports or are even a little interested in football yourself, it shouldn’t be too hard to know what’s going on with their favorite team or player. Does your contact at your carrier have kids? Do you both have kids? Get to know the details of their life.
Here’s a great relationship-building tip to try. Sometimes, it’s as simple as asking, “What can I do for you?”
Prompt payment can make freight brokers and carriers best friends.
Margins in the freight brokerage business can be tight; there’s no doubt about that. But everyone appreciates on-time payment. It’s why we do what we do, after all. To make money so we can provide for our families. But as you grow, you may want to make this a priority over other positions in your hiring plan. Nothing will keep a carrier loyal to you more than a good track record of making on time payments. This doesn’t mean you have to pay carriers the moment the last pallet comes off the truck. But, do be clear about payment terms in the documentation you keep for each load, and abide by the expectations you set forth. It’s not so much about the speed that you pay, but more about how reliable your payment delivery is. So, if carriers will take loads with 60 day payment terms, this could be something that works to your advantage with the right accounting team.
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