As logistics professionals it’s easy to become shortsighted and lose focus while trying to grow your business. There is often an unbalanced focus on the customer or shipper dynamic while carrier relationships are put on the backburner. Solidifying new business and growth is crucial, but it’s the day to day management of those accounts that will either increase your value or show weakness.
• Building Strong Carrier Relationships
People like to do business with people they like, know, and trust and let’s face it there has been severe disconnect between brokers and carriers. There is a lack of trust that has developed from years of unscrupulous behavior and many carriers have developed trepidation and concern that brokers are out to get them. Many carriers see brokers in a negative light for a myriad of reasons but a lack of appreciation and acknowledgment that a broker’s success is 100% dependent on their assistance is one of the biggest. Many carriers see the broker as a necessary evil rather than a partner who can assist in streamlining their operation.
• Changing This Perception
The first step is to take a sincere interest in your service providers. The best way to grow your business is to help others build theirs. Take a vested interest in your carriers’ growth and goals. Find out the lanes they service the areas they want to expand and work together to put those plans in action. Be empathetic and encourage your carriers to give you feedback on how you can serve them better as a broker.
• Make Yourself Unique
Let’s face it there are brokerages popping up everywhere and the job of a freight broker is one that many people have the skill set to accomplish, what will allow you to stand out is your relationships and where you show value. A returned phone call, a “thank you” or a “job well done” goes a long way to promote goodwill. Getting rid of the “Us vs. Them” mentality is key to approaching carriers as the solution and not simply a “means to an ends”
* The driver shortage is only getting worse
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates that the U.S. is short 30,000 truck drivers. Factors driving the shortfall include regulations, relatively low pay, and the fact that fewer young people are interested in getting into the profession. Ninety percent of carriers said they couldn’t find enough drivers who met department of transportation (DOT) criteria, according to a study cited by the ATA. These statistics make dtrong relationships with your service providers more important than ever.
• Opportunities during these changes
As we brave the new regulations and industry changes, there is inevitably going to opportunity to grow your business if you take the time to cement the relationships with your providers. These changes will likely produce even more driver shortages which will make it more difficult for customers to find qualified brokerages/companies to move their freight. With this shortage there will be more shippers & customers open to the possibility of adding or replacing brokers/carriers. The broker with strong carrier relationships is going to be able to compete and thrive in this very competitive marketplace by utilizing and leveraging the strength of these carrier bonds.
• Changes are inevitable
We are in a fluid marketplace and changes occur quickly, as logistics professionals our job is to adjust to trends and show value to both customers and carriers alike. It is only with a balanced and relationship driven approach that a transportation firm can hope to thrive and remain relevant in the future.