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  • Writer's pictureFreightFriend

Why You Should Treat Carrier Relationships Like Customer Relationships

We hear from freight brokers in this industry time and time again — "Carriers don't want relationships. They just chase the money." While money-and-miles carriers are out there, the vast majority of carriers are looking for relationships. After all, who wouldn't want dependable lanes and steady revenue?

Changing your approach to carriers

How often is your team having a one-and-done phone call? That is, a call where they never ask another question beyond booking or not booking the one load at hand.

Or are there brokers on your team who have this attitude: "What can carriers do for me, as a broker?" This is the wrong approach to take if you want to maximize carrier sales and improve carrier relationships.

To derive more value from the relationship, consider approaching carrier sales like customer sales.

How to treat carrier relationships like customer relationships

Carriers are technically your vendors, however there are several tactics we can take from customer sales to build carrier relationships.

Tip 1: Reciprocation is the key to carrier relationships.

When selling to a customer, you find out what their needs are and use that information to differentiate your brokerage and present yourself as a solution. Carrier sales are no different.

  • When you call about a load, ask additional questions about their needs before you hang up the phone.

  • Find out what lanes they need help with. Many of them have customer freight they are servicing and either need help getting to the freight or back home. The knowledge you gain here tells you their biggest needs and even if it's not useful for you today, it will be in the future. It's proprietary information that will set you apart.

Sell your freight into those needs. Not only are you getting the capacity to move your loads but you're also providing them a solution. This is the "if you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" philosophy.

Tip 2: If you don't have the basics, you won't know what your carriers need.

What do you know about your carriers? You wouldn't go into a customer sale unprepared without understanding basic information about their business, and it's the same for carrier sales. Here's what you should understand, at a minimum:

  • Learn where their trucks are. This information is an important data point, even if it doesn't indicate open capacity.

  • Find out the number of trucks and drivers they have, what type of equipment they use, and what services they run. This might seem like common sense, but you'd be surprised by where the gaps are in your data.

  • Get on as many carrier truck lists as you can. These daily emails divulge a lot of information about your carriers, especially their hidden needs.

Tip 3: There's no value in your data if you don't use it.

After collecting all of that knowledge, where is that data stored? In our line of business, we hear a lot of, "it's stored in my head" or "it's on this spreadsheet/note pad." Although that might work for the short term, people forget and employees get sick or leave the company, resulting in lost data.

Just as a customer sales rep keeps client information in a traditional CRM, carrier sales reps should be doing the equivalent for their carriers. This is where a carrier relationship management solution like FreightFriend's carrier CRM comes in handy.

Tip 4: Going above and beyond pays off in this industry.

Relationships are the backbone of the logistics industry, whether it's a customer relationship or a carrier relationship. This is especially true due to the risk, number of stakeholders, and many pieces of the puzzle involved in moving goods. What are some other ways you can stand out?

  • Understand your carriers' operational structure. Know who handles their regional operations or specialized equipment. Not only does this shorten the time it takes for you to talk to the right person, but it also shows you're invested in getting to know that carrier.

  • Be targeted and strategic with what opportunities you send to your carriers. Just as you would only call customers that are ready to buy your product/service, you want to call carriers that are "in the market" for your freight. When you target the ones with the best fitting capacity, you'll save yourself time, avoid annoying your carrier network, and be more likely to match the right freight to the right capacity.

  • Give carriers repeat business. Re-utilizing carriers is a big benefit to freight brokers, but it's great for the carrier, too. Carriers don't want to sign up for a new broker packet every time they haul a load and would rather work with someone they trust. (And hopefully, that means you!)

From changing appointment times to getting loaded with the wrong product, issues in our industry are unavoidable. When you build a relationship with a dispatcher or even a driver, you're almost guaranteed to work through any obstacles you might face. Plus, showing you care about your carriers' needs signals to them that you're not looking to be a transactional broker.


Need help building relationships and using your data as your competitive advantage? Learn more about how FreightFriend can help you do this today.


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