By Noam Frankel, Founder/CEO of FreightFriend
Noam Frankel is the Founder and CEO of FreightFriend. He shares his experiences building teams and brokerages from nearly four decades in leadership at top brokerages such as American Backhaulers and Echo Global Logistics.
The logistics industry is built on relationships. Despite today’s technological advancements, the critical nature, value, and pace of the service we provide requires trusted partnerships that you can’t fully replace with digitization and automation. That’s why the broker’s role — though changing — will always be relevant.
But in a sea of competition and an influx of digital freight brokerages, how can today’s broker stand apart from the crowd?
This issue is especially relevant today as ELD technology advances and the industry becomes increasingly connected. Soon, shippers, brokers, and 3PLs will have access to the exact same information on real-time capacity. But by the time trucks are tracking toward a destination or available capacity lands on a load board or truck list, you’ve already missed sourcing the best-fit trucks and carriers.
With all of these factors coming to a head, just what value does a broker bring to his/her clients?
Cultivate your carrier relationships
Carrier relationships are the key differentiating factor that brokers can offer to their clients. In an industry with fragmented supply, constantly changing information, and a dependency on people, a broker’s far-reaching carrier network is an unreplicable asset, even in today’s digital age. The more proprietary information a broker has on a carrier’s needs, the better they can serve their client. Don’t let a client see you as replaceable.
How to set your carrier reps up for success
What are the best ways to grow carrier relationships? What data should your reps be collecting and how will you use it?
1. Train your sourcing team to profile a carrier
Your reps are already on the phone with carriers while trying to cover freight. By simply extending the conversation 30 more seconds, they can find what else a carrier is looking for, what lanes they typically run, and even move additional freight during that same phone call.
2. Give your team the right tools for the job
Make the information you collect work overtime. Just a few extra seconds helps your reps better understand your carriers’ wants and needs, but your reps need a place to store this valuable information so that they can leverage it for future calls. Notepads and paper cannot be shared, organized, or matched to any freight. Instead, a carrier relationship management system (CRM) is today’s gold standard. Already have a CRM? Make it a priority to start using it and collect the right data. Don’t have a CRM yet, acquire one as soon as possible.
3. Reward your team with immediate value
We often get asked how to encourage buy-in from a team of reps who simply won’t participate. A big part of the answer is to show them immediate value. Specifically: If you ask your reps to gather information but don’t show them a direct and personal benefit from collecting the data, they’ll stop doing it. The best way to tackle this is to give them a freight matching tool.
Freight matching allows them to use the data to book more loads in real time and gain insight into opportunities when they are relevant. A good freight matching technology lets you blend multiple data sets with the information you’ve collected and delivers ranked, relevant results so your reps spend less time running down a list of carriers to call and more time moving freight with information they can actually use. Ideally, your technology will also auto-communicate matches to your carriers to take the burden off your reps and encourage carrier participation.
To learn more about what a CRM or freight matching can do for your team, click here.
At FreightFriend, we’ve not only added this but also incorporated artificial intelligence and machine learning into the equation. Every time a carrier responds, the technology learns from their actions and incorporates their preferences into the algorithm.
Lastly (and most importantly), make sure your freight matching technology keeps the information your team collects private. It’s your company’s proprietary data — why give it away?
4. Make it a priority to identify quality carriers
Chances are, your carrier database is filled with carriers you’ve only used once, even though you understand the value of a good partner. Prioritize, maintain, and grow relationships with quality carriers. A good carrier will understand that it’s not just about the rate — they know a relationship will benefit them in the long run. Building these partnerships will help both parties weather market changes, reduces liability and risk, and results in more covered freight in the future, for both dedicated and spot.