Freight Broker Lead Generation Best Practices

Growing your freight broker business can seem daunting. You probably landed your first few clients fairly easily: you had industry connections and were able to negotiate solid contracts. Those first big customers were enough to launch you on your own.

Now that you’re established and have your existing customers solidly managed, you probably want to keep growing your business. This is going to take a bit of ingenuity and creativity on your part, but fear not; we have some proven tactics that you can implement now to help grow your business.

As we all know, generating leads doesn’t just happen. There are a few things required to earn qualified, quality leads.

Know Your Value Proposition

Don’t just tell people what your business does. Tell people why your business is the best at brokering.

Why did your first few customers originally go with you? Probably because you offered something their existing primary freight broker couldn’t. This might have been because:

  • You were the most reliable contact to reach by phone.
  • Your customer service was exceptional.
  • You knew the industry better than anyone else they were dealing with.
  • You connected them with a reliable carrier who is always in their area.

You personally provided exceptional value and someone wanted to work with you regularly because of it.

What was that thing (or things) you did so incredibly well? Feel free to even ask your best clients what’s so great about you. In fact, ask them for an answer in an email or by messaging them on LinkedIn. If you have a personal reference or testimonial in writing from satisfied past or existing clients, you have a concrete reference.

Just how important are these testimonials that express your unique value proposition? Here’s some food for thought: according to one Hawkeye study, 71% of B2B buyers in the awareness stage and 77% in the evaluation stage cited them as the most influential types of content.

Tip: Make certain you know exactly what your value proposition is, because it’s going to matter in this next step.

Present Your Value on Your Company Website

Do you have a website?

If the answer is yes, skip these next two paragraphs.

If the answer is no, why? Every single business should have a website, even businesses in logistics. Buck Ballard of The Trucking Podcast puts owning your own website as a high priority in this day and age: “You got a business, you need some real estate.” Websites are the new business card.

It’s easier than ever to have your own website. Services such as GoDaddy and Wix have free website templates to plug your content into. Free websites will have some restrictions, but if a website is acting as a placeholder for your company info, then don’t worry about it. If those restrictions bother you, then there are plenty of web designers out there for hire that will design and maintain a website for a fee. If you don’t have a website, get that sorted out now.

A web presence needs to include your value proposition, contact information, and a lead capture form. Make certain your website is easily accessible: it’s on your LinkedIn Profile, it’s on Facebook, on your Twitter bio; everywhere.

First, you want your value proposition in front of people. Carriers and shippers will work with you because you provide something exceptional. Remember those written references from your best customers? Ask if it’s ok for you to include a quoted testimonial from it on your website.

Second, your contact information needs to be prominently displayed on the website. As mentioned earlier, websites have essentially replaced business cards. Whatever you would have included on a business card, make certain it’s on the website.

Finally, make certain you have a lead capture form to collect a name, company name, email, and phone number. If you want any other information, you can add more fields. Most website templates include contact forms which can work as lead captures for your small business. It serves the purpose, as you’ll receive notifications to your inbox when someone sends you a contact form with their information.

As business owner and CEO, Donald Miller is quick to point out in his book, Building a Story Brand, a person’s email is one of the most private things they could give you. It’s their direct line and they aren’t keen on handing it out for nothing. In order to make leads feel comfortable giving you their contact information, give them good reason with your value proposition on the company’s website.

Reach Out

This takes some leg work, but it’s worth it.

First form of outreach: ask for referrals from your existing clients.

Make it clear that you are expanding your business because your resources have grown, not because you’re going to negate on the excellent service you’re providing. If your client enjoys working with you, ask them to pass along your contact info to others in their network.

This is where the website and lead capture form will come into play. Your clients will forward your website to those in their network and that new potential business will fill out your contact form.

People are incredibly uncomfortable handing out the contact information of others—I won’t hand out any of my friend’s information. However, we’re all quick to send a friend a business’s website. A friend of mine has been seeing a chiropractor for 20 years, so when I said I was looking for one, she messaged me the business website. I checked out the therapies, called to make an appointment, and now I have a chiropractor I’m very happy with. Since she trusted this business, I was willing to trust them too.

Second form of outreach: you may need to cold call. (But do your research first.)

No one likes cold calling, which is why LDI helps you set up your cold call process. Our agents receive a 90-day onboarding guide which includes step-by-step and scenario-by-scenario call scripts to find new prospects. Whatever the situation, you will be coached and prepared with call templates and guidelines to steer the conversation towards securing new customers.

Need More Help?

Start with these three things to improve your lead generation:

Be able to sell yourself: knowing what value you offer to this industry will help you secure customers and partners whose values align with yours.

Display your value proposition clearly: a website that says who you are, what you do, why you’re the best at doing it, how long you’ve been doing it, and how others can contact you will make the right impression. A website says that you mean business and you’re here not only to stay, but to grow.

Reach out: Ask your clients and partners to pass along your contact information to others in the industry. You’re looking to grow your business and want your best customers to pair you up with other fantastic customers. Short of that, pick up the phone and start calling to find other amazing businesses to work with.

Ready to start putting these freight broker lead generation tactics to use? With the help LDI’s savvy, experienced team, our handy onboarding guide, and our industry-leading technology, your freight brokerage will be on its way to becoming a lead generation machine.

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3 Ways Trucking Companies Can Quickly Increase Margins

Demand for transportation is up, but the margins always seem to be shrinking. How is it possible to make a profit when margins are so thin?

No sweat. There are a few fast ways to increase your company margins during these changing times. We have a list of the 3 best practices to get more out of your small trucking company and even take advantage of the bright future ahead.

1. Leverage Industry Relationships

A surefire way to increase profit margins is to actively engage with those you do business with. Pick up the phone and start a Joint Business Planning discussion. Talk with your closest partners so you both come up with profit goals that align with each other. When one of you achieves, you both achieve.

SMB Business-to-business expert Francesca Nicasio reports that having a discussion with your partners can produce more cost effective outcomes than not. By inviting vendors to think of you as a partner, they’re more likely to help improve your workflow and suggest ways to streamline your business.

Joint Business Planning can benefit you and assure your partners you’re serious about the health of your business. A logistic broker who treats you like a partner is more likely to help increase your business and profit margins. A good broker will keep you updated in the industry, assist in lead generation, and offer their marketing resources to help you succeed. Companies who play the low-cost game and don’t offer these services are feeling the pressure in this market, so it’s important to form strategic partnerships that benefit each other.

Brian Abel, a financial advisor specializing in the trucking industry, recommends evaluating brokers carefully. He says one of the best indicators of a trustworthy firm is to be certain a broker is Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) certified. The certified TIA broker is bound to the TIA Code of Ethics to help maintain a community of trustworthy and transparent business partners of brokerages and 3PLs.

Now time to look inwards:

2. Maintain Retention and Reduce Attrition

One of the easiest ways to secure cash flow and predict profits is to work with the same customers over and over again. Your established book of business already has a few favored customers, so let them know you appreciate them. More often than not, regular communication will take this far. David Finkle, co-author of Scale: Seven Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back, says that a well-timed call, card, or visit lets the customer know you appreciate them actively purchasing from you.

On the flip side, if your customers aren’t benefiting you, perhaps it’s time to stop benefiting them. Finkle recommends that if your top customers’ margins are covering costs for your bottom customers, it’s better to cut ties and move on.

Don’t just take our word that these strategies are effective. Heartland Express (HTLD) refocused their business strategy for 2018 and experienced drastic results. They cut ties with less profitable lanes and focused solely on their most profitable customers. While HTLD experienced a significant drop in revenue year over year from 2017 to 2018, their operating ratio (OR) dropped by 9% and their adjusted OR dropped by nearly 11%.  Because they pushed their OR down so far, HTLD actually increased their net income by over $11 million.

There’s a bright side to Heartland cutting ties with so many customers: their loss is smaller operations gain. Because of these cuts, HTLD haven’t been able to take full advantage of the strong demand for over the road truckers. That means the demand for freight is up and it’s yours for the taking.

Now to grab that low-hanging fruit:

3. Streamline Operations to Reduce Spending

Business optimization can produce game changing results, especially in industries with slim margins. If your office spends an exorbitant amount of time entering the same info into separate software systems, that’s money lost on finding and booking lanes.

Knowing how and where your time and resources are being spent can help optimize your business operations to make the most dollars per hour. The easiest way to do this? Princeton Consultants president and CEO Steve Sashihara says “use efficient technology.”

Transportation Management Software (TMS) is a huge asset for small trucking companies. The better the software, the better streamlined your operational process will be. A good TMS system will have invoicing and collections, dispatch services, legal and compliance, Bid, RFPs, pricing, and customer contracts all in one application. Make certain you choose a software that integrates with load boards, GPS integrated tracking, EDI capabilities, and analytic software to run reports. The fewer the clicks it takes to get between screens, the better.

Sashihara has seen enough good software systems streamline business operations to be a firm believer in investing in it. He specifically cites that the transportation industry has been able to transform struggling operations into profitable companies thanks to optimizing their fleet scheduling. By using real-time data plus historical knowledge, it’s easier for trucking companies to smartly predict price increases and act on them.

The Small Business Advantage

Heartland Express might have shrunk, but that doesn’t mean your small trucking company is going to. In fact, with increase in freight volumes and robust orders, margins are on the rise. Small trucking businesses are in the best position to take advantage of those margins. According to financial research specialist Mary Ellen Biery, “most general freight companies in the US are small businesses with less than 20 employees and […] their size might position them to adjust to market needs.” Hot spot markets and contract rates are expected to grow about 10 to 12 percent year over year. Those rising rates with the fairly stagnant growth of professional truck drivers means those already in the role are in position to benefit from this bright future.

Small trucking operations are in the best position to take advantage of this tight market. Since there is a lot more freight than capacity, act on these three things to make certain you get the best slice of the pie:

  • Leverage Industry Relationships: work with partners who want to succeed with you.
  • Maintain Retention and Reduce Attrition: work with customers who provide value to you and cut ties with those who cost you.
  • Streamline Operations: make the most money per hour by investing in the right transportation management software that will reduce your workload and increase your bookings and invoicing.

If you’re ready to act on these three things and want to learn more about building a successful partnership, contact us at LDI to learn about our carrier program.

One of our business development specialists will be happy to hear about your existing business, your goals for growing, and have a conversation about how we can help you get there.

Logistics and Transportation Industry News Update: 2018 Q1 Highlights

We’re already well into 2018, and a lot has happened in the logistics and transportation industry. The ELD mandate continues to be a controversial topic, we’re keeping an eye on the current capacity crisis, the industry is soaring to new technological heights with autonomous vehicles, and so much more.

Whether you’re a carrier, trucker, or freight broker, it’s crucial for everyone in the industry to stay up to date on the latest news and trends. As a truck driver or carrier, it’s important to know the latest regulations and news so you know how to keep doing your job efficiently (and legally). For freight brokers, knowing what’s going on in the industry can help you manage your loads, keep positive relationships with your carriers, and continue to provide the best support possible.

To help keep you consistently updated on the logistics and transportation industry, we’ve decided to look back on each quarter and roundup the best resources highlighting the quarter’s most important industry news, trends, and happenings. Below are the highlights we found for the first quarter of 2018.

Remember to check back at the end of June for our second quarterly update.

Want the latest industry news and updates sent right to your inbox? Subscribe to the monthly LDI Logistics & Transportation email roundup below!

1. After effects of Phase 2 of the ELD mandate

At the end of last year, phase two of the ELD mandate officially went into effect. From December 19th, 2017 and on, truckers are now required to log their hours electronically via an electronic logging device, or ELD. Now, we’re just a couple weeks away from another important date — April 1st — which is set to be the start of the enforcement and penalty phases.

With the looming deadline, it’s going to be important to keep an eye on those who have been avoiding complying to the mandate hitherto. A few FMCSA officials held a webinar on the ELD rule recently, and FreightWaves has the full recap you can read here. To summarize, the webinar discussed the rules and exceptions to the rule, including the agricultural exemption, uses of AOBRDs throughout the end of 2019, what happens when an ELD malfunctions, hours of service clarifications, and reminding all of the April 1st deadline.

Here are a few helpful resources to keep up to date on all information regarding the ELD mandate:

2. The truck driver shortage

For over the past ten years, the trucking industry has been dealing with the truck driver shortage. Many people believe this is due to age demographics or a difference in generational work ethic. Others claim it’s because the lifestyle of a trucker is often shown as less than ideal — whether it be the long hours, unfair wages, etc. And the recent ELD mandate is not helping the matter.

Whatever the reasons may be, we can all agree that the driver shortage is one of the most critical issues facing the industry. According to the American Truckers Association, “more than 70% of goods consumed in the U.S. are moved by truck, but the industry needs to hire almost 900,000 more drivers to meet rising demand.”

While the shortage has fluctuated over the years, it has yet to come close to a resolution. A recent analysis by DAT Solutions said at the beginning of this year, the available trucks versus the amount of loads was the lowest ratio since 2005. The Chief Economist of ATA said that, “even as the shortage numbers fluctuate, it remains a serious concern for our industry, for the supply chain and for the economy at large.”

So, what is the industry doing to reverse the shortage?

Many companies have to increase the wages of their current drivers to make up for lost hours on the road due to lack of drivers. And by attracting a younger generation of drivers, it might help replace the large number of drivers that are retiring every year.

It’s also been stated that the negative connotations associated with the “life of a trucker” has kept the job in the shadows – and simply increasing the wages and improving the benefits could solve a lot of the problem. In an article in the January 8th, 2018 issue of Transport Topics, Joe Chandler, President of SPI International Transportation, writes, “we have let real wages for drivers decline while paying more to our executives and more for our trucks.”

Plenty of blogs and news outlets consistently report on the ups and downs of the driver shortage. You can find some of them here:

Although the issue remains at a critical level, Supply Chain Dive has high hopes that the current capacity crisis will cause a growing need for drivers. Thus, pushing companies to improve their wages, benefits, etc. to attract more people. Joe Chandler believes since, “drivers are in high demand, [truck] driving should be a natural path forward for many of the nation’s underemployed workers.”

3. The Capacity Crisis

In our post about the crisis from last year, we discussed what it is, what’s causing it, and how businesses can handle the problem. To recap, a capacity crisis occurs when the industry has an abundance of loads, but is lacking the capacity (or trucks) to ship those loads.

Evidence of what’s causing the crisis points to fleet deterioration, loss of truckers with commercial drivers licenses, an increase in government regulations, etc. According to Supply Chain Dive, the ELD mandate and the driver shortage are primarily to blame.

Essentially, the reason there is a low truck supply is heavily due to the lack of drivers available to drive them. And the increased government regulations — such as the ELD mandate — are upsetting many of the already limited number of drivers in the industry. In a recent article by Forbes, it states that, “regulations such as these are…perceived by the drivers as an infringement on personal space [since] many consider their trucks to be a home away from home.”

Read more details on what’s causing the crisis, and how the industry is working to correct it, here:

4. Autonomous vehicles

Recently, there’s been a huge focus on the technology of self-driving, or autonomous, vehicles. It’s particularly popular in the transportation and logistics industries for a variety of reasons. Autonomous trucks can potentially lead to a more environmentally-friendly industry, save money on gas and other truck maintenance, and actually create more jobs — not fewer — for truckers.

Last year, Elon Musk unveiled Tesla’s first electric semi-truck, and Uber Freight recently announced it’s sending a driverless truck on a trip across Arizona. Other companies like Waymo, Starsky, and Embark aren’t far behind.

As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, it’s difficult to truly predict how autonomous trucks will impact the industry. We like to stay positive and hope the autonomous vehicle era will bring jobs, help the environment, and improve the way we transport goods. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with that outlook.

Wired’s article, “What Does Tesla’s Automated Truck Mean for Truckers?” suggests that this new technology could actually worsen the driver shortage, and potentially worsen job conditions (i.e. force 24-hour shifts on employees because the driver would technically be ‘not driving’). It’s also important to mention that Uber is now under fire as one of their self-driving cars hit and killed a pedestrian, marking the first fatality due to an autonomous vehicle. Although this technology has been tested for some time, this is a brutal reminder that it’s still in its infancy.

Ultimately, there isn’t enough research being done yet on the effects of automation, so one prediction is as good as the next. Keep updated on the latest industry technology here:

5. Increasing sustainability within the industry

As previously mentioned, some pros of the autonomous technology would lower the industry’s carbon footprint, use less gas, etc. So, it makes sense that many within the transportation and logistic industries are aiming to implement more sustainable business practices.

The American Truckers Association is committed to establishing a bold sustainability program, and the American Transportation Research Institute shares best practices for sustainable trucking such as driving, vehicle, and public sector practices.

Various companies are making strides towards sustainability, including Mack Trucks’ eHighway prototype, and all of these companies making a positive impact on the environment in 2017.

You can keep track of the companies who are making waves in sustainable trucking practices here:

6. President Trump’s New Tax Law

The ELD mandate is not the only way the government is impacting the industry. President Trump’s new tax law (and “trade war”) are more than likely to affect the industry.

The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that was signed on December 22, 2017 will change how carriers account for buying and selling trucks. According to Transport Topics, “how the law will affect trucking businesses depends on business type.” If you’re a C Corporation, the federal tax bill lowers from 35% to 21%, but it’s important to keep in mind that C Corps have double taxation. S Corporations will choose between the lowest calculation of 50% of W-2 wages, 20% of taxable income, and 25% of W-2 wages plus 2.5% of all qualified property. Many businesses may look into restructuring their business, and sole-proprietorships may need to consider becoming an S Corporation.

Additionally, many are worried about the President’s proposed steel and aluminum tariffs will start a trade war.

Some helpful sources for staying on top of these new stories are:

Recap

Between government regulations and new technology, 2018 is bringing a lot of changes to the world of logistics and transportation. Whether you’re a truck driver, carrier, freight broker, etc., it’s important to be aware of what’s happening within the industry.

Know of any other important industry news or additional resources that we haven’t listed? Share in the comments – we’d love to check them out, too!

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16 Surprising Facts About Shipping You Should Know

The idea of shipping dates back thousands of years – and today, container shipping is one of the leading means of transporting goods. In fact, it’s responsible for moving an estimated 95% of all manufactured goods around the world.

How did shipping become such an expansive industry?

In 1956, American truck driver Malcom McLean decided to stack 58 metal containers onto a ship going from New Jersey to Texas. The efficiency of transporting goods this way “completely revolutionized the industry,” according to a video from The Wall Street Journal. These containers both protected the cargo and made it drastically easier to unload the shipments. Standard containers allowed the cargo to move from ships onto trucks or trains without being repackaged — a system called “intermodalism,” which saves both time and money.

With the use of intermodalism and other advances such as industry globalization, container shipping continues to dominate the industry. Today, there are billions of tons of cargo being shipped around the world by container ships every year.

Without shipping, we would have far less food and produce in our grocery stores, cars to get us where we need to go, and access to the latest iPhone accessories. For such an wide-ranging industry, it’s surprising how little most people know about it. For example, did you know that over 10,000 shipping containers are lost at sea every year? Or that only 2% of seafarers are women?

Shipping is an expansive industry – and evolving every day – so we understand it might be difficult to always keep up with the latest news. That’s why we decided to share some of the most fascinating shipping facts and statistics we could find. Check out our collection in the infographic below. And if you’ve heard of other surprising facts, be sure to share them in the comments!

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Apply to be an LDI freight broker agent today!

The ELD Mandate 101: What Drivers and Carriers Should Know

Lately, we’ve had some major industry-wide changes and happenings, like the capacity crisis. And once again this December, we were reminded of the on-going ELD (Electronic Logging Devices) mandate that was published in February 2015. On December 19th, 2017, phase two of the mandate officially went into effect — changing the way truckers log their hours.

Since HOS (Hours of Service) regulations were developed in 1937, there have been various changes to the rules. From paper logging in the 1960s to adapting the logging process to constantly evolving technology in the 2000s. Now, after years in the making, the government-regulated mandate will require all truckers to log their hours electronically.

Even though news of the pending ELD mandate has been around for a few years, 60% of small fleets had yet to install ELDs as of November 2017. That number is even larger for fleets with less than five trucks. Contrastly, larger fleets have been taking the necessary steps to adopt ELDs (if they hadn’t already) since 2016 — ahead of the mandate. With everyone adapting to the ELD mandate at their own pace, it’s difficult to predict the impact the upcoming phases will have on the industry.

Below we’ll discuss what the ELD mandate is, its various phases, some exceptions to the rule, and what truckers and shippers can expect from the mandate.

What is the ELD Mandate?

In early March 2014, the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association) proposed a rule to require all drivers to use an ELD in place of paper logbooks. An ELD, or electronic logging device, is “DOT-certified electronic hardware that connects to the vehicle’s engine to record driving hours.” ELDs can either be a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, and will replace the current paper logbook system.

The ELD mandate is a rule that will enforce commercial motor vehicle drivers, who are currently required to record their hours of service, to record them using ELDs. More specifically, the mandate is targeting drivers with trucks model year 2000 or newer. Both Canada and Mexico-domiciled drivers are included in the mandate, as well.

The mandate will also cover specifications for ELD manufacturers, how ELD data will be checked by DOT officers, and how and when to store ELD data. Those found noncompliant with the mandate will be issued violations or fined, but not taken off the road (yet).

According to FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) drivers are expected to “understand and be able to use ELDs by the required deadline, including how to [annotate, edit, and certify] RODS, and collect required supporting documents.” Fortunately, FMCSA has valuable resources on their website that anyone can download and use to ensure they’re following the ELD mandate thoroughly and properly. It’s also beneficial to understand the different phases of the ELD mandate, so you can understand what’s expected of carriers and drivers at any given time.

The ELD Mandate Phases

Published in 2015, we’ve been expecting these changes to roll out for the past two years. Last year in February 2016, phase one (awareness and transition) was initiated. Now, we’re witnessing phase two: compliancy. The image below shows the current and anticipated timeline of the mandate.

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Phase one took place over a two-year period from December 2015 to now (December 2017). During this phase, carriers and drivers were aware of the mandate and were expected to prepare to comply with the new regulations by 2017. As we mentioned earlier, some took advantage of this stage and installed ELDs ahead of schedule — but some did not. Although the FMCSA suggested preparing for the mandate, carriers and drivers could still use ELDs, ABORDs, other logging software, and paper during phase one.

Whereas in phase two — which began December 16, 2017 and lasts until December 16, 2019 — carriers and drivers are expected to comply with the mandate. While AOBRDs (or Automatic On-Board Recording Devices) are allowed in lieu of official ELDs throughout phase two, other logging software and paper logs are not. However, drivers and carriers are still required to keep supporting documents (in both paper and digital format) as of December 18, 2017.

Although phase two is focused on compliancy, the enforcement and penalty phases are actually postponed until April 1, 2018. Meaning drivers will not receive points against their compliance, safety, and accountability (CSA) score if they fail to meet the ELD requirements until April 1st. However, drivers can still be given warnings (or possibly a fine) if they don’t have an ELD or grandfathered AOBRD when pulled over between now and the first of April.

The third and final phase is predicted to take place after December 16, 2019. From then onward, all drivers and carriers will be held responsible for complying to the official ELD mandate — overruling any current exceptions to the rule.

Exceptions to the Rule (Prior to Phase 3)

As we know, there are exceptions to most rules — and the ELD mandate is no different. There were many exceptions throughout phase one as the industry was preparing for the mandate to officially roll out. Now that we’re in the beginning of phase two, there will be less exceptions as to who does or doesn’t have to comply to the mandate.

Paper logbooks will no longer be accepted for any carrier or driver. Carriers and drivers must be using an ELD unless the carrier or driver already installed “grandfathered” automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs). But keep in mind, this exception will no longer be effective as we enter phase three on December 16, 2019. Between now (December 2017) and mid-December 2019, any drivers who don’t have an ELD, or aren’t grandfathered in using AOBRDS, will be considered noncompliant.

Back in November 2017, the FMCSA stated that “agriculture loads and livestock will receive an additional 90 days [beginning after December 16, 2017] to comply.” This gives agriculture haulers until mid-March 2018 to install and begin using ELDs.

The FMCSA also shared a post to their website in August 2017 listing additional exceptions to the mandate that include drivers:

  • Who use paper RODS for 8 or fewer days out of every 30-day period;
  • Whose vehicle registration reflects they were manufactured before the model year 2000;
  • Who conduct driveaway-towaway services
    • E.g. the vehicle driven is the commodity being delivered; or the vehicle being towed is a motor home or recreational vehicle trailer with one or more sets of wheels on the roadway

What to Expect

The ELD mandate shouldn’t be a huge surprise to anyone who’s been following the industry for at least the past two years. Despite the time to prepare, we can expect phase two (and even phase three) to cause a disturbance for drivers, carriers, ELD manufacturers, and others within the industry.

Training drivers to switch from paper logs to ELDs is “very detail specific” — it’s more than just installing a new device into your truck. Drivers and carriers will have to adjust to the changes that come along with the new technology. For example, drivers are required to take a 30-minute lunch, but if your watch differs from the device’s time it may only clock you at 29 minutes – which is technically a violation. It’s small details like this that all drivers will need to get accustomed to throughout the transition. Shippers may also have to adjust to minute details. An example would be having to count the time it takes drivers to maneuver and park as work time. With no give in the schedule, carriers may expect a 4 to 5% productivity loss for various haul lengths.

Not all expectations for the ELD mandate are negative, however — there are many benefits as the mandate goes into effect. While the transition may still have kinks to work out, ELDs will definitely make it easier (and quicker) to record HOS. Since interstate HOS rules remain the same, you can quickly download a driver’s report within 30 seconds during an inspection. They’ll also limit mistakes, improve scheduling to limit fatigue, and keep driver logs accurate and orderly.

Recap

When it comes to industry-wide changes, education is your best defense. By keeping up-to-date with the current phases and exceptions to the ELD mandate, you’ll be able to better prepare. Although it’s unclear how strict officials will be during phase two, it’s still best to start installing your ELDs as soon as possible.

So, set your calendars for April 1, 2018 – because that’s the day officials can mark points off your CSA score in addition to giving out warnings or fines for being noncompliant. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even set your calendar to remind you that phase three will be released on December 16, 2019.

And don’t hesitate to check out the FMCSA site if you have any uncertainties about the regulations drivers and ELD manufacturers need to start following.

What You Need to Know About the Capacity Crisis of 2017

Between 2003 and 2005, the United States was emerging from a recession — causing constant flux in the trucking industry quarter to quarter. Recently, many fear that 2017 and 2018 are in as much of a crisis (or worse) as we were back then.

So, what exactly is the capacity crisis?

A capacity crisis is when the industry has an abundance of loads, but there isn’t extra capacity (or trucks) available to ship the loads. For example, in 2003, the ratio was seven trucks to every one load. Today, it’s seven loads to every one truck. Essentially, there are too many loads with not enough trucks available to transport them.

This is considered a “crisis” because with no extra capacity available, prices will be extremely competitive — and logistics providers are under intense scrutiny to manage it all.

JUMP TO THIS: What You Need to Know About the Capacity Crisis of 2017 [INFOGRAPHIC]

What’s causing this crisis?

The high demand for trucks is not the only reason we’re facing a capacity crisis. In our opinion, there are four leading causes: fleet deterioration, loss of truckers with commercial drivers licenses (CDLs), poor economic conditions, and an increase of government regulations. Let’s break these points down further.

As the economy fluctuates, not all fleets come through unscathed. Many businesses cut costs by scaling down their equipment. Some trucks and trailers are repurposed, but many remain neglected. According to Inbound Logistics, there are 190,000 U.S. trucking companies with less than twenty trucks. That, on top of the loss of drivers, may lead to an increase in rates for 2018.

Over the last few years, the driver shortage has steadily worsened, and 2018 won’t be any different unless some changes are made. Drivers with CDLs are either retiring or non-existent. The median age of a driver is 55, and continues to climb. Michelle Rafter wrote in an article for trucks.com that “the lack of higher pay…is leading drivers to quit, particularly long-haul drivers…[and] age restrictions are prompting millennials to bypass the industry in favor of jobs that are better paid and not as heavily regulated…” This combination of aging drivers and lack of interested millennials to take their place is fueling the driver shortage.

We also have to take into consideration the unpredictable setback that the 2017 hurricanes and fires caused the market. Any way you look at it, the economic conditions aren’t faring well for 2017 and the upcoming year. Jeff Tucker, CEO of Tucker Company Worldwide, said “today’s massive hurricanes in the Caribbean, in Texas and Florida have had a more adverse effect on the market than the Bush 2003 tax credit…and to make matters worse — the ELD mandate is upon us.”

With increased regulations like the ELD (Electronic Logging Device) mandate, many trucking companies can’t meet the requirements in order to stay in business. Currently there are about twenty laws impacting transport costs, and the ELD mandate going into effect this December is only adding to the crisis. Inbound Logistics reported that those who have adopted ELDs have had a 10% reduction in logged miles.

How can you prepare your business?

In past years, we’ve seen truck shortages after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 clear up within months, but have also encountered capacity problems in the winter that take until the summer to right themselves. This year, we not only have endured Hurricane Harvey, but Irma and forest fires throughout the U.S. as well. It’s nearly impossible to predict the exact outcome these natural disasters — along with the increased government regulations and driver shortages — will have on the industry.

The best anyone can do is prepare as much in advance for the capacity crunch as possible. If you can remain as flexible as possible in the coming year, and build (and maintain) a strong network of committed carriers, you should be able to handle whatever this capacity crisis throws at you.

To help, we’ve collected facts and statistics about the capacity crisis that you’ll want to keep top of mind as we end 2017. If there’s any other crucial facts or information we’ve left out, please let us know in the comments!

 

capacity-crisis-infographic

 

 

Apply to be an LDI freight broker agent today!

13 Essential Sales Call Questions for Freight Brokers

Sales prospecting often means cold calling as many people as you can, and hoping they all end in a hot lead or new client for your freight agency. However, people don’t take to cold calling quite as well as they used to. In fact, 200 million Americans have registered their phone numbers on a “Do Not Call” list.

So, what can you do to ensure you’re carrying out effective sales calls? Ask the right questions. A first call with a potential client will set the tone for the remainder of your relationship together. If you have the time and resources, it’s highly recommended that you carry out some research about your prospect and their company and industry before calling. And when you’re on the call, sincerely listen and ask about their specific problems and concerns, and — most importantly — offer help. Help them envision their business running a little smoother doing business with you.

If you’re not sure if you’re asking the right questions to set your relationship up for success, don’t fret! We’ve compiled 13 essential questions that freight brokers like you should ask on a sales call to help not only make effective sales, but build sustainable client relationships, as well.

broker-sales-call-questions-infographic

Free Freight Broker Call Guide

Step-by-Step Vehicle Safety Tips for Truck Drivers [Infographic]

From May 22 to May 29, the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles is promoting their first annual “Vehicle Safety Week,” and we want to help!

According to the DMV, the goal for Vehicle Safety Week is to draw attention to the need to make sure your vehicles are safe for the summer driving season. Simple ways to ensure your vehicle is safe is to check your fluids, tire pressure, battery life, windshield wipers, lights, etc. You can also check safercar.gov for information on the latest recalls that could affect your vehicle.

While the aforementioned list is important for all vehicles, there are specific safety regulations and precautions each class of vehicle can take as well. For example, there are more boxes to check off on the safety checklist for tractor trailers than there are on the average family car.

Driving tractor trailers involves both great skill and immense responsibility — for not only yourself and your truck, but for the safety of all others on the road as well.

Unfortunately, accidents involving trucks occur around 500,000 times per year in the U.S. Whether it’s poor weather conditions, a vehicle malfunction, or an animal crossing, accidents can happen spontaneously anywhere, anytime. To lower your chances of running into dangerous situations on the road, it’s imperative to do your best to stay alert and keep your vehicle in good working order.

To help, we’ve gathered these safe driving tips for truck drivers like you to keep in mind while on the road throughout the summer season (and all year).

Want to keep this safety checklist in your glove compartment? Click here for a printable version!

truck-safety-checklist-infographic

6 Lead Generation Tips for Freight Brokers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Whether business or personal, starting a new relationship with someone has its challenges.  When it comes to freight brokers contacting new prospects and building a new relationship, it may seem daunting if not overwhelming.  What do you say to your new contact?  How often should you be in touch with a new prospect?  How do you know if you are making the right choices moving forward or setting yourself up for failure?

Over time, freight brokers learn what works and what does not. But it takes time – and usually a long time. Meanwhile, many prospects (and opportunities) have been lost in the learning process.  Below are some ways that can help freight brokers new to the industry save on time and effort and propel them quicker towards success.  As for the more seasoned freight broker, these tips can serve as a refresher to help improve their game…and overall results!

 

Here are 6 lead generation tips to help freight brokers obtain quality leads:

1.  EVERY DAY, obtain THREE new business contacts (and call them):  FACT – As with most any industry, you will lose business for one reason or another. These new contacts will help to replace business that you will eventually lose or business that will never get off the ground (like the dreaded 1-shipment only customer). Some customers will not have any loads for 6 months or a year and then recontact you.  Others will fall through for other reasons, so it’s important that you continually seek and pursue new prospects.

2.  Do your research BEFORE you make the call: Cold calling people without doing any research tells them you did not consider the call important enough.  The key here is to understand that it is not about you – it is all about them. Make sure the conversation is about them, not you.  Use sales intelligence to turn a cold call into a warm call.  Sales Intelligence refers to technologies and practices for collection of information to help sales people keep up to date with clients and prospects.  Use Google and other search engines to gather relevant information (i.e. articles featuring the company and/or executives, recent awards or recognitions, and company locations).

CLICK HERE TO VIEW OUR WEBINAR ON HOW FREIGHT BROKERS CAN USE SALES INTELLIGENCE FOR PROSPECTING

To get information on your prospect’s company, begin by calling their sales department.  Salespeople are great individuals to talk to when you want to know everything about a company and where it’s going.  You can gain a great deal of knowledge from salespeople, so use that opportunity to ask them questions about what they do and how they do it.  Ask them what lanes they ship, or what states they operate in.

3.  Build a relationship:  Establish rapport with your contact and foster a connection.  It’s no secret – people are more likely to buy from a friend than from someone they view as a salesperson.  This can be difficult to achieve at first when making cold calls.  One way freight brokers can establish rapport is to start the conversation based on the lane they are running or the weight they are moving.  This is great information to use to help make that initial connection with prospects.  You will naturally learn how to build rapport as you learn the ins and outs of their business and the individual him or herself.  Try to think of the process as being on a football team: you start as a freshman and build your skills through training and practice.

4.  Expect resistance from prospects:  You WILL hear excuses such as “business is slow” or “we don’t have any loads that need to be moved.” But don’t give up!  Persistence is key. Remember to ALWAYS follow up with your prospects/customers.

5.  Take ACTION and follow through:  You’ll build proficiency through ACTION.  The process will get easier and you will get better at connecting, but you have to put in the time and effort.

6.  Stay FOCUSED: Keeping your focus is crucial.  Stay focused on the three p’s: the people, the process, and the product.  When you focus on the three most important aspects of business, you WILL have a successful freight broker business and/or be a successful freight broker agent for years to come!

 

Check out our infographic below – and don’t forget to share it with a freight broker who could use some tips on generating leads for their business!

 

Lead Generation Tips for Freight Brokers Infographic
Apply to be an LDi freight broker agent today!

How Top Freight Brokers Leverage Facebook to Grow Their Business

Recently, I had the opportunity of getting a little face-time with one of LDi’s top freight broker agents. During our conversation, he shared with me his struggles on building his presence on social media and with Facebook in particular. His main concern at the time was how he could grow his Facebook freight broker business page fan base. As LDi’s Marketing Manager, I was more than happy to share with him my social media expertise and offer in-depth insight and suggestions that he found to be valuable. It was then that it occurred to me that this information, as simple as it seemed to me with my background, was not so obvious to him and that it could be beneficial to ALL freight broker agents facing this very same struggle.

I’ll admit that this article might seem like a departure from more “traditional” methods for growing a freight broker business such as: turning cold calls into warm calls, finding new customers or retaining current ones, etc. But, I assure you that social media, once considered a novel alternative by businesses, is now a mainstream growth tool for your business and that you’re missing out on additional business opportunities if you are not fully embracing and exploring all avenues with regards to social media. To go a step further, if you have an established social media presence you may not be doing enough to truly reap the benefits that it offers. More specifically, I believe freight brokers should be utilizing Facebook equally if not more so than LinkedIn to grow their freight broker business and here’s my thoughts on why:  first, in the professional world, the general consensus is that LinkedIn is the ‘god of prospecting and connecting’ when it comes to businesses or business professionals…when the truth is that sales and growing your business is a numbers game and numbers are all about reach and exposure. And if you’re talking reach and exposure, no other social media network even comes close to Facebook. For those of you, and I’m sure there’s quite a few, that are saying, “But Facebook is a SOCIAL network!” That’s absolutely true. But, the number of people that are on Facebook and using it daily are astounding! Whereas on LinkedIn, very much considered the powerhouse of lead generation, user numbers are considerably less and they are not on LinkedIn daily. And, now I can hear those same individuals saying, “But we need to connect with businesses”. Also true. But we don’t sell to a business – we sell to a person.

My second reason, is any individual looking to sell a product or offer a service can’t ignore the TRUE determinant of why prospects become customers and customers stay loyal to you…and that’s RELATIONSHIPS. And I’m not talking about a ‘business relationship’ where you call, they have a need and you deliver a solution. That’s just logistics and if that’s your only approach you’ll spend more time trying to drum up new business and the rest of the time wondering why you can’t keep your customers. I’m talking about a personal relationship where you have put in the effort since day one with them. Getting to know your prospect/customer as a person, relating to their concerns, building trust and deepening that connection to the point where they aren’t just a business contact anymore – they are now a loyal customer that trusts your word, depends on you to service their needs and would not even consider sending their business elsewhere. There will even be days, once that level of comfort is firmly established, that your customer will give you a quick call, state their need and know you’ll just ‘handle it’. But chances are you also know their favorite hobby, if they’re married, have children or just bought a new house – all because you’ve built a personal relationship with them. And what social network is known, used for and deemed appropriate for building personal relationships and connecting on a personal level? That’s right – FACEBOOK!

FACTS:

  • More than 467 million people use LinkedIn BUT there are more than 1.6 BILLION users on Facebook DAILY!
  • More than 3 people sign up every second on LinkedIn BUT more than 8 people per second are added on Facebook!
  • An average user spends 17 minutes on LinkedIn per month BUT an average user spends 21 minutes on Facebook a DAY!

That’s impressive! Now that I’ve addressed the why and offered some facts, I’d like to share how a freight broker can begin leveraging Facebook as a POWERFUL tool to grow their business* even if they just created a Facebook business page TODAY! For those of you that have already been working with your Facebook business page, I’m confident that even you will benefit from some of these suggestions, keeping in mind I’m assuming nothing of your social networking abilities or depth in your current progress, so I’m starting with the basics:

  1. Create a Facebook business page
    1. Obviously! This is easily done from your personal page by looking to the upper right corner of your screen and clicking on the white downward arrow. In the drop down menu, select ‘Create Page’.
  2. Optimize your Facebook business page
    1. It’s important that BEFORE you decide to just create a business page for yourself that you research other users on Facebook, similar to you, that have created a business page and that you take the time to carefully review all the elements that went into their page (banner image, photos, bio, videos, everything). It’s always best to emulate the best instead of winging it or starting from scratch.
  3. Link your Facebook business page to your personal profile
    1. This is a great way to alert your personal contacts that you have a business page and hopefully drive them there and Like your business page. The more connections the better and those connections will hopefully help to share your business page content that could mean the potential for new or more business opportunities.
    2. To do this, start from your personal page and look on the left-hand side under ‘Intro’. Click on edit and start typing in the name of your business page. When you see it pop up, click on it to add it. Now it has become a link that people visiting your personal page can click on that will take them directly to your business page!
  4. Put a Facebook Fan Box on your website/blog
    1. Now that you’ve made your FB business page, don’t stop there! You need to promote your page every chance you get – be it on your website, in your blog, at your place of business, on your company literature, etc. Spread the word, again, it’s all about REACH and EXPOSURE.
  5. Take advantage of your personal Facebook account
    1. Whatever you post on your business page, you can also post on your personal page – that’s the beauty of Facebook and its lenient nature and flexibility.
  6. Content is KING
    1. Even if this is Facebook and interaction is very social and laid back, you should always post with being mindful to the “Big R’s” of social media:
      • Relative: relative refers to the content you are posting for your audience. ALWAYS think of your target audience FIRST before you post anything! You wouldn’t post a smoothie recipe on a jewelry store page. SPEAK to your SPECIFIC audience. Your Fans should find your page informative, helpful, interesting and appealing. Remember that this is your attempt at promoting your business side so you should project yourself as an expert, thought leader, educator and above all else, a professional.
      • Relevant: to attract and keep your Fans, you must post information that is always relevant. Keep topics current, keep your page fresh and you can even have fun with it by posting an industry article, a podcast of yours or (thanks to Facebook!) a funny meme about the transportation/logistics industry, etc. – and never, never, ever post anything questionable or offensive (I can’t stress this enough).
      • Reputable: whatever you post, that’s your image and whatever information you put out there, it needs to be accurate and easily verifiable.
      • Reciprocate: like any other social media network, content is shared. As much as you’d like your Fans to share your posts, you should make the same effort to regularly share some of your Fans posts as well. It can’t be a one-way street if you expect to continue having loyal Fans.
      • Responsive: Engagement is key. Just as you will invite comments and interaction from your Fans, you must make the effort to respond to their comments and stay constantly engaged with them. Answer questions, stay on top of your notifications, reply to comments and do it all in a timely manner! That’s just basic social media etiquette.
      • Results: Make sure to regularly check your Insights tab to gain valuable information/feedback on best time to post for your Fans, which of your efforts saw more engagement – was it a video? A meme? A posed question where they needed to select a response? An industry article? And harness that information to streamline your future efforts for better engagement by appealing more to your Fans.
  7. Post on Weekends
    1. With being the biggest social network out there, people aren’t just on it during work hours. They are on evenings AND weekends too! So, post anytime you want – if it’s good content (see #7).
  8. Invites, Likes and Fans
    1. Now that you’ve created a business page, you need FANS! Luckily there are SEVERAL ways to gain Likes:
      • Invite your friends from your personal page. Again, it’s all about reach and exposure and this one’s quick and easy.
      • From your personal page, join groups relative to your business page. For instance, freight brokers might search for groups using some of these words: truck, trucks, trucking, freight, freight broker, shipping, logistics and so on. Once you join or are accepted into some groups, you are now free to post content to their page. Make sure you don’t do anything to get yourself kicked from the group such as over-posting or bad content. The rule is, if you’re unsure – DON’T POST!
      • Make another established freight broker/trucking contact an admin to your business page. This is another quick and easy way to have access to their connections and invite them to your page as well!
  9. Create a Group
    1. Not only can you add Fans to a group by promoting it on your personal and business pages but others on FB will be searching for groups to join that they are interested in and join your group all on their own! How easy is that???
    2. Also, since you created the group, you set the tone for the page and content. This is the next best thing to prequalifying your prospects! Even though not all group members might be a hot prospect, at least they are more targeted and easily accessible to you.
  10. Check Yourself
    1. Just a word of warning as you venture into Facebook territory and begin marketing your professional self and your business. In the past, what might have been viewed as acceptable to your personal connections on your personal page (trash talk, slang, off color or inappropriate jokes/references, etc.) will now be potentially viewed and judged by anyone that connects to your business page. So, it might be wise to examine the content on your personal page (videos, posts, images, content) to make sure there is nothing that might offend or turn away potential prospects or current customers.

Let the above methods serve as a jumping off point for any freight broker looking to create a Facebook business page or have already done so but not sure how to proceed in optimizing it’s use. For those that found this information to be too basic and you’re looking to deepen your leveraging efforts with your Facebook business page even more, I invite you to obtain a copy of our free report, “Advanced Facebook Leveraging for Freight Brokers”.

If you have any additional suggestions on how to leverage a Facebook business page to help grow fan base and ultimately business opportunities, we’d love hear them! So, please feel free to comment on this or any of LDi’s blog posts or suggest future article topics and thanks for reading!

*Please keep in mind that this only serves as a general gauge and not all freight brokers will reach the same level of achievement, results or success when utilizing a Facebook business page to gain more customers or grow their business.