Interested in becoming a freight broker? Before you jump into brokering freight, brokers and other industry experts agree these are the must-do tasks before you set out on your own.
As a leading worldwide provider of transportation and logistics solutions, Logistic Dynamics Inc. (LDI) continues our commitment to track and report our carbon accounting practices for the 8th consecutive year. Freight transportation is one of the fastest growing impacts on the environment, and as consumer demand increases, we are committed to respond with the most efficient and cleaner transportation practices.
LDI is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) SmartWay® Transport Partner. In addition, we’re happy to announce that EPA recently approved our annual submission of Partnership reporting requirements for 2018. LDI joined the SmartWay initiative in 2011. Each year, performance data is submitted and reviewed to qualify as a SmartWay partner.
“We are honored to be a SmartWay Transport Partner,” stated LDI Vice President Evan Gaskill. “LDI is fully committed to the SmartWay program by being responsible in how we manage our carrier network and choosing carriers that have demonstrated a marked reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and other air pollutants. The SmartWay program was a natural next step for us in our continuous efforts to minimize our own environmental impact while delivering world-class transportation and logistics services.”
SmartWay is a voluntary and cost-free program that supports companies’ initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from freight supply chain transportation activities. Operational strategies, data management tools and verified technology supports are provided. The SmartWay Partnership is a domestic and international freight and supply chain program that manages data for over 3,500 partners across all domestic shipping modes in the US and Canada. SmartWay implements its goals to lower freight carbon footprints by conducting analysis and research of freight impacts, engaging with freight experts, anticipating and responding to trends, developing strategic resources and communication strategies, and serving as an international model. International collaborations exist with Mexico, China and other Asian nations, Europe, and Latin America.
“Logistic Dynamics knows that partnering with SmartWay is good for business, people and the environment,” says Cheryl Bynum, U.S. EPA’s SmartWay Director, “By partnering with us, LDI is demonstrating their commitment to sustainability through cleaner, lower carbon goods movement.”
Learn more about the EPA’s SmartWay program here: https://www.epa.gov/smartway/
Based in Buffalo, NY, LDI has a growing network of freight brokerage operations centers located all over North America. Our job is to arrange and manage freight throughout North America and across the globe. Freight agents rely on our expertise in transportation to make their job easier and business more efficient. Our quality service and innovative technology is tailored to the specific needs and requirements of our freight agents and carrier partners so as to provide a custom tailored solution for each business. We’re proud of our unique combination of innovative technology, industry expertise, and a modern approach to real-world logistics that truly gives our customers the competitive advantage they need to succeed.
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:
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
- SupplyChainDive news
- Follow related hashtags on social media like #ELDmandate or #ELD
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.
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:
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!
If you’re a freight broker or freight agent, negotiating is an everyday occurrence for your freight broker business. And it’s not for the faint of heart – Negotiating is tough work! But, over time, it helps you develop skills and strategies to build credibility and deepen trust between you and your customers and carriers.
In the logistics industry, freight brokers and freight agents hold a very unique position in the fact that they are both a buyer AND seller of transportation. Which means, in many ways, that they are in direct conflict with one another and here’s why: When freight brokers sell to customers, the goal is to sell your services at thehighest price possible, while offering customer’s good VALUE for their money. When freight brokers buy transportation, the objective is to secure the lowest PRICE possible without compromising the level of service we need. The difference between the two is how freight brokers and freight agents make money.
Because negotiating is inevitable as a freight broker agent, it’s imperative to build better relationships with both your customers and carriers while not forgetting to focus on selling thevalue you bring to the table first! When you focus on these two components, you will lessen your negotiating time and increase your profits.
Here are some questions you could ask yourself to get a better indication on how much negotiating you’ll need to do with your customer:
- How will the other person benefit as a result from buying from you?
- Do you know your value proposition to the other party?
- How high up in the company is the person you are dealing with?
- How are you perceived by them?
- What is the urgency of the other party?
- How strong of a relationship have you developed with the other party?
Having a firm grip on the above answers ahead of time will help you be prepared with the responses you’ll need to enter into negotiations intelligently and with confidence. In addition, I’ve included some valid points your customer or carrier may have when negotiating and insight on how to better address and/or combat their concerns:
- You have not proven your value beyond the competition.
- Do Your Homework: Technology has allowed consumers access to more information than ever on pricing and competitors. In order to sell on value – not price – as important as confidence and rapport are, you need to do your homework on your potential client. This will be the first step you take in order to establish if they’re a good candidate to meet your price needs so you aren’t wasting your time talking to individuals only interested in the cheapest option.
- Leverage Your Strengths and Experience: Before you reach out to ANY potential customer or carrier, your mind-set needs to be rock-solid and you better be ready to unleash ALL your company’s strengths and unshakeable reasons why you stand out from your competition. Don’t be like a deer caught in headlights when they start firing questions off to you. If that happens, you’ll never truly be able to win back their full confidence or trust in you and will have started the relationship off on shaky ground. Take a moment with your potential client to share the history of your company to show solid roots and have success stories or customer testimonials at the ready (bonus points if your testimonials/case studies solved issues or addressed concerns similar to your potential client).
- Confidence Is Always King: When stressing the importance of value as compared to your competitors, you should not get into price negotiations. This would be the time to mention the advantages only YOUR business can bring to the table (i.e. 24/7 customer support, online customer portals, technological advantages, etc.). NEVER take things personally and let emotions get involved during negotiations and never bad mouth your competitors.
- You have failed to differentiate yourself from your competition.
- Know Yourself and Know Your Value: You have to be able to list (firmly and capably) your businesses strengths and know them inside and out. You must be able to succinctly communicate what sets you apart from your competition and, therefore, are capable of commanding a higher price. Here are three ways that can help you differentiate yourself and act on IMMEDIATELY:
1) Sell Yourself – It’s common knowledge that when dealing with a person when purchasing a service or product, most times they aren’t just buying what you have to sell…they’re buying the value in YOU! It’s the connection the customer feels with the seller, how they can relate to them, how they feel understood and comfortable by choosing to go with you. So, sell yourself! Be confident in yourself, find that common ground with them, be relatable and be informative. Now’s the time to show off all those years of experience and abilities you’ve acquired, all the knowledge you’ve retained that have made you the seasoned freight broker you are today that allows your business to run smoothly and efficiently. It’s these details and your passion for what you do that, in their eyes, will give you the edge over others and impress upon them why you are better than the rest. Customers revel in the fact that they are doing business with the best of the best. You just have to convince them that you are and then FOLLOW THROUGH! But, don’t be cocky or arrogant – remember, they have MANY others with whom they could do business.
2) Ask Questions…Then LISTEN: Most don’t take the time to ask questions, let alone listen to what their client have to say. Take the time, before-hand, to research your potential customer to have the background information you need in order to ask the right questions. Nobody likes their time wasted and no potential customer will feel important when you ask them questions that show you didn’t do your homework on their business and that’s a deal-killer right off the bat! What better impression to make on a potential client than to demonstrate being pro-active in your information gathering and establishing yourself as a leader in the industry by asking insightful questions.
3) Be Solution-Oriented: When customers are looking for a solution to the problem, they don’t want to hear about all the great things your company can do or care about your flashy company literature. They need a solution and that MUST be your focus if you expect to gain their business. Listen thoroughly to understand the full extent of their need then address that need/concern/issue specifically and satisfactorily. Mention another customer with a similar situation that you’ve helped and what specific actions you took to overcome that obstacle/concern.
- You have failed to build trust or provide a viable solution:
- If you want to build trust and credibility with your customers, and hold on to them for life, follow these 10 important tips (courtesy of Walter Rogers, salesforce):
1) Avoid selling a solution that isn’t in the customer’s best interest. Sometimes you just don’t have the right solution at the right price. If that is the case, it is always best to be honest with the customer, instead of proposing something which you know will not fully deliver the outcome the customer is looking for.
2) Never misrepresent the features, advantages and benefits of a product or service. Customers don’t want a product or solution that only comes close to meeting their needs, or that usually functions properly. Give them the whole, unvarnished truth, and let them decide if the proposed solution will work for them.
3) Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver. Some sales professionals find it very difficult to say no to the customer about anything. Telling the customer that a certain solution with specific features and benefits will be delivered by a specific deadline, when you know you can’t deliver, is a recipe for disaster.
4) Accepting or offering bribes or gifts is always unethical. There are perhaps no brighter ethical line sales professionals must not cross than the one prohibiting off-the-books inducements.
5) Keep pricing consistent to all departments within the same company. You will poison the relationship and kill the account if the discrepancy is ever discovered.
6) When problems develop after the sale, don’t make excuses and don’t place blame; fix the problem. You are the face of the company; it is your duty as a sales professional to deliver on the promise you made.
7) Don’t withhold bad news. If you think the customer will be upset when you tell them the bad news, just imagine how much more upset they will be when they find out you knew the bad news three weeks ago and hid it from them.
8) If and when you must speak of the competition, be respectful at all times. Some sales professionals seem to think that “trash-talking” the competition will make their own products and services look better. Usually, it only makes them look petty and immature in the eyes of the customer.
9) Always honor the relationships that other sales professionals on your team have with their accounts. Stealing accounts from your team members is just that–stealing.
10) And finally: make promises and keep them. Above all, you must do what you say, when you said you would do it. This one skill alone will put you head and shoulders above your competition.
- Your price is still too high or asked you to reduce your price or match a competitor:
- First off, this may be a red flag. Some individuals are only focused on garnering the lower price – period. Most times, these individuals end up being problem customers and a drain on you and your business. It might be best to just decide to cut bait and move on and save yourself the headache. But, don’t instantly jump to this conclusion. Ask more questions, get a better feel for their needs and flexibility (if any). Sometimes people are just very busy or need to tend to other things and want to cut through the process. Be patient, get more information then make an informed decision.
- For all other times, be empathetic to their concerns and let them know you understand their situation. This brings you over to their side and helps them feel understood and diminishes any feelings they may have that their concern is silly or unjustified. Moving forward, you will need to ask more questions and deal with each objection they have to relieve their apprehension. You need to properly and fully address each objection before moving forward on price. If they don’t feel comfortable in doing business with you, negotiating price is pointless. If you still cannot agree on price, you need to explain why your service is still the better value. Remember to specify to them that, in the long run, choosing to pay a higher price will ultimately provide them with the value they seek (i.e. goods delivered on-time and in good condition). Help them to understand that by choosing you, it will not only make things easier and more stress-free for them, but will reflect positively on their position and make them look better to their superiors.
- Find out what the customer values most when doing business. If you provide the same value as a competitor, then price becomes the only definitive difference. Use this opportunity to impress upon them what only YOU can bring to the table and establish these factors as anchors and testimony to your superior value and thus obvious choice for selecting you.
When a freight broker or any business professional is faced with the negotiation process they must realize from the onset that it’s all really about relationships and selling value every step of the way. Once that mindset is established, you will dramatically cut down on having to negotiate to win business. However, when you are forced to negotiate, you can refer to LDi’s Free Report, “11 No-Fail Negotiation Tactics for Freight Brokers”, a power-house list of critical negotiation tactics geared specifically to overcome objections.
If you have any additional suggestions on winning negotiating techniques, we’d love to 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!
Ahh March…that time of year when winter finally loosens its bone-chilling grip and thoughts turn to those of spring, warmer temps and…fraud?? Yes, March is Fraud Prevention Month. And as the thermometer gauge rises so do your chances increase for becoming a victim of fraud. With that being said, this blog post is designed to share some facts and red flags that can help alert freight brokers or anyone else involved in the transportation or logistics industry of transportation fraud and hopefully keeps you from becoming a victim.
The truth is, no matter what industry you are in, chances are you either know someone or have personally been a victim of fraud. Because when money’s involved, there is always a scam artist out there eager to separate you from your hard-earned cash. And it’s no surprise that the transportation industry seems to be a favorite for thieves and scam artists.
In fact, the 2014 Global Economic Crime Survey reports that 39% of survey respondents reported transportation and logistics fraud specifically – far more than the 29% across all industries. That number is most likely higher because many owners may be fearful to report fraud due to the impact it can have on a company’s reputation, employee morale, and relationships with its business partners.
The good news we don’t have to fall victim to fraud or theft. Since awareness is the first step in prevention, let’s take a look at two of the most common types of fraud in our industry:
- Cargo Theft is probably the most straightforward example of fraud. It’s a multi-billion dollar enterprise that tends to take place during truck and/or container transportation, usually when vehicles are being loaded or unloaded. Inbound Logistics reports that, “In the United States, the most highly sought after shipments are pharmaceuticals, consumer electronics, apparel, and food. Any product can be stolen, of course, but these commodities are reported stolen most consistently”.
CargoNet recently released its Q3 2014 United States Theft Report and their top five findings were:
- There were 214 reported incidents of cargo theft this quarter, down 22% from Q3 2013 and up 28%from Q2 2014.
- The most costly theft was a $15 million burglary of processors.
- Washington State experienced a cargo theft crime wave this quarter, going from 0 reported cargo theft incidents in Q3 2013 to 7 in Q3 2014.
- Cargo theft decreased 52% on Friday.
- Truck stops were the most common theft location of Q3 2014.
- Fuel Advance Fraud is also known as a “double brokering scam.” Logistics industry officials say it’s a rampant crime that’s hard to prosecute. This type of fraud takes place when a criminal passes himself off as a carrier and accepts freight from an unsuspecting freight broker or freight agent. He then turns around and brokers the freight to an actual carrier, in many cases for a higher price than the original customer agreed to pay! He is able to do this because he has obtained documents from actual carriers and brokers and has altered them to convince his victims that he is part of a legitimate company. Once the load is picked up, the scammer gets the BOL from the actual carrier and then faxes it to the original broker, requesting a fuel advance on the load. He receives the money and then disappears with the money, never paying the actual carrier. The money he makes from this sort of con typically range from $500 up to $2,000. But it quickly adds up when he repeats the con again and again, each time using another name, a new phone number, and more phony paperwork.
What are the red flags of a possible scam? Rates that seem too high or too low – A scammer posing as a carrier may accept a load for less than the going rate in an effort to entice the freight broker or agent into doing the deal. On the other hand the same scammer may offer a carrier more money than what the broker agreed to pay them, in order to motivate the carrier to take the deal and not ask too many questions. Bottom line, if the rate “seems to be too good to be true,” it probably is so ask more questions and be sure who you are doing business with.
Schemed timing – Fuel advance scams occur more often later in the week and at the end of the day. Why? Because scammers know that freight brokers and carriers will many times become careless when they are faced with the possibility of not being able to cover a load with the day or week drawing near. Scammers also like to make believe their driver has no money and will not be delivered on time unless they get a fuel advance. Any time anyone you are dealing with is in too much of a rush, slow down, look in the mirror and make sure the word “sucker” or “victim” is not written across your forehead.
Unrecognized phone numbers – Scammers posing as a representative of a legitimate company will provide supposedly valid paperwork, counting on the fact that many will fail to check the telephone numbers to verify the person’s identity. While having a different phone number from a company’s main office doesn’t always mean a broker or carrier is a scam artist, it still should be considered a red flag and a reminder to perform additional due diligence before moving forward.
Before issuing a fuel advance, take these precautionary steps…
- Check the FMCSA’s Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) system website and make sure the DOT/MC number match with what the carrier has submitted.
- Verify the phone number the carrier provides matches what is listed in his DOT registration. You should also verify the carrier’s address and fax number matches, if it does not, make sure to address it with the carrier.
- TIA members should always check the TIA WatchDog site to see if there have been any complaints about the carrier.
This may seem like a lot of work but consider how much is at stake financially. Not only is the fuel advance amount on the line, your reputation with the shipper is as well and any future earnings.
Like it or not, this is the world we live in! The fact is, if you are in any business long enough someone will likely try to scam you. Below are some tips for freight brokers and freight agents on how to avoid being scammed.
- If something seems too good to be true, it probably is!
- Listen to your gut. If something seems shady, proceed with caution.
- Whenever someone you’re dealing with is in a rush and money is involved…just slow down.