Every freight broker knows they have to take good care of their customers. It’s the customer’s money that keeps you in business, so naturally you focus a lot on keeping your customers happy. It’s important to be a good partner to your carriers as well, however. After all, without them, you don’t have anything to offer your customer. Having good relationships with trustworthy carriers can set a freight broker apart when it comes to ongoing projects, as well.
Things like rate, equipment type, and lane are easy to keep straight, since those are the most basic details needed to book a truck at all. When carriers and brokers have a disagreement, it’s usually about the finer points of a rate con. Any arguments are usually a result of one of two things: lack of clarity on a finer detail of the contract, or disagreement about the solution when a problem comes up.
I spoke to our own Broker Bro, Joe Adinolfi, about how to prevent disagreements with your carriers. The first thing he said was to make sure, right from the outset, that the carrier knows all the details. Give them the chance to consider those factors when placing the bid. Any risks or special considerations are part of what they are bidding on, and adding details after the fact or failing to communicate them at all is a recipe for disaster. As Joe put it, “if you ever just assume the carrier knows something then you will get burned, count on it.”
Likewise, don’t expect things to “just work out.” As soon you hear about a problem from the carrier or shipper, you need to be engaged. If you don’t start working on the solution until the customer issues a fine or the carrier complains about not receiving full payment, you’re already at a disadvantage. Ideally, you want to work toward a solution everyone can agree to ahead of time. If something has gone wrong, at least one party is getting bad news, and it will only be harder to reach a positive solution if that bad news comes as a surprise.
Of course, your biggest tool for avoiding problems is an accurate and detailed rate con. If there’s a fine you as the broker may need to pay and will want to pass on to the carrier, that needs to be on the rate con. Bottom line – the rate con is the agreement between you and the carrier about how this shipment will be handled. Not only is it the document you’ll rely on to get the delivery done correctly, it’s the one you and the carrier will both refer back to if you’re trying to settle a dispute.
None of this is to say that you need to be, or even can be, perfect. You’re always going to have some disagreements with carriers. If it was easy to keep both sides happy while shipping freight, anyone could be a freight broker, but being able to manage what happens after something goes wrong and making sure the customer and carrier both walk away happy is what sets great brokers apart from the rest. A good reputation and long lasting, positive relationships with carriers