3 Techniques for Freight Broker & Freight Agent Goal Setting

Don’t have a “goal”, have a PLAN!  Most of us have goals–whether personal or professional.  But just having a goal won’t make it happen.  What makes youachieve your goal…is planning.  How many times have you told yourself you’d change something but it never really stuck?  How many times have you promised yourself you’d make a point to do (or not do) something?  As a freight broker, I’m sure you’ve thought about maybe expanding your office, reactivating old customers, shipping some LTL instead of all FTL, learning a new language, etc.  Only to watch days, even months slip by and you’ve had zero progress in the areas you wanted to make changes. It happens to all of us.  But, it doesn’t mean you weren’t serious about your goals or that they became unimportant – most of the time it’s because of poor planning.  It’s because we didn’t really fully define the goal, set objectives or put actions into place to help us achieve the necessary results by a certain time…because there was no PLAN!

Different things work for different people.  To achieve…actually ACHIEVE a goal you need to have a plan in place.  It’s the plan that breaks down the goal into workable parts and it’s those parts (when applied or tracked) that help you define your goal(s), gives you a list of actionables and makes you set a timeframe.  Here are some basic guidelines to help you create a PLAN to achieve your GOAL:

1. SET A GOAL:  I know you just rolled your eyes and this may seem a bit obvious but without a clearly defined goal it’s easy to lose sight of whether what you want to achieve is along-term vision or for short-term motivation.  If you’re not putting serious thought or consideration into your goal, chances are you won’t be successful achieving results.  When setting a goal, try using the What, Why and How Approach.  The “What” stands for what you’re looking to achieve in your business or personal life.  Defining a goal makes it tangible and therefore more likely to be achieved.  Second, the “Why” is the reason you want to attain the goal you set.  Let’s face it; we all get caught up in the day-to-day minutia of things.  So, to stay on track and keep our goals in sight, we need to regularly remember why we are doing the task and the meaning behind it.  And last, the “How”.  These are the new skills we need to practice, the classes we need to take, the new habits or the breaking of old ones that will get us to where we need to be.

2. SET SMALLER GOALS:  Once you’ve firmly defined your goal (personal or professional, long or short term), you need to set smaller goals.  For a professional goal, this might involve crafting a company mission statement.  For a personal goal this might involve making a daily “To-Do” list.  If you’re committing to a long-term goal like a 5-year plan, try breaking that down into yearly plans and then maybe into a 6-month or even monthly plan.  Just be sure to review your plan regularly to make sure you’re keeping on course and in-line with your overall goal and adjust as needed.

3. STAY ON COURSE:  Your success in achieving your goal lies mostly in this area.  Like the saying goes, “You have to have skin in the game”.  The “skin” of it lies in your efforts of day-to-day reviewing and managing of your progress and doing so will help you stick to your plan.  Although it can seem daunting or tedious, tracking these individual steps are a definite necessity.  To make this part of the process easier, you can use a journal or diary to record your progress.  Even if you’re always on the go, yep…there’s an App for that!  There are countless apps out there for you to use to keep you on track, whether it’s losing weight, getting more active, setting reminders and even digital diaries!  Another way to stay on track is to schedule time for yourself like you would for a meeting.  Use that time to track your progress, review notes, and make necessary adjustments as needed.  It’s very important to view your progress so you can see how far you’ve come and reward yourself as you hit certain milestones that will help keep you motivated.

One final note…If you prefer to track your progress digitally over the traditional pen-to-paper method, there are numerous apps out there that you can use to help you achieve what matters to you most.  Here are some of the more popular apps for you to check out and download so you can log your progress while on the go – NO EXCUSES:

MyFitnessPal – A free calorie-counting food journal that integrates with fitness tracking devices that allows you to connect with others for accountability and motivation.

Wunderlist – A to-do app favored by entrepreneurs for its beautiful, minimalist design; great for long-term or short-term to-do lists that you can access from all your devices and share with others.

Evernote – A note-taking app with multiple uses, one of which allows you to keep track of goals by organizing a notebook with different goals and ideas.

Habitica – A habit building app that gamifies the process. A little avatar gains strength and points as you hit your set goals for the day. Take your avatar on quests, join battles, and enjoy some lite video gaming while achieving your goals.

Nozbe – A paid, task management app where you set up a project and then the goals, habits and daily tasks to reach your goal; available on nearly every platform.

HabitBull – A multiplatform companion to help build routines and keep track of your day to day habits. It displays graphs and charts of your progress and offers different ways to organize and set up your new habit building or habit breaking goals.

Some Tips on Goal Setting:

–       Set Priorities: Rate your tasks (A-most important, B-moderately important and so on).  This helps you to better focus on your priorities and directs your attention (and time) to the more important ones and also keeps you from feeling overwhelmed by having too many goals.

–       Write Goals Down: Whether you write your goals down on paper or on a digital device, it tends to make them more “concrete” and therefore makes them become more forceful and have more weight than just a thought.  Because it’s in print – you HAVE to act on it!

–       Be Realistic: Make sure to set achievable goals.  Setting yourself up for failure from the onset is a definite motivation killer and will most likely hinder you from setting any future goals.  Strive to reach things that are attainable as these will help to build your confidence and continue you on a path of improvement and continued successes.

–       Reward Yourself: You don’t have to wait until your goal is reached to celebrate.  Reward yourself along the way with mini victories as you reach mini milestones in your progress.  This will help keep you motivated, committed to succeeding and continually moving towards your ultimate goal.  Good Luck!…err..I mean, Good Planning!

What does “Courting” have to do with Freight Brokering? EVERYTHING!

I recently had the pleasure of sharing my time with an older married couple. After learning that they had been married over 50 years and were clearly still in the honeymoon phase of their marriage, I couldn’t help but ask them what their secret was for maintaining a long and happy marriage. Which I found to be quite the accomplishment in a society where over 50% of marriages end in divorce. The gentleman’s answer came quick and was simple:  Never stop courting each other.

Being in the logistics industry, that message hit me like a freight train! Immediately, I could envision how freight brokers and freight agents could apply this principle towards their freight broker business to never stop courting.

What’s more is that this advice could be applied to the freight business or any business. For instance, when you meet the one you want to spend your whole life, do you treat them well or poorly? Do you court them or do you ignore them? The answer to both is obvious.

Just as a couple puts their best foot forward during the initial dating period, overall happiness and the desire to continue in the relationship depends on certain “needs” to be consistently met. The same principle can be applied to the freight broker/customer relationship.

Courting the Marketplace

For freight sales agents, building your book of business is no picnic but it is a necessity. If you’re doing it right, a LOT needs to happen even before that initial phone call is even made; researching prospects, building sales intelligence, getting past the gatekeeper, even creating the perfect voicemail message. And this process needs to happen each and every day. Like they say, if you’re not growing – you’re shrinking. But, after a while of courting the marketplace, you may feel the urge to stop. To stop building your contact lists. To stop reaching out to new prospects. To stop making calls. You begin to just coast along. (The-not-so) funny thing is, the problem with coasting is that you can only coast downhill! Freight brokers must continuously court the marketplace.

Courting Prospects

Industry success is similar to high school dating. Remember this guys? Seeing a girl who caught your eye and made your heart jump a little? Then, eventually, you’d gain enough courage to ask her out on a date. If she said yes, you took her out and courted her. If you wanted her to be your girlfriend, you courted her even more. The same process can be applied to your freight broker business by reaching out to three new contacts each day; you’re actually courting your prospects.

When turning a prospect into a customer, the challenge for most freight brokers is they don’t court their prospects the way they court the love of their lives, thus hindering the probability of success in the process. Most freight agents will court a prospect once and then stop. This is the equivalent of going on a first date and never calling the person again. If you want a long and lasting relationship with your customers, this isn’t going to cut it.

Courting Your Customers

When it comes to your customers, if you desire to have a long and lasting business relationship, you must court them. You must treat them like they’re someone you want to stay in your life forever. The more you court your customers by continually solving their problems and being relentlessly positive, the more freight you’ll move for them – period!

Continue applying that process to your customers by regularly following up and continuing to court them, year after year. A good habit to get into is to ask yourself these questions every day:  What have you done today to court your customers? Whose problems and drama can you solve? Whose day could you light up by taking a large load off their hands? How could you surprise and delight your customers today?

Court the marketplace, court your prospects and court your customers continually. Your success as a freight broker in this industry demands it!

Bonus Tools and Tips on Courting:

Be Appreciative – Always remember to say thank you, take your customers out to lunch, send a pizza to their office, mail a handwritten thank you note (or Birthday/Holiday card), invite customers to company events (like a golf outing or cookout), give away some company swag, pay them a visit – a little face-to-face goes a long way.

Be Attentive – Regularly follow up with your customers (via email, phone, visits), give your full attention during conversations (people know when you’re not paying attention), ask if they’d like to get the company newsletter, call back when you say you’re going to, if they reach out to you and you don’t have the time – make the time! Remember, if you stay at the forefront of their mind, you’ll stay miles ahead of your competition.

Be Helpful/Solve Problems – Check-in with your customers often and listen for issues, be proactive in keeping your customers (it’s easier to keep a customer than obtain a new one or gain one back), be genuine in your interest when following up (people can sense a feigned interest), offer additional services (i.e. different shipping modes), follow through (ex. even if their problem is accounting-related, stay with them on the issue until resolution).

Be Positive – Whether in person, on the phone or in email – keep the tone upbeat and positive, always. Attitude is everything and despite “good intentions”, if they don’t like your tone, demeanor or attitude, they’ll go elsewhere. Take the call and sound happy (smiling actually does come through over the phone). If it pertains, say Happy Birthday, congratulations, etc. Be human – crack a joke (keep it tasteful), talk about their interests (sports/hobbies, etc.), make small talk (not to add ‘filler’ but to create a bonding effect – such as recent crazy weather, weekend plans, an article or industry news they might find interesting, etc.)

Be Consistent – Consistency builds trust and speaks volumes about your character. Whatever you start doing (a weekly phone call, sending birthday cards/newsletter, yearly visit, etc.) continue doing. There isn’t the saying, “Consistency is everything” for no reason.