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.
Finding new shipping customers is not easy, we know. With you in mind, we put together this post for some ideas on how you can grow your book of business!
If there’s one question we hear from our freight broker agents time and again, it’s “how can I get my profits up?” It’s a good question, and we’re here to provide some resources to help out.
Being a freight brokerage business owner means you’re always learning new ways you could run your business. Not to be confused with implementing each and every new entrepreneurial method into your business; there’s not one perfect way to run a business. But there are really good ideas and tricks out there by others who succeeded in the startup phase, who are willing to share those ideas and tricks, and some of those are worth testing. This is one of them.
Mike Michalowicz was recommended to me years ago. You might not recognize the name, but you’ve probably heard of the book The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. That book has been mentioned by (what feels like) dozens of entrepreneurs as their favorite helpful book on the Entrepreneur on Fire podcast. That book might be Michalowicz’s most popular work, but his most famous piece should be Profit First.
If you’re an established freight broker, skip The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. If you’re looking to improve the profit margins in your established business, Profit First should be at the top of your reading list. Much like Dave Ramsey is the mastermind behind The Total Money Makeover (also recommended by Michalowicz for personal finance management, and I personally endorse it, too), Mike Michalowicz just gets how to run a financially healthy business.
Mike Michalowicz repeatedly gives this same advice over and over: it’s not about being cheap; it’s about being frugal. Cheap doesn’t get us anywhere—we can make bad purchasing decisions trying to be cheap. Being frugal assures we’re investing our valuable operating expenses exactly where they need to be to benefit the business and your profits.
Want to learn how LDI can help you increase profits today? Let’s talk.
How To Make a Profit…
According to the book, the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles formula for determining a business’s profit is:
Sales – Expenses = Profit
Michalowicz saw (and personally experienced) that this method has the potential to ruin entrepreneurs.
There’s this thing called Parkinson’s Law. It’s technically a book written by C. Northcote Parkinson, but generally speaking, it’s his theory that a demand for a resource will increase to meet the available supply—“work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. If we have 2 weeks to do a project, it’ll take 2 weeks. If we have 8 weeks, it’ll take 8. Michalowicz takes this even further: if we have $1,000 to do something, it will cost $1,000. But if we only have $800 to do something, we’ll find a way to get it done with just $800. The best way to accomplish this is to reduce the supply for our demand to require.
…Without Really Trying
The Profit First Formula to determine business profits is:
Sales – Profit = Expenses
While the entire book is worth the investment and read, here’s a breakdown of how your business can bring in profit every month according to the Profit First Method:
Set Up Multiple Bank Accounts
Much like how you’ve set up a personal checking account and personal savings account, do this for your business as well. Have 3 checking accounts, as some banks might penalize you for withdrawing from saving accounts as often as you will need to touch each one of these accounts. The accounts are nicknamed Income, Owner’s Pay, and Operating Expenses (OpEx).
All revenue will be deposited directly into the Income account.
Next, you’ll have to do something you might not have expected. To avoid the temptation of touching some money altogether, Michalowicz recommends opening two savings accounts at a completely different banks. These accounts are nicknamed Profit and Taxes.
Establish Your Target Allocation Percentages (TAPs)
Now to allocate funds to each of those accounts. Rather than choosing based on monetary numbers, which is probably our first instinct, base allocations on percentages. A recommended TAPs chart is available on Michalowicz’s website, and we’ll use those numbers here.
(But your business might not be in any shape to immediately contribute 5% of the total revenue to the Profit account, what then? That’s where the book will come in handy, as he has an entire section with other numbers and examples of businesses who had to take painful baby steps to get to this point.)
For now, we’ll use the publically available recommended TAPs for this example:
As mentioned before, all revenue goes into the Income checking account.
Regardless of how much your firm makes, the recommended allocation for Taxes is 15 percent across the board. Talk to your accountant to make certain you’re square with taxes, just to be certain.
A Word About Taxes
Setting up a Taxes account and regularly allocating funds to it is crucial—particularly for our agents. Since LDI does not withhold taxes when we pay our agents, every freight broker should be setting aside some revenue for the government come tax time. Tax allocation escapes many entrepreneurs and self-employed contractors attention throughout the year, and panic sets in at tax time as there’s sometimes not enough money in the account to pay the government. Implementing this step alone has turned a lot of business owner’s lives around for the better! So, no matter what allocations you follow below, absolutely prioritize the 15 percent (or what your accountant tells you) to a savings account for taxes.
Back to TAPs
For the remaining percentages, say your freight brokerage firm brings in less than $250,000/year. Twice a month, from your Income account, send 50 percent to Owner’s Pay, 30 percent to OpEx, and then 5 percent to the Profit savings account at the other bank.
If your freight company makes between a quarter to half a million in yearly revenue, the TAPs move to 35 percent Owner’s Pay, 40 percent OpEx, and 10 percent Profit.
Regularly hitting between half a million and a million in yearly revenue? Those percentages switch again to 20 percent Owner’s Pay, 50 percent OpEx, and 15 percent Profit.
See what’s happening here? When you see all the revenue come into the Income account and accumulate, you get excited! Look at all that cash! We have an emotional reaction to those numbers.
Then, twice a month (Michalowicz recommends predetermined days practically written in stone), distribute those funds to the other accounts. Twice a month on the exact same days, you’ll send those allocated percentages into your other accounts.
All bills and expenses are going to come out of the OpEx checking account. When an expense comes up that you “need,” look at the OpEx account, not your Income account. The only money moving out of your Income account is going directly into other accounts.
Here Parkinson’s Law goes into play—you’ve shrunk the available funds for operating expenses. There’s not an arbitrary number to play with anymore, there’s only 30 (or 40 or 50) percent of your total revenue to work with. You’ll now find alternative ways to accomplish the ends, or you’ll realize you didn’t need that expense anyways.
Now, this is a severely watered down Reader’s Digest version of how to allocate funds. I’m leaving out a lot. For the actual step-by-step process of how to make these TAPs work for you, check out this Profit First Overview available from Michalowicz’s website. Confused as to how to use it? All the info is in the book.
Also, I’m basing this entire write up on the first edition of the audiobook. A second, new and improved edition has been released since I downloaded it from Audible. The second edition is possibly even better and more helpful, so that could be worth checking out! If you read the second edition and the info is a little different, that’s probably why.
And Now You Have Profits Without Really Trying
Hope this brief overview to Profit First has given you enough information to know if you want to purchase it for yourself! The book is engaging, inspiring, and short. The audiobook is narrated by Mike himself, and he loves to go off on side stories about personal experiences and gives extra examples in the moment (you’ll know when this happens because he’ll finish with, “Ok, back to the book”). It’s almost like a podcast rather than an audiobook, which is fun.
For more pointers on how to effectively run your freight brokerage, and tips to help increase your profits, contact our LDI business developers at 1-800-554-3734.
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!
- 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:
- Create a Facebook business page
- 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’.
- Optimize your Facebook business page
- 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.
- Link your Facebook business page to your personal profile
- 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.
- 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!
- Put a Facebook Fan Box on your website/blog
- 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.
- Take advantage of your personal Facebook account
- 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.
- Content is KING
- 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.
- 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:
- Post on Weekends
- 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).
- Invites, Likes and Fans
- 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!
- Now that you’ve created a business page, you need FANS! Luckily there are SEVERAL ways to gain Likes:
- Create a Group
- 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???
- 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.
- Check Yourself
- 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.
For many, Thanksgiving means a time when we gather with family and friends over a meal fit for a king, catch up on others’ lives, maybe enjoy a nap and splurge on some football. It’s also a great time to break away from our busy routine and pause to reflect on what we should be thankful for in our own lives such as good health, great family/friends, being safe and living free.
As a freight broker agent, you have even MORE reasons to be thankful and now’s a great time to take pause and recognize all the things that should make you thankful and grateful you chose this challenging yet highly-rewarding profession.
Among the MANY reasons, here are my top 10 reasons to be thankful as a freight broker:
1. YOU LIVE IN AMERICA – From day to day, we lose sight of this monumental advantage. This alone should make every freight broker agent thankful that they have the right to own and operate their own business as well as enjoy other fundamental rights awarded to you as an American citizen such as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
2. CREATING A FAMILY BUSINESS – As a successful freight broker, you’ve now turned a solid, lucrative endeavor into a family business where you can create employment for the business professionals in your family circle. What’s more, you have the flexibility to find the positions that are best suited to fit everyone. Perhaps they don’t care much for working in a dispatching position but love finding new customers or carriers or vice versa. It can be a win-win situation when everyone finds what they enjoy most and where they fit in best and you benefit from a stronger business structure with happy, productive employees. And, many years from now, the business that you and your family helped build can serve as an established legacy and priceless asset to be managed for generations to come.
3. LOW START UP AND OVERHEAD COSTS – As a rule, it typically costs around $3,500 to launch into becoming a freight broker agent. These costs include everything from training, licensing and equipping your office with everything needed to function successfully as a freight broker agent (phones, computer, desk, files, supplies, etc.). From there, it’s not uncommon for a freight broker that started their career in a spare room or garage to outgrow their surroundings and need to expand into an offsite office that is five times larger! Also, if you are working your freight broker business on your own AND work from home, you are already saving money on overhead costs. You have the advantage over other business owners by not needing to pay or paying very little for expenses such as building costs, utilities and employees.
4. NO COMMUTING – Most people would agree that working from home and making good money would be nothing short of a dream job. So, be thankful…you are living the dream! You have the luxury of sitting at your computer in comfy pajamas, enjoying lunch in your own home (and probably saving HUGE on that aspect alone), and never being concerned about traffic issues, bad weather or putting added miles and additional wear and tear onto your vehicle.
5. A PROFITABLE INDUSTRY – As reported by Michael Curry from My Carrier Resources, there were 13,565 licensed freight brokers in the US at the beginning of 2014 and that figure has climbed to 15,203 in January of 2015. That level of growth for one year is impressive to say the least and it continues to grow! This not only indicates that freight brokering is a profitable industry but also illustrates freight broker agents are in high demand. The freight broker industry has proven to be a great opportunity for inexperienced individuals, new graduates and other business professionals with little exposure or experience in the logistics industry that are seeking a reliable and rewarding career path.
6. TIA (Transportation Intermediaries Association) – As a freight broker, you can be thankful for all they do for the logistics and freight brokerage community that include programs like TIA Watchdog, TIA Certified and TIA Political Advocacy.
7. SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE INTERNET – With access to websites like www.internettruckstop.com, www.getloaded.com, and the comprehensive search ability of Google, you have powerful resources at your fingertips that freely offer up valuable insight and information to put you leaps ahead of your competition and help you do your job more thoroughly and efficiently. Helping you to quickly research new customers, gather intel, source carriers and finding the exact go-to person, are just some examples of attainable knowledge that will help you build and develop long-term relationships with your customers and vendors. Additionally, social media sites like www.linkedin.com, www.facebook.com, www.twitter.com, and www.youtube.com practically eliminate the need for cold calling and keep you informed on real-time information.*
8. SMARTPHONES AND WI-FI – It has become the running joke that no matter the need…there’s an app for that! And, it’s true! Thanks to smartphones and their ability to get more done, fast. Today, there are countless apps available to help freight brokers run, manage and track their freight brokerage activities from virtually anywhere. No longer do you need to be chained to your desk to check your email, make/receive phone calls or complete tasks.
Here are just some of the amazing apps available to freight brokers that save valuable time and provide convenience: ITS Broker, Get Loaded, MyRadar, Evernote, Google Maps, and of course, LDi AgentMate; an app that keeps our freight brokers connected and in control of their freight 24/7 with features that allow you to create/cover/dispatch/deliver loads, post/edit/delete/view open postings, validate carriers, view customer information, post to 50+ load boards in seconds, and email rate confirmations instantly to name a few.** There’s an advantage to most everything with technology but, most of all, the real benefit is enjoying extra time for yourself and your family.
9. BEING YOUR OWN BOSS – Every entrepreneur and freight broker agent gets to enjoy the freedom of making their own decisions and flexibility to create your own schedule. You get to determine your salary/raises, when you take the day off, where/when/how you conduct your business, and are the sole determining factor of how successful you want your freight brokerage to be. Whether you want to make enough to live comfortably or live a lavish life…the sky’s the limit!
10. CUSTOMERS AND CARRIER PARTNERS – Freight brokers and freight agents should never forget that their loyal customers and carrier partners are the life-blood of their business and should be thanked regularly. It takes very little effort and cost to offer a heartfelt thank you, send a pizza for lunch, mail a thank you note (with a copy to their superior), and remember their birthday or give a holiday gift.
11. BONUS – LDI AS A RESOURCE – Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention www.LogisticDynamics.com. Not only do we provide high-value content in our blog but amazing information resources for freight brokers with our free reports, pre-recorded webinars and educational videos. Many talented individuals at LDi invested their time, valuable insight and seasoned expertise to create these pieces geared specifically for helping freight brokers be more successful and grow their business.***
When you take on an attitude of gratitude, you will find more contentment in all areas of your life. And, hands down, gratitude will always trump a bad attitude. Thanksgiving seems to put us in the mood to be thankful and appreciate all the things we are grateful for, but what a difference it would mean for us all if everyone instilled this way of thinking throughout the year.
What are you thankful for as a freight broker? Please share your thoughts below in the comments.
* For more details on how to find information and engage prospects in ways you never thought possible, view our free pre-recorded webinar, “Work Smarter Not Harder – How to Win More Freight Without Cold Calling”, featuring well-known presenters Sam Richter, author of Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling and Art Sobczak, author of Smart Calling that will demonstrate how knowledge itself is not power, but the USE of that knowledge is and show you specifically how to plug that information into the Smart Calling process that thousands are using to open up new accounts!
** View a demo of LDi AgentMate, an app that keeps our freight brokers connected and in control of their freight 24/7, and experience the freedom and power of real-time instant information access anytime, anywhere, all in the palm of your hand.
*** Visit LDi’s Resource Page for access to webinars, videos and free reports geared specifically for freight brokers and freight agents that want to keep current in the industry and help increase their income TODAY!
Before we get to the how, let’s address the why. So, why would you want to be a champion freight broker for carriers? The answer to that is the easy part; because freight brokerage operations that take the time to build solid, long-lasting relationships with motor carriers are the MOST stable and successful ones in the business. But, an achievement of that magnitude doesn’t come without it’s challenges and certainly doesn’t happen overnight.
As for the how…it’s a process that, when done right, involves investing the time and attention needed to create and establish a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship. Taking the time to get to know your carriers, understand their needs and keeping an open dialogue with shared growth in mind will go a long way in building and strengthening carrier relationships.
And just like any champion, there’s the external and the internal preparation that will help you to nurture new carrier relationships as well as continue to effectively anchor your ongoing carrier relationships for years to come. For example, it doesn’t matter how powerful your punches are or how fast you are on your feet if your head and heart aren’t in the right place…and vice versa. So, first, let’s deal with the external:
Get Carrier Intel – Take the time to gather intelligence from the carrier. The best way to find out their wants, desires and needs is to ASK! Here’s some examples of some key questions:
- Where do they prefer to run?
- How many trucks do they have?
- What lanes do they need help with? What other lanes?
- What lanes are they most/least interested in?
- Was the last load they ran a regular lane? Can you make this lane a weekly run for them?
- Is their business expanding? If yes, how so?
- What can you do to help them grow their business?
Also, inform them of what you’re currently working on and future upcoming loads you will have. These are great questions to not only learn more about the carrier but is a great starting point to help you solidify relationships with your carriers.
Follow Through on Promises – Strong relationships forged in TRUST are built on KEPT promises. During your relationship, there will come a time when you need a favor from a carrier, such as a lower paying load than they’d normally accept. To get them to take the load, you might promise them a better price on the next load. If and when you do that, make SURE you honor your word and do just that. After they deliver the load, continue to follow through and ask if everything went well and if there were any issues, they need to be addressed immediately. On another note, if the carrier mentions that they liked that lane, you could work it out so it’s a repeating route for them. Driving truck is a job that demands respect and, as their livelihood, your word to them and honoring your promises mean everything. That, and paying them quickly and consistently will help them value their relationship with you more and help pave the way for future business.
Share The Growth – While your transportation business grows, your carrier’s business should grow as well and will help to solidify a stronger relationship with your carriers. Be mindful not to drop your dependable carriers for ones willing to work cheaper. This usually ends up with you accepting a lower level of service that does not meet the standards you have set for your core carrier base across the board. Don’t be afraid to inform your carriers of pricing adjustments due to market conditions or other factors. Hopefully they will respect your honesty and appreciate your transparency.
Get Equipped – In today’s world and becoming more so in the transportation industry, technology remains at the forefront. Your freight broker business should be no different. Gone are the days when a freight broker equipped with a little technology could run with the pack. Today’s freight broker needs to have access to a Transportation Management System (TMS) that not only helps grow his business but updates to keep current with the needs of the ever changing industry.
Every TMS is different and it’s imperative that the TMS you use has the available tools that will help you to run your business as smoothly and efficiently as possible. By using the latest technologies in its proprietary custom TMS, LDi Freight, LDi has the advantage to match carriers and shippers faster than other third-party logistics options. Here are just some of the tools available in LDi Freight that bring real-time technology to our freight broker agents when sourcing carriers:
- DAT Matches – Any load posted to the DAT is set with an alarm which will be raised when DAT finds a matching carrier in their system. LDi Freight allows the user to see if a load has matches and see the corresponding carriers.
- Available Trucks –Displays trucks from multiple sources:
- Trucks posted by carriers through our carrier portal website
- LDi Loads that are delivering for any agent
- Available trucks manually posted by agents
- LDi Load History –Searches historical LDi loads for carriers that have delivered a similar load for us before and might be likely candidates to handle a current load.
- Carrier Smart Search –Aggregates possible carriers from multiple sources:
- Trucks posted to the DAT
- Trucks posted to Internet Truckstop
- Carriers set up with LDi who operate within the pickup or drop location of a load
- Carriers who have run a similar load for LDi before
- Trucks that are delivering a current LDi load soon
- Trucks posted to the Carrier Portal website
- Trucks posted to the LDi Available Trucks screen by agents
Regarding quoting/pricing, LDi has DAT RateView and ITS RateMate products integrated directly into LDi Freight to provide our agents with assistance in quoting their loads and seeing historical pricing trends.
LDi also has multiple mobile applications that allow an individual to always stay connected. Whether it be our mobile TMS, LDi AgentMate or our mobile carrier app, LDi CarrierMate – designed to connect our carrier base directly to our TMS. LDi is and has always been the leader in technology and we will continue to adapt and be ahead of the industry so YOU can stay ahead of the competition!
Communicate Like a Partner – Asking your carrier questions, especially when it’s the first call you make to them is vital…but listening is critical! Carriers will appreciate you asking questions but if you want to make a great impression, you must remember the details of your conversation. Whether you talk about their latest vacation, a family celebration or recent weather occurrence, make sure you take notes and refer to them during follow up calls to keep building the bond and continue growing the relationship. Relatable conversation will always be more well received than launching into a generic inquiry. But know the difference. It’s not about prying into their private or personal lives. It’s about relating to them by being genuinely invested in them as an individual and not just a means to an end.
Be Trustworthy, Be Loyal – As loads become available, remember to reach out to your core carrier group and award freight methodically. And as you continue to do this, it will help to build trust and loyalty. And if there comes a time that they’re unable to cover the load, they may start to refer you to another reliable carrier and this will help to build your carrier network. Also, don’t just reach out to them for business needs alone. Make sure you touch them repeatedly throughout the year during non-business times as well. Small gestures such as sending a pizza to say thanks, a birthday card or gifts during holidays and occasions are very inexpensive ways to appreciate your carrier and make you a freight broker champion in their eyes!
Transparency Rules – A freight broker with fair procurement practices is a freight broker of choice for carriers. This means conducting transparent business practices at all times. For instance, when rates change, explain to your carriers why. If pricing becomes a concern, voice it to them. They may be flexible. When you are upfront with them and communicate the reason behind the rate change, such as weather, seasonal changes, fuel cost or other factors, it allows an open dialogue between you both instead of a conversation that could have been mutually uncomfortable. Whenever possible (and it’s always possible), be honest and ethical when doing business. There is no substitute for either and once trust is broken, the relationship will never be the same, so don’t go there.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? Yep. But worth it? Absolutely! And in the spirit of perseverance, I’m reminded of the words from the infamous Rocky Balboa, “Every champion was once a contender that refused to give up”. So, time to put on your gloves, get in the ring, dig deep and go those extra rounds…and do what it TAKES to be a champion freight broker for carriers.
If you have any additional suggestions on how to be a champion freight broker for carriers, 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!
As rewarding as having a successful freight broker business can be, it is fraught with challenges on a daily basis. Some of those bigger challenges might include building your contact list, gaining more customers and growing your overall business. With those and other challenges come obstacles and the root of all obstacles with your prospects and customers is fear. It is then up to the freight broker agent to better understand its causes to eliminate and overcome those fears.
Generally speaking, it is “need” that drives someone’s interest in purchasing a product or service, but fear that prevents them from committing. But what exactly are your prospects and customers afraid of? Here are some major categories regarding fears that might prevent a potential customer from choosing to do business with you and what you can do to help them alleviate those fears:
FEAR OF CHANGE
The fact is, most people are comfortable with what’s familiar, even when change can result in something significantly better. For instance, if you are trying to win business from a shipper who is already working with another freight broker or agent, chances are they’re most likely wondering why they should step out of their comfort zone and switch to doing business with you.
I’m sure some of us have heard the saying, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”. Basically, it means that even if a shipper is not 100% satisfied with their current freight broker, making a change could be even more painful due to the unknown.
How to overcome it:
A good approach to combat the fear of change would be to soften your initial sales approach with similarities. The next time you come across a prospect that is reluctant to switch to a new freight broker agent, try aligning your services to their current expectations. This might give them the comforting nudge that is needed to help them ease over to you. Demonstrate how those similarities will prevent unnecessary disruption and hassle, minimizing the risk of change. Then, once their fear has been lessened, you can demonstrate how you excel above and beyond your competition by providing additional value.
FEAR OF IMPACT
It’s always a good idea to consider things from your prospect’s point of view when conducting business. You may not realize it, but for them to make the switch to a new freight broker, they might be visualizing something like the aftermath of a crash. It’s not just them deciding to make the move to someone new or not it’s the impact of moving from someone familiar to someone foreign. The idea of what could go wrong may be enough to make them stay with their current broker. And what about how working with you will affect their business, their bottom line, their career, their family? You can guarantee that until their concerns are reassured, they will not be making any changes to their current process.
How to overcome it:
The way to soften the fear of impact is to soften them with knowledge. Knowledge is power – for both you and your prospect. Take the time to listen and learn what their objections are and why they have them. That way, you can address their areas of concern with informative, targeted solutions which will dissolve the possibility of risk and alleviate the fear.
FEAR OF FAILURE
It’s reasonable for any potential customer to be afraid of failing but, in all probability, they are most afraid of YOU failing! It’s a tough pill to swallow if they take the risk and you fail to live up to the promises and guarantees offered at the point of sale. If your shortcomings harm or damage your prospect’s business and reputation, they suffer a double whammy. Not good.
How to overcome it:
In order to overcome their fear of your failure, you MUST provide them with proof. In the realms of business and personal, it’s not what you say but what you DO that matters most. Here are some examples of what you could do to show your potential customer that you are more than a just a sales pitch:
- Take the time to educate your prospect about how you and your company help your customers succeed. Remember, it’s NOT about you, it’s about THEM. They don’t care how awesome you or your company is, it’s how you can make THEM awesome! A great way to illustrate this is by providing them with customer case studies. It sounds complicated, but it’s really not – and OH so worth doing. First, select one of your customers that you have helped overcome some obstacle. Second, create a case study that outlines the action taken or steps you took to solve their area of concern or helped them overcome a hurdle.
- Become a source of expertise in your industry. With each passing year as a freight broker agent, you amass a wealth of knowledge and seasoned proficiency that is golden! Go a step further and build on this solid foundation by sharing your acquired skills and best practices with others. By doing this, you will build credibility, trust and -more importantly- likeability. Start sharing information today through your own online blog, podcasts, vlogs (video blog) and promote your accumulated knowledge on any of the social media networks. All of these options are great ways to help quickly position yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
- Make customer support a foundation cornerstone of your freight broker business. I cannot stress this enough! How many times have you had a salesman dog you, wining and dining you to get your business but once they did, you never hear from them again? And good luck trying to get a hold of them when something goes wrong – because that will never happen. Make it a point to position yourself ahead of the pack by not forgetting about your customer once you get their business. I can guarantee you that if you continue to follow up with your customers and be at the forefront to soothe a concern or tackle an issue, they will be your customer for life! Two quick points on this…first, happy customers tell 2-3 people about their experience with you while unhappy customers tell 8-10 people! And the second point is that it costs FIVE TIMES MORE to acquire anew customer than it does to retain one.
My final thought on quelling fears of potential customers is to actually live up to your own claims by providing testimonials from customers who will validate what you say. We all know word of mouth is a powerful thing and referrals are KING! Want to really impress and banish their fears? Try offering them the opportunity to speak to one of your customers on the phone. What better way to show them you’re the real deal then having them hear first-hand how you have conquered someone else’s fears?
For more information about the industry’s most respected freight broker agent program, visit www.LogisticDynamics.com or call us today at 1-800-554-3734.
When we are about to venture into new territory, we all wish we knew the right way to proceed or a roadmap that led us to a destination of success. In reality, it’s never that easy. If you’re starting out in the freight sales agent profession, calling on a prospect is not only a priority – it’s a necessity to establish and grow your freight broker business. And as a freight broker agent, you know that making effective sales calls is the difference between success and failure. You also know it’s not about getting prospects to just come on board. It’s about keeping them actively shipping with you, while offering them great service and the best prices.
So, wouldn’t it be great to know the freight broker’s secret to making a top class sales call? While it may seem simple, it most certainly is not easy. You will have to persevere through rejection and work hard day after day, bouncing back from the challenges of calling prospects. As once homeless then turned professional football player in the NFL and now motivational speaker, Eric Thomas says, “All roads that lead to success have to pass through Hard Work Boulevard at some point”.
85% of Your Financial Success
Research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that 85% of your financial success is due to your personality and your ability to lead, communicate and negotiate. Believe it or not, only 15% comes from technical knowledge. This is exactly the opposite of what the world tells you. We are told that the path to take is to go to school, get a degree and get the knowledge. Unfortunately, this only accounts for 15% of success! What the world doesn’t teach you is the other 85% – how to communicate, negotiate and lead. We are left to figure all that out by ourselves.
What You MUST Do When Making a Sales Call
Earning a prospect’s business by making them feel special and not just being the next name on a long list of sales prospects is the key to being a successful freight broker agent. You need to take the time to learn a bit about your prospect’s business/background, be well prepared before the call and always operate under the conviction that freight broker rock stars consistently do what average freight agents don’t or won’t.
Sales Call Information Sheet & Sales Call Script
To have a no-fail Sales Call, you need a no-fail Sales Call Information Sheet. A good habit to get into, is having a Sales Call Information Sheet that includes these important key details about the company/contact with whom you will be connecting:
- Company name
- Company phone number
- Company fax number
- Main contact name
- First contact name
- First contact date
- Products / Services
- Important information
- Email address
- Physical address
Why is this information so important to know, you ask? The answer is simple: because it’s these key details that will help you later construct a no-fail Sales Script*. And yes, it’s a given that information gathering is hard work but it will ALL be worth it when you plug your information into your Sales Script and become a top-producing, rock star freight agent.
It may sound basic but, in the freight broker business, perfecting your sales calls is the most important thing you’ll do in this profession. When you treat this part of your job with the importance it deserves, invest the amount of time that is necessary to obtain the information you need AND combine it with our no-fail Sales Information Sheet and our no-fail Sales Call Script, you will possess the weapons you need in your freight broker arsenal that will propel you and your freight broker business to accomplish what you had only ever dreamed of achieving!
If you have questions about this report or want more information about the industry’s most respected freight broker agent program, visit www.LogisticDynamics.com or call us today at 1-800-554-3734.
*For a great sample template of our no-fail Sales Call Script, please click here for the Free Report, “How to Be a Freight Broker Sales Call Rock Star”.
Just as there are recipes for success, there are recipes for failure. As a freight broker agent, you’ve done your homework and you’ve tested things during the course of your business that have helped you determine what works and what does not. For a freight broker agent, a typical day almost always involves having several balls in the air at once. And when things get busy or you get caught up in the day-to-day minutia of things, it’s all too easy to slip into low gear or take your eye off the prize. For instance, how many of you have lost sight of obtaining new contacts, emails or phone numbers? How many of you stopped building your contact list? Or only send emails rather than use the phone, if you DO make any contacts? Do you believe that your customers will stay loyal and always work with you? Do you only service the current customers that you have? Or maybe you’ve decided to coast and rest on the current flow of business that you have. These behaviors sound pretty harmless and might even be acceptable to you. But know this: If you continue on this path for your business, you are most definitely creating a Recipe for Failure.
The billionaire Charlie Munger has a strategy to discover how to be successful called “Inversion”. Basically, this strategy means that in order to figure out how to BE successful, you must first ask what it would take to be UNsuccessful. Freight broker agents can apply this principle to moving freight as well. So, according to Munger’s strategy, the following actionables would be a Freight Broker’s Recipe for Success:
- Obtain three new email contacts and three new phone numbers every day.
- Call 10 prospects every day.
- Add to your contact list every day.
- Use the telephone as much as possible rather than just sending emails.
- Be aware that your customers will eventually leave at some point, so prepare by adding to and diversifying your contact list.
Remember, this is a minimum. Following this Recipe for Success isn’t just for when you’re not doing as well or not moving as much freight as you would like. A successful freight broker would continue following this Recipe for Success even when they don’t have to. So when the down cycle comes, for example in December which is typically a slow month in the freight sales industry, you’ll be so well prepared with your large and prosperous contact list that you won’t feel any strain. It’s just like Sun Tzu said, “Plan for what is difficult while it is easy, do what is great while it is small”.
Ten calls a day and 3 new contacts a day is a minimum. Want to get ahead FASTER, then:
- Make more calls.
- Contact more new prospects.
- Diversify your contact list.
When you’re in a down cycle, it’s just as important to keep following this recipe. During these times, diversify your contact list. Just as you wouldn’t invest all your money in the stock market in just one stock or bond, don’t put all your hopes of moving freight on just a few prospects.
Getting three new contacts a day is increasing the investment you have in this industry. When you do this, the result is simple: you make more sales and achieve your goals faster, building an ongoing successful freight agent business.
The life of a freight broker agent can be very rewarding but not without some challenges. Calling to find freight is definitely one of those challenges of the business. Freight agents need to find freight – so you need to make the calls. Every freight broker knows this. To add to this…you may be a freight broker agent, but you aren’t really a salesperson. Your real job is to solve your customer’s freight and shipping challenges.
In order to solve challenges for our customers, we must first figure out:
- What are the customers challenges?
- What frustrates them?
- What do they wish other freight brokers would do that they don’t?
- What causes the customer stress?
The answers to these questions can’t be discovered when we do 90% of the talking. Instead, we MUST ask great questions, and then close our mouths and write down the answers we’re given. Once we know what their challenges are, and we know that we can assist them to solve these challenges; we can start talking about us.
What Questions Freight Brokers Must Ask The Shipping Decision-Makers To Build A Relationship With Them:
- Tell Me About Your Business?
First off, you should have already googled the company you’re calling. Ask this question to break the ice. Good companies love to talk about what they’re doing. Join in the conversation from the information you already have with them.
- What Are Your Main Responsibilities?
The answer you want to hear is “I’m the Shipping Manager/ Shipping Decision Maker/ in charge of freight here”. If they’re director of purchasing, simply ask for the name of the shipping manager. After asking for the shipping manager’s name, ask if you can speak to them. Once you get to the shipping decision maker, listen carefully to their responsibilities.
- Who Else, Besides You, Makes Your Shipping Decisions?
Your goal is to talk to the person with the power. Everybody else has problems you can potentially solve, but the person who makes the shipping decisions is the only one who has the authority to let you assist him/her.
- What’s Your Biggest Challenge Shipping Your _______________?
Ask for the biggest challenge shipping their products. Ensure you write down the answer to this question.
- What Happens When ________________________________ Happens?
This is for locating their challenges beforehand, so you can solve them when they happen.
- What Are Your Main Priorities While Moving Your Freight?
(IE. Price, transit time etc.) Another question you must write down the answer to.
- What Qualities Do You Look For In A Great Transportation Partner?
Your goal is to be excellent in this profession. Excellent results only come to excellent people with excellent work ethics. When you know what’s important to them, you’ll ensure them that you’ll fulfil their requirements.
- What Do You Like Most About Your Current Freight Broker?
This question shows that you have class and that you don’t speak poorly of your competition.
- What Would You Change About Your Current Freight Broker?
If they say “I wish they would get their rates to me faster”, then you ensure them that you’ll get your rates to them fast! With all of the information your prospects give you, write everything down. By taking action and giving them what their current agent doesn’t, you’ll stand out and be seen as both better and different than their current agent.
- Do You Keep Your Options Open For Transportation Partners?
This is one of the main questions you MUST ask. This question qualifies your prospect.
- What’s Your Criteria for Bringing in a New Freight Broker?
Some may have criteria, some don’t. Overall, their criteria is for you to solve their challenges. When you go to them with your solutions, you break their autopilot and comfort zone and they won’t be able to help but listen to you.
- How Do You Measure Success With Current Freight Brokers?
The main way is that their freight broker gets their freight picked up, transported and delivered on time. But always see if you can go deeper for other answers and insights.
- How Would I Win Your “Freight Broker Of The Year” Award?
They might be reluctant to answer or tell you they don’t have an award like this. Use the phrase “But if you did have an award, how would I win it” to give them permission to open up and tell you what is most important to them.
- What Lanes Are You Shipping Right Now?
Remember, success on the telephone goes to the person with the best notes.
- What’s Your Email Address So I Can Send You My Information?
You MUST ask this question every time. We’ve already shown we’re interested in them and gotten to know their requirements. Don’t forget this final step where you capitalize on all the work you’ve already done.
There are countless other questions a freight broker agents could ask a customer/prospect. The above questions are a great starting point to engage them and find the answers that will not only serve to develop a relationship but help you be THE freight broker agent they choose to solve their freight and shipping challenges. Now, it’s up to you to ensure they’ve made the right choice and turn them from a good prospect into a great customer!