You’ve become successful as a solo agent. You have several really good customers who love working with you. And better yet, you’re making lots and lots of money! Sounds great, right? As the owner of a brokerage with agents, I have seen many agents get to this point. They are really happy, and we are happy for them as we are all prospering together. But as a freight agent, there does come a moment when you wonder, “When should I start hiring people to help me with all this work?”
Here are five signs you might recognize in yourself that indicate it is time to hire people to help you as you grow from agent to agency:
- Are you unable to prospect for new business, because you are spending more time following trucks? We’ve heard this time and time again, “I have no time to find new customers because I am so busy taking care of my existing customers.” We also know that as agents, it’s important to keep prospecting and diversifying your portfolio of customers, because you never know what could happen with existing customers. We had one agent who was a “one hit wonder,” that is, he had one customer that ate up all his time. Then the factory burned down, and his business was gone. Another one whose shipper “loved” her and would always keep working with her, so she refused to prospect. Then they decided to move the work in-house, and her business was gone. If you are too busy to look for new customers, a revenue generating activity, it could be time to hire someone to follow the trucks and do check calls, a necessary activity that is not critical for you, personally, to perform, so you can generate more revenue.
- Are you spending all your time working, even on weekends? We’ve seen many agents get so successful that they end up working all the time. They start out wanting to make a good living so they can earn the money they need to support the lifestyle they desire for them and their family. Once they can start to afford more than the regular comforts we all want in life – a lovely home, good food at home, going out to restaurants every so often, nice clothes, activities for the kids – they can’t enjoy their success because they are working on weekends instead of spending the much desired leisure time doing hobbies or activities with the family. If you are not getting to do the things you thought you could do once you were “successful” then it could be a sign that it is time to hire someone to do some of the basic activities that don’t require you, personally, to do them.
- Are you starting to resent the time you spend working? We’ve also seen agents who come to us in love with the transportation business. They love solving problems for their customers, interacting with their favorite drivers, and the unpredictability that makes every day exciting and different. Then when they get too successful and too busy, they get stressed. They start to resent the time they are spending working, so they are not happy during the day, but more angry and frustrated. Think about how you feel about the business today vs. how you felt about the business once you thought you could make enough to live the lifestyle you wanted to live. If resentment has replaced the passion, again, it is probably time to look for someone to help you out, so you can recapture the passion for the transportation business and be happy on a day-to-day basis.
- Do you feel you don’t have enough time to do everything correctly, and you’re rushing too much on your loads? We’ve heard agents say that when things fell through the cracks, like a load being late unbeknownst to them, that they didn’t have enough time to do everything correctly, so they started to cut corners a bit on check calls, for instance. A late load is one thing, but cutting corners on due diligence in selecting carriers could result in safety issues. The first is a customer service issue that could cost you your customer, the second could cost you way more than that. If you start to feel you don’t have time do to everything correctly, it could be time to hire someone.
- Do you have moments of feeling totally overwhelmed? We’ve all experienced times when we have so much work to do, we don’t know where to start. Then you start overanalyzing things and end up with analysis paralysis and are frozen, getting nothing done. The phone is ringing. It’s your shipper wanting to know what’s going on with a load. Then it’s your carrier who has not yet been offloaded so they’ll be late for your pickup. Then it’s another shipper who wants you to price out a difficult load. If you are often overwhelmed, finding someone to offload the easier tasks can help you feel calmer and more in control.
“But no one can do everything as well as I can do it!” Yes, it is true, but once you are in this predicament of being so successful you can’t do it all well on your own anyway without compromising your customer service, sanity, and happiness, it is time to give up a few of those tasks someone else can do well enough to free you up to prospect, enjoy the life you have earned, and be happier and less stressed on a day-to day basis.
In my next blog, I will share with you how to go about expanding from agent to agency.
– By Cheryl Biron, President
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