So now you’ve figure out that it’s time to grow from Agent to Agency, but where to begin? At One Horn, our agents have asked us to help them with this challenge many times, and we wanted a more systematic approach. So last year, we asked one of our business advisors, Joel McGinley of TranStrategy Partners. An expert in the brokerage business, McGinley gave us one approach that we thought would work well that we shared with our agents. I’d now like to share it with you.
Using a stepwise approach, there are three roles to progressively fill: Driver Representative, Carrier Representative, and Shipper Representative. Right now as a solo freight agent, you are doing all these roles yourself, but here is how these roles break down so you can start to let go of certain responsibilities in an organized fashion:
- Driver Rep: Once you’ve booked the load with a carrier, this person communicates with the driver, keeping track of the load status to ensure a timely delivery or to help make adjustments if there is a delay. This is the first role to hire, because although it is important, it is easily trainable and covers the lowest value tasks, so it frees you up to prospect and still handle the other two roles described below. Once you have five loads per day, you may want to consider starting by hiring someone to fill this role.
- Carrier Rep: Once the load is secured from the shipper, this person matches the freight with the appropriate carrier, including finding the trucks and negotiating the rates. As your business grows to seven to eight loads per day, your Driver Rep can also start to learn and assume this role. Following the loads should be easy enough, so that you can train the person to start finding carriers and negotiating rates. Hopefully the person will have started to develop some relationships and a feel for which carriers are reliable. At the beginning there will be overlap and a training period, but as time goes on and as your business grows to 12 loads per day, you can hire another Driver Rep and the original person will be trained and ready to exclusively handle the Carrier Rep responsibilities. Now you are free to fulfill exclusively the last role, Shipper Rep.
- Shipper Rep: This role includes both sales/business development and actually getting the loads from existing customers. It is the role with the highest value tasks, so since you have and are building strong customer relationships, it is the role that you keep. This is the role that grows your business. At some point, if the loads are very routine, the Carrier Rep can also get the loads from the shipper, but you maintain control of the relationship.
So now you know what roles you need to fill. What kind of person should you identify to fill these roles? Someone who is achievement oriented, yet just wants a job. The type of person does not aspire to running their own business, i.e. agency, and taking your customers with them. Of course, it is always important to start with a strong Non-Solicitation Agreement to contractually prevent them from soliciting your customers or other employees. But having someone who has a constant need for achievement, takes ownership of whatever they commit to, and loves to learn is key for this role. All of these make a successful operational person in managing and organizing multiple loads on a daily basis.
Where to find them? Nowadays, there are plenty of online resources to help you identify strong candidates. Depending on the role and how much you are willing to train the person, Craigslist, Indeed, and Jobsinlogistics.com are sources up the continuum from general to specific in terms of logistics professionals.
Where should they work? On-site with you is the best option, so you can train them and they can hear how you get things done.
So what are you waiting for? In our last blog, you figured out that you are ready to grow, and now you have a framework to get going. You are ready to move your business to the next level!
– By Cheryl Biron, President
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