In my last blog, I shared with you the first four keys to cultivating a strong carrier base.  Now I will share the second four.  Why is this important to your performance as a freight agent?  Because having a strong, reliable carrier base can make or break a freight brokerage.  If carriers are willing or actually happy and excited to work with you, you can better service your customers.  After speaking with our agents, our agent manager, and from our own experiences being a carrier when we ran One Horn Trucking and dealing with carriers as a broker before we had agents, I would like to share the second four of what I have identified as eight keys to cultivating a strong carrier base:

  1. Organize Regular Lanes:  To find carriers for specific loads quickly, keeping a sheet of shippers’ lanes can help. This is just page (paper or digital) for each shipper lane you see regularly. Then list every carrier you know would be a candidate to pull that lane. Include their contact information on this page; so you don’t have to look it up separately. So when you get a load, you can just start calling down your page. Oftentimes, when you take the time to get to know the right carriers, you can consistently feed them freight and may get to the point when they call you and ask, “So what am I doing for you today?”  That actually happened to us, so certain loads became turnkey.  The carriers loved the regular work, they became familiar with the pick and drop locations, and we didn’t need to spend much time covering the load.
  2. Clearly Communicate Load Information:  The key to a successful load is strong communication.  Make sure you give the carrier the correct information for pickup and delivery, including the address, any required extra stops, special protocols, like if they need to make an appointment, and what constitutes a valid POD.  We find that taking the extra step of calling the receiver to confirm the shipper instructions can help the carrier avoid issues upon delivery.
  3. Proactively Seek Loads for Star Carriers:  We have a carrier who calls us when he is going to be in the area of one of our best shippers.  Since we have a great relationship with this shipper, we often call the shipper to see if he has a load for this carrier, even before the shipper calls us.  Oftentimes we get one.  By keeping the carrier happy hauling our shipper’s freight with which he has become very familiar, we continue to build loyalty on both sides. It’s important to keep your carriers running for you as much as possible.  Then they will be there for you when you really need them.
  4. Go the Extra Mile for Your Carrier:  We have had instances where a carrier with several trucks was stuck in a long line and an agent ordered pizza to appease them and get them to stick around.  We have an agent who met a trucker when his delivery was nearby, just to put a name to a face, and brought him coffee.  Also, if the shipper or receiver is making the error, doing whatever you can to make things right for the carrier will also build trust and loyalty.  It is the right thing to do, and the carrier will then go the extra mile for you.

Carriers are people, too, and by remembering this along with the eight keys in my two blogs, you will be well on your way to building a strong and loyal carrier base.  Having loyal carriers and a good reputation in the industry can help you better serve your shippers and become more efficient by enabling you to book more loads in less time. Ultimately that leads to more money in your pocket to enable you do what you want to do and live the life of your dreams. By treating our agents like customers as well, we have been able to grow our brokerage to make our dreams a reality.

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– By Cheryl Biron, President