We recently had the good fortune to sit down with Adam Wingfield, owner and founder of Innovative Logistics Group, a carrier consultancy company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C. Wingfield has spent the last 23 years working in the trucking industry, which includes hands-on experience as a company driver, owner operator and fleet owner. He uses his own trucking knowledge to help independent owner operators and trucking companies with everything from initial MC/DOT set up and finding business capital to fleet management and implementing industry best practices. As a seasoned trucking and business professional, Wingfield has a deep understanding of the freight broker/carrier relationship. When we interviewed Adam, he spoke at length about how freight brokers and logistics companies can build and maintain strong relationships with carriers and owner operators partners to ensure lasting, mutual success.
Here are Wingfield’s five tips on how you can build and maintain positive business relationships with independent owner operators and trucking companies.
1. Find Out What Carriers Need
“The number one recommendation I have for freight brokers and 3PLs who want to support their carrier partners is to find out what they need to operate,” Wingfield shared. “You have to understand that your partnership goes both ways. It’s supposed to be mutually beneficial. Find out exactly what the cost of operation is for that carrier and make sure that you’re going back to the shipper and having those conversations with shippers so that you can secure a rate that’s fair for everyone and where everyone can win.”
2. Use Your Resources To Help
“The next thing is just to offer resources because as a freight brokers, you’ve got access to a network,” Wingfield said. “If you’ve got a carrier that you can’t get a load for, use your network to keep that carrier moving. Maybe you have a broker buddy over here or a 3PL partner over there that you can connect with and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got a really great carrier and we’ve been running freight with them for quite some time, but now it’s kind of dried up on my end. Can I introduce you to this carrier?’”
3. Understand There’s a Learning Curve in Trucking
“There are no manuals for how to succeed in trucking,” said Wingfield. “There are no directions. When I came into trucking, it was kind of like you just had to figure it out as you went along. I made a ton of mistakes that way, which is why I wanted to create a consortium that provides people with the resources to successfully start a trucking company and sustainably support it. As a freight broker, it’s really important to provide resources because there are so many owner operators and small carriers out here that are just still learning the business.”
4. Consider Offering Fuel Discounts
“The biggest obvious challenge right now is fuel,” Wingfield said. “A lot of owner operators and carriers don’t have the opportunity to benefit from wholesale fuel prices like the mega carriers do. The big carriers buy their fuel at wholesale, whereas the smaller guy, the owner op, has to buy retail. Even with the decrease in diesel prices over the last month or so, the wholesale versus retail price gap is huge. Folks who were spending 40 cents per mile two years ago are now paying 70 cents per mile on diesel fuel. That’s a huge increase, especially for the smaller carrier on the spot market.”
5. Reward Your Top Carriers
“The next thing you should do is to reward your top carriers,” Wingfield said. “That can be whatever type of reward system or recognition that you can provide. Just make sure that you’re recognizing the top ones. Also, with the ones that aren’t doing so hot, let them know what it’s going to take for them to get that premium freight. Let them know what it’s going to take for them to get to the front of the class and be on the top of the charts in a classroom.”