As a freight broker, you’re juggling a lot, from vetting new carriers and providing customer service to your shippers to processing paperwork and other back office activities. It can be a challenge to make time to find freight shippers when your goal is to expand your customer base. Whether you specialize in a specific type of freight or specific freight lanes, finding new freight shippers is all about matching your brokerage’s service offerings with prospective customers’ unmet needs. Read on to learn more about some of the most effective ways to find freight shippers and how to become a freight broker of choice within the transportation industry.
1. Deliver on Real-Time Load Tracking
If you’ve been working in the freight brokerage industry for any length of time, you already know that access to real-time load tracking is a must-have for today’s shippers. Shippers need and often require start-to-finish digital load tracking data because it allows them to provide exemplary service to their own customers and distributors. Real-time tracking data also helps shippers streamline their internal processes and use their human resources with greater efficiency.
One of the best ways to find freight shippers and draw the attention of prospective customers is to use a real-time tracking technology that is reliable and that provides the tracking data your shippers need. Real-time tracking solutions like Trucker Tools’ provide you with updates on the load/truck location every five to 15 minutes while the shipment is in transit by truck. When delays do occur, you’re notified in real-time and can immediately work to address them. Freight brokers who use Trucker Tools’ load tracking and ELD-based load tracking together achieve on average 93 percent tracking success, a rate that satisfies even the largest shippers’ tracking requirements.
2. Find Freight Shippers Through Referrals
Another highly effective way to find freight shippers is through referrals from your current customers. Your current shippers may have subdivisions within their companies or subsidiaries who could use your freight brokerage services. Of course, you have to ensure that you’re meeting your current customers’ needs first if you want to ask them for referrals. Using a real-time load tracking technology as described above can set you up to receive quality referrals from your current customer base.
To encourage referrals, it’s also a good idea to use other types of technology in your operations that reduce costs for your customers and increase the efficiency with which you cover their loads. Consider using a capacity sourcing software such as Trucker Tools’ Smart Capacity platform to drive higher service levels. With Smart Capacity, you can automate many of the tasks associated with finding freight carriers and help you draw new carriers into your carrier network, which ultimately benefits your current customers and increases your attractiveness to new customers.
3. Cold Calls
Once you’ve done all you can to leverage technology to provide top-notch service to your current customers and worked all referral angles, you may want to use the traditional cold (or warm) call to find freight shippers. Instead of sending bulk emails to a list of prospective customers or using other impersonal contact methods, pick up the phone and start calling! Even though it may seem like an old-school sales technique, calling companies who you hope to win as customers allows you to connect with shippers and the people that work in their operations on a personal level.
Freight brokerage and the transportation industry at large are relationship-based businesses. Making contact with someone working for a prospective shipper can plant a seed for the future, even if you don’t win their business on your initial call. Cold and warm calls also give you the opportunity to find out who the shipper uses currently for freight brokerage, what the shipper looks for in a partner and what their current pain points are.
4. Check In With Former Customers
An often underused method for finding freight shippers is to follow up with your former customers. Consider calling your former customers to find out how they’re faring with the freight brokerage they’re working with presently. It’s also a great opportunity to dig into why you lost their business in the first place and the steps you’ve taken since then to address the issue(s). If, for example, your company wasn’t previously able to meet the shipper’s load tracking needs and/or expansion into new shipping lanes, you have the opportunity to discuss how you’re now using technology that helps you solve both problems.
Another good reason to check in with former customers is that there may be new decision-makers in place with the shipper. There’s a lot of turnover in the world freight brokerage. Calling former customers gives you the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to new decision-makers and detail what your brokerage can offer. It’s also an opportunity to find out if your former contact at the company has gone elsewhere and to get in touch with that person in their new position to see if they’re in need of your freight broker services.
Check out “Loadboards 101” to learn more about smart load boards.