With 2022 fast approaching, you’re likely knee-deep in end of year planning, looking ahead to the new year and determining what should be a priority and what can wait another year. If 2020 and 2021 have taught us anything, it’s that having a strategy that gets you through turbulent times is essential. We recently interviewed Chris Jolly, known online as “The Freight Coach,” to find out what should be on your radar in 2022 if you’re a freight broker or third-party logistics provider. Jolly spent the last 10 years working in several well-known freight brokerages and today offers business development consultancy services to transportation companies.
Check out Jolly’s seven end-of-year planning tips for freight brokers.
1. Have a Contigency Plan for a Freight Slow-Down
“Right now, it’s RFP season, so there are a lot of people who are putting together their bids for 2022,” Jolly advised. “The current market being what it is, a lot of brokers are more and more focused on how they can service right now. They’re trying to figure out how to keep the market share that they currently have in 2022 because anybody who’s been in this industry longer than six months knows that the pendulum is going to swing back. Volume is going to decrease and capacity is going to free up again. This is not sustainable. When it shifts back, how do I keep my market share, that 30 or 40 percent of my customers’ freight?”
2. Fully Leverage Tech Vendor Relationships
“Now more than ever, brokers need to think about how they can use their technology partners and get the most out of them because everybody’s hiring right now,” Jolly said. “Freight brokers should be thinking about investing in technology not necessarily to replace anybody, but to free up current staff members so that they can work on revenue-generating activities as opposed to those menial tasks that don’t really show up on the balance sheet. These repetitive activities take up valuable 10 or 15 minute increments of a day that compound over time.”
3. Create Rock-Solid Internal Processes Built on Efficiency
“You can have a thousand loads on your board, but if you can’t cover them, what is adding a sales rep going to do?” said Jolly. “Nothing. It’s just going to compound the problem. What brokers can do with technology is streamline their operations and have efficient processes in place. You need to have a rock solid operation in place so you can have a repeatable and scalable platform to operate on — and that’s going to come back to your technology partners and what their tech capabilities are.”
4. Play Offense, Not Defense
“2022 is going to be different from a planning standpoint because there is going to be a heavy emphasis on staffing because there are a lot of organizations that need people,” Jolly shared. “Again, anyone who has been in this industry for more than a year knows that when the freight market is hot, you’ve got to attack. You have to be on offense. You can’t play defense. You need to be all gas right now, taking everything that you can within reason. You can’t be missing out on opportunities because you’re afraid to invest in streamlining your operation.”
5. Overcome Technology Hesitancy
“I think business owners need to start looking at technology from the perspective of, what is it going to cost me to not have it?” Jolly said. “If you can’t help your shippers streamline their operations, if you’re doing the exact same thing year in and year out and you’re not adapting, I give most companies two years. If you don’t have a tech presence of some sort within the next two years, you’re going to be obsolete. Who’s going to work with you? There are organizations out there that are investing in technology that still bring that personal touch. Everybody always says that this is a relationship business. Of course it’s a relationship business, but I can offer a greater relationship with greater capabilities for my shipper at no cost to them — and I’m streamlining their operations and taking things off their plate.”
6. Pay Attention to Driver and Carrier Feedback
“Most of the time carriers are on board for load tracking,” said Jolly. “Where they aren’t on board for it is when brokers throw it in after the fact, after they’ve accepted the load. The carrier looks at the rate confirmation and finds out that there’s a fine if they don’t track the load the way the broker wants. That’s where the hesitancy comes in on tracking. Social media is the greatest tool for finding out what drivers and carriers think. If you want to see where you stand with the driver community, just go to some social media sites. They’re very vocal about who’s doing it right and who’s doing it wrong.”
7. Automate, Automate, Automate!
“There is so much of a freight broker’s job that can be digital,” advised Jolly. “There isn’t a need for brokers to be tracking down PODs and things like that. There’s plenty of the job that can be streamlined. There’s still a need for a physical person to be there from an operation standpoint and a physical person to be there from a sales standpoint, but 80 percent of a freight broker’s day can be automated. You’ve got to look at it like this: how much more freight can you do? How many more loads can you take on? If you’re sitting there manually building shipments, how much time is that costing you and how much opportunity are you losing on those same day quotes that come through? Freight brokers need to be more open to how technology is going to help them.”
To learn more about Chris Jolly, connect with him on LinkedIn.
For more on how you leverage technology for relationship-building purposes, read How Trucker Tools’ Load Tracking and ELD Integrations Strengthen Relationships with Shippers and Carriers. Schedule a free demo of Trucker Tools’ Smart Capacity digital freight matching platform, Book-It-Now® and real-time load tracking platform.