Chris Jolly cut his teeth in the transportation business at age 20 when he started working at a warehouse in Georgia. He spent four and a half years working at the warehouse, learning the ins and outs of the industry. Since then, Chris has worked in logistics sales and operations, and has held leadership roles with some of the biggest names in logistics. Today, Chris is a freight coach and sales consultant who uses his industry knowledge to help brokers, 3PLs, tech start-ups and asset-based carriers develop effective sales and operations strategies and make sound organizational decisions.

Trucker Tools recently had the good fortune to speak with Chris and learn more about his background. In our conversation with Chris, one topic that came up again and again was the current capacity crunch. We asked Chris for his tips for brokers/3PLs for keeping carriers close when capacity is scarce — and here’s what he had to say.

Stop Playing the Spot Market, Concentrate on Building Relationships with Carriers

The first piece of advice that Chris has for logistic providers and freight brokers is to stop playing the spot market, which he says everyone is reliant upon. Chris told us that chasing rates (and carriers) is just not sustainable. You have to think of drivers and carriers as customers and find out what and where they want to run. 

“You have to build relationships with drivers,” advised Chris. “Everyone wants to get rich quick, but you really have to invest in the process. This is a relationship game. A lot of the time, drivers aren’t asking for that much more money. I know right now is an outlier, but this industry is cyclical. Freight brokers who’ve stayed the course and stuck with their carriers are doing well.” 

“You have to build relationships with drivers,” advised Chris. “Everyone wants to get rich quick, but you really have to invest in the process. This is a relationship game. A lot of the time, drivers aren’t asking for that much more money. I know right now is an outlier, but this industry is cyclical. Freight brokers who’ve stayed the course and stuck with their carriers are doing well.” 

Go Niche and Concentrate on a Specific Region

One of the mistakes that you may be making is going after lanes and regions that are too far from your operational home base. It can be hard to get a foothold in any market when you haven’t specialized in a specific region or type of freight. Instead of trying to do a little bit of everything, consider narrowing your focus. This actually will help you with carrier development. 

“You really have to develop a niche region and a niche freight type to go after,” recommends Chris. “Don’t cast too wide a net. Focus on your region and grow out from there. You can’t build relationships with drivers if you’re small and trying to work out of other states. Pick a niche region and a niche market. Everyone wants Chicago to Dallas or Philadelphia, or  L.A. to Atlanta. Why go where competition is through the roof? Stay in a certain area and niche and grow your business and carrier base there.” 

Develop a Sustainable Carrier Development Strategy and Stick with It

According to Chris, there’s no perfect sauce when it comes to weathering a capacity crunch. But one thing you can do is to implement a solid carrier relationship-building strategy and stick with it — no matter what’s going on with rates or supply and demand. Chris recommends that you focus on what you can control and on creating a positive experience for carriers

“There are going to be carriers out there who crisscross the country chasing rate per mile and that’s how they run their business,” said Chris. “But you cannot bring that to your customers and give them a capacity number that you can’t fill because you don’t have drivers. You have to invest the time. I know plenty of freight brokers out there who haven’t deviated from how they operate and they’re not having a capacity crunch. The carriers that they’ve treated with respect and worked with prior to the pandemic stuck with them. They’re continuing to do that because everybody who’s been in this industry long enough knows that this market is going to shift back, and then what? Then there are going to be some brokers out there who want to get back at carriers — and that’s not fair to the customer. We cannot take out our grievances on our customers’ freight and play Russian roulette with them. It’s not sustainable.”

To learn more about Chris, visit his LinkedIn profile

Read Chris Jolly on the Capacity Crunch, Trends in Logistics and How Tech Creates Opportunities for Brokers for the rest of our conversation with Chris. Schedule a free demo of Trucker Tools’ transparent load tracking software, digital freight matching platform and innovative load booking automation tool, Book It Now®