Chris Arredondo, co-founder and vice president of customer success, Cargo Chief
Freight brokers had plenty of opportunities in the latter half of 2020 to expand with current and prospective customers. With tight capacity and other favorable market conditions expected to continue into 2021, those who take on new business more efficiently than before will gain the upper hand.
Divesting manual processes when sourcing capacity to cover new freight opportunities becomes critical. With the right technology, account reps for brokers can focus their time and gain better information to plan and build stronger and more valuable relationships with carriers.
To efficiently deliver on hard-won freight opportunities in 2021, the tactics of freight brokers should focus on these three important activities:
- Prioritizing opportunities
- Finding the right carriers
- Keeping carriers engaged
New business opportunities will come in many forms. Your customers might ask for new quotes or bids on lanes you lost in the past. You might find additional capacity through relationships with carriers to cover lanes that were difficult before. One of the more constant opportunities is to increase business in the lanes that yield the highest returns.
By prioritizing such opportunities, account reps will spend less time chasing down coverage in lanes that do not return the most value and more time planning ahead to find the best possible carriers to create more consistent and profitable transactions.
When new opportunities arise, brokers typically email spreadsheets to account reps to fill out with lane and rate commitments from carriers they find. Technology can help streamline this process. A key feature in the C4 tool from Cargo Chief helps brokers set up and prioritize freight opportunities as projects and assign them to account reps.
Examples of projects include re-visiting old quotes, increasing load volumes in lanes, and finding coverage for repetitive freight or newly awarded shipments. Management can drag and drop their projects in the order of priority.
To find carriers, brokers often start by searching their transportation management system (TMS) for historical transactions by lane and equipment type. With C4, brokers can find coverage for new or existing lanes from current or prospective carriers.
C4 has a network of 100s of thousands of carriers and gives instant visibility to which lanes they operate in, how often the run those lanes, and their number of trucks and trailers. Users can also search for carriers by lane, including by head haul and backhaul direction.
Phone calls are still the industry’s preferred method for negotiating rates and committing to loads. With the C4 tool, account reps have all the information they need to discuss opportunities with carriers.
When discussing a possible load with a carrier who has called in who has an empty truck in Houston and is wanting to go to Chicago, for example, an account rep could pull up the carrier’s information in C4 to see that the carrier also makes runs from Houston to Los Angeles.
“I could get you 10 loads a month from Houston to L.A.,” the rep could say. By having visibility to carrier operating data, account reps can maximize the value of each phone call by finding coverage and discussing rates that will meet the profit margin goals.
Motor carriers have many choices for who they do business with, and brokers need to keep them engaged by regularly offering freight opportunities when they become available. Many brokers do this by emailing their preferred carriers a menu of available loads to choose from.
Routine communication of available loads helps both parties remove the guesswork and time spent negotiating rates and enables brokers to gain visibility of capacity in the market that would otherwise be hidden.
When a carrier match is found, brokers should have the details of the load ready to share when it is booked such as pickup and delivery numbers, lumper fees and more. This will show carriers your level of preparation and responsiveness. This will build confidence and prevent miscommunications that could negatively impact customer service.
For more information on how the practical, current and unique data of C4 is helping brokers make superior buying and selling decisions and grow their businesses, visit www.cargochief.com to schedule a demo and sign up for a free 14-day trial.