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About: Blake McKibben

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10 Ways Freight Brokers Can Generate Leads

Lead GenerationLead generation is a difficult and time-consuming task but the success of your business hinges on identifying new prospects and attracting them to what you have to offer.  The ultimate goal for your freight broker business (or any business) is to generate more leads to convert into customers so your business will grow.  The suggestions below are designed to help freight brokers fill their sales lead pipeline.  The more leads you have in your pipeline, the more prospects can be converted to customers which means more money for you and your freight broker business to grow and prosper.

Here are 10 places freight broker agents can generate leads to grow their business:

1. Start with people that you know – your current contacts:  Ask friends and family where they work.  Not every company requires shipping, but many do.  A freight agent’s current contacts are a great source for leads, and once you get a lead inside an industry you can prospect other companies in the same industry.

2. Keep a notebook in your car/truck:  You can write down names of companies you see on the road.  Write down the company, any nearby landmarks, and any other information you can use to establish rapport during your conversation.

3. Referrals:  As you get more customers and build a reputation, they will refer other customers to you.  Companies that you’ve picked up from and shipped to are another good source, but wait until after the shipping is complete to contact them so you have success under your belt.

4. Companies in the same industry or companies you work with:  When freight brokers tell companies they specialize in produce or lumber, they will establish expertise in the client’s eyes.  Check shipping labels on produce or food for information on how they are shipped.

5. Check customers’ credit reference sheets for new leads:  Mention that you were referred to them by the customer.

6. Go to Thomasnet.com:  Start calling the customers on their list.  There are 10’s of thousands of them.  If you’re not comfortable with this, pick an industry you are familiar with and start there.

7. Look at where current loads are picked up or dropped off:  Call these places.  Usually they will tell you they do not have any loads that need to be moved, but if you are persistent, you will find they have loads that need to be moved.

8. Research the destination of your current loads:  Companies in these cities will have loads to be moved, and know that they will get a better rate if you are already shipping to their city.

9. USDA produces a valuable resource at MarketNews.usda.gov:  This can be a great resource for freight brokers and the prices and freight information are updated every Wednesday.

10. Go to ProduceMarketGuide.com:  This has regularly updated information on produce.  CareersInFood.com also has resources about food manufacturing.  Manta.com gives in-depth information about companies, including email contacts.

These are just a few ways that freight agents can find new prospects but the ultimate success of your business depends on your actions.  To be a successful freight broker agent, you must continue to put in the hard work of introducing yourself, your freight broker business and your services to new prospects regularly then continue that momentum by building relationships, stimulating referrals and finding additional opportunities when possible.  Your reward will be a thriving pipeline that will skyrocket your business at high-times and help to carry you through slower times.  Just like solidifying any good habit…lead generation cannot be a one-time activity but rather a way of life.

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Selling Logistics in a Digital World

Selling Logistics in a Digital WorldShippers Want Real-Time Access to Information, Not Brochures

Technology and automation are not only helping today’s logistics companies gain momentum in their operations, they are also changing the way freight forwarders and brokers sell their services. Selling successfully in today’s digital world takes a new mindset. Clients want to know just as much about how they’ll access information as they do about how you’ll move their freight.

The logistics industry is going through a generational change. Many of the mid-range operators are family-owned companies, and now the owners’ tech savvy kids are primed to take that business to the next level. Regardless of ownership, all are having to very quickly figure out the best ways to sell their services in this technology-driven world.

Online technologies and modern work practices are changing the sales process. Logistics service providers need to realize that the days of wining and dining their prospects and leaving them with brochures and logo-covered notepads is over.

It should not come as a surprise that many of today’s decision makers are often younger and more educated than their predecessors. What the younger generation might lack in operational experience they more than make up for with their understanding of the power of technology – an understanding that hinges on the expectation that everything can be automated and everything can be available from an app on their phone.

First Impressions Have Gone Digital

Importers and exporters now have a multitude of fast and intuitive ways to learn about the services available to them. A salesperson is no longer their only source of information.

Before you get a foot in the door, or even know the door is there, potential customers can check your website to find out what you do and how you do it. They can read up on your team from online profiles. And the posts your company makes on its social media channels gives these customers an idea of what’s on your mind today and how your followers are responding. Whether you know it or not, these snapshot images are helping people decide whether to contact you or take your call.

Now imagine what they think if you don’t use any of it. Will they even be aware your company is an option for them?

Your investment in these online marketing tools is quite different from the production of the traditional set-and-forget corporate brochure. A digital presence should be constantly updated to show your firm’s understanding of and involvement in industry issues. It’s become a priority and a sign of professionalism that supports sales activities and reflects your operational capabilities.

The Modern Prospect’s Priority List

Nights and weekends no longer seem different from weekdays when you’re expected to be available 24/7 not just for clients, but for company teleconferences around the world. When you add the direct emails that require your action and the indirect, for-your-information ones you’ve been copied on, it’s easy to see why everyone is so busy these days.

Salespeople should not be surprised to learn they’re very low on a prospect’s priority list. Cold calling and spontaneous emails simply don’t cut through anymore. In my experience, sending a text seems to generate the fastest responses.

When the Sale Is More Pull Than Push

Tech savvy prospects who are short on time will appreciate the kind of self-directed support service they can turn to for fast answers that resolve issues. They expect to access an online chat, to drill into a forum, or to read customer testimonials, all at whatever time suits them.

Personal, face-to-face contact – at least in the initial stages of relationship building – is largely gone. Even as sales are converted, the ongoing relationship requirements are being defined more and more by the availability of different forms of information.

Click or Swipe for More Data

Car advertisements assume buyers know the vehicle has an engine and some wheels, so they focus on selling the technology and trim packages that come with the essential parts. Just like they’re buying a car, your prospects assume you can move their freight at the right price. What they really want to know about is your tracking and reporting capabilities. Before they buy, they want to see how flexible you are in putting all that together, in the format they want, when they want it. Clients are demanding quicker and easier access to data now more than ever because their ultimate buying decision will be based on its speed and accuracy.

The way you’re selling is changing, and with the expansion of technology into the provision of customer service, the things you’re selling are also evolving.

Delivering the Promise

The thing that hasn’t changed is fulfilling the promises you made during the sales presentation. Behind the polished website, the full customer experience has to be integrated into back-end systems.

Selling successfully in today’s digital world takes a new mindset. Sell streamlined access to information, not the fact that you move freight. The fact that you can do the fastest customs entry won’t help when your client can’t see it in real time through a customer portal.

The Personal Touch Still Matters

People are surrounded by information, not all of it accurate. There’s a huge list of options that they don’t have time to filter. That’s why the person-to-person element in the sales process is still the ultimate differentiator. Highly professional salespeople with deep product and industry knowledge are a breath of fresh air, and direct customer referrals are often the proof that closes the deal.

Ten years ago everyone said SME freight forwarders would be forced out of business by the big guys. But because they’re selling personalized service and niche expertise, SMEs are doing just fine. A large portion of their success is no doubt due to reorienting their sales approach in this digital world.

 

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Free Load Boards for Truckers

integrations-loadboards

Many new truckers start their businesses by looking for loads on line. Load boards have advantages because they let you find loads quickly and effectively. It’s an easy way to get the business rolling. Since new truckers often have tight budgets, using a free service is a good way to get some loads and save some money.

Most of these boards include TL and LTL loads. Most boards are updated regularly as shippers post loads for containerized, reefer, flatbed, and dry box freight.

Free load boards

Here is a list of free load boards. As far as we could tell, none of these load boards charges a fee for its services at the time of this writing:

  1. Trulos
  2. DSSLN
  3. Refer a Truck
  4. Live Loads
  5. Load Up
  6. Freight Finder
  7. Landstar
  8. Check Freight Broker

Load boards that have free trial memberships

Additionally, we are including a list of load board that offer free trial memberships. They allow you to try the service for free, for a limited time, and determine if they are a good fit for your trucking business.

  1. Direct Freight
  2. Getloaded
  3. Truckers Edge
  4. 123 Loadboard
  5. Dat
  6. Load Lift
  7. Loadmatch
  8. Load Solutions

Are free load boards worth it?

Many owner-operators ask themselves if load boards are worth it for truckers. This question is difficult to answer. Load boards certainly have some value as a tool to get your business started and get things moving. They are easy to use and relatively inexpensive.

However, they are not the best tools for finding truck loads in the long term, especially high-paying loads. Furthermore, many free boards don’t have some useful features that are included in paid boards. Remember that you get exactly what you pay for.

One alternative to consider is signing up for free trials on a few paid boards. Compare them against the value that you get from free boards and determine which one is best for you and your business.

Keep in mind that most free boards get their loads through a sharing service. Therefore, there is often overlap, as many load boards post the same loads. You will find that loads for popular lanes are extremely competitive and pay very little.

On the other hand, a number of paid boards get loads that are exclusive to their service. There is less competition for these loads because fewer truckers use paid boards. However, keep in mind that all loads from load boards are very competitive.

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How to Get High-Paying Freight Loads

High-Paying Freight Loads

The most important job for any broker, owner-operator, or small fleet owner is finding the best-paying freight loads to haul. For many, this task is the most difficult part of owning a trucking company. Unfortunately, many truckers and owner-operators go out of business because they don’t know how to find good loads.

Don’t make this mistake

Most new truckers make the mistake of getting loads by relying solely on load boards or by jumping from broker to broker. While some load boards can help you if you are just getting started, they usually provide low-paying loads. And most seasoned owner-operators will tell you that jumping from broker to broker won’t help grow your trucking company either and is a road to nowhere.

What type of client do you want?

Before you start looking for high-paying loads, define the type of client you want. Many owner-operators skip this step – assuming that it is unnecessary. They know a good load or client when they see one, so why bother writing it down?

Knowing your target client gives you a clear perspective on what you want. More importantly, it helps you develop a plan to find them. This step is critical and takes only a few minutes.

Here is how some truckers define their ideal client. Obviously, add or remove items to suit your needs:

  1. A large, established shipper
  2. Pays well
  3. Pays on time
  4. Has a good reputation
  5. Gives you loads regularly
  6. Provides shipments that match the lanes you want to drive

 

Obviously, no client is ever truly perfect, but you should be able to find clients who are very good. And that is how you grow a trucking company and make it successful in the long term.

How to find shippers who pay well

Now that you know who your perfect shipper is, you need to find them. One tried-and-true way is to look for clients through industry associations with local chapters in your area. By the way, we are not talking about trucking associations. There are no clients there. We are referring to industry associations that your ideal clients belong to.

For example, if you are interested in working for grocery stores, consider the National Grocers Association. If you want to move cars, you may consider organizations like the National Automobile Dealers Association, your local automobile dealers association, or the American International Automobile Dealers. You get the point. There are many industry organizations with local chapters.

By the way, you don’t necessarily need to join these organizations. You just want a list of their local members. Some organizations provide the list only if you become a member. But many organizations have publicly available lists with names, contact numbers, and email addresses.

Once you have the list of prospects, the real work begins.

Now it’s time to do what most of your competition hates doing: you have to sell. Period. There is no other way around it. Call prospective clients and speak to the person in charge of shipping. Try to set up a meeting. If that attempt fails, send them a letter. Your objective is to determine how they select the carriers they work with and get on that list.

Simple? Yes. Easy? Not a chance. But here is why you have a good chance of success: while your competitors are chasing loads using load boards, you are doing the hard work and securing prime clients to give you high-paying freight loads.

The US Government moves tons of freight

By the way, don’t neglect moving freight for the US government. The government can be a great client who provides regular work and reliable payments. Getting government contracts is not easy, but it can be worth the effort.

For example, consider pulling freight for the US Postal Service. As long as people send mail, you will have work. Alternatively, find a way to get on the GSA list or look for opportunities to move military freight. Note that military freight may require special clearances, but some truckers claim that it pays well. A good place to start is FedBizOps.

New clients can affect your cash flow

One problem of growing a trucking company is that clients often pay their freight bills in 30 to 60 days. This delay can create a cash flow problem because your company must pay all delivery expenses and then wait for a month or two for payment. You can improve your cash flow and avoid this issue by financing your freight bills.

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5 Tips for Freight Brokers Looking For New Customers

Finding FreightIt can be a challenging job for freight brokers to build a steady stream of shippers, especially for those who are new in the industry. There are many stories of new, enthusiastic brokers whose excitement disappeared in just a few months of customer searches while securing hardly one or two shippers.

Finding customers is always a daunting task, no matter which industry you belong to. Freight brokerages are no exception to this. The type of services they offer may vary from other businesses, but the ways to find new customers, shippers in this case, is the same as in any other industry – with persistence and a devotion to excellence.

Following are some proven tips on how to find shippers who can bring in new business:

1. Target a Specific Niche

Before you start practicing as a freight broker in the truck shipping industry, it is vital to identify your niche. Once you know who your prospects are, you will better be able to build your expertise for this specific niche. Focus on a particular market will enable you to best fit your customers’ needs, build strong market reputation, and stand out in the crowd.

 

2. Make Use of the Internet

Once you know who your targeted audience is, the job of finding the potential customers amongst all prospects will become a lot easier for you. One of the best ways to conduct your search is through the internet. Most of the brokers these days use the internet to find shippers and carriers in their niche.

If you are an experienced freight broker or a well-established brokerage firm, you naturally have a good exposure in the industry, and you perhaps know who are the leading shippers and carriers in your industry.

However, if that is not the case with you, there are many websites over the internet that features a complete database of all top suppliers and shippers in the country. There are several directories that even allow you to see the website URL of the respective companies and let you connect with them via email.

 

3. Be Visible on Freight Boards

Both free and paid freight boards are available out there. To get a membership on these boards, you simply need to register your company name with them. There are a large number of shippers who look out for carriers on such boards.

Free freight boards allow you to surf their database without paying a single dime. Paid boards, though, offer incentives such as a credit score – perhaps the most reliable way to confirm if a carrier or shipper is legitimate.

 

4. Cold Calling Still Works!

Most freight brokers have cold feet for this tactic. But there is nothing like getting one potential customers at least out of 100 calls made to different shippers.

Often the successful callers have two traits in common: first they know why they are making a call before they call, and secondly they do comprehensive research about the company or individual they are calling.

While it’s rare to get through on the first call, one should not get discouraged. Gradually with time, you will come to know what works and what doesn’t. And this way you will be able to find techniques that will help you gain new shippers easily.

 

5. Make Your Presence Known Online & Offline

For creating an online presence, you can take advantage of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google-Plus and LinkedIn. And for an offline presence, it is recommended that you participate in local events, exhibitions, seminars, etc. in your trade. Staying active and ensuring on-time top-quality services to your customers at the same time will certainly gain you a loyal customer-base.

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Higher Capacity & Contract Rates Equals Opportunities in Disguise

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Spot market freight volume is soft, and capacity is loose. Large truckload carriers are raising their prices, but overall spot market rates are down. There are more freight brokers entering the market than there were last year. These and other emerging trends could be opportunities in disguise. Understand and leverage these market forces, and grow your business in the second half of 2015.

Capacity is much looser now than it has been in recent years. This is clearly illustrated in DAT Hot Market Maps, below, for July 2013, 2014 and 2015. Note the relative lack of capacity pressure in July 2015 (right.) July is typically a slow month – but not this slow. Compare last month to the extreme pressure of July 2014 or even the more typical scenario of July 2013.  Grey represents a low load-to-truck ratio in a key market area, and the deepest red represents more than 5 load posts for every truck post on DAT Load Boards.

Freight availability declined on the spot market in July. It is typically a slow month, but demand fell even more than usual, so it is below 2013 levels for the first time this year. Volume remains higher than every previous year, however, so the picture is not totally bleak.

Freight transportation is a leading economic indicator, and the latest reports support the trends we see in our industry: factory production is down, new oil and gas drilling is stalled, coal and steel are declining.

The service sector is growing as a portion of GDP. Services don’t generate as much freight as manufacturing, but they contribute to employment, which seems to be recovering.

More jobs and lower fuel costs can put more money back in consumers’ pockets, so a lot of economists and financial analysts — including Donald Broughton of Avondale Partners — predict that those consumers will spur the economy in the second half of this year. If retailers agree, they will start building inventory very soon. We’ll know more in a few weeks.

The largest trucking fleets have been hauling more freight, meanwhile, according to the American Trucking Associations For-Hire Tonnage Index (not seasonally adjusted.)  That means there is less “exception freight” available for the spot market.

These large, public carriers are spending more to attract and retain drivers, and they bought a lot of new trucks in 2014 – a banner year for Class 8 truck sales. The end result is a 7.4% increase in capacity, according to the Journal of Commerce’s Q2 Truckload Capacity Index. While that was the highest reading since the start of the recession in Q4 2008, it’s still 11% below 2006 levels. So despite the capacity increase, large carriers are raising their rates.

Spot market rates rose faster than contract rates over the last two years, but that trend has now reversed. You can see in the graph, above, that there was only a 5¢ gap between spot rates and contract rates as recently as December 2014. That gap has widened since March. Contract rates continued to trend up in Q2, but spot rates have been declining. Last month, there was a 25¢ per mile difference between national average spot market rates and contract rates. This chart does not include the fuel surcharge, which has been declining steadily during the same period.

When the fuel surcharge is included, it is clear that carriers are being paid less per mile now than they were in 2014, and the total spot market rate has been on a steady, downward trend since January. Obviously, a big part of this decline was the change in the fuel surcharge, which plummeted from 48¢ per mile in July 2014 to 27¢ per mile now. Even though the fuel surcharge is not quoted separately from the line haul rate in the spot market, fuel has a big influence.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2015 and beyond, a handful of macroeconomic trends are likely to shape freight transportation and logistics. Fuel prices are continuing to decline, and they may go lower. The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates next month, which would have a mixed impact on the economy. Consumer confidence is shaky, but an improvement could lead to a rebound in freight volume in Q4. No new regulations are poised to take effect for the rest of this year, even if legislation passes.

Whether those trends lead to an influx of freight or a change in capacity levels, the dynamic market conditions signal new opportunities for freight brokers and 3PLs. In fact, there are more licensed freight brokers now than ever, according to FMCSA records.

Meanwhile, the largest carriers are “becoming more selective about the freight they haul,” according to a recent article in Transport Topics. They may reject freight  that does not mesh well with their routes or schedules. This creates opportunities for brokers and 3PLs. Contract rates are trending up, so broker/3PL-managed freight movements are increasingly price-competitive, too. This could be a great time to bid on new business with your current customers, and compete for new customers, to expand your market share.

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5 Key Metrics to Monitor, Benchmark and Optimize Transportation Spend

networkrefresh_main_0514In the volatile and ever changing domestic transportation market in N. America, there is a growing need. What is it? It’s simple; it is a need to efficiently and effectively measure, track and monitor the right metrics to better manage, control and optimize costs. It sounds very simple, but in truth there are complexities.

Complexities such as:

  • What exactly am I spending today?
  • Who exactly are my best carriers and how can I work with them better?
  • How effective is my current transportation strategy and where am I missing the mark?
  • What are the right things to measure to really understand where my transportation strategy is today while getting insight into where it needs to be?

These complexities underscore a mounting concern faced by logistics executives to balance the competing pressures of both cost and service in today’s end to end supply chain. When looking at the pressure around finding this balance, two elements have been highlighted in our conversations with executives as the top two pressures. The first is fuel cost and volatility while under the pressure to compete. The second is a heightened awareness of the general cost and service impact transportation overall has on the business as a whole.

The external pressure of fuel costs and volatility may leave many executives feeling somewhat limited in terms of their ability to control or impact that variant. Combine that feeling with the sensitivity of the general bottom line cost impact to the business and you have a recipe for losing a good night’s sleep. Let’s take a closer look at what to measure and a simple action item that could shift this dynamic at your company.

Here are five key metrics to monitor, benchmark and optimize transportation spend for your business:

  1. Change in baseline freight spend year over year?
  2. What percentage of your carriers are compliant in contract?
  3. What percentage of your carriers are meeting their service level and routing compliance needs?
  4. What is your average time to process and pay a freight invoice?
  5. What percentage of your transportation invoices are currently audited?

By simply beginning to review and monitor these five KPIs, your company will be well on the way to not only optimizing costs, but to better understanding the variable influences and fluctuations of your transportation costs. You will begin to get a clear picture of where the real weaknesses are and which of your carriers are the best partners of your Supply Chain.

However, by utilizing dock scheduling, shippers can reduce carrier wait time and accidents while increasing visibility and optimizing resource planning. I’d like to share a deeper look at the role that dock scheduling plays in not only optimizing costs, but also in automating business. Long waiting times for pick-up and delivery are costing U.S. shippers, carriers and consumers millions of dollars every year. Prior to 2013, truck drivers were allowed to work 82 hours a week. Federal rules have changed reducing these hours to 70 per week. Drivers can complete no more than 14 hours for any shift and may not drive more than 11 hours during the shift. This dynamic really adds to the pressure felt by the executives to balance an already precarious Supply Chain. Dock Scheduling can uncover and enable efficiencies at the dock, enabling carriers, shippers, 3PL’s, and warehouses to coordinate carrier schedules with load and dock availability. By then utilizing multiple communication channels, the driver is allowed to maximize his 70 hours, enabling the required rest period while still providing delivery in a timely manner.

Using the requirements of the specific dock of delivery, Dock Scheduling enables the warehouse or shipper to stage their loads in order of pick-up or delivery while communicating with the carrier company and the specific driver of any loading dock issues. This level of optimization leads to greater efficiencies which produces substantial results.

All parties are able to seamlessly and effectively communicate throughout the entire process. This enhanced communication and visibility enables a faster close loop process of the entire shipping, delivery and reporting process resulting in:

  • Reduced idle times at loading and unloading by 20 – 40% thus lowering fuels costs
  • Increased loading/unloading productivity by 20% +
  • Clarity in the loading-unloading process
  • Decrease of transportation’s overall impact on the business

The key takeaway is to understand what to measure and monitor, understand their influences on your transportation costs and to take action by moving forward with the visibility and automated collaborative insights that Dock Scheduling can bring to your company. Five measures, one step forward with Dock Scheduling and your business will be on the way to experiencing significant spend optimization like TRANSPOREON Group customers, Vinnolit, Swiss Steel and more.

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Hacked By Shade

Hacked By Shade

Hacked By Shade

 

GreetZ : Prosox & Sxtz

Hacked By Shade <3

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