In my six years as an owner-operator who works exclusively with brokers, I've been able to communicate better and more efficiently now than ever before. Here are a few tips and tools that can help carriers to streamline communication even further, so you can build successful relationships with brokers and make more money.
Who Makes the Call?
Who has the most urgent need? That's usually the person who is most likely to make the phone call. If you're the broker making that call, it's because you need a truck -- but the carrier may or may not want your load. When the carrier calls you, however, it's because he wants that load. The broker who is on the receiving end of the carrier's phone call is going to secure a truck quickly. All the broker has to do is answer the phone, and it's an easy win-win for both parties. But too often these calls fall apart because the broker's company has a complicated phone tree, the agent who finally picks up the phone is unfamiliar with the load.
Get a Direct-Dial Number
How do you prevent miscommunication? Exchange direct-dial phone numbers. It's a great relationship builder. When you call your friends, do you get a computer asking you to press one if you want to go fishing, or press two to go out to eat? Of course not. It doesn't happen with your friends, and it doesn't happen with the brokers that I work with the most. When I have a great working experience with a broker or agent, I keep that person's name and direct phone number in my contacts, and sometimes I add notes about the load we worked on. Phone trees, computer operators, and extensions can create unnecessary distance between me and that direct connection.
Voice or Text?
This year, I am beginning to secure more of my loads by using text messages instead of voice. With fewer conversations, I have more time for making money. Text messages are great when you already know the broker and you've worked together in the past. My favorite agents already know the lanes I like to run, and some even know what my rates are. Many times we are able to complete shipments from beginning to end without ever talking on the phone. These texting brokers can also provide critical information a lot faster, so if there's a change in a load number or an arrival time, I'll know right away. (Of course, I never type or read texts while driving, but I can use voice controls to communicate via text.)
Make it Easier for Drivers
As a driver myself, if it's easy and convenient to contact the agent in charge of a load, I'll feel reassured that the success of the load is just as important to the broker as it is to me. Having that great communication also helps me to represent the broker in a professional way, so we both make a good impression on the broker's customer. For example, when I'm picking up or delivering the load, I sometimes get questions from the broker's customer. I can serve both the broker and the customer much better if I'm able to contact the agent directly for guidance.
With a little bit of extra effort, brokers and carriers can improve communication, to make it easier and more efficient for us all to work together.
Chad Boblett is the owner and driver of Boblett Brothers Trucking of Lexington, KY. Chad also founded the Rate Per Mile Masters group on Facebook, a communications hub for 11,000 members, including owner-operators, truck drivers, and other transportation and logistics pros.