In an ideal situation, freight brokers and carriers have a great relationship based on communication, reliability, and trust.
Brokers put a lot of time and energy into increasing the number and quality of loads for the carriers they work with. They are motivated to make the overall shipping process as smooth as possible, and a high quality broker will be invested in your success as a carrier. When you form a strong relationship with a broker you can benefit from their connections, resources, and logistical support.
Like in any relationship, these things don’t come automatically: They take time and effort. Some carrier-broker relationships are quite strained, creating frustration, tension, and sometimes even a loss of income.
As a carrier, building a relationship with a broker you trust is one of the best business decisions you can make.
Why the Broker-Carrier Relationship Is Important
Think of a freight broker like a recruiter. They look for the best of the best carriers to trust with the freight they’ve sourced from shippers.
The broker is the person who has load offers and details. They’ll reach out to reliable carriers whose load and lane preferences are a good fit for the shipment. If you don’t form a relationship with a broker, you’ll miss out on the loads they have to offer.
A positive, healthy relationship with a broker means you will get more contracts, as well as more load consistency. These relationships can even lead to dedicated lane opportunities.
4 Ways to Build a Strong Broker-Carrier Relationship
1. Communicate Regularly & Clearly
When a broker contacts you, how long does it take for you to respond? Do you consistently follow up with a broker you haven’t heard from in a while? Do you make sure that you understand each other by actively communicating?
Communication goes in both directions, and one of the fastest ways to sink a broker-carrier relationship is to be slow in your responses—or seemingly absent from the conversation altogether. Even if you don’t have new information to relay, it's better to communicate you’re waiting for updates, rather than going silent altogether.
Good communication is essential for every relationship, including carrier-broker relationships. Professionalism goes a long way, so be sure to answer promptly, maintain a positive attitude, and inform your broker of anything that doesn’t go smoothly.
Some good tips for communicating with a broker are:
- Short and to the point is best. In other words, be concise in your phone calls, texts and emails.
- If you’re unable to reach your broker via a phone call, send a text or email so no important messages fall through the cracks.
- Set aside a portion of time every day to check in with your broker to see if you have any messages or need to communicate any issues. Make it a habit.
- This one may be obvious but never text or email while driving. If your broker finds out, you may lose your connection to that broker and all the freight they could get for you.
2. Be Honest
Part of being a good communicator is being honest. When you are honest with people, you invite them to be honest, too. Think about the people in your life who are always upfront and honest, rather than hiding their true thoughts.
If a broker sends you details for a load and you realize it’s not the right match for you, let them know upfront. Reply quickly and let them know that you are going to pass. That kind of honesty will go much further than ignoring job details that aren’t the right fit for you. This honesty also gives brokers a better picture of what types of freight and lanes you’re interested in. A broker won’t ask you to transport a load if they know it's not the type you’re interested in. So when you’re straight-forward with your preferences it saves everyone time and you’ll be seen as an honest communicator.
3. Choose a Broker with Experience
Brokers with lots of experience have a lot to offer. While we would never say not to work with a new broker, there are advantages to finding someone who has been in the industry for a while.
You can find out information about a broker’s reputation by asking other drivers which brokers they have enjoyed working with, and “interviewing” the broker about their experiences and expertise.
Experienced brokers, like those at Xpress Technologies, will be interested in learning the ins and outs of your business. For example, Xpress Technologies brokers may ask how many trucks and trailers you have, which corridors and lanes you prefer, and how much you are looking to make on a weekly or monthly basis. They should know their load board well enough to match their freight mix to you.
The more experience a broker has, the more likely they are to understand the complexities of load boards and how to find great freight for you.
4. Learn Your Limits
Setting boundaries is important in any relationship. Once you have a working relationship with a broker, set boundaries and communicate your limits.
As you learn and refine your load and lane preferences, communicate that information to your broker. They won’t ask you to take a load if they know it's not a type of freight you’re interested in taking. Setting and communicating your preferences will ensure your broker knows what kind of freight best suits your business and resources.
You can also choose to stop working with a broker if they don’t communicate well, don’t pay promptly, or cause other problems for your business operations. You aren’t committed to a broker for life. If your broker isn’t helping you meet your business goals, it might be time to "break up" with them and find someone new.
Xpress Technologies Is Building Bridges Between Carriers and Brokers
Xpress Technologies is dedicated to connecting carriers with qualified, communicative brokers. Xpress Technologies is changing the way that carriers and brokers interact by providing them with innovative technology solutions.