Transport Brokerage: Rely on the Human Touch in Lean Times

Posted on January 25, 2018 by Betty King

We all know that “two heads are better than one,” but, in transport brokerage, we’ve also found that two mouths talking are often much more efficient than twenty fingers typing back and forth. 

When a load must be covered quickly, there are times when the human touch via a phone call will meet your needs more quickly and effectively than digital communication.  This is especially true during an emergency or periods of scarce capacity.  It is therefore important that we don’t allow the conveniences of technology to make us forget the real-time, back-and-forth problem solving that can occur over the phone. 

Establishing Transport Brokerage Relationships

This isn’t a debate about technology, however.  What we’re really talking about are interpersonal relationships.  By speaking with someone over the phone over time, you can’t help but establish a relationship – or at least a rapport – to some degree.  That relationship then becomes a true asset that you can depend on in the often-unpredictable world of bulk transportation. 

Assistant using a headset in a call center.jpeg

Lean on Relationships in Emergency Situations.   Let’s say that you have several liquid containers crossing the Midwest by train when a monster snowstorm brings regional rail service to halt.  Your products are going to be stuck sitting there until service is back online – potentially a few days.  If you have a relationship with a transport brokerage, however, one phone call could get you out of this bind. 

The “if you have a relationship” part is key because this means that your broker already knows your product, knows your business, and understands your equipment and transport requirements.  He or she can quickly match those requirements with available capacity, should it exist.  When the going gets rough, the last thing you want to do is take 20 minutes to explain who you are and what you do to a stranger – you want to get straight into action mode with someone who’s already in your corner. 

Additionally, communication is going to be vital to getting you out of this mess.  If you’re starting from scratch with a new broker, planning the logistical details could be a long and laborious process.  However, if you’re dealing with someone who knows your needs and speaks your language, your products can be back in motion quickly. 

Rely on Experienced Partners.  In addition to familiarity with your business, you need to be able to rely on the experience and expertise of your freight partner.  Many large transport brokerage houses are “freight factories” where freight coordinators, perhaps a year out of school, are learning on the job.  You don’t want your critical load to be a test case.  A better choice might be smaller (in office size, not capabilities) freight brokers where you can build a personal relationship with true freight specialists, many who’ve been managing freight for 20 or 30 years.  Such specialists can help you navigate both the good and bad periods of the bulk market with expert guidance.  

Procure capacity during lean times.  When capacity is tight, you’ll need all the help you can get.  You may find that the same freight-broker specialist that helps to guide your operation will also act as a tanker truck capacity ally – anticipating your needs before you realize you have them.  If, for example, you’ve had liquid bulk loads traveling up into remote areas of Michigan the past couple winters, a broker can use that information to procure capacity for you in advance of the next winter. 

Relationships are a two-way street, and a quality transport brokerage firm doesn’t just wait for customers to contact them.  It acts as extra sets of eyes and ears that are looking out for capacity on your behalf – an invaluable resource in a tight market. 

Get Personal with Your Freight Partners

While the phone may seem like an old and inconvenient way to communicate, the interpersonal relationships that develop over the phone can be your most effective means of solving a problem or securing capacity.  This is especially true when a freight specialist with decades of experience is on the other end of the line.

Bulk Connection just happens to be one of those smaller, specialty freight brokers with decades of experience.  If you see the value in a longer-term, more personal relationship with your freight partner, send us an email...on second thought, let’s talk on the phone. 

This entry was posted in Freight Brokerage by Betty King