The freight brokerage industry is booming. There are more than 17,000 licensed freight brokers in the United States, according to the Journal of Commerce. With the rise of Uber Freight and other digital freight brokerages, competition is fierce.
When customers have many options to choose from, what makes a broker stand out above the rest? We spoke with 3 successful businesses to hear their freight broker secrets.
1. Scotlynn USA: Specialize, then grow with what you know
The first of our freight broker success stories is Scotlynn USA, which began as an outgrowth of Scotlynn Sweet-Pac Growers. Scotlynn’s goal? To position itself as the trucking and brokerage company for hauling perishable products.
“We began as a grower in Canada and had our own fleet to transport our own produce. As a winter produce specialist, we had our trucks just sitting in the summer and fall seasons, so we brokered out our trucks in our slow seasons,” said Kodie Yost, a logistics account manager at Scotlynn.
Specializing in an area of freight brokerage that they knew well enabled them to provide a superior level of customer service.
“Our attention to detail, and our deep understanding of the produce industry also helped us deliver a customer experience that most trucking companies couldn't come close to matching. Our roots as a grower-shipper gave us a distinct advantage, and helped us get a foot in the door with other power players in the industry.”
As their reputation for produce transportation excellence grew, demand for their other services grew organically as well. Soon they were being contacted for logistics service by other similar industries, like dry foods. They formed their own transportation department to handle the increased demand.
The takeaway: Focus on core strengths, and when you see unused capacity in your business, take advantage of it.
2. Alliance Logistics: Share your knowledge
Brandon Scott from Alliance Logistics has a Youtube channel with almost 20,000 subscribers. When you Google “Freight Brokers,” his videos appear on the first page, and his channel is the place many people start when they want to know the basics, like, "How does freight brokering work?”
Through Brandon’s videos, Alliance has found a unique way to advertise its freight brokerage: giving back to the community by offering education and training. It’s a unique way to get eyes on their brand name that stands out from the usual freight broker sales letter or email.
The videos can do dual duty: they offer useful information to those who want to grow their freight brokerage businesses, while showcasing his expertise. Many people who land on his videos are potential customers. When they need freight services, Brandon and Alliance will be top of mind.
The takeaway: You’re the expert at your business. Share your knowledge! Your customers will appreciate it, and it’ll double as a great marketing technique.
3. Chariot Logistics: Focus on your customers
Joe DiLeo founded Chariot Logistics in 2012. He believed that brokers consistently put their organization’s short term benefit above the customers they served, and he wanted to change that.
Early in his career, Joe received a piece of advice: “You are profitable off of customers, not loads.”
Joe took that advice to heart and has made a point to keep Chariot’s focus on their customers. Since then, Chariot has grown into a multimillion dollar business.
He hired friends he could trust and started to build better relationships with carriers. He invested in a communication model (using Front!) to support customers and carriers 24/7.
“When something goes wrong and there’s a surprise, an app can’t fix that. There needs to be somebody who can come into the situation with a human approach. That's what we do: we fix problems for customers,” Joe said.
The takeaway: Think, “How many customers are we serving?” not, “How many shipments are we sending?” By reframing every goal around your customers, you’ll make better decisions and create loyal customers.
Last but not least: keep consistent
In one of his videos, Brandon from Alliance Logistics said consistency is the key to success for freight brokers.
“The difference between someone who's great and someone who is a one-hit wonder is that the person who's great has found a formula,” he said. “They didn't do it just one time, they've been able to do it over and over and over again for a long period of time.”