I often hear that brokerages want to post less, improve their workflow, and have a carrier mix that makes sense.
The biggest challenges of having a strong carrier base are typically time and tech. Even if load board carriers are critical for your same day freight, or your freight mix is spot heavy, making a carrier development plan can still be relatively simple.
Companies that are service focused sometimes feel they don’t always have the right TMS or bandwidth to manage carrier relationships. Naturally covering freight becomes more reactive where reps consider their go-to’s as the top 2-3 carriers that they can remember or are used to booking.
I’ve been on the front lines and know what it’s like to have the same difficult load every week, no carriers, and 60 calls ahead of me.
Set a goal and stick with it
Whether it’s to do more business with your existing network, grow your carrier base with new ones, or reducing those one-time transactions, setting a goal is key for when the work actually starts to stay on track.
Carrier fall-offs and working for today makes it easy to get derailed, so it’s important to start small. Increasing carrier utilization by 5% is a good goal to kick off with since that includes a mix of your existing network and new ones. Measuring the load count week over week, or month over month, and creating a portfolio helps outline the impact of carrier development.
You’ll start to see which carriers need more work, and how each one has an effect on your margin or service, depending on what you’re measuring.
Work through lanes and not transactions
Aligning your goals with a carrier’s interests usually starts with a phone call, although there’s more to it than just having a phone number.
Knowing the area code, or headquarters is a great indicator for the carrier’s haul direction – headhaul or backhaul. Finding their preferred lanes and how often they run in an area also helps you stand out and show that you’re not just another broker asking if they have a truck.
Keeping track of how many times they run a lane, or what days, will also help you prioritize the next best carrier to call based on how often they’ll be around.
Covering lanes and not loads gives a broader range of coverage for positioning the right carriers and avoiding those who say they’ll go “everywhere”.
Turn inbound calls into partnerships
Using load boards as more of an introductory tool is a great way to build your carrier base.
When a carrier calls in, the immediate reaction is to answer the question – “no the load is covered” – and hang up. You may try jotting down a few things about the carrier like MC, name, and a rate, but soon after the sticky note is thrown away or that carrier is lost in a notebook or spreadsheet and you’re left wondering – who called 2 days ago?
Making these carriers a part of your regular routine and adding them to your carrier development plan is an easy path to building out your carrier mix. Gathering information about the carrier, their lanes, their HQ, and frequency makes the next call even more valuable since you know more about them than the first time they called in.
As you make carrier development a part of your every day routine, higher service, elevated visibility, and a lower cost per load will start to pan out. Being open to new methods other than “post and hope” and working towards a goal will set your team up for success to improve your booking workflow.