Josh Christie is the VP of Marketing & Recruiting at D&L Transport
Are you with the best freight broker for your agency office? Are you having doubts about your current broker relationship?
Starting a new business relationship, probably after months of rigorous searching followed by considerable discussion, usually involves a timeframe of settling into the relationship. Along the way, there are bound to be some misunderstandings and a few intense discussions. What you perceived during the recruiting process may not have been what is being delivered after you transitioned your business.
Yet, over time, you settle into the arrangement, accepting the bad along with the good. Usually, since you did your homework before entering the relationship, you reach a status quo that’s generally an improvement over your previous arrangement. Yet, there can often be some troublesome aspects that aren’t quite what you’d like in an agency-broker relationship. Moreover, as the years go by, the relationship either improves or deteriorates. If it’s the latter, it can be like a steady if not a remorseless decline in many aspects of the agent-broker relationship.
We’ve titled this article the Top 6 Reasons to Move Your Freight Agency. But we also realize that the reasons are many, and the ways to address them number in the hundreds if not thousands. Yet, in our experience as both agents and top-line freight brokers, we’ve distilled the critical aspects of an agent-broker relationship into six crucial factors. We feel that you’ll find every one of the hundred or so reasons within this list.
It always comes down to how your business partners support you in any business relationship. Your freight broker needs to be your number one business partner. They should have 24/7 phone support with answers within minutes, not hours or worse days. Plus, that support should cover the entire gamut of your business needs, from operations to carriers to legal assistance.
For example, their accounting support should ensure invoices and payments match. And their full range of back-office services should meet your every need seamlessly. They should also answer questions that arise quickly, thoroughly, and in words you can understand. The response timeline is a domino effect. If your customer has a need, every delay along the path has a chain reaction impacting the deliverables. Your freight broker should never be the one holding up the process.
If your freight broker’s technology isn’t up to the tasks you face or if the training and support aren’t there, you will fall far behind your competitors. You also won’t be able to readily address your customers questions and requirements. Most importantly, delays in getting customers onboarded, rate confirmations issued, and loads quoted impact your bottom line.
This is one area where it’s too easy for a freight broker to fail to keep up with state-of-the-art software systems. It requires relentless development to keep up with advances or changes in the marketplace and the ever-evolving regulatory landscape. Not only that, but any implemented software changes can lead to further problems that can shut down your operation before they’re found and fixed. This also requires a freight broker to constantly have a dialogue with their agents to ensure technology gaps are identified early and resolved immediately.
The compensation side of things might be the one area working, or at least comparable to other options for your business. But what about the fees you’re charged? Can you do better with another freight broker? Some freight brokers don’t charge any fees at all.
Also, consider the timing of your commission payments. First, are they paid promptly, or is there all too often a delay in payment for one reason or another? Are your commissions being delayed based on the payment terms your customers have with your freight broker? Would it be better for your business to be paid weekly or twice monthly rather than monthly? Some freight brokers can match your payment requirements.
When you signed up with your current freight broker, they undoubtedly had an excellent credit rating and promptly paid carriers. Has that continued? In our turbulent times, all too many companies are struggling. Has that happened with your freight broker? Has your current freight broker’s payment practices jeopardized your carrier and customer relationships? Have delays in issuing customer credit caused you to miss out on opportunities?
Financial strength is just one aspect to consider. Does your current broker have a strong brand and stellar reputation in the freight industry? Or do you consider your own reputation to be stronger? That could mean it’s high time you found a broker that can add to your reputation rather than subtract.
Does your current freight broker have a culture of “yes”? Working from home can almost be considered normal in our post-COVID world. Yet it can be challenging to be a one-person band. That’s where the right freight broker can make all the difference. Their communication should be so spontaneous that it feels like they’re down the hall rather than across the country. Their first response to your questions should more likely be “yes” than “I don’t think so.” They should also be fun and bring a work hard, play hard attitude to everything.
Is that what you’re feeling with your current freight broker? Or do you dread calling them, knowing their attitude will be negative and do little to support you and your business? Do they micro-manage your operations and limit your ability to grow your business your way? This is a big reason to start looking at other freight broker programs.
Medical and dental insurance coverage can be pretty expensive. Then there are deductibles, co-pays, in-network doctors, out-of-network charges, and too many out-of-pocket expenses. If you’re purchasing the coverage yourself, joining a freight broker that offers group health benefits can be a sound move. Plus, it’s always wise to compare costs to ensure you’re not spending too much for too little coverage.
When was the last time you took a legitimate vacation? Some freight brokers have vacation coverage programs to provide the support needed to allow you and your family some time for a vacation. That can be a huge benefit and something to look for in a new freight broker if you don’t currently have it.
Ready to Move Your Freight Agency?
Everything on this list, individually or collectively, indicates that you need to examine other freight broker programs seriously. Could your business and livelihood benefit from a freight broker who champions the agent life because they’ve lived the life of an agent? You’ll be surprised at the improvements that can be found when you match your agency with the right freight broker.
We’re biased. We feel that our freight agency program is the best in the business.
To see for yourself, look at our Agent Opportunities page. You can also hear directly from our successful agents. BTW. You can even take a test drive. Try using us for a few loads a week, no strings attached. Get in touch, and we can get started.
D&L Transport. Your Family in Freight.