Josh Christie is the VP of Marketing & Recruiting at D&L Transport
Growing your freight agency can be very challenging. There are several options and paths to success. But there are also a few tried-and-true ways to grow your Freight Agency. This article captures what we feel are the top eight.
1. Set Realistic Goals — In Writing
You have a business plan, right? It’s not something to build once to obtain financing and then place in a drawer. Instead, it must be reviewed and revised often to help guide your business. It’s the perfect place to record your short-term and long-range goals. Just the act of writing down your goals can help motivate you to make any needed changes and move closer to your target. Follow this with tracking your results, assessing what works and what doesn’t, and making the required adjustments.
2. Build Strong Client Relationships
If you lose clients, you will have a tough time growing your business. One-in, one-out customer relationships will keep your business at a stand-still or begin to show a decline. It would be best to nurture those relationships, so your current customers stick with you even when things get tough. Working with clients daily and week after week, attending to their shipping needs will build trust. Those solid and trusting relationships can also lead to referrals. That, in turn, will often lead to new customers showing up to see what all the praise is about.
Check in on a personal level. This builds trust. People do business with people they like. The feeling that they can connect with in a business ‘partner’ relationship versus a ‘vendor’ relationship can build long-lasting partnerships. An added benefit to this is building a referral network of future opportunities. People refer business to people they trust.
3. Focus on Client Communication
A big part of building strong client relationships is well-developed communication. That includes communicating at every stage throughout the shipping journey. Keep clients informed even if it is bad news, such as delays. They want and need to know as quickly as possible. If you’re keeping them in the loop, there’s not much chance they’ll shoot the messenger but instead consider you a true partner.
Listening is also a big part of the communication process. Take the time to develop the patience to listen closely to clients. That way, they know you’re paying attention, and you can spot any concerns and address them before they become a real problem.
Check in regularly with customers, not just when shipping challenges require it. Relationships are the most critical aspect of our business. Without them, your business can’t grow and thrive.
4. Dedicate Time to Sales
Day-to-day shipping tasks can easily keep you and your staff busy around the clock. And while it keeps your current clients happy, it does nothing to grow your business. It would be best if you carved out weekly or daily time to find new customers. That can be a few hours that are marked on your calendar and dedicated to prospecting for new clients. Look, too, at diversifying your client base to help when business wanes in one industry and, ideally, waxes in another.
To find that time, you may need to bring in a part-time employee to help with administrative and organizational duties. Any minor tasks you shoulder on a regular basis take time away from efforts that can help you grow your business. These minor tasks add up quickly until you eventually look up and realize the collective of minor tasks has become a major block to your productivity. Accomplishing these minor tasks may feel like you’re getting something accomplished, but in reality these are false wins taking focus off your greater objective.
Another thing to work on is your marketing, including updating your website and looking into social media options to get the word out about your business. Generating organic and paid traffic through a strategic SEO/SEM strategy helps to complement outbound sales efforts. Ensure you have a solid system for capturing leads and information relevant to providing timely quotes.
5. Tap Your Support System — Don’t Attempt to Fly Alone
As an Independent Agent, it’s easy to feel that you must do it all alone. Instead, make sure you have the support you need. Hiring an administrative assistant or adding another Agent to your business is a great way to build your internal support system and scale your business.
Also, make sure you take every advantage of your Freight Broker relationship. They should have 24/7 on-call back-office support and offer problem-solving advice and assistance on a wide range of issues. In today’s world, response time is critical. Operating 9 am to 5 pm based on geography is no longer a viable business philosophy.
6. Use the Best Tools Possible — Technology is a Differentiator
Make sure you’re using all the technology possible to save time and serve your clients with the best shipping options. Your freight broker should provide a TMS, load boards, and training and maintenance. Leverage lead generation software and business-specific social media platforms to research potential contact lists. It’s essential to take advantage of every tool available.
7. Develop Your Logistic Expertise — Never Stop Learning
Things are ever-changing in the logistics industry. With your day-to-day tasks, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, from developing trends to new shipping options. Yet this is why your customers come you to as the industry expert. You’ll also need to be informed to make the right decisions for your agency.
There are several ways to keep up to date, including attending industry events (in-person and virtual), engaging in professional networking, reading industry publications, listening to podcasts, and taking advantage of your freight broker’s training and resources.
Consistently enhancing your industry understanding helps you confidently communicate with your customers. You will find this to be most effective during tense problem solving or negotiation.
8. Partner with a Reliable Freight Broker
Many of the suggestions above for growing your Agency center around your Freight Broker’s support and systems. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to fall into a Freight Broker relationship that is more long-term than high performing. It may have sounded good at the start, and maybe it was good. But since then, things have gone downhill. It’s always tough to change. But this is one critical area that could be hindering your Agency’s growth.
If you feel this is the case with your current freight broker, check out our article Does Your Freight Agent Program Meet Your Current Needs?
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. Then, get in touch, and we can get started on a fast, easy transition.
Call toll-free: 866.559.0203. Or complete the form at D&L Agent Requirements.
D&L Transport. Your Family in Freight.