There’s a reason most Independent Owner Operators have relationships with freight brokers: They don’t have the time and resources it takes to find a steady stream of loads, in addition to time and resources it takes to haul a steady stream of loads. That’s not even counting the time and resources it takes to manage loads from point to point.
Lisa Lowery with Birmingham, Alabama-based Baggett Services — where revenues today are more than ten times what they were before 2010— points to the sheer volume of busy-work she handles for drivers.
“Number one would be cold calling,” she says. In other words, building a strong network of quality customers who need the kind of freight shipped that pays well. One of Baggett’s main sources for quality loads over the past few years has been the commercial Aerospace industry. Not the easiest market to crack, but certainly a very good one, once you’ve proven yourself.
Another time-consuming task would be building and maintaining a Rate Matrix. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, a Rate Matrix is a hauler’s per-mile price on a state-by-state basis. It’s a relatively new concept to the industry, but one that more and more shippers require from brokers as a reference point when comparing prices for loads. And naturally, the more brokers have to compete on price, the less time and energy they can afford to dedicate to service — and the more valuable a broker’s computer-automated support becomes.
“In just the past year alone, our business has become a lot more computer-driven,” says Lowery. And while the percentage of truckers with smartphones and tablets rose, according to CCJ, from 30% in 2011 to 80% by the end of 2014, “most drivers still aren’t that interested in using technology to manage the kind of work we do for them every day.”
One big reason drivers may be reluctant to rely more on technology for their business is the number of bad stories connected to Load Boards. The main reason for that? Lack of reliable information, through Load Boards, about Brokers. And, for that matter, about Carriers.
Charlie Myers — a 35+ year industry veteran and President, from 2002 to 2008 of Getloaded.com — believes the industry’s future is in the Marketplace concept, where quality information is freely available to everyone interested in connecting online. “Trust is a huge issue in our business, and information is the key to building trust.
“In the ideal online marketplace, both parties benefit. Carriers should be able to see what loads a broker has, and brokers should have easy access to critical background info on carriers that’s published by the government — from their CSA scores to their safety ratings and insurance coverage. Most importantly, in that marketplace, everyone has the opportunity to offer candid ratings and feedback about their working experiences.
“That kind of Open Information environment has a great way of attracting quality partners, and driving out the people who give our industry a bad name,” Myers continues. And while the overwhelming majority of brokers and carriers are honest business people, just about anyone in the business has been burned at least once.
How long before the marketplace concept takes hold? Stay tuned.
SUMMARY: Advice for independent carriers looking to expand their network of quality brokers and shippers, from the developers of Trucker Path — an App which is now accepting members to its Truckloads trucking marketplace.