How You Can Fine-Tune Your Load Strategy and Build Mutually Beneficial RelationshipsDec 12, 2017 / Posted in Tell It Like It Is, Uncategorized
Bridge the Gap With Relationship
Finding loads is a constant challenge for anyone in the trucking industry. It can be even more of a challenge to find loads for new companies and businesses with smaller fleets. Instead of having an “I need to find loads quickly” mentality, shift your focus to building mutually beneficial relationships with clients. If this is a strategy you’ve yet to embrace, here are the steps you can take to go from simply finding loads to securing contracts.
Don’t Make Load Boards Your Only Strategy
Load boards, especially free ones, tend to get overcrowded quickly. To be fair, there are some benefits to using boards. However, constantly relying on them to get loads isn’t going to help you grow your trucking business. It’s best to make boards part of your strategy, not your entire source of revenue generation.
Know What Kind of Clients You Want to Attract
It’s easy for owner-operators and small business owners to get into the habit of just looking for any client. While you may be able to do fine financially with this strategy, it can quickly become a stressful way to manage your business.
Take a minute to define your clients. And it’s okay to turn down some loads as you establish your preferred client base. You’ll develop a better reputation if you’re more selective with the loads you’ll accept. Ideally, it’s a good idea to seek clients that meet the following criteria:
- They’re larger or established companies likely to have constant shipping and transport need
- They offer quick-pays (invoices paid quickly by the shipper)
- They have an appreciation for quality service, not just saving money (clients that don’t just want the cheapest trucking company)
- They ship to locations that can be conveniently serviced by your fleet
You may not find a client that allows you to check all of these things off your list. However, you should be able to find clients that meet some of these requirements if that’s where you focus your efforts.
Use Load Boards as a Starting Point
If you’re just getting started in this industry, boards can be a good way to find loads. However, as mentioned before, it can be a daunting task to keep jumping onto highly competitive boards to find loads. Plus, once you find a load, you’ll have to get back on boards to search for the next one. Instead, be smart about how you use boards by:
- Using boards to generate revenue as your business gets established
- Using part of your earnings from loads you get early on to put together a marketing strategy to attract contract clients
- Leaving promotional items (e.g., pens, pocket calendars) with your contact info when you visit shippers you find on boards (this way they’ll have your contact information if they have more loads)
- Exploring niche boards that cater to smaller and mid-size businesses or even ones that are for owner-operators
Reach Out to Potential Clients Directly
Don’t have the money to run a well-targeted marketing or ad campaign? A simple solution is to reach out to potential clients you want to work with. For instance, if you want to get contracts with supermarket chains, you would call or email supermarkets within your area. Sure, this can be hard work — and you’ll likely get a lot of “we already have someone, but thanks” type of responses. Even so, it can pay off if you’re persistent.
Get Established Within Industry-Specific Groups
There are plenty of industry-specific groups online that are active with blogs and message boards. But don’t just focus on trucking-related ones. By establishing a presence within the industries you wish to target, you may end up attracting the right kind of attention.
Consider the Government
The U.S. government is a huge shipper — and they pay well! Clients within this category include the U.S. Postal Service and all branches of the military. And many state and local government agencies and organizations do a lot of shipping.
Fill Cash Gaps With Freight Factoring
Freight factoring is a form of invoice factoring that both owner-operators and companies with fleets can use wisely in different ways. It’s a way to cover cash flow gaps while waiting for payments from shippers or freight brokers, which can come in handy if you don’t yet have a lot of quick-pay or contract clients. It can also be used to help absorb added expenses when there’s a need to add more drivers and use more resources for fuel when you get a sudden uptick in loads.
Keep Current Clients Happy
A key part of your load strategy should be to keep your existing clients happy. Accomplish this goal by placing an emphasis on customer service. Look for opportunities to go above and beyond what’s expected. Even things like sending follow-up emails or making calls to see if clients were satisfied with how you handled their last load can go a long way when it comes to relationship building.