Great indignation is felt by many brokers in our industry. We are perceived as distrustful, untruthful, unnecessary middle-people. Capacity is higher than ever and the popular play for many customers I speak to every day is the pursuit of relationships solely with asset-based carriers. Thus many brokers fulfill their own prophecy, and become that which they defend against: unnecessary.
How can it be overcome? What makes a broker valuable enough to pay to be in the middle of a customer’s relationship with a carrier?
Servant-hearted leadership. As the name implies, a servant-hearted broker places the customer’s and carriers needs above their own. We realize that without your needs, we have none of our own.
When the equation only involves a truck and a customer, both parties are ultimately invested in themselves. As such, things like breakdowns “just happen” and must be accepted, often without immediate solutions.
When is a servant-hearted broker in between this is not the case because both parties are protected and constantly reinforced.
The truck is going to be late due to an accident or weather and we don’t find out about it until 2300? The broker will answer their phone when that driver calls, contact that consignee to adjust to still ensure OTD, and make the customer aware of it all by 2330.
The truck backed into a sinkhole disabling the power unit and back axle of the trailer? (Yes, that happened.) The broker’s relationship is strong enough with that dedicated carrier for them to understand that the trailer repair will be followed up by a trailer interchange with a different power unit to ensure on-time delivery still occurs.
An asset based carrier’s number one concern is their business, as it should be. A customer’s number one concern is their business, as it should be. A servant-hearted broker’s business comes in a distant third to the needs of the carriers and customers because we understand that is the only way to become indispensable.
Here’s the thing, if we don’t give customers a reason to need us, they justly don’t. If customers are not used to an optimal level of service on a 24-hour level that some have called inhuman, then how we can expect them to know what we can deliver?
When carrier relationships are so strong that trucks are contracted exclusively with the brokerage, the service delivered is unparalleled. Those relationships can’t be build with carriers without genuine care for the human beings we work with every day. The carrier/broker relationship should be long term, just like that of a customer and a broker. Customers and consignees can rest assured that they will see the same faces at their docks week in and week out, while the carriers can rest assured that their trucks will keep rolling while being treated with respect and professionalism.
A servant-hearted broker is not only the glue that ties customers and carriers together, but the fuel needed to stoke the fire of productivity long term.