If you ask a Freight Sales person what it takes to bring a customer on board to their company they would tell you it takes an act of God. They have to make first contact, set an appointment to meet with the perspective client, ask a lot of questions, listen to what the customer needs, give them a great pitch on whatever they’re selling and hope they make the sale. This typically doesn’t happen on a first meeting. Then there’s follow ups, bending there promises, shaping, molding and hoping that the promises they made to that customer will hold true when it’s time to deliver. It’s not an easy task but as a Freight Sales Rep, they have the support of a whole team of people behind them to deliver on the promises made.
When you’re a freight Agent, you have to do everything mentioned above other than the face to face meetings. You’re not going to get a Sales Rep to do your job for you. So if you think their job is tough, imagine doing this from your office. You have to have a game plan. When I train potential agents, there first job is to come up with 100 potential customer contacts so they’re not wasting valuable time looking around for places to call when they are first starting out. Finding customers is the toughest part of this job and it’s imperative to stay on course thru out your career making calls every day. The day you get complacent thinking you have enough customers will be the first day of a downward cycle that would be hard to recover from when things get slow and you have no freight to move. Your first step is going to be deciding what type of customer you want. My first attempt as an Agent lasted 3 years and abruptly ended when I lost my largest customer due to them losing theirs. I was devastated; my other customers just didn’t have as much freight to move compared to what I had lost. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t get back to where I was when I lost my largest customer. When the money ran out, I had to give up my dream of working at home and go back into the workforce as a dispatcher for a trucking company.
Looking back, I realized that even though I had a few small customers that would give me freight to move sporadically, my large customer is what payed the bills. Most of my time and effort went into making sure this customer was happy. What I wasn’t doing was making calls on new customers as I thought the ones I had would last forever. Large customers are great for your business but if you lose them for whatever the reason might be, it’s going to hurt your bottom line tremendously. Another point I would like to bring up is large customers take up a lot of your time, not that this is the worst thing in the world but let’s be realistic here, your one person working out of a home office. Do you really want to put all your eggs in one basket? When I started my second venture as an Agent, I made a few changes!
The first thing I did when I started was to call my old customers back to get back into the rotation of getting some of their freight. That went pretty smooth as they were all happy with my service the first time. That was great because I now I had money coming in. The second thing was to set aside a few hours a day to call on new potential customers. I wasn’t looking for that million dollar customer this time. I wanted that mid-sized customer. At this point, I was looking for 5 or 6 customers that would give me a few loads a week as to spread my customer base out a bit. That way if I lost one, the pain of losing a customer wouldn’t hurt as bad. It took about 8 months to build up a nice database of manageable customers and I had enough freight coming in weekly to make a nice living. I had also set aside some time every day to call on new customers. Between moving loads, tracking loads and calling on new customers. I actually had a nice little business going.
I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that as nice as it may be to land that big customer, they’re not always the way to go when your starting out. By no means am I saying that you should pass up an opportunity with any customers, but tread lightly with the larger ones. They will take up more of your time and more often than not, they will need special care. If they get bought out, go bankrupt or any other reason, you will find yourself scrambling to make up for the lost freight. Instead, work on gaining smaller customers. The rewards will be the same as far as your income is concerned but the biggest difference is, if you lose a smaller customer, your whole business won’t go with them. I’ve learned a lot in the time I’ve been moving freight, I’ve made plenty of mistakes. It’s the mistakes I’ve made along the way that I’ve learned the most from. Hopefully you can take something from my mistakes and learn what not to do. And I promise you will make your own along the way, but remember mistakes are part of the game and as long as you learn from them, it will make you a better Agent/Broker. Let me know if you like my post. I’m always here.