Freight Agents work as intermediaries between shippers and carriers to arrange logistics services. They negotiate rates, book shipments, and manage logistics on behalf of their clients (watch Kevin’s insider perspective). However, as an integral role of transportation logistics, being a Freight Agent also yields common challenges. Keep reading to uncover four of them and how Agents can overcome them.
To secure new clients, Agents must decide how much to charge for their services (check out our secrets on how to negotiate for maximum profit). This generates one of the most common challenges in the industry.
Common Challenge: Inconsistent Pricing
Shippers are usually looking for the best offer to boost their bottom line. However, prices are often inconsistent within the market. If a Freight Agent’s prices are too low, it makes it challenging to find carriers within a limited budget. Low-balling also makes it difficult to keep a freight agency afloat financially. In contrast, if prices are too high, shippers will be reluctant to sign on the dotted line.
Solution: Use Data
Each shipper and load is unique, so it is not reasonable to have flat rates for each new prospect. Pricing must always be considered in light of the current market. The best way to determine pricing is to use real-time market data. At Kopf, we provide our Agents with industry-leading Transportation Management System (TMS) technology to simplify the entire shipping process. Tools like TMS technology allow Agents to have the most current pricing information to be competitive and fair to shippers, carriers, and your agency.
For a Freight Agent, carriers are essentially an extension of themselves. Therefore, a Freight Agent must have good relationships with their carriers – including rapport, effective communication, and so forth.
Common Challenge: Limited Carrier Base
Many Freight Agents have a limited carrier base and rely exclusively on load boards. This is a reactive strategy and can be detrimental. An Agent with a small carrier network limits their potential to grow.
Solution: Build Healthy Relationships and Network
First, Freight Agents should be sure to build healthy relationships with their current carriers. How? View carriers as you would your customers. Treat them with respect, communicate clearly, and show appreciation. Second, Agents must also continually network and expand their carrier base. This allows their agency to provide the best service to their customers.
Excellent customer service is centered on excellent communication. In fact, poor communication is one of the primary reasons Freight Agents lose perspective and current customers.
Common Challenge: Being an Effective Communicator
Some Freight Agents struggle to actively listen, overpromise, or are defensive. These common communication mistakes stem from focusing on one’s self rather than one’s customers. For instance, there will be problems with deliveries from time to time, but it is ineffective to be defensive. Similarly, it is tempting to overpromise, but if you underdeliver, you will likely lose a customer.
Seek to understand in every conversation and continually strive to build relationships. You can do this by actively listening. How? By avoiding distractions, paraphrasing, and asking clarifying questions. Additionally, you can be proactive instead of defensive. If a load is delayed, let the shipper know how you are resolving the situation before they call you. You can also ensure all parties involved have the same expectations and information by confirming details in advance. It takes practice to grow in communication, but if you are willing to do so, you will always improve.
Technology is a useful tool, but it can also be hard to keep up with. It is always changing and Freight Agents may not feel they have the time to invest in learning new strategies or tools.
Common Challenge: Adapting to New Technology
If an Agent feels he has been successful at manually entering data or doing paperwork, the idea of navigating something new is overwhelming and may seem unnecessary. But these may not be the best tools and an agency may be missing out on increased profit margins, clients, and even time.
Solution: Adjust Your Mindset
Instead of focusing on frustration, consider the benefits of technology. It is worthwhile to take advantage of new technology in order to streamline day-to-day operations while becoming more competitive. Technology can help reduce errors, provide real-time data, and set up helpful automations. For instance, TMS technology provides automated shipment tracking and data on current pricing trends. This is where working with a freight brokerage who cares about seeing their Agents succeed is beneficial. At Kopf, we provide our Agents with the best technology and are available 24/7 to support them.
Skilled Freight Agents are aware of common challenges, but they become top performers because they are self-motivated, effective communicators, and problem solvers. They see pricing, communication, and technology as opportunities to improve. And you can too! Implement the solutions above to help accelerate your success.
Are you an Independent Freight Agent with a book of business who needs more tools to succeed? Apply here or give us a call at 574.349.5600 to learn how you can get recruited today.