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9 Questions Freight Brokers Should Ask Shippers for a Lasting Partnership

Posted by IndustrySelect on Wednesday, May 5, 2021



The partnership between freight brokers and shippers is a constant dance. A dependable shipper may become less reliable if conditions within the manufacturing company prevent it from keeping a regular shipping schedule.

Even if you already have a portfolio of excellent shippers, you may want to increase your options by exploring new opportunities. The following are some questions that will help you determine whether a manufacturer is a good fit for your current portfolio.

Learn About Your Potential New Partner

1. What complications do you experience when shipping freight?

Shippers enjoy talking about their challenges. Listen carefully and take notes, as their answers will help you decide if the manufacturer would be a good partner. The notes will also provide insight into how your company could better fit the shipper’s needs.

2. What are your current freight brokers doing well?

Sometimes, the answer will be simple, such as, “I like that our current freight broker has refrigerated trucks.” Other times, the answer will be more subtle, such as, “Our current freight broker has been on our contract for 25 years.”

In the first case, you can inform the customer about your refrigerated services.

In the second case, ask about the customer’s bidding process, unless you sense that the real reason for a lack of competition reflects a lack of interest in bidding a new contract. If you don’t sense hesitancy, ask if you can bid on the contract the next time it is up for grabs.

3. What would your ideal freight broker look like?

Perhaps the shipper wishes that they could have one broker handle different types of loads, such as heavy equipment and boxes. Or, maybe the customer wants a freight broker that can pick up after normal business hours so that operations aren’t disrupted.

Again, this is your chance to shine. If your company can meet some of these needs better than the current carrier, you may have a new partnership.

Ensure That Your Needs Will be Met

1. Will this company help me meet my goals?

Every manufacturing shipper has key metrics, whether it is loads per day, value of loads or total contract value. Use your notes to evaluate whether a particular supplier will help you meet your metrics.

2. Will This Company Help my Bottom Line?

Freight brokers can't run in the red and remain in business. Once in a while, you might run a losing load for a key customer, but you know that you can make it up on future shipments. You don’t want to start a new shipper in the red, though.

Check your notes to see if this contract will make money for your company. Will the manufacturer have a steady stream of full loads? Will it give you a foothold into a new geographical or industrial arena?

3. Does the Manufacturer Mesh With My Current Technology?

Some manufacturers have the latest technology installed. They track boxes electronically and prepare shipments digitally to help you quote accurately. When you pick up the load, they automatically print a hard copy of the paperwork and send an electronic copy to you.

Other manufacturers haven’t gone that far down the technology path yet. However, they have plenty of labor to load your driver quickly. Their shipment requests may be handwritten, but they are accurate. They may not even send electronic payments, but they pay within 30 days.

Whatever method they use, verify that it will work with your technology and processes.

Meet in the Middle

1. How many loads do you ship each month?

Say the customer usually ships one load per month. That’s not really enough to make the company a profitable partner, but what if they buy all of the parts from another manufacturer? They could offer you that inbound freight contract. Combined, the two contracts meet both your needs and those of your potential new partner.

2. How much flexibility is built into your shipping schedule?

Usually, a potential shipper is not very flexible about pick-up dates. Maybe they're a small manufacturer and don’t have the floor space for finished products to sit. However, another manufacturer may be very flexible about delivery dates, as the final product is one of many that go into a larger finished product. If you can give a delivery window within two weeks, they can notify the next manufacturer down the line. Everyone can plan schedules and still make a profit.

3. Who performs the day-to-day freight operations?

Don’t worry! Your contact person won’t be offended by the question. Sometimes, the person with the title performs the work. Often, one or more other employees handle the actual work regarding freight brokers.

You want to get to know all contacts to create a successful partnership. Your new shipping partner will also want an additional contact person or two in your freight broker company.

Enable Stronger Partnerships with the Right Data

While there are many more questions involved in working out the details, these questions will help you decide whether a new shipper partnership will benefit both you and the companies that you contact.

IndustrySelect is the ultimate resource for freight brokers to connect with shippers. Get comprehensive profiles of 300,000 freight shippers and a half million executive contacts. Freight brokers can find contact information for freight shippers sorted by location, size, industry and other options. With this database on hand, you can reach the decision-maker directly and discuss a possible new partnership with them. To try a free, fully functional demo database, click here


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