How And Why I Treat Brokered Car Shipments Like They Are My Own
One of the first things I learned to use to my advantage when describing our service to snowbirds was the fact that we are a carrier, not just a broker. Prospective snowbird customers have told us plenty of stories of getting screwed by brokers, many of which just didn’t know what they were doing, and some with names familiar to us who are established in the industry and should know better. As a carrier, we can confidently set ETAs for customers, and we let them know that brokers can’t always guarantee a spot on the truck. As a broker, you are gambling that you can find a spot for a customer on someone’s truck during the busiest season of the year, when snowbirds are doing their shipping. If you try to give a competitive and conservative quote, you are pushing the odds even further, since you will be trying to attract carriers to bid on your load at the time of year when demand for their services is at its peak. When you have your own trucks, you can make guarantees and stick to them, planning out a schedule ahead of time. This is part of why we offer a fair price, not too high, and not too low, so that you have peace of mind when the time comes.
As A Broker
When I became the broker as well, I had to stop thinking strictly in the way that a carrier thinks. I learned what not to do from selling people on using our carriers. I always use our own trucks first along the Eastern seaboard, as well as locally, and sometimes out to California. Otherwise, I use all outside carriers. One thing that sets me apart from the brokers I spoke about above is experience and knowledge. I never promise anything I can’t do, I talk to the carrier first, and I set expectations clearly from the start. Another big difference is clear communication; it might sound stupid, but, “We answer our phones,” is a powerful statement in our business. We also set up spreadsheets for our bigger clients so they have the ease and accessibility to get the information they need at a phone swipe away. Besides answering phones if there is an issue, we have made improvements in email ordering as well, and most of our customers prefer to send in their orders that way. When I receive an order, the customer gets a confirmation that I received it and an indication that I will let them know the order information shortly. Then they receive another email once the order has been entered into my system with the price, and then finally one last email when I have an ETA I can stand behind. I will then continue to follow up when the carrier should be delivering, and keep the customer notified if an issue arises in between point A and point B. I constantly communicate, making sure dealerships know everything I know about their orders as soon as possible.
The other big role on the broker side is interviewing new carriers to separate out who can confidently do the job and who is just telling you they can. We require at least 4 years of experience hauling cars from owner-operators or a company that has at least 100 ratings on Central Dispatch. Being a good judge of character isn’t always as simple as it sounds. I ask a lot of questions about past employers, and I do verify the answers. I will also ask what kind of equipment they use on a daily basis and listen more to how well they know their equipment rather than what it is, so long as it will get the job done.
While I may now be a broker, I treat every customer as if their vehicles are being shipped on our own trucks. At the end of the day, the customer is my responsibility, so I only use the sort of car carrier I trust with my name. I know every driver as if they were one of our own, and it’s these relationships along with constant communication that allow me to set proper expectations for customers and guarantee safe transport, even on brokered loads.