Building your trucking business takes an eye for the long haul.
Successful fleets are based on long-term partnerships with clients, not on one-time deals. Load boards may help you to find work quickly, but they can’t create the kind of steady, ongoing relationship that puts more money in your pocket. So take every chance you get to foster goodwill on the part of your customers. This isn’t just having the drivers take in donuts or cookies. Being reliable and keeping in close contact when problems arise is far more important than the goodies you send in for the shipping crew.
It’s commonly said that it takes 7 or 8 contacts before a new customer is likely to respond. Building long-term partnerships is a long game. To get a customer to know, like, and trust you will take time and effort on your part. It’s worth it in the end when they call you before posting the load on a load board.
It’s not only convenient for you to build relationships with shippers near your home. You’ll have the time and opportunities to meet the presidents of local industries or heads of the shipping departments through local civic events or business meet-ups like the Chamber of Commerce. It’s likely that you already have neighbors and friends who are in those big companies in your hometown, so ask around to see if you can find out names and contacts. Introduce yourself in a professional manner. Ask if they have a problem that you can solve – that goes a long way to building a respectful and successful shipping relationship.
The effort you put forth in building your trucking business will pay for itself many times over. This is especially important for small- and mid-sized trucking and logistics companies who can’t compete with the giant fleets on price alone. To stay in business, they have to go above and beyond in providing outstanding service. Forging relationships with clients is part of that service.
This advice isn’t limited to trucking fleets – owner operators can do the same things on a smaller scale. Tracking customers and seeking repeat loads isn’t just a sales rep’s job. Owner operators have to do the same thing. Having a 90-day cycle where you make contacts with your potential clients in a non-offensive way (don’t slam their inbox with unwanted emails!) can build up your client list that will withstand the lean months.
Here’s a 21st century way to make contact: find out their social media outlets and start to share things with them that are appropriate and valuable to them before you ever approach them about getting a load. This may take some sleuthing, but if you’ve got a Millennial in your corner, ask them to do it! Finding a Tumblr or Instagram account and opening your own to share images, ideas, and links is a modern way to start a relationship.
Think of a load board as a trucker’s version of MatchUp.com. When you do take a load, start a relationship with the shipper. Keep track of them and reach out on a regular basis with relevant information that’s valuable to them – not just when you’re going to be in their area. Make your contacts valuable – not spam.
There’s always the selfie: If you can get a shot of you and the loading crew and post it on your social media and link it to theirs, you’ve got a built-in connection that can be reused in the future. Don’t abuse it, but keep in touch.
At TruckingOffice, we’re committed to helping every trucker achieve success. That’s why we built it.
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