I just got off the phone with one of my drivers. He had a few words to say about freight hauling. I just happened to be the one who got the earful.

Fuel may be down in price, but according to the driver, so are the loads. He said he’s having a rough time finding a load to bring back and he hates deadheading across the country. Who wouldn’t hate it? You take a huge loss in fuel and time – but is it worth picking up a load that won’t even cover the costs of the trip? “All you’re doing is encouraging customers to think that they can get cheaper shipping – at my loss,” he says.

This is a discussion you’ll hear at any truck stop on any night. Yeah, we like to complain about loads and the prices even in the best of times, but it’s summer. We want things to be better in the summer when we enjoy being on the road.

My Advice for Getting New Customers

for a trucker who’s looking for work is to look around your own town. Take some lazy afternoon trip through the local industrial parks and write down the names of potential customer companies – especially the ones with good, big docks. This is really a good idea for whenever or wherever you find yourself. Breaking in a new customer often takes several contacts, so start a list and keep filling it up. I don’t know this for certain, but it seems to me that I have about seven contacts with a shipping manager before he or she even recognizes my name.

Customer acquisitionI’ll share a trick with you. I look up the company on LinkedIn.com and see if I can find out who the shipping manager or logistics director (or whatever they get called these days – everyone uses a different title anymore) and get a phone number. Then I’ll call the company and ask for that person by name. That’s always the best way to get to someone – know the names – but just as often, I don’t know it and can’t find it. So I call and ask. “Who’s in charge of shipping?”

Sometimes I have to deal with the “Press 1, Press 2” computer phone system, but eventually, I get a person and ask.

I often get the name. Might not get through to that person, but now, with a name, I can start trying to reach out. Lots of times, the LinkedIn information will have some kind of contact email – I’ll try to use that name and the email address and see if I can get through.

Just how often do I send out an email? Anytime I know I’ll be in the area.

Joe,

I’ll be in your neighborhood on Tuesday dropping off a load. If you need a reliable and safe driver, you can give me a call and I’ll be glad to have a chance to show you how well I can meet your logistics needs.

Allen from My Trucking Firm

Not much to it, but it doesn’t need to be. It always helps to have a personal relationship with the shippers, but just as often, I’m just another trucker coming and going out. That’s okay too. I still get paid.

Next week: Getting the first load, getting repeat loads

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