“It’s all in who you know,” is the old proverb. That’s probably right – you need to create a relationship with a shipper so they’ll think of you when they have a shipment going out.

Last week, I talked about sending emails to a potential new customer. That works, but it takes time. Finding a name of a person through LinkedIn can speed up the process. The real key isn’t all the contacts, calls, etc. The key is my first load for them.

The first time I get a load from a new customer, I want to make a great first impression. Not good. Not good enough. I’ll be sure to clean up before I go – me and my truck. All of my gear will be in good condition and properly stowed.

Most Important Rule to Get a New Customer

I will be there ON TIME.

For a new customer, be on time.I can’t tell you how important that is on the first trip. Getting there when I say I will is important, but being there promptly makes a strong first impression. I’m going to make sure I stick in their minds for the future.

You can’t predict the roads. One time, with a first load, I got stuck in heavy traffic – big wreck closed off the highway in both directions. I sat and listened to the radio for way too long with nothing else to do. I knew the chances of me getting the load to the receiver were disappearing with every minute. So I called the customer and told him the situation. Told him that I had no idea how much longer this was going to take and it seemed likely that 3:00 p.m. delivery was not going to make it today. It didn’t.

But you know, I didn’t lose that customer. By letting them know what my status was and how long the delay would be (next morning, 5:30 a.m., I was at their door!) they knew I wasn’t hanging out somewhere wasting my time. When everyone knows what’s going on, no one has to get all mad about it.

Sometimes they do. But not that day. I got another load from them. And another.

I didn’t know that shipping manager very well to start out with, but in the long run, we had a good working relationship.

Keeping Customers with TruckingOffice

Once you get a new customer, it can be easy to forget him.  You’ve only done one load – made a good first impression – but I need keep up with them so they don’t forget me, either.

That’s why TruckingOffice has a way for me to find out which customers I’ve been missing.  Using our reports, I can sort my list of loads I’ve been hauling by customer.  I can scan that list for customers I’ve only worked for once or twice – those are the customers I need to make an effort to contact again. The best part is that I can do it from my tablet or my cellphone – wherever I have wifi.  So if I’m in the area, that note to an older or a new customer reminding them of my availability can go out right away.

Building up my customer base is a weekly task.  I’m always looking out for new contacts.  As an owner-operator and as a fleet manager, that was my job as much as it was to make sure the bills were paid and the invoices sent out.  It’s not a fast cycle.  Every 90 days, I’m starting again, but that’s how it works.

How do you find new customers?

Don’t forget – 30 day free trial of TruckingOffice Trucking Management Software.