(Editor’s note: This is the first of a four-part series that will appear each Monday. The series is by Kevin Rutherford and will promote ways to be successful in your broker relationship.)
I had a caller on the radio show recently that made me lose my cool a little bit. I want to talk about that because there’s a really good lesson in this call. I went back and listened to it and thought about why I was frustrated with it. I want to make it really clear, I’m not picking on the caller. In fact, I want to thank the caller for having the guts to call in and voice his opinion. He may not want my help, but this is a teaching moment. This is a time where we can really find a good business lesson and a lot of people can learn from this.
Now he was clearly frustrated, you could hear it in his voice. Frustration can be a really powerful tool if you use it in the right way. Many people don’t, they just continue to be frustrated over and over. When you’re frustrated, you are very close to a breakthrough. If you will keep an open mind, look for solutions, push through the frustration, and try something different — it can change everything.
I have shared the secret to success many times. If you’ve listened to any of my seminars, very seldom does a seminar ever go by that I don’t use this line. The reason I use it so often and repeat it is because it is absolutely true. If you can learn and understand this concept at your core level — you will succeed. Not just, “Oh, yeah, I’ve heard that and I know it,” but really deep down understand this. On the surface it seems really simple, most good concepts are really simple.
So here it is, it’s the secret to success. I say secret facetiously because this isn’t a secret, it’s been around forever. The way you succeed every time in any business is simply this: you provide the most value you can possibly provide to your customers.
Now there are people that have probably heard me say that at least a hundred times. I’m sure I’ve said it a thousand or more and that’s not an exaggeration. I say it to myself, I write it down, I say to people I meet, I say it in seminars, and I say it on the air. The reason for that is because it is so incredibly powerful. If you want to succeed in any business, you provide the most value you can possibly provide to your customers.
Now how you do that is where things get difficult. Understanding it is really simple, doing it in the real world is difficult. If it were easy everybody would be doing it. Very few people and companies do this.
This is why the caller yesterday was so frustrated. This is why owner-operators in general are so frustrated. They have a difficult time understanding this concept for one simple reason — they’ve never identified their customer. This guy clearly does not have a customer. If you look at his business model the way he explained it to me, he has no customer. Without a customer how do you provide value? Without providing value to a customer you can’t be successful and you’re going to be frustrated.
It is very common in this industry to believe that you are the customer of the broker. That is totally backwards. The caller even said, “I paid them.” I’ve been in this business a very long time and I’ve done a lot of accounting and tax returns for owner-operators and fleets. I don’t see them writing checks to the broker. That’s how you identify your customer, it’s really easy. Whose check are you cashing? Whose check are you putting in the bank? Whose check are you living on and providing for your family? That’s your customer. I just don’t see owner-operators writing checks to brokers, it’s the other way around. The broker writes the check to you, the carrier. That makes them your customer.
He started off telling me — and this is why I got a little touchy on this — how to run my business and my show. I’m pretty clear about my business and my show. Providing value is what I wake up and try to do every single day. Yes, I fall down, but I get right back up and I try to figure out how to do it again. One of the ways I provide value to you, my customer, the people who pay my bills, buy my products, and come to my events is to help you run your business better. That’s what I do.
When he called in on the new show Broker Connect, he immediately started saying, “You can’t let those brokers come on your show and talk about customer service because it’s all talk. They don’t provide any service.” I didn’t even know where he was coming from in the beginning, I was confused. He just kept telling me, “You can’t let them do that.” I get a little touchy about that. I absolutely can let them do that. First off, it’s my show and my business. Secondly, this is what we need.
He kept saying, “Brokers don’t provide customer service, they just talk about it.” That’s absolutely not true. I just told you how you succeed in business. There are a lot of bad brokers out there that aren’t very successful. In fact, the majority of them are either bad or just so-so. That’s every business I run into. Businesses are either just lousy or they’re just OK. Then you have that small percentage that are outstanding.
They’re excellent at what they do. That is the 1 percent that you hear me talk about. The brokers who provide outstanding customer service, are the ones who are successful. Not the majority by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re out there and they are providing customer service. He doesn’t see it because he’s not their customer.
The shipper is their customer. I’ve said this before, shippers like brokers. That’s why they’re not going away. You always have that opportunity to go compete with them. That’s the problem here. That’s why he’s frustrated and why he kept telling me, “You can’t let them come on the show and talk about customer service.” Well that’s exactly what the show is about. The show is about how we come together. Brokers and carriers coming together, working together, and brainstorming to provide outstanding customer service to our mutual customer. We have a business-to-business model. We need to provide service and value to that broker and we need to come up with various ways to do that. One of the really powerful ways we can do that is to help them provide more value to their customer. That’s what the show is all about.