When you’re a broker, time is money. You need to cover more loads in less time while navigating driver shortages, avoiding the bad actors, and doing too many manual tasks. That means less time to find new clients that fit your parameters.
You know how competitive the business is, but there are ways to beat the competition and improve your bottom line. If you’re willing to be creative and put in a little work up front, it can pay off in long-term business.
So, how do freight brokers find shippers? Here are a dozen ideas to get you started.
1. Uncover all shipping locations for current clients.
You’ve got your regular customers that you can count on to provide quality loads. Have you asked whether they have subsidiaries or other divisions in these companies needing freight moved?
It’s easy enough to go online, find their other locations and see if they match up with the lanes you work in or where you have carrier relationships. Reach out to your contact and see if there are other needs within their company. Depending on the relationship, you might be able to get a recommendation or at least an introduction to the right person.
2. Make cold calls.
Cold calling is never fun. You might hear a lot of “no,” get hung up on, and waste time on hold trying to get through to the right person.
But there are ways to use your time more efficiently.
- Company websites often list the names, titles, and contact information of their key people.
- You can also type in the company name on LinkedIn and see who pops up. Do you share a connection that might help you get in the door?
3. Ask for referrals.
Referrals are great tools and often overlooked. Connect with the shippers you work with and ask if they know other shippers looking for freight brokers. As big as the industry is, it can also be a small circle of people that are making the decisions about which freight brokerage to use.
A referral from a satisfied customer to another prospect provides an endorsement and turns your cold call into a warm call.
4. Make a warm call.
Reaching out to someone using the name of a mutual connection or a referral can open the door to a conversation. It can improve your odds of getting through to the person and being able to talk business. It helps set you apart from other brokers that are making cold calls.
5. Prospect similar businesses.
This can be very effective if you have a specific type of freight you ship. Again, Google is your friend here. Search online by industry or freight type and you can quickly develop a potential clients list for your outreach efforts.
Because you can talk about your expertise handling the type of freight you ship, it can set you apart from other brokers soliciting their business when trying to generate leads.
6. Get on the reserve list.
When you do connect with shipper leads, one of the most common things you’ll hear is that they already work with a broker. Since they are actively shipping freight, they’re using someone. Rather than just saying thanks and moving on, there are two strategies to try:
- Ask if you can send them your contact information to be on their backup list if the current broker is unable to fulfill their needs.
- Offer a free audit to see if you can beat the rates they are currently getting. Even if you don’t get their business, this can help you see what your competitors are doing.
7. Contact the customers of your customers.
How do freight brokers find shippers? Another way is to contact the customers of your customers. For example, if you’re shipping raw materials from one company to another, they’re likely turning the raw materials into products or parts and shipping them somewhere else. This might be an opportunity to find loads in places you already have established shipping lanes and carrier connections.
8. Create a loyalty program.
In consumer circles, loyalty programs can have a significant impact on generating revenue. Nearly 70% of consumers say loyalty programs heavily influence their purchase decisions. The same strategy can work for you.
Creating a loyalty program with current clients can help you retain or grow your existing business. You can also use this tactic for new customers. You might offer a sign-on bonus for new business, a discount for the first few orders, or even a cash bonus for referrals.
9. Send direct mail.
You can also reach shippers looking for freight brokers by using direct mail. You can purchase mailing lists of shippers and filter the list to those you want to target.
So much business is being conducted by email these days that a letter or postcard can help you stand out from your competitors. Consider sending different offers or mailings each month to keep your message fresh and then follow up with phone calls.
10. Use shipper lists.
You can also use industry directories to find more detailed information about companies needing freight moved. By filtering the information, you can find out the types of products they make and what they need to ship. You might even be able to see estimates of freight rates.
MacRAE’s Blue Book is one well-known source. It lists more than a million of North America’s largest manufacturers, exporters, and distributors along with company contacts, job titles, and functions.
11. Find the competitors of large industry players.
Every company you work with has competitors in their industry. So do the companies you don’t work with. You can find competitors by searching online. For example, if you’re looking for auto parts manufacturers, searching for “top manufacturers of auto parts” will get you the list and contact info for the top 100 OEM suppliers.
You can also check places like Morningstar, a site for financial investors. You can type in the name of any publicly-traded company and click on industry peers to see their direct competitors.
12. Use a load board.
Last, but definitely not least, use a high-quality load board for brokers. With the Truckstop.com Load Board, you can find the quality carriers you need fast.
Book a demo to see how our load board can improve your business efficiency, find capacity, and increase your bottom line.