It never fails in every online trucking forum, you have a whole bunch of people complaining this time of year about low rates and no freight. Likewise, there are always those that counter back about their $3.00 a mile freight year round. I guess I would consider myself a bystander, since I like to usually observe from afar, being neither a bragger nor a complainer. Perhaps part of my stance can be attributed to the fact that I have been able to generate consistent revenue year round with a steady stream of repeat business. Not that I am tooting my own horn in saying this, but it has been due much in part to my ability to use the acronym R.A.C.E. in helping to build those relationships and this is what it means to me when making sure repeat work keeps “racing” our way:
R = Relationships
Being the key purpose of my philosophy, it is fitting that the word relationship be represented in the beginning. It is my goal with every new customer or broker, to build a lasting business relationship that potentially leads to consistent business. Though this is only realized a fraction of the time, that one time in twenty-five or even fifty new loads, makes for one more consistent customer we can put on the books! Never do I approach a new deal with the mentality that it is just going to be a one-off load and leave it at that. Treat every customer like you plan to deal with them again in the future and you’ll be surprised just how many actually do come back with more work!
A = Adherence
Once you close the deal and are given a load to haul, consider it a chance to prove your own company’s merit. Make sure to meet or exceed the customer’s expectations by adhering to what you are committed to. Never over-promise and under-deliver, rather over-deliver every time by adhering to what you say you will do on each and every load.
C = Communicate
What is one of the hardest things for me to understand is the amount of times I have heard a broker or customer tell me they had never received communication like what I provided on their load. In fact it is my clear communication that led to the repeat business on some of my longest standing year-round accounts. You would be surprised how much an email for daily check calls, arrivals and departures means to the person whose job it is to track the freight while it is in transit. Another key is to communicate immediately when something happens to change the load schedule, like unforeseen weather or breakdowns. Again, I have had more than a handful of instances where brokers and customers said carriers were scared to call or email and there was no way for them to change deliveries or pickups by the time they found out. Make sure notification is sent on even the slightest change, to allow enough lead-time for changes to be made if in fact they need to be.
E = End result
The way you close out a load is one of the most critical steps in deciding if this customer will use you again in the future. As important as first impressions are, equally as important is the last impression. At the close of every load, whether direct customer or broker, I follow-up the delivery with the same process. I start by immediately drafting a “depart and all-clear” message to let them know the load was clear of discrepancies and delivered successfully. I include a scanned copy of the signed bills as proof of delivery, using the two apps I touched on previously in my Scan-o-rama article. The last thing I do is one of the most important though, which is where I mention to them in closing that if they were satisfied with the job we did, to please keep us in mind for any other loads on that particular lane in the future.
I wanted to pass this along for all those who read it to remember, so that we all have a chance to build lasting business that helps keep us out of the freight doldrums of the winter season. I get asked so many times when talking to people “How did you get such a good amount of repeat business?” I always reply simply by saying that it is not that I found repeat business, so much as it really was that the steady work found me. I always remind them that when I started on my own authority, I did so without a single broker or customer contact of my own. Think like a business, approach every load as if it could result in more work and remember these simple rules to help you win “the great freight R.A.C.E.”!