Are you the type of negotiator that once an agent uses your services they never want to dial your number again?  How long can this go on until the only calls you receive are from customers with loads no one else wants?  Negotiating to where only one side wins can leave a very bad taste is the others mouth that will not soon be forgotten.

Negotiating is an art form and the end result is that both parties win.  There are also situations where negotiating is not an option and the amount offered is either accepted or declined and move on to the next load.

If a broker/agent calls us with a load we first listen to the offer if we are available for a load and then if driving the next question is how far to the pickup.  Sometimes when we hear the price of the load and the distance to the consignee we say yes as the load covers our costs.  What are our options when a load does not meet our minimum costs?  Are our expectations a reality?   How well do we really understand the market?

Do you know when and when not to negotiate?  Here are a few scenarios:

Load pays good enough - no worries about the deadhead to pick up

Load is iffy - but no deadhead to pick up - delivering to a good freight area

Load is iffy – has some dead head - but going to a good freight area

Load is iffy - with excessive dead head – going to a no freight area

Load is not a good load

When a load is a good one there is no need to negotiate as the broker/agent and we are both in a win-win situation.  When the dead head will make the load pay borderline then we have to think a little more about where the load will final.  If we will unload in a good area the load will be accepted as offered.  Anything below these two scenarios it is time to think about negotiating.  The negotiating will change depending on who we are talking to.  Is the person on the other end of the phone someone we deal with often that usually has very good loads and just needs to get this one covered?  If this is the case we will mention the dead head to pick up and let them decide if they can throw in some deadhead money.  If they are running on tight margins and we are not running on tight margins due to how much the previous loads have paid we will say “Yes” to the load. 

What happens though if the being offered is just not a good load for us because of pay per mile (PPM) and where the load will final out at and the broker/agent is not one of our normal broker/agents?  If the broker/agent wants to negotiate we will, but in this negotiation,  we will negotiate a little harder as we do not know have a history with them.  There are cases where we are wanting to work with a new broker/agent and if this is the case the situation will change some as we work to come up with a fair price in the hopes that in the future we will work with them more and get their better freight.

The worse thing we can do is negotiate so hard that we leave the agent with a bad taste in their mouth about us.  Who knows with any broker/agent when we might need their help?  If the load is really bad then it might be better to just say “No” I cannot do that load for you followed with a “Thank You” for calling.  The worst thing we can do is play hardball or throw out a crazy figure and make the other person on the phone mad before they hand up and add you to the do not call list.

Any way you use negotiating it is an art form and when played correctly everyone feels like a winner.


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About Linda Caffee

Bob and Linda have been team drivers since 2005 as expediters. They are leased to Landstar Express America. Bob was a diesel mechanic for twenty years before doing over the road and Linda worked in the courthouse.

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