For those of you that have read my articles in the past, you know how much of a technology advocate I am. From the latest brokerage apps to predictive weather apps, I am all about tech making my life as a “Trailblazer” easier with its use. What I didn’t expect however was the day I was tipped off by one of my direct customers, that gave me a clue as to why all the app-based brokerages might be so animate on drivers leaving “location services” GPS on, even when not using the app and not even pulling one of their loads.
With a handful of direct customers that my trucks service, having one-off loads here and there, we don’t compete with brokers on many large-volume shippers. When it comes to direct, I have focused on smaller “mom & pop” locations that may have 1 to 3 loads running a specific local lane each week at most. These are not usually the kind of target customers a very large brokerage would even consider going for and might even have difficulty contacting unless they had a secret way to locate them that no one knew about!
A hint of this possibility came to me when one of my customers, who ships maybe a load a week during peak season to Vegas and one load a month the rest of the year, got to talking with me about how I get my freight. When I told him we fill gaps in our dedicated dispatch with spot freight including app-based brokerages, he spilled the beans to me. He let me know that one of the “bigger names” in digital brokerages contacted him shortly after my last load out of his facility and offered to “do it cheaper than his current carrier” without even knowing what we were charging. My customer wondered how they even found his little one-dock 4,000 sq.ft. warehouse, since it is but a mere blip on the map no one would even look twice at. Then it clicked! He looked over at me and said, “Dang Jimmy, you got sniped!” Luckily he was one of the great shippers I deal with that had no problem telling them he wasn’t going to entertain changing carriers because of our great working relationship.
Could it be, the very same “door” that carriers sign in these digital brokerage contracts saying they won’t back-solicit these brokerage company’s customers, doesn’t swing both ways? Could the requirement of my app to allow location services access to my GPS location “always” in order to look at and book loads, be the very thing that led them to cross-reference that address after repeat visits and then afford them a means of locating the phone number on let’s say...Google Maps? Hmmm...not into conspiracy theories, but I would tend to lean heavily on this theory at least being plausible! Especially since I just so happened to leave location services on prior to that for our busiest stretch with this shipper yet, with about 8 loads in a month to fill their new receiving warehouse in Vegas, giving the false appearance to anyone tracking my whereabouts that this was a higher volume customer than they really were usually.
Not trying to stir the pot here, but I can say it is my opinion that everyone should consider who has access to your location at any given time. Your competition, albeit that it may be the same brokerages you rely on for some of your spot freight, may be using this data to their advantage in order to gain more clientele in their shipper portfolio. All I know is that from now on, I am turning on GPS access to that app only when looking for a load or when I am under one of their loads myself, then shutting it off any other time! With the work I have put into the direct customers we service, I am not about to let my technology ruin it just because I let my guard down on my phone’s privacy settings! Know that your competition could very well be watching intently your every move and guard your location like any other sensitive piece of privileged information!