Establishing trust in the shipping industry is critical to the long-term success of freight brokers, primarily because they act as a bridge between shippers and carriers.
However, many freight brokers still struggle to build strong relationships with carriers, struggling with a lack of loyalty and slower rate negotiations. Building trust involves listening to a carrier’s needs, honoring commitments, being transparent about any changes in rates or discounts, and most importantly, paying on time. When trust is lost (or never earned in the first place), transportation delays, slow payments, and unclear communications and contracts can cause irreparable damage to reputations and finances.
Since freight brokers and carriers earn trust both ways, brokers should also vet carriers carefully and review FMCSA credentials, financial health, and compliance and safety history. This is important in light of the ongoing supply chain and economic issues.
How freight brokers can avoid breaking trust
The most common ways freight brokers use to break trust with carriers include:
- Failing to pay on time due to late shipments
- Not paying on time due to unpaid transactions with low credit sender
- Incorrect payments due to manual errors
Additionally, “bad players” in the factoring space are hiding additional terms and fees – for example, late delivery, no registration, and fuel advance fees – in contracts. These companies often set ancillary fees with caps, which go beyond the basics of dock-to-dock transportation and often require detention, layovers, driver assistance services, and unused orders. If not discussed upfront, these hidden fees create serious mistrust between freight brokers and carriers.
All this to say that trust is broken when tasks are not completed on time or reliably.
Both parties are responsible for the successful completion of the work. Carriers must check their loads and make deliveries on time, while brokers must pay carriers when promised. Even though these actions seem simple, they will help build trust between the two companies. By automating back-end processes through technology and eliminating human error, brokers can increase efficiency and transparency and build trust with their carriers.
The role of technology in building trust
Currently, the total trucking industry in the United States is valued at $732.3 billion, and freight intermediaries share a large share with a market size of $145 billion. Scaling a brokerage to capture these opportunities requires finding more capacity without incurring higher rates. Today’s freight brokers need to turn to technology to enable more strategic freight management. With this shift, freight brokers need to master technology and embrace digital transformation initiatives – like automation, AI, and personalization – to build trust between customers and partners.
So what are the solutions for achieving, establishing and maintaining trust?
According to Gartner, 61% of supply chain companies see technology as a competitive advantage. By implementing technology, freight brokers can automate their back-office workflow and business administration tasks to help eliminate human error. The 80-20 rule (or Pareto principle) states that 80% of outcomes result from 20% of all causes. Applying this to the manual financial workflow shows that it only takes one slip-up to impact trust with carriers. It doesn’t matter if the freight broker succeeds 90 times; the single mistake can cause serious damage to your reputation and bottom line.
Additionally, according to Accenture, 80% of financial processes can be automated, allowing freight brokers to spend more time ensuring consistent communication and building relationships with carriers. By leveraging technology, freight brokers can also provide accurate and timely payments, even if shipments are late, and automate critical processes such as invoicing, collections, factoring and payments. All of these factors lead to healthier cash flow and satisfied customers.
Ultimately, operating the right way (and the fastest way) will create more trust between freight brokers and their customers. And the technology is there to help you along the way.