By Aaron Galer, SVP of Strategic Partners at Arrive Logistics

To freight brokerages and shippers alike, nothing is more important to success than good relationships.

In these difficult times, brokerages are striving to meet the distinct needs of clients based on their unique access to industry insights and data. Much of this information is derived from long-term relationships. To establishing meaningful and continuing relationships with customers, brokers should consider the following two key elements.

Demonstrate empathy and build transparency. Brokers should be aware of the common mistakes and oversights that can be made on the shipper side. Having this level of insight generates empathy, allows a brokerage to connect the dots between gaps in understanding, and fosters a smoother process that everyone can consider a win. It’s important for a brokerage to ask questions, even if they might seem commonplace.

The building of strong relationships is tied to trust. By being transparent about pricing and market trends, brokers can create value in new ways, while demonstrating that they’re invested in a true partnership that’s beneficial to all parties involved.

Brokers can demystify pricing and suggest ways to bring down costs, through flexibility in loading dates, standing appointments, dropped trailers and the like. When they see the market starting to come down, they can be the first to offer rate relief. Helping a shipper realize these supply chain efficiencies benefits both parties.

Focus on offering a differentiated suite of services to customers. If your brokerage isn’t helping your shipper partners understand what’s happening in the marketplace and providing custom strategic solutions, what’s the real value of working with you?

Your shipper partners are typically focused on one product line, limiting their awareness of external factors that could impact their business. As a broker, you can establish yourself as a necessary partner by flagging potential disruptions and being proactive in offering solutions for how customers can insulate themselves against major events. This guidance can come in the form of regular counsel through the customer’s preferred form of communication, or through broad market updates that include recommendations and supporting data for your entire customer base.

By demonstrating that your brokerage is a trusted extension of your customer’s team, you can create a network of partners that grows and innovates regardless of the state of the market.

For shippers, getting capacity right in times of uncertainty is a challenge. But those that have established deep relationships in the industry aren’t struggling as much, because mutual trust has been built up through making sacrifices and working in each other’s best interest. Shippers can ensure they’re seeking these types of relationships by considering the following.

Determine what’s important to your business, and make that clear when you’re going to market. As a shipper, it’s important to establish what you’re looking for in a partner from the start, and build relationships based on those core needs and values. When selecting a brokerage, shippers should focus on all-around service, not just time and rates. Consider efficiency, communication styles and what the fair price is for what you’re seeking. Does your potential partner offer new and strategic ways of saving money, or understand your network in a way that adds value to your business? All of these elements should be considered above and beyond cost.

If your mindset is focused on getting the best possible rate, you’re missing the point, and likely not pursuing the right partnerships or experiencing the maximum benefits. Strong, long-term relationships will, of course, lead to cost savings. But that shouldn’t be the driving factor.

Do the thing you don’t want to — take calls from salespeople. It’s important to continuously take calls from potential partners to learn about evolving services and offerings in the industry. Not having the time is no excuse: if you can’t focus on anything beyond your current operations, you’re missing out on opportunities to grow and collaborate. Taking calls from different people in the industry doesn’t mean you’re opening the floodgates to letting everyone into your network, but it’s important to benchmark your current supplier base for comparison. If your procurement team isn’t fielding calls or making them, you’re engaging in willful ignorance of what’s happening in the marketplace.

By establishing and maintaining a strong network of relationships based on trust, brokers and shippers set themselves up to navigate the current pandemic-driven rollercoaster ride as well as future disruptions. These relationships are established over time and through proving oneself as a reliable partner. In the logistics industry, this often means taking a loss for something that’s neither side’s fault, admitting mistakes, and showing good faith on small things in order to build up to bigger things.

Aaron Galer is senior vice president of strategic partners with Arrive Logistics.

Photo Credit: SupplyChainBrain.com, original article published here.

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