Freight brokers live a fast-paced life, but what they may not tell you in freight broker training school is the fact that the highway to success in this industry is littered with a large number of inactive property broker licenses.
What do you do so you don’t become part of cold statistics?
In an informal round table discussion with active and successful freight brokers and agents, we were able to dig out the top eight traits that most of them (and their peers) shared, listed here in random order:
1. They are self motivated.
The successful freight broker is driven by passion, a reason for being if you like. Whether it’s more time with the family, enough resources to support a hobby, or whatever it is that drives your enthusiasm, this motivation is the key that kicks them off the bed early in the morning and gets them going throughout a hectic workday.
You’d be surprised: money isn’t often the top motivator for successful freight brokers. The reason they give why money takes second, third or even fourth place to a burning passion? When the business is slow and the cash register’s not ringing much, this “reason for being” helps them slog through the rough patch.
2. Successful brokers have a strategic mindset.
Much of the daily routine of a freight brokerage involves a thousand and one details. When you’re embroiled in these for too long, there’s the tendency to not see the forest for the trees. You lose sight of the Big Picture—your vision for setting up a freight brokerage business. You start making decisions that’s long on short-term advantages but short on long-term benefits. When that happens, your business could quickly lose its competitive advantage and stop getting better.
Successful freight brokers with a strategic mindset continually review and refine how they do things, unafraid to learn new things. They’re also aware of what’s going on in their industry, particularly with their competitors and partners, so that their business can easily and quickly adapt to any negative (or even positive) market changes.
3. They are results driven.
Successful freight brokers can set goals and define the tactical actions to obtain the results they want. Some business owners often get trapped in the launch preparations of a new venture—crafting the business plan, studying the market, perfecting documentations and procedures and a million other details. Often, the thing that could spell success is the ability to hit the ground running even if all your ducks aren’t in a row yet.
You can always refine and redefine as you go as long as you’re doing something tangible and measurable to achieve the goals you have set for yourself and your brokering firm. Other freight brokers have found that setting benchmarks and milestones towards achieving an objective help them chop up a big goal into small, manageable, and achievable pieces.
4. They are highly customer oriented.
The freight brokerage sector has a customer-centric culture. A happy customer is a repeat (and loyal) customer. Successful brokers are helpful and devoted to the customer’s interest to keep the business flourishing. In this case, the shippers’ interest on the speedy and safe delivery of their shipments and the carriers’ focus on getting paid decently and on time.
Freight brokers who have a deep base of repeat customers are anticipatory and responsive to the needs of the public they serve. It’s not “what’s in it for me?” but “what can I do to help?” that keeps their business continually viable.
5. The best have a proactive perspective.
When loads are moving from shipper to consignee, many things are going on at the same time. Many things can also go wrong. Anticipating problem areas and having different response mechanisms to address things that could go wrong is the mark of a successful freight broker. You must know what to do when a truck breaks down in the middle of a desert highway or an accident happens. Successful freight brokers don’t only have a Plan B in place; they also have a Plan C (or even a Plan D) just in case.
6. They’re very decisive.
When you have the big picture firmly in mind, choosing what to do first among what’s necessary, urgent or important cuts your decision-making time in half. Knowing which tasks to prioritize and which to put on the back burner when crunch time comes are useful skills in this profession. Successful freight brokers know what must be done first—and quickly.
7. Freight brokers nurture relationships.
Building and nurturing relationships for the long term is vital to growing a robust freight brokerage business. At the heart of your engagements is (1) the ability to cooperate with a diverse mix of individuals and organizations with an equally diverse culture and values; and (2) the communication savvy to maintain helpful, beneficial and harmonious relationships.
8. They’re very flexible.
In this fast-paced environment, the successful broker has a firm handle on everything that’s going on while doing other things at the same time. Multitasking is a skill that most think they have in spades but only a few has actually mastered. Make sure that you’re multitasking smartly—that is, you’re working on your strengths, not on your weaknesses.
Making it to the freight brokerage big leagues doesn’t only mean knowing the theoretical stuff that you learn in freight broker training. Like these characteristic traits of successful freight brokers show, making it big means having a firm handle of the intangibles, too.