But today, we’re picking back up with how to be proactive and get more loads.
8. Hunt! While load boards are a great way to pick up the odd load here and there, they aren’t a source of sustainable income. Building relationships with shippers will not only bring you more consistent work, but higher-paying work. As we mentioned previously, asking for referrals is one way to make these connections, but ultimately you’ll have to sell yourself...by making sales calls!
But don’t just make calls willy-nilly. Focus your energy by looking at local industry associations in the industries you’d like to work and target their member companies. For example, if you drive a reefer truck and want to work with a grocery store, target members of the National Grocers Association. Get in touch with the person in charge of shipping, and build a relationship. Set up meetings, send them a letter, email them a flyer. In short, romance them. Building a relationship like this will take time, but the end result will be far more satisfying and profitable than living load-to-load or using a load board.
9. Improve Your Customer Service: Maintaining good communication is one way to ensure happy clients. An app for quick Check Calls can help keep the lines of communication open between driver, dispatch, and client, without delaying the driver at all.
Another way to improve your customer service is by offering flexible billing and payment options. Naturally, everyone is eager to get paid as soon as the load is delivered, which is understandable. After all you’ve just fronted hundreds of dollars worth of fuel to fulfill the order. However, if you’ve established an emergency fund, you can be more flexible about accepting payments 60 or 90 days after delivery, without putting a strain on your finances.
10. Provide Accurate Estimates: Quoting a customer for one amount and then billing them for a higher amount is a surefire way to shatter your credibility and squash any budding relationship between you and that client.
Oh, and one last thing. When creating your estimate, be sure to incorporate a FSC fee that makes you profitable on the trip there and back again with an empty truck, just in case you don’t get a load coming back.
11. Establish Strong Relationships with your Drivers: When building relationships remember, it’s not always about the client. If you are a fleet manager, having strong connections with your drivers is equally important. And yet again, communication is key. Drivers don’t appreciate being micro-managed (which is almost impossible anyway), so make it easy for them to communicate with you and your clients.
Finally, be sure you pay your drivers promptly and correctly, especially if you didn’t pay them a FSC upfront. Rather than using a separate accounting program, using business management software with driver pay built-in will again help you reduce wasteful data entry and streamline your payroll process significantly.
12. Deliver On-Time: Easier said than done, I know. Stuff happens, and there’s only so much you can do to prevent it. But whatever you can do to prevent it: do it! Using a program like ProMiles is clearly one way to ensure on-time delivery, but regular maintenance (see below) is another. If you’re on-top of maintenance, you greatly diminish the chances of breaking down (or getting a ticket!).
13. Pay Your Dues: We’ve already discussed paying drivers on time- very important! But it’s equally important to pay all of your bills and taxes on time. Falling behind on HVUT, IFTA, or IRP will not only accumulate unnecessary expenses in the form of penalties, it will also put your reputation at stake. Non-compliance is a serious offense, and it may result in your operating authority being revoked. Word gets around about these things, so tread carefully.
14. Be Diligent about Maintenance: Again your compliance is at stake here, so this isn’t just a matter of reputation, but a matter of safety. To ensure you complete maintenance tasks in a timely manner, use a program that offers automatic reminders for upcoming tasks. TruckLogics allows you to set the reminder once, and you then receive reminders every time after based on time passing or your odometer readings. This way, the maintenance process is entirely automated, and not dependent upon your memory. (And let’s face it, you have enough on your mind already!)
Altogether, these 14 habits form a roadmap for a successful transportation business. These are the kinds of things you knew you needed to do when you started, but maybe lost touch with over time. Being busy and sleep deprived can have that effect.
So take the time to review these 14 tips and regroup yourself. Which of these habits have you already solidly incorporated into your daily operations? In what areas do you need to improve? After you’ve taken stock, spend some time creating a plan of action, and then, start grinding! Streamline your daily processes and maximize your trucking business to start reaching the levels of success you've always dreamed of!