Looking to grow your business? You can always use online load boardslike www.TheSuperBoard.com to find loads, get you started, fill-in the slower periods and for back-hauls or LTLs. But generally speaking, those jobs are usually not the highest paying and are hit-or-miss. What you really need for a stable, successful business are long-term, regular clients. This means building strong client relationships for monthly revenue you can count-on. It also means you need to be taken seriously by potentially large clients. That means you need to have your “ducks in a row” so to speak, before making contact with customers. Remember, the first thing these companies will do is go to your website. If you don’t have a good logo and a good, modern website, you’ll never get to second base. If you need help with these things and are on a budget, we found the best deal out there is www.EZFreightWebsites.com. This company specializes in fast, cheap, good websites for brokers and trucking companies. They’ll also do a good inexpensive logo for you if you need one.
Here are some 7 proven ways to find new shippers:
1- Always ask for referrals
You best leads are likely to come from your best customers. If they like the service you provide, they become great references for you. Ask for referrals! Not only will they give you additional sources, but you can drop their name when you make the call. If they, in turn, call the referring company, they’ll say good things! You may want to think about offering a bonus for referrals.
2- Warm calling
Yes, it’s no fun at all to pick up the phone and make a cold call to a potential customer. You can increase the odds of success, however, and make “warm calls” instead of cold calls. Consider purchasing a detailed database of manufacturers and distributors in the areas you want to target. The list should include company details such as types of products they ship, revenues, number of employees, contact names with job title, phone numbers and email addresses.
LoadPilot sells a really good list of shippers made specifically for brokers and trucking companies. All the exhaustive, time-consuming research has been done for you. The LoadPilot Shipper Directory includes the essential information you need to help you find shippers and long-term customers. This directory is completely searchable and very affordable. After using the directory to identify potential customers, you should use the internet to look at their websites. By doing this, you can identify what their needs might be, ahead of time, so that you can talk intelligently about what you can do for them.
3- Check credit sheets for references and call them
Another good source for finding potential customers is credit references. Look at who companies list when they fill out their credit apps.
4- Find “like” businesses
Look for other businesses in the same industry as your current customers. They’re likely shipping as well, and might be more willing to talk with someone with experience moving their kind of freight.
5- Check your competitors and their customers
When reaching out to prospective customers, many will tell you they already work with a broker and don’t need your services. Don’t just hang up, you’ll miss a good opportunity. At this point, an effective tactic is to offer them a “free, no-obligation audit” to see if you can beat their current rates and to see if you could be on their list as a back-up. Explain you’d like to be there in case something comes up where they need more assistance or should something “go South” with the other service. Even if you can’t beat or match what they’re paying now, at least you’ll find out what your competitors are charging.
6- Check your “orphan accounts”
A great source for customers is to call on former customers. Who used to work with you, but has stopped? If there was a problem that caused them to stop working with you, it’s a good time to let them know you’ve fixed the issue and ask for a second chance. Or perhaps your primary contact has moved on, or the business has new ownership. These people don’t know you and might be looking for you. If your old contact left the company, find out where they went. Someone there might know. If you can reconnect with that person, many times they will put in a good word for you at their new company.
7- Direct mail
Direct mail can be an efficient way to reach out to a large number of targeted businesses. You can buy a list of shippers that fit your profile, such as LoadPilot’s Shipper Directory, then select the companies you would like to target. Design a postcard or write a letter and possibly include a promotional offer. Direct mail is typically a long-game, so don’t expect immediate response. You should send out a new mail-piece to those on your list every month. Don’t send the same postcard more than once. Follow up the second postcard with a phone call just to introduce yourself. If they say they don’t need your services right now, ask if it is okay for you to check back with her every so often. See if she is okay with you calling her again next month. Or ask “when would be a good time to check back with you?”
Each mailing should have a different message or offer. If you are sending a letter, you should not send one more than twice a year and one on each holiday with a short holiday message. The idea behind direct mail is to be the one they think of when a need for your service arises.
LoadPilot is the favorite U.S. online freight broker software, developed to help the small and mid-sized freight broker office manage their daily tasks. Brokering freight has never been easier, faster or more profitable than with LoadPilot.com, the first online software developed for the transportation intermediaries.