We’ve all felt the tightening market the past few weeks. Capacity seems tight and some brokers even claim that there are no trucks available in certain cities. We recently did an episode on Freight 360 that addressed the capacity topic, and I wanted to tackle some tips on how to get the capacity you need when the market gets tight.
Build Your Relationships Early
Roughly every 18 months, the freight industry experiences a full market cycle. During the first few months of the COIVD-19 pandemic, we experienced a full market cycle in such a short period of time. Rates fluctuate based on supply and demand, and we are seeing the shifts again currently. Rather than try to solve the capacity problem when it’s already here, the best brokers will focus on carrier relationships when the market is in their favor, so they are prepared to weather the storm. When things are good, prepare for when they get bad. When things are bad, prepare for when they are good again. Staying ahead of this market cycle will alleviate most of the headaches experienced by everyone else.
Find New Ways to Find Carriers
“Post and pray.” This is a phrase that many novice brokers live by, and it’s not a healthy practice when the market is tight. The concept of posting a load to the load boards and waiting for the phone to ring is costly. Even searching for posted trucks limits you to what is visible to every other broker out there. Many asset-based companies won’t post their trucks on the boards when capacity is tight. The fact is they don’t have to. They can simply search the boards themselves for whatever loads they want, and cherry pick the best ones.
Using tools like the DAT Directory or your TMS history allows you to find carriers that might have some capacity in the lanes that you need. Now it’s time to pick up the phone yourself and start making the calls. You can take some time away from your prospect cold calling regiment and shift it to calling out on carriers in search for available trucks. The DAT Directory allows you to search for carriers based on specific locations. Further, your TMS should have some historical data stored in it that you can search through. Look at your load history in whatever lane you have and contact the carriers that have hauled that lane in the past. If you have a solid carrier base in your TMS, you should be able to search by location that way as well.
Communicate, communicate, communicate! I can’t stress this enough. When you know the market is moving in a certain direction, you need to have the conversations with your shipping customers as well as your partner carriers to prepare for shifts in the market. Whether it’s rates shifting or capacity tightening (they usually go hand in hand), set the expectation with your customer about where their rates are headed. Talk to your carriers as well. They might not be able to cover the lanes for you that they normally due based on other customers of theirs. If you know ahead of time that they can’t cover their normal loads for you, you’ve got some time to line up capacity in other ways.