If you’ve ever worked in a freight brokerage that promotes from within, you’ve probably seen a top broker that gets promoted because he/she was putting up stellar numbers. They were one of the top producers, so they got promoted to management in an attempt to created duplicates of themselves. This isn’t always the best way lead. Being a good freight broker doesn’t mean you will be a good leader in the freight brokerage world. Let’s take a look at a few areas that leaders must focus on in order to succeed in leadership.
Every broker needs to start somewhere and learn the ropes of the industry. If you excelled as a broker, there’s a chance that you picked up on the industry quickly, or you may have even brought some freight experience to the table before you started brokering. That isn’t the case for everyone. As a leader, it’s crucial to take care of your new brokers and educate them at the highest possible caliber. This takes time, and it’s a continuous process.
Every broker should continue to learn and refine their skills throughout their career. You can use a mix of educational content, shadowing employees, sitting down and mentoring your newbies, among many other things to give your young brokers the best training possible. At Freight 360, we literally created the Freight Broker Basics Course as a tool for folks that don’t have a structured training program. The training program isn’t the 100% solution though. It’s just the beginning. Professional development programs, team coaching, and 1-on-1 mentorship is key to grooming your new brokers towards expertise.
Now that the training wheels have come off, your job as a leader isn’t over. Sure, your newer brokers know how to cold call, quote lanes, negotiate with carriers, track and trace loads, and all of the other tasks (or headaches) that come along with brokering. This is when it’s time to really lean in and develop your team members. Notice that I called them “team members” because that’s what they are. They aren’t just subordinates or grunt workers, they are truly part of your team.
Staying in sync with your team members’ strengths and weaknesses is going to be a massive factor in their success. As they develop, you should be working with them to improve their weaknesses and capitalizing on their strengths. You can have one broker that is strong in sales coach a co-worker that struggles in this task. You can start to move folks around and employ them in roles that are truly their strengths and passions. You might have someone that motivates the team and solves team problems but isn’t the best closer when it comes to prospects. This could be your next team leader or supervisor. You’ve got to really know your team and how they all come together to make this machine run.
Understand What Motivates Them
Whether it’s commission structures, time off, flexibility to work remote, or a variety of other motivators, everyone on your team wants something different. This is when mentoring and taking the time to really know your team will pay dividends. I always recommend having this conversation during the recruitment and hiring process, rather than two years down the road when a team member is burnt out and ready to quit. Someone that wants their weekends off to spend time with family shouldn’t be tasked to cover weekend dispatching. Someone that is hungry to make lots of money developing new business shouldn’t be just doing track and trace. Lean into the strengths and desires of each team member, and don’t be afraid to have a different job description or compensation plan for each of them. It costs more to lose an employee and have to replace them than you probably think.
Obviously, a lot more goes into leading a team that these three things, but these are often overlooked by folks that move up in a freight brokerage and find themselves in a leadership position. Also, leaders themselves need to be mentored, because none of us know everything. If you think you do, you’re wrong. Good luck out there!