Why Strong Customer Service is a Trucking Company’s Business Card
Apex Experts: Javier Andrade Helps Trucking Companies Build Profitable Relationships
There are no shortcuts when it comes to good customer service. That is especially true for independent trucking companies because their business is directly reliant on building trusted relationships. Javier Andrade, Chief Client Development Officer for Apex Capital, has spent the last 12 years helping small-to-medium size trucking companies grow through compliance and professionalism. He has advice for your trucking company.
Do trucking companies need to provide good customer service?
Customer service is the public face of every business. Regardless of what you provide, customer service is all about keeping people happy. How do you grow your businesses? By satisfying your customers. If you’re taking care of your customers, that leads to referrals. People will talk about you and what you did for them. When people are satisfied with your company, they will talk about it with their friends and then their friends call you because they have the same problems and they’re looking for a solution.
For trucking companies, it’s the same thing. If the carrier is providing a good service to the broker/shipper and is taking care of the freight, they are on time, they are fulfilling the carrier agreement, they have good communication, then the broker will want to do business with that carrier again. You want to take care of the invoicing, properly send your paperwork, get everything done right. It all reflects on the quality of your company and your professionalism. I don’t know any industry out there that can get away with bad customer service.
How does that lead to your trucking company building profitable relationships?
Take care of your customers and you’re going to get repeat business. It is very difficult for a new trucking company to get customers right away. You must build relationships with the brokers. You’ll see over time how these trucking companies start hauling for the same brokers over and over again. That helps the longevity of a trucking company. They get a stable of customers and work with them over time, which means they don’t always have to go to the spot market to try to find a new load. Drivers start developing good logistics by doing the same route. They find the best stops for fuel. If they have a breakdown, they know a good mechanic nearby. They are in familiar territory.
Does your reputation contribute to trucking company success?
It is huge. This industry is very heavily regulated. There are a lot of stats out there on trucking companies collected by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If you have expensive freight or good paying freight and you see the record of a trucking company with a lot of insurance issues, you’re less likely to give your freight to that carrier. Reputation is a trucking company’s presentation card. It’s like saying here are my safety scores, I have driven this many loads without incident. That gives you leverage to ask for more money or negotiate a better paying freight because you can differentiate yourself from other trucking companies with your superior performance record.
What is the best way for truckers to find and keep customers?
If you are a new, small trucking company with one or two trucks, the best thing is going to the spot market and finding freight there or finding loads on a load board. You don’t have a track record yet. Some brokers might be hesitant to give you that freight because you haven’t earned the reputation. That’s why it’s so important to build your track record from day one.
Read that rate reconfirmation sheet well to make sure that you do everything you’re supposed to do. Sometimes they require you to make a phone call when you deliver, or sometimes they require you to have a tracking mechanism, tarp the freight, etc. Follow those instructions carefully, so you satisfy your customer. Once you deliver the freight, bill on time. Send your bill to us at Apex right away so you get funded. We’ll take care of the collections for you. That’s another important piece, having a partner like Apex that is going be handling your back office. We do professional collections with agents here that follow up on your invoices.
How important is keeping up with regulations and compliance mandates?
Your safety score is your presentation card and a leverage tool. Stay on top of industry changes. Read about what’s coming up with regulations and be proactive. There are companies that had ELDs before ELDs were ever required. If you’re growing past four or five trucks, hire a safety person that can do inspections and maintenance.
Make sure the insurance you have provides enough coverage and your drivers are following FMCSA rules like Hours of Service. Keep your books properly maintained. Keep your insurance affordable. If you are getting into too many accidents, your insurance will go up and that will keep you from being competitive. You want to always look for ways to stay compliant and keep your insurance costs lower so you can have an edge over your competitors. Always complete your pre-trip inspection to avoid headaches down the road.
Building strong customer relationship is key to making your trucking company successful. Apex factoring can help you with tools and services to keep your business growing – from fast cash flow to technology that makes your life easier. Visit our website or give us a call at 855-369-2739.