Driver Relationships Are Key to Freight Broker Success
Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Trucking is not an easy job. From long hours on the road away from family to grueling drive times, truck drivers must balance the intense pressure to deliver loads on time with the responsibility of ensuring the safety of themselves, other drivers and the products they transport. Freight brokers rely on truck drivers to deliver on all those points, so it’s imperative that we take the time to build relationships with the men and women handling our customers’ products.

All too often there is a disconnect between a broker’s perception of a trucker’s day-to-day life and the real challenges truckers face on the road. Brokers can be busy, too. But, at the end of the day, they get to sit down for a family meal or hang out with friends.

A truck driver works a 14-hour day. About 11 of those hours are spent driving. They don’t get to coach their kid’s team or see a mid-week school function — they are out on the road earning for their family, under pressure from both brokers and dispatchers to supply an ETA. It’s a lonely job that takes them into unfamiliar territory while taking orders from everyone involved in the haul.

Ask experienced brokers how to be a successful freight broker agent and they’ll tell you that brokers are only as good as the trucks they contract and the driver in charge of their load. The reality is that if brokers don’t put in the time to build relationships with drivers, Uber and Convoy will continue to pick up steam and render our work obsolete. That’s why a little bit of relationship building between the broker and the driver can go a long way. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Master the small talk
A broker’s job is done mostly on the phone, so it isn’t always easy to make conversation, but small gestures can make a big difference in earning the trust and respect of the truckers you work with. Ask them how long they’ve been away from home or when they get to stop at home.

Find opportunities to treat
People remember gestures of goodwill. If a receiver is backed up on unloading trucks use Comcheck Mobile to give the driver $20 to cover a snack and drink while they wait. They’ll remember you as someone who understands these small aspects of their job.

Track the relationship
At the end of the run ask the driver how often they get to the pickup area. Keep this info on a spreadsheet — it will accumulate so they no longer have to post loads. If you get enough to reload multiple carriers, they’ll stop posting their trucks in other areas and you’ll rise above the competition.

Build confidence
Grow your drivers’ confidence in their jobs by making your interactions more routine and friendly. Nobody wants to be constantly yelled at and scrutinized while at work. Let the driver drive the truck and show them you support their work doing a job that not many people want to do.

If you put in the time to develop meaningful relationships with truckers, you’ll build a fleet of your own. Imagine a future where you won’t have to post loads — instead you’ll call drivers you know and trust to take care of your customers’ requests. Those drivers will become familiar, friendly faces to the people loading and unloading their trucks, which can lead to your customer giving you more and better freight.

At USL, we cover many of the time-consuming administrative tasks that can get in the way of focusing on long-term business strategies like relationship building. Find out how we can support your work at