How Freight Agents Transition Customers to a New Brokerage
Are you a freight agent considering a move to a new brokerage but concerned about how you will transition your existing customers?You’re not alone. Maintaining a strong book of business is essential to every freight agent’s ability to thrive in the highly competitive freight brokering market. Any interruption to your processes risks disappointing or – worse – losing customers. After all, transportation and logistics is an industry where most business is built on loyalty and long-standing relationships.
Change is rarely easy, but it’s almost always worth the effort with so much potential for success. We’ve got you covered. To help seamlessly transition your book of business, consider following the steps outlined in this post. And be sure to check out this agent success story to see how easy the transition can be.
Contact Your Shippers Directly
If you want to develop and continue a trusted relationship with your customer, reach out to them directly. Use this time to provide your customer with valid business reasons for the change you’ve chosen to make. For example, a new agency partnership with Armstrong will give you access to more capacity, higher credit lines, and more robust technology solutions.
Consider whether you have one point-of-contact or more. You might consider reaching out to the employee in charge of tendering freight as well as the person who completes the required paperwork for the shipper. Ensuring that your main points of contact understand your process for change will help alleviate any concerns they have around your decision to make this transition.
Explain the Intended Benefits to Your Customer
If you’re making a change that has the potential to impact me or my business directly, it’s natural to ask: “What’s in it for me?” If the shipper sees a benefit to their business, they will be more inclined to promptly take advantage of the transition.
This is an excellent time to evaluate your customer’s specific pain points and outline how you plan to mitigate those through your new agency partnership. While this conversation should take place with the customer directly, it’s helpful to send a follow-up email recapping your conversation and highlighting the business benefits of your new move. You may even want to tell them that there is a financial benefit for you, including better pay, a bonus structure, and insurance. Or maybe not, that is up to you!
Minimize Potential Conflict
Retaining customers is a priority for any agent considering a move to a new brokerage partner. Before making a move, consult with the agent recruiter or credit department at your potential new brokerage to check on customer availability. At Armstrong, we can verify whether a customer or shipper location is available to a potential agent within 24 hours. Any customer information you provide is confidential, and our team is willing to sign an NDA. If a high percentage of your customers already have a relationship with your potential agency partner, it may not be a good fit.
Your Customer Is Available, But What About Credit?
Once you receive the green light to work with your customers, share your credit expectations with your potential broker partner. Look at trends over the last year, including current credit, payment terms, and days to pay. Provide your potential broker partner with a realistic number based on what you need to grow your business. Once they do their research, you will know if this brokerage can support the limits you and your customer need. Keeping open lines of communication is essential to determine whether this will be a move worth making.
Minimize Business Risk
Take the time to review all contracts and agreements before you sign them. Are you being asked to sign a non-compete? At Armstrong, our agent partners operate as independent contractors, so non-competes and non-solicits are not a part of our process. We recommend a 48-hour ‘cooling-off’ period for potential agents. This is a time to review agreements, compile questions, or consult with your attorney or tax advisor. We are looking to build a long-term relationship and are willing to take the time to provide as much information as possible.
Many customers require carriers and brokers to sign their contracts before they will agree to begin shipping. Our Legal Claims and Operations teams will review all customer contracts and sign on behalf of Armstrong and our agent partners. Additionally, they will work with agents to provide guidance on customer claims and carrier relations issues.
Confirm Next Steps
Once you have determined your new agency partner, confirm with your customer that they are open to the move. Ask them for any contracts or agreements they will need to be signed and returned. Send them a customer packet with all of the new brokerage partners’ information. Finally, set a firm date for the transition. Ideally, give your customer a couple of weeks’ notice so they can make adjustments on their end.
By taking these steps, you should find that your customer is more receptive to the impending changes and sees your next career move’s benefits.
Want to Learn More?
If you are considering a change to your current agency partnership -- or have concerns about what the process might entail for your existing book of business -- Armstrong’s team of agent recruiters is available to answer your questions.
Connect with us today! We’ll help you decide whether Armstrong is a good fit for you and your business.