Brian Mann

By: Brian Mann on October 13th, 2020

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How Leading Freight Brokers Retain Top-Performing Talent

Logistics | Transportation | Best Practices | Agent Program | Employee Retention | Recruiting

It starts with the understanding that your best brokers can take their business anywhere. 

Transportation and logistics is a vast industry, rife with competition and opportunity. In that environment, the most successful earners are self-motivated with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. The word “no” means “maybe later.” Because of that, you can bet that your top-performers know their industry well, are being recruited by your competition, and have high expectations for personal and career growth.   

If you are a business owner who doesn’t think you can retain your talent, you could be disconnected from one of your biggest investments – the people you rely on to drive your bottom line. 

“Professionals thrive in environments where they recognize the value in their contribution. That sense of meaning and purpose is a huge factor in elevating work beyond ‘just a job.’” -- Brian Mann, CEO, Armstrong Transport Group

Logistics is all about offering excellent service and transporting goods, but more than that, it’s about people and building relationships. 

This blog post covers a handful of best practices to help brokerage managers and agent owners meet their staff’s needs and offer the tools to keep their organization competitive. 

Flatten your structure

In modern organizations, the notion of “boss as a partner” is gaining traction across teams adopting increasingly flat structures. Professionals and employees are happiest when they feel understood. Their jobs become more meaningful when organizations meet their needs and address their needs challenges. By eliminating excess management layers, organizations are better positioned to foster confidence and mutual respect. When professionals feel valued, they stay.

Prioritize compensation and benefits

While people want to work for companies that make them happy, their paycheck is always a dominant factor. Money talks. Everyone wants maximum compensation for the time they put into a job. 

Since 2006, Armstrong has offered agents one of the most aggressive splits in the country enabling them to earn up to 75% commission on their gross margin. We recognize that our competition is making agents similar offers, which only increases our drive to create the best, most fulfilling working environment possible. For W2 employees, Armstrong offers a wide variety of benefits, including medical, dental and vision, short and long-term disability, life insurance, as well as access to a Flexible Spending Account and Health Spending Account.

Embrace autonomy

In the workplace, autonomy refers to allowing employees to shape their work environment so they can perform to the best of their ability. Autonomy is not working in isolation, doing what you want whenever you want, or lacking guidance. Autonomous workplaces are based on trust, respect, dependability, and integrity. By giving agents autonomy to run their own business, brokers and agent owners are more likely to encourage creativity and information sharing. 

Strike a balance: Listen and communicate

Listening can be as simple as encouraging an open-door policy, spending intentional time with staff, or asking for specific feedback on a new or proposed process. Balance is also essential. In healthy relationships, both parties want their needs met but also recognize when to extend patience, flexibility, and support. And give it time. The key to strong partnerships is trust, which doesn’t happen overnight. Trust is earned. It comes from a conscious and consistent effort to follow through on your commitments and promises while staying aligned to your values – personal, corporate, or both. Set the stage for building trust by letting individuals or teams know that you support them, even when they make mistakes. Some refer to it as failing forward. 

Be transparent  

You wouldn’t drive down a road or fly an aircraft with zero visibility. The same goes for running your business. To keep professionals motivated, let them in on your vision and invite them to be part of your bigger story. Be clear about how their role impacts your organization’s purpose and objectives. You may think that this is a “given,” but many professionals get mired in the intricacies of their roles. Encourage pausing to help your talent reflect on their level of impact and worth. And remember, the frequency of these reminders matters less than the quality of communication. 

One of the biggest challenges of owning a business – any business, but most certainly one in a competitive landscape – is attracting, developing, and retaining top performers. According to global managing consulting firm McKinsey, the relationship between the quality of talent and business performance is dramatic. Yet, most companies don’t get it right. 

Want to learn more? 

At Armstrong, we’ve found that our success comes from managing personalities – not people. Seeing professionals flourish in their careers produces a massive return on our biggest investment: our agent partners and employees. 

If you are an agent owner or brokerage employee and have additional insight to share, comment below. Or, if you’re looking for your next agent or broker partnership, be sure to connect with one of our agent recruiters. We’re always looking to build out and improve our people-first culture!


About Brian Mann

As President and Chief Executive Officer, Brian is responsible for Armstrong’s vision, mission, and philosophy. With over 20 years of experience in logistics, Brian is an expert in supply chain optimization, operations management, air freight, freight forwarding, warehousing, customs regulations, and reverse logistics.