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Old 11-24-2014, 11:54 AM   #26
Doozie350
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

What is a typical day for you?

You said the job matched your skill set, what specific skills do you think are most critical?

How hard was the first 6 months/getting to "considered" successful stage?

(I recently moved, am working my old job remotely, and considering switching industries to this as I think it could be a good long term decision)
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Old 11-24-2014, 01:49 PM   #27
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

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What is a typical day for you?

You said the job matched your skill set, what specific skills do you think are most critical?

How hard was the first 6 months/getting to "considered" successful stage?

(I recently moved, am working my old job remotely, and considering switching industries to this as I think it could be a good long term decision)
I show up at work at 7:30 in the morning... and then it gets weird... and then at some point it ends. Some days I literally have 5x as much to do as I have time and other days I have no freight and nothing to do. It's pretty random honestly. I usually leave on time at 4:30pm but I pretty routinely take a few scattered calls through the evening, with the occasional call (like 2-3x a month) in the middle of the night.

I have a strong sales/negotiation background+ poker and investing skills. I'd say the sales and negotiation are super important but being an analytical thinker will also reward you pretty heavily as solving problems in creative ways is a big part of the job. It's definitely possible to survive with 2 of the three (project management, sales, negotiation) but you'd need to be fairly strong at those two and no worse than 'slightly crap' at the other one.

A huge part of how hard the first 6 months will be is determined by which brokerage you end up working for. You want them to be small enough that there are still easily available customers that have never been touched by the company... But you want them to be big enough for you to be able to use their credibility to sell your services. I personally feel like I landed at the perfect place based on these criteria. That being said the first 6 months are and always will be a very grindy crap shoot. You basically have to go out and build a business... That mostly just means going out and finding customers good enough to keep you gainfully employed. Part of that is luck, but that can be mitigated by really hustling.

The success rate for brand new brokers is actually pretty low even here. I'm thinking 30% (that might be high) make it to a year. On the plus side those who make it to a year do quite well for themselves (again here... People holding on by their fingernails at TQL making 30k a year and working 60 hours a week should probably just let it go).
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Old 11-24-2014, 06:51 PM   #28
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

when you say "build a business," what do you mean? flat out cold calling?
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Old 11-25-2014, 08:40 AM   #29
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

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when you say "build a business," what do you mean? flat out cold calling?
Yup. Having something decent to sell when cold calling is a huge part of what you're looking for in a freight brokerage when you're trying to enter the industry. After awhile there is a lot less cold calling. I'm already at a point where I only cold call when it looks like I'm coming up on a period where I might be slow. I'm also fairly picky about customers and only work with about 25% of the customers that I've closed to date.
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Old 11-25-2014, 11:24 PM   #30
Doozie350
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

Who are you cold calling? Previous people that left? New business leads etc?

What are you basically saying? Are most of the rejections <1-2 minute phone calls?
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Old 11-26-2014, 08:52 AM   #31
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

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Who are you cold calling? Previous people that left? New business leads etc?

What are you basically saying? Are most of the rejections <1-2 minute phone calls?
I'm cold calling new business leads mainly. It's really not a hard process where I work... But I've designed my cold calling process for time efficiency. I know other people seem to have a much harder time with it.
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Old 11-26-2014, 08:54 AM   #32
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

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Originally Posted by Doozie350 View Post
Who are you cold calling? Previous people that left? New business leads etc?

What are you basically saying? Are most of the rejections <1-2 minute phone calls?
The 25% figure means that of customers who I originally called and moved at least one load with I only still work with about 25% of. The 25% however I've generally done 20+ loads with in the last 3 months. Customers are NOT all created equal. They have different margins and time requirements. I'm looking for customers who produce a reasonable hourly for me.
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Old 11-26-2014, 11:52 PM   #33
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

What's the deal with the $50 tailgate fee?
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Old 11-27-2014, 12:02 AM   #34
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

now that you've built a book of business, why do you even need the firm? what value add do they continue to bring you?

also, two questions about your coldcalling. How did you decide who to coldcall, and what is your general pitch?
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Old 11-27-2014, 12:21 AM   #35
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

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I'm cold calling new business leads mainly. It's really not a hard process where I work... But I've designed my cold calling process for time efficiency. I know other people seem to have a much harder time with it.
The problem that "other people" have has nothing to do with efficiency.
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Old 11-27-2014, 01:20 AM   #36
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

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Originally Posted by LozColbert View Post
now that you've built a book of business, why do you even need the firm? what value add do they continue to bring you?

also, two questions about your coldcalling. How did you decide who to coldcall, and what is your general pitch?
There are many benefits working for the firm I would think...Insurance, custom documents, bill of ladings, invoices, tariff codes, pool of drivers, different trucks needed for types of freight (fridge for produce), inter-modal partners, brand recognition, etc.

Also, the capital required to start his own firm which I hope OP is working towards once the necessary building blocks are in place.

Definitely scope out the Memphis area and manufacturing facilities located there. Fedex is there for a reason!

I dont need to tell you but the freight brokerage environment is super competitive and you really need to build the relationship so companies continue to use you. =)
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Old 11-27-2014, 10:37 PM   #37
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

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now that you've built a book of business, why do you even need the firm? what value add do they continue to bring you?

also, two questions about your coldcalling. How did you decide who to coldcall, and what is your general pitch?
The firm gives me a full blown billing department (nice for getting paid), financing (I don't have any desire to float my customers 250k+ more or less permanently), and most importantly operations and carrier services support. The firm is the product I sell to customers and the firm makes dealing with any carrier in the country incredibly easy (they have incredible credit and as close to a flawless reputation as you can get).

All of the above doesn't change the fact that my company exists because the owner decided that he wanted 100% of the revenue he generated at TQL instead of 35-40%.

I try to find businesses that have freight that has some kind of urgency attached (turkey, watermelons, customs brokers) and a variety of lanes (this makes it much harder for them to avoid brokers. In fact one of my clients is a massive produce company that everyone in this thread would recognize... They use brokers because it's not practical to use asset based carriers as their needs change daily).

My cold calling pitch is VERY straightforward. I basically just go in assuming that the company I'm calling wants to do business with us (because if they use brokers we're a VERY strong option) and go straight for the jugular. "Hi my name is Matt from X and I was calling to find out what the process is for getting setup with you as a carrier."

If I'm talking to the right person they almost always ask questions, which I field... or they immediately transfer me to whoever is in charge of freight. When you hit a gatekeeper right between the eyes they are very likely to put you through to whoever it is that you should be talking to. They are very good at detecting bull****.

Usually when I get transferred to that person I hit a voicemail. When that happens I write down the persons name and wait a week. When I call back I ask for them directly by name... And this time I get warm transferred and usually get the live person in question. It's honestly like shooting fish in a barrel. At this point when it looks like I might have a slow week/quarter I just make 40-50 cold calls and generally land 2-3 new customers. Then I start weeding them out.
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Old 11-27-2014, 10:40 PM   #38
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

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What's the deal with the $50 tailgate fee?
I'm going to assume you're serious and are talking about liftgates. The 50$ (or more) that most LTL carriers charge for a liftgate delivery is for them having to use a smaller truck and have the driver do actual work unlike the dock to dock deliveries.
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Old 11-27-2014, 10:51 PM   #39
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

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There are many benefits working for the firm I would think...Insurance, custom documents, bill of ladings, invoices, tariff codes, pool of drivers, different trucks needed for types of freight (fridge for produce), inter-modal partners, brand recognition, etc.

Also, the capital required to start his own firm which I hope OP is working towards once the necessary building blocks are in place.

Definitely scope out the Memphis area and manufacturing facilities located there. Fedex is there for a reason!

I dont need to tell you but the freight brokerage environment is super competitive and you really need to build the relationship so companies continue to use you. =)
At this time I have no plans whatsoever to start a freight brokerage. Honestly running one seems like an absolutely massive headache that I have no real interest in. Either I'll rise up at my company (which is growing rapidly) or I'll quit and go to work for a customer eventually. Being a freight broker is a terrific jumping off point for getting into middle/upper management on the logistics side of companies. (and for good reason)

About the only people I feel SHOULD open freight brokerages are massively successful freight brokers who have massive accounts that they have amazing relationships with. (See the owner of my company and a couple of large military contractors and the military... who pay in 3 days.... making a billing department less than important at the beginning of my firm) If you're making 1M+ a year as a freight broker you already work 60+ hours a week and manage a team of 10+ people so there's no reason why you shouldn't just take your unit and do the same thing for 2M+ a year instead.

The freight brokerage environment isn't actually that competitive. The sheer number of really stupid people in the freight industry is staggering. At my job there is a small enough crew that internal competition for customers is nonexistent... And we can compete with basically anyone on price and on service. It's crazy competitive at places like TQL where all of the low hanging fruit was picked a decade ago and there are 1200 people who have the job title 'freight broker' beating the bushes (all of the bushes) for customers.
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Old 11-28-2014, 02:14 AM   #40
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

How many loads do you handle in an average week?

Does it bother you that how you're perceived service wise is often out of your control and defendant on the carrier?
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Old 11-28-2014, 08:11 AM   #41
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

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How many loads do you handle in an average week?

Does it bother you that how you're perceived service wise is often out of your control and defendant on the carrier?
~15

A little bit. Sometimes. More than anything I hate the lack of control with brand new customers. You REALLY need the first 2-3 loads to go perfectly and you need to provide a very high service level for the first 25. After you've been working with a customer for a long time (50-100 loads minimum) they tend to stop blaming you for carrier ****ups as much. There's a reason why I use the same carriers a lot and you just hit it directly.
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Old 11-29-2014, 12:06 PM   #42
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

Of course I was serious. It just seems like delivery charges should include loading/unloading the truck. Maybe it's the culture here (the drivers ***** nonstop) but it comes across as a cash-grab for a five-minute procedure.
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Old 11-29-2014, 12:30 PM   #43
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

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Of course I was serious. It just seems like delivery charges should include loading/unloading the truck. Maybe it's the culture here (the drivers ***** nonstop) but it comes across as a cash-grab for a five-minute procedure.
He already explained it. It has absolutely nothing to do with the drivers.
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Old 11-29-2014, 12:35 PM   #44
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

Great answer to my question, OP. Backoffice + financing makes sense, plus for the time being you still need the firm's reputation to make sales.

How many of the good people in the industry are ex-military?
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Old 11-29-2014, 08:40 PM   #45
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

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Great answer to my question, OP. Backoffice + financing makes sense, plus for the time being you still need the firm's reputation to make sales.

How many of the good people in the industry are ex-military?
At my job about 50% of the office is ex military. The owner is an ex military officer and the Director of Operations (who seriously makes the entire place run) was a senior NCO. I can't honestly speak for other places, but where I work they go out of their way to hire veterans. EDIT: I just remembered that the guy in charge of carrier services is also a veteran. As are the two most tenured brokers. Of the last 4 hires two were veterans. From what I've seen they like sales/operations backgrounds, new business degrees (definitely the worst of this group success ratio wise), or ex military.

To follow up on needing the firms reputation to make sales: when you first start a freight brokerage no one will give you the time of day. Some absurd % of brand new freight brokerages are incompetent, new bad actors, or retread bad actors who have started a LOT of new freight brokerages. A lot of trucking companies (especially the bigger ones) want to be paid up front before they run loads for new brokers (which obviously hugely impacts the cashflow situation for the new brokerage). Customers are very uncomfortable with dealing with new brokerages, which means that most new brokerages are depending on customers they've poached from their previous place of employment to have any business at all.

Sometimes that's 100% worth it. (like if your main customer is someone you did 4 MILLION dollars in brokerage with the last year... and they pay in 3 days.) But for the vast majority of freight brokers there isn't much of an advantage to going out on your own. There are real economies of scale in this business. I don't think the owner at my company took a salary for the first 2 years, and that's with the customer he already had (it's uncle sam basically).
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Old 11-29-2014, 08:42 PM   #46
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

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Originally Posted by P.R. View Post
Of course I was serious. It just seems like delivery charges should include loading/unloading the truck. Maybe it's the culture here (the drivers ***** nonstop) but it comes across as a cash-grab for a five-minute procedure.
A lot of it is the smaller truck. It also greatly reduces driver productivity to have them actually unloading the product instead of pulling up and it taking 2 minutes for it to get unloaded by a warehouse crew. Not going to pretend that it isn't a cash grab by the LTL carriers though. Like most businesses there's a lot of margin in the value added stuff. I'm 100% sure that the lift gate fees more than make up for the costs.
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Old 12-18-2014, 10:38 AM   #47
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

Interesting thread. Thanks!
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Old 12-18-2014, 12:02 PM   #48
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

I'm still open to answering any questions anyone has. This stuff affects anyone who sells anything physical a LOT so I'm actually semi surprised the thread didn't get more traction.
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Old 12-23-2014, 01:21 PM   #49
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

First I would like to thank you for all the valuable and interesting information you have presented in this thread.

Next I would like to ask a question or two regarding importation of goods from China. I am interested in starting a brick and mortar business establishment that will need a container full of product each year. I was quoted at $365/ton (FCL) by an agent in China.

I have noticed that the retail cost of this product is significantly higher than what I would be paying. What things would I need to consider when importing container loads? Is a shipping agent mandatory? Anything else you can think of would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 12-23-2014, 02:32 PM   #50
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Re: AMA about the logistics industry or working at a freight brokerage

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First I would like to thank you for all the valuable and interesting information you have presented in this thread.

Next I would like to ask a question or two regarding importation of goods from China. I am interested in starting a brick and mortar business establishment that will need a container full of product each year. I was quoted at $365/ton (FCL) by an agent in China.

I have noticed that the retail cost of this product is significantly higher than what I would be paying. What things would I need to consider when importing container loads? Is a shipping agent mandatory? Anything else you can think of would be greatly appreciated.
Yes unless you have a serious background in international shipping. For one container load per year it's in no way worth it to DIY something this complex. (You'll spend more by the time it hits your dock... and it will take longer... and you might not even get it at all).

The cost of transportation for something like this is going to be the majority of the cost. You can buy a lot of things cheaply in China... The great equalizer is that they cost very nearly the same to bring here as a container of anything else.
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