Feature Article: Beyond the Rate

Todd Dills | January 01, 2010

– Charlie Parfrey of Parfrey Trucking Brokerage

second-man“If I know I can call you and know that you’re an owner-operator who will pick up and deliver on time, I’ll be very, very fair, pay fast, try to keep you loaded fast, because I need you coming back.”

– Michael Fouts, president of CRST Logistics

How to Succeed on the Call

Paul Todd of T&G Dispatchers likes to deal with brokers he knows, but he’s learned how to get the best rate when he talks to someone he doesn’t know. His tips:

• Never reveal your home location. Brokers seem to want “every load they dispatch to be a ‘backhaul’ because they can keep more money.”

• Avoid sounding “desperate or excited about the load or the rate, regardless of whether it is a good rate or not.” At the same time, use your conversational awareness to detect the same in the broker.

• Be aware of your background noise when you’re on the phone. “If the broker can clearly hear that you are driving,” he’ll know you’re not able to look up average rates, mileage and other information.

• Never answer the question “How much can you do the run for?” unless you know the maximum the broker will pay. “Do not be afraid to quote high and counter-quote high.”

• Include deadhead in any quote, which Todd calls “making them wait. Even if you risk losing the load because the broker is ‘rushy,’ so what?”

• Try to load when rates are good, such as on Fridays or late in the day, as shippers’ doors close and brokers get desperate on certain loads. You can see how long a load has been posted via most load boards.

• Be patient. “Too many owner-operators say things to themselves like, ‘If I do not take the load now, I may not get it.’ ”

Questions to Build a Relationship

“Negotiating is really all about relationships,” says ATBS Trucking Business & Beyond host Kevin Rutherford. “To be successful with your own authority, you need to find the right shippers. But if you’ll be using brokers, you need to focus on a lane, or an area – maybe a triangular or round area – and keep it down to the minimum number of brokers you can use to keep the truck moving.”