The Name Game
“Any time you can make a positive impact in this industry and your drivers are clean-cut and professional, it’s good,” he says. “Our drivers are proud of what they do in a very labor-intensive and dangerous job.”
Online activity. Internet use is affecting the way business is done more and more. For example, 65 percent of all U.S. adults now use social-networking sites, the Pew Research Center says. Readers 34-44 years old spend from three to five hours daily online, and those 44-64 years old two to four hours, the Wall Street Journal says.
Taking a saucy approach
Making an impression with flare is important to Mark “Gator” Arnold, 53-year-old owner of All Ways Trucking in Bells, Texas. Arnold not only uses business cards with a photo of his rig, a 2007 Volvo and dry van, but he has given Christmas cards and pens to clients. “It just kind of connects on a personal level,” Arnold says.
A unique touch is his homemade Red Wiley’s Sweet & Sassy Bar-B-Q Sauce, which he often gives to clients. The spicy concoction has helped land him loans at the bank as well as repeat loads. Once an Arkansas broker called him back “just because of the barbecue sauce,” Arnold says. “Those people don’t ever forget you.”
Research, cold calls & image
Keeping a clean truck and developing an established niche are more practical than online marketing for many drivers who hope to become independent one day, says Joe Rajkovacz of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
Henry Albert, 47, used that plan 15 years ago, when he launched Albert Transport. Karen Albert helped her husband, named Overdrive’s 2007 Trucker of the Year, making “cold calls by phone,” she says. “I’d say hundreds before Henry even bought his first truck.”
The industrial sector of Charlotte, N.C., boomed in the mid- and late ’90s while the Alberts, of Mooresville, looked for flatbed freight to haul on the East Coast. But even then, a client base of shippers grows slowly, Karen says. “It takes time, years, to establish the groundwork to get your relationships set.”
Albert started showing up early for jobs wearing a tie, pressed khakis and steel-toed shoes. “I had to deliver the promise,” he says. After Albert hired other drivers, who wore shirts with embroidered names, they took donuts to new clients’ shipping offices. Henry often bought sodas and bottled water for loaders.
“They remember you,” Karen says.
‘The trucks with the paws’
Clay Allman started Road Dog Express two years ago with high expectations of his drivers. “They are expected to be well-groomed and introduce themselves to customers,” he says.
The quest for quality is reflected in his trailers, which are emblazoned with paw prints and a slogan: “We’re making tracks to be the best.”