7 Questions Truck Drivers Must Ask For A Partnership
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Tactical Strategies That Boost Revenues. 

Whether you’re thumbing down a load board on DAT.com for the most relevant loads for your truck at the right prices or a shipper requires you to haul a high profile client’s 8,000 Ibs speed boat from west Alabama to West Palm Beach in the next 24hrs. It is important to ask the shipper manager and brokers tactical questions that pertain to your success as an owner operator to move your company into increased market share, better pricing, and other aspects that give you an advantage all while listening for a potential partnership.

1. What is unique about your company and what industry challenges you face?

This is an opportunity for you to connect with the shipper or manufacturing manager. By listening to their perspective and operational stresses. As an owner operator you can offer quick fixes or solutions that can put your potential partners at ease. The other obvious option is to just accept a paycheck to run their freight, but you may miss out on a current or future lane contract that’s perfect for your niche, payload capacity, run lanes and business needs. Your goal is to establish a 1st place value position, so shippers & brokers will perceive you as the man for women for the J.O.B. above all taking the mind to understand the minds of shippers will make you a better negotiator for future partnerships. 

2. What are your main priorities for moving freight?

Shippers are obsessed with price, delivery speed and low risks. Unlike a broker who does not assume responsibility for the cargo and usually does not take possession of it. Oftentimes shippers fall behind and want to avoid further problems and delays in their operations. If you don’t ask the question upfront your cash flow may be at the mercy of the shippers business attitudes and not their policy. Starting out the shipper or account manager may or may not provide enough information for you to make the best choices but you can identify if this is a partnership, win/lose situation or what areas you can provide a service too; specially if they are not pleased with the current transportation providers and truck drivers.

3. Are you having any ordeals with truck drivers? 

Now is the time to get excited about offering your skills and services, listen for key cues, Use the shipper or management answers or pain points as your introduction about your expertise, credibility, driving success rates and client references that prove your carriers satisfaction. Shippers and brokers understand that truck drivers represent them both poorly due to late arrivals, bad attitudes or professional service as a long reliable freight carrier and owner operator.

4. What metrics do you have for expediting freight?

Again the shipper may not give you the best answers, because someone else may be making the decisions with them? The question still helps your efforts to offer your services & solutions to partner with the company or get your food in the door. The shipper may also inform you that they are falling behind and just want their cargo out of the warehouse as soon as possible due to limited space. By asking the question lets them know that you have a desire to work within their standards of operations. The Shipper may also open up an opportunity for you to expand your business vs working as a sole owner operator…. notice I said truck services vs a driver… which leads to the next revenue driven question.

5. Do you have other shipping locations that require my specialized services? 

Find out where other shipping locations exist for freight carriers at the company. This way, even if there is no chance of integrating into the shipping system, you may be able to establish a first place position and strategize for other lane accounts at a later date. You can also ask who can benefit from my services as a way of requiring contacts with the company network. 

They may be opening up a lane and could aqquier you if they are integrated into your customers’ systems, you will have to rely on freight carriers to report their own performance…

6. Typically how long freight is detention at your docks?

A shipper’s customs and attitude toward detention times is a character trait that directly affects your bank account. As a truck owner operator, you can’t afford to lose money as a reliable freight carrier. If there are chronic detention misunderstandings or discrepancies within their company, and you will end up covering an unexpected bill or two which includes wasting fuel, idling your truck and longer waits if trucks are backed up doing paperwork…  As a truck driver, you want to avoid and prevent putting yourself in bad situations at the docks. Especially if it’s not worth the loads… make sure the paperwork and docking crew are staff and exiting your arrival at the agreed upon date & times.

Overall, it’s a wise strategy to use your knowledge of the industry and your lanes to get a shipper on the phone, then use your listening skills to find the sweet spots in their company landscape for getting your 1st account. The most successful owner operators that focus on building relationships over the long term win financially, as opposed to a one time cash deal, that way serve a purpose as well by paying off your debt for the month.

7. Lastly, Always ask for the business. 

Several times if you have to and for any lanes the shipper perceives in the future that can benefit from a reliable freight expeditor. Just as important, thank the shippers for their time, You never know how stressful their day may have been due to the fierce competition within the industry. The spirit of gratitude can go a long way. If or when you obtain the business account alway state is there any reason or concern for me not taking the business, this twofold question allows to you as owner to address any doubts that may resurface after leaving the meeting and seal the deal by reaffirms your skills, success rates and desire to perform. 

Note: Remember your endgame is to establish a roadmap for increasing the number of driver loads in your service areas, retaining partnerships that meet your business capacity goal. You will need a business plan for that. Also when seeking a potential partnership do your research and seek a professional to help you with your business plan and proposal to send to partners. When you can get shippers or partners, answering the right questions they will work in synergy with you as a world class truck owner operator…

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