For Chris Jolly, consistent communication with shippers and carriers goes hand-in-hand with customer loyalty for brokers in the shipping industry. “You'll never get punished for doing the right thing,” he said.
In Episode 7 of Banyan’s Tire Tracks™ podcast, Jolly, broker and podcast host also known as The Freight Coach, discusses his blue-collar beginnings, being real about shipping in his podcast, and customer loyalty and communication.
“A customer should never call my brokerage or my business and get a busy tone, a no answer, or a voicemail, because they should hear from me first,” said Jolly. “No matter what, as crappy as the situation might be, they should hear from me first -- just like my carriers. If there's a delay, they should hear it from me.”
Jolly attributes technology to playing a vital role in his ability to being able to provide that vital personal touch to his customers. Having access to a critical piece of technology that creates time-saving efficiencies affords him the ability to be more responsive and more in tune with his clients’ needs, creating that value added, broker-client relationship that translates into the much sought-after customer loyalty.
“95% of my day as a freight broker should be automated. I shouldn't be manually building loads. I shouldn't be manually accepting tenders. Load updates through tracking should be automatically sent over. API integrations, whatever you want to do to automate everything you should -- except for those intangible moments that customers need to hear from you,” said Jolly.
Communication vs. Emotion
In a recent webinar on the state of freight, FreightWaves experts said that they were cautiously optimistic about where the industry is headed in the second half of 2023 despite not experiencing any seasonality this past year.
New capacity continues to make the market more challenging, according to FreightWaves. Combined with too much inventory and consumers spending less on the discretionary items that typically drive freight, has led to a flat year for shipping.
Spot rates are currently about 86 cents less per mile than contracted rates when they are typically 35 cents apart in a normal market. By the end of the year, contract rates should be about 20-25 cents less per mile, according to FreightWaves.
Shelley Simpson, President of J.B. Hunt Transport Services, also stated in a LinkedIn post that we are in a freight recession, “one that is reminiscent of 2009 in shipments”, she writes.
Despite these types of reports, Jolly said from his 15-plus years of experience in freight, he doesn’t believe the industry is ever as volatile as people want to proclaim.
“I think that what's volatile is your emotion in the moment of not wanting to lose money,” he said. “I think that's the biggest driving force behind a lot of things. Or you misquoted a load, and you don't want to take that [loss]. So, you give the load back, you make up [some excuse] about how a truck broke down, or, you know, they blew a tire or they're not well, whatever.”
Jolly sees the market cycle as it has in the past, and that looking back at any freight market, 18 to 24 months is how long it lasts.
“I personally think 95% of the problems that brokers have are self-inflicted. And I think that the markets, even [during the pandemic], the market operated identically as it has over the last 10 years – an 18-month cycle,” he said. “The only thing that was volatile was the extreme that the rates went up. That was the only thing that was different. But the fact of the matter is, is it operated the way that it always does. The only outlier was how high prices were for equipment and everything else, and how high the rates shot up. But the market performed the way that the market always performs.”
To hear more about the reality of communication and customer loyalty in shipping, visit https://www.banyantechnology.com/resource/the-reality-of-customer-loyalty-with-the-freight-coach-episode-7
All new episodes of Tire Tracks will be posted monthly on all major podcast channels including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts. Video versions of the podcast will be hosted on Banyan’s YouTube channel and the company’s website.
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