We at Bryant Surety Bonds, are constantly in touch with current and former truck drivers who have partly or entirely shifted their career to being freight brokers. We provide them with freight broker bonds but we sometimes also discuss their careers and the transition from being a driver to being a freight broker.
Of course, as with any other such career move, becoming a freight broker has its pros and cons and is often a matter of temperament and shifting priorities rather than a strict for or against.
But we also regularly get to hear some really exciting and inspiring stories by people who have shifted jobs and done so in very successful ways. One such story is that of Dennis Brannon with whom we were in touch recently and who was kind enough to share it with us.
From Truck Driver to a Freight Broker
Dennis was a truck driver for 11 years in total. At one time he was working with a freight broker who was particularly lazy, usually off somewhere playing golf or fishing, and hence not around when Dennis needed him the most.
This was causing tension and delays so at some point Dennis sat down and learned how to use the broker’s AS400 system and began doing the broker’s job for himself and others, while continuing to be a truck driver.
Some time after, in conversation with a client, Dennis got the idea to become an independent agent as he already had some experience with brokering. A week later he became an agent, sold his Peterbilt and “never looked back”.
Today, running a multi-million dollar business, Dennis tells us that he worked hard on building his brand, getting customers on board and assembling the right team – one that is well educated, has a clear purpose, culture and vision.
Dennis’s and other brokers’ stories got us thinking about the qualities that make a good freight broker. Of course, there are a number of skills that a broker must have in order to get their job done but in our experience those are not enough to come through with flying colors.
Over the course of speaking to so many of our customers over the years, we have come to recognize some essential qualities that truly professional brokers have and continuously develop. These are:
Honesty and Trustworthiness
Honesty, though sometimes making things harder for the broker, pays off a hundred times in the long run. Making transparency and honesty your standards when communicating with carriers and shippers means you will eventually gain their trust.
Trustworthiness is a direct result of being honest about the conditions of a load or about what is possible and what not, without making empty promises or trying to cover something up. Consequently, brokers who do not think of their partners’ interests along with their own, end up losing.
Resilience and Flexibility
Resilience is necessary in order to brave everyday challenges and the altogether stressed and hectic position of a broker. Freight brokers who are not easily rattled and who keep their cool are also able to develop the necessary flexibility to make quick decisions, shift things around, rearrange loads and try to have as many people happy at the end of the day as possible.
Resilience and flexibility make thriving in the fast-paced transportation and logistics business a goal within reach, as many brokers who are not resilient enough succumb to the chaos that this type of work sometimes turns into.
Being Self-Motivated and Customer-Oriented
As it becomes apparent from Dennis’s story, what has been driving him forward as well as so many others among our drivers-turned-brokers clients, is their passion for the job. Along with their invaluable experience and knowledge of being a truck driver, the most successful brokers are those who are self-motivated.
Being self-motivated means that your motivation is not derived entirely from outer conditions and circumstances (e.g. your paycheck), but is an inner drive to do your job well, efficiently and with a desire to be of use to both shippers and carriers. The latter part also includes being customer-oriented. It also means building and investing in long-lasting relationships that will, over time, come to drive in even more business.
Being Proactive and Continually Learning New Things
Dennis’s story is also a great example of how taking matters in one’s own hands and daring to learn and do something new can end up pointing us in an entirely different direction in life.
Anticipating changes, challenges, and innovations, as well as making for greater variety in one’s already existing skill set and education lies at the heart of being a good broker. This could mean engaging in more networking, sharing skills with others or taking courses, but also to trying out new technologies, approaches, and methods.
All of these pave the way for your own growth and development and, hence, your success and meaningful participation in the transportation industry.
What Else Does it Take?
Which other qualities do you think a successful freight broker should possess and why? Which are the qualities that have helped you the most and how did you develop them? We’d love to hear your story and experience, please leave us a comment!