Part III: Is the Grass Really Greener?

July 20, 2015
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THE SECOND INSTALLMENT OF A THREE PART SERIES ON WHAT FREIGHT BROKER AGENTS SHOULD CONSIDER WHEN LOOKING FOR A NEW HOME.

The Final installment of a three part series on what freight broker agents should consider when looking for a new home. Originally there were 9 key areas but after further thought, it made more sense to combine a few under one heading: The Company.

7. The Company

When looking at the company as a whole, there are several factors to consider. They all have advantages and disadvantages so you need to determine what’s the best fit for you.

  • Size: Small, medium or large? Then there’s Super-sized! Do you want to be a big fish in a little pond? Or little fish in a big pond? Really give this some thought. No one wants to be “a number”. Take the Goldie Locks approach. Find one in the middle that’s “Just Right”. A mid-sized company can be big enough to contend but small enough to bend.
  • Public vs. Private: A publically traded company’s focus is all about shareholder wealth, stock prices and dividends. You could find yourself battling through a lot of red tape and typically there’s little to no flexibility. However, private companies may lack capital or be padding the owners pockets and not re-investing. Family owned businesses have their own set of challenges.
  • Asset vs. non-asset: Having assets is a big plus. But how many also makes a difference. There are a lot of brokers out there holding themselves out as an “asset-based” company when the fact remains they may only have one truck. And it sits in the parking lot. Smells fishy don’t you think?   To be MAP-21 compliant the brokerage and carrier portions of the business need to be separated. Remember, asset-backed and asset- based is not the same thing.
  • Carrier Base: Don’t be awed by the number of carriers in a broker’s database. If they have 40,000 trucking companies under contract consider how many they realistically loads on a regular basis. More than likely the vast majorities are one-and-done. Any good broker knows it’s about quality vs. quantity.
  • Certifications & Affiliations: SmartWay, CTPAT, TIA, hazmat, minority owned, Gold Book Broker, etc.

8. Intangibles

Sometimes it just comes down to a gut feel. What’s the culture like? How do they treat the employees? Does the deal sound too good to be true? Are they telling you what you want to hear? If they sound like a used car salesman you may want to reconsider. Think about this: in the first 5 minutes of the conversation if they're talking about your numbers, revenue, etc. what do you think they’re really concerned about: you or your revenue? This is a two-way street, a partnership. Both parties need to feel good about the arrangement or it’s just not going to work. If one party isn’t 100% committed but decides to move ahead anyway, over time, that feeling of uncertainty will smolder. When something smolders, it’ll start to smoke. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire and eventually someone will get burned. Make sure it’s a good fit from the start. There should be a sense of comfort, trust, integrity, honesty and a mutual value set.

Conclusion

At the end of the day you need to compare apples to apples. See the big picture and consider all of the variables. Remember, you wouldn’t buy a new car just because of the color. Dig, probe and ask the crunchy questions. Push in the soft spots. Don’t settle for vague or pie-in-the-sky answers. Talk to several people within the organization. Get a good feeling for the culture. This is a big decision and you deserve honest, direct answers. Not smoke and mirrors. You’re hiring this company. They’re working for YOU! You’ll know you’ve found a home if they treat you like a customer.Circling back to the original question: is the grass really greener on the other side of the fence? Well, it just may be. But ask yourself, is it greener because they’re watering and nurturing the grass or is it greener because there’s more manure over there?

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