How a True Digital Experience Helps Brokers Win the Capacity Battle and Build Carrier Loyalty

Unlike the battles for gold at the Summer Olympics, the competition for reliable and secure freight capacity, as well as winning carrier loyalty, continues unabated. What are the biggest challenges brokers face in winning and sustaining this competition? How can technology help build carrier loyalty? And how do you measure success? Those are the main questions I discussed with Geoff Turner, Founder and CEO of Choptank, and Prasad Gollapalli, Founder and CEO of Trucker Tools, during a recent episode of Talking Logistics.  

The Capacity Battle

With all of the disruptions the transportation industry has experienced over the past 20 months, it’s no surprise that finding capacity is a struggle for shippers and brokers. Geoff Turner of Choptank, a 20-year-old specialty broker in food and refrigerated transportation, says the situation is very out of balance right now, with trucks out of network and carriers just trying to get their networks back in order. That combined with the heightened driver shortage and rising insurance costs have left carriers, especially small and medium-sized carriers, struggling. “The better we can deliver quality freight to them through an efficient channel, that makes their life a lot easier and helps them build out their network density,” Geoff says.

Technology and Carrier Loyalty

I asked Prasad how technology can help brokers increase carrier loyalty to ensure consistent capacity. Prasad notes that despite the impression that technology replaces people, relationships are still critical to success. Technology helps brokers go beyond tendering a single load to a carrier to offer a series of loads that improve the carrier’s utilization while building network density for the broker. “Expanding your business with your existing network is of paramount need today because it helps secure capacity.

“The second problem is that carrier lanes are often not aligned with the broker’s freight,” continues Prasad. “Technology helps align a new carrier’s lanes with the broker’s freight to grow the relationship and build out the broker’s network. So, technology can nurture relationships with existing carriers and add new carriers over time. This eliminates all of the noise and inefficiencies in the process.”

Geoff adds that the huge increase in use of the spot market during the pandemic has left many carriers with trucks out of their normal lanes. He notes that the technology from Trucker Tools that Choptank uses enables these carriers to find the best match for their equipment rather than grabbing any load from a load board. 

“Besides finding the best matches for carriers, the Trucker Tools technology provides visibility and load tracking without making the drivers phone in, and gives them tools such as finding available rest stops,” says Geoff. “It’s like a carrier marketplace and productivity tool for them. It makes their life easier. This makes us a preferred broker and that’s what’s important. The more we can keep carriers in our network, the less claims we have, the less late deliveries we experience and it’s better for us, our carriers, and our customers.”

Measuring Success

I next asked Geoff how they measure the success from using the technology. Geoff explains that they look at it from the perspective of how they can make life easier for their customers and carriers. He notes that there are many vendors offering capabilities such as freight visibility, but it’s unfair to ask a carrier to use one app one day and another app the next day. “We wanted one solution for our carriers to use that gives our customers the information they want. We initially got 50%-60% adoption by our carriers, but now we are consistently above 90% and as high as 98% utilization. That’s how we measure success. The win for our carrier base is we can provide them with high quality freight and services to make their lives easier and more productive.”

Beyond the Build vs. Buy Decision

When I asked Prasad how companies deal with the build vs. buy (or subscribe) decision, he explained that it has evolved beyond that to consider the advantages of partnership. What are the ramifications of this evolution, and what will it mean in the future for data evolution? Prasad had some great thoughts on this. Likewise, Geoff had some very interesting comments on how Choptank is using the data and advanced visibility to have more productive discussions with their customers. Therefore, I encourage you to watch the full episode for all their insights and advice. Then post a comment and share your own perspective on this topic to keep the conversation going.