The market for shippers and carriers is interesting. It was not too long ago (2017 and 2018) that capacity was tight and shippers were scrambling to secure capacity. Fast forward to 2019
, and capacity has been abundant and rates have fallen.
So, what is next? All is good in the world for shippers, so why rock the boat? Because, not all is right in the world for carriers. Therefore, this “cycle of life” is due a turn back upward for rates and tighter capacity (please remember the driver demographic has not improved and is aging by the day).
Overall, that’s the macroeconomics of what the logistics industry is facing.
But, What About the Microeconomics?
The microeconomics relate more to day-to-day execution, or the service side. This is where the broker excels and provides the value — living, breathing and coordinating the hundreds of variables that can arise in the course of transporting goods in North America.
I have been mentoring individuals who enter this industry using first-hand experience and lessons from the great mentors I have/had. The challenge, unlike most other industries, is there is no magic book that you can refer to for an answer to every situation. You may have 5 “events” happen on a load and depending on the order in which they occur, have 120 different combinations to factor in creating the solution.
That’s why we call transportation “managing chaos,” and for some of us, it’s fun — answering phone calls at 2AM, issuing that 4AM lumpers, interrupting Thanksgiving dinner to make sure a load gets picked up or delivered, fielding a call from an upset shipper because a load hasn’t arrived, even staying up all night with a driver who is traveling through inclement weather. These events and many more are what good brokers do every day in order to service their customers.
They do it without fanfare, and they do it because it’s the right thing to do. They relish in the opportunity to solve problems. Good brokers are not trained in this trait. It is something that their parents, teachers, coaches, mentors and life have taught them, and brokerages across America strive to hire these individuals every day.
However, these individuals are not available to most shippers. No offense; your job is not exciting enough for them. True brokers embrace this chaos and the unknown of what challenges the next day holds. There is no prepping for the next day’s issues, because until they happen, they can’t be foreseen.
Many of us have heard the sports terms, “That player needs to slow the game down,” or, “That player has ice water running through their veins.” Good brokers are the latter. The more things that are going wrong, the more their focus, energy and problem-solving skills are peaking.
I am asked on a frequent basis, “Why should I use a broker when I can do it myself?” My answer, “Bad things happen in transportation. Would you rather have a small fire that can be stomped out, or a fire that takes out 10 million acres?” Brokers are the best firefighters you know.