Becoming a successful freight agent is easier than ever before with the right technology in hand. Our GlobalTranz TMS and CRM are renowned in the industry. However, technology alone does not make a successful freight agent. For example, there are certain habits that freight agents need to have in order to be successful —like the ability to handle high-pressure logistics without falling to pieces.
On top of that, technology has changed the logistics industry so much that there are new skills required that agents 40 years ago never imagined needing. At the same time, some skills (whether you’re in logistics or any other industry) will always be necessary to be successful.
Here are 10 key skills freight agents specifically need to have to maximize their success:
#1: Ability to Develop Creative Strategies: Strategy Skills
Strategy is a huge part of making your freight agency successful. With so many different links along a typical supply chain, you have to have the ability to develop creative strategies to get the job done. Strategy skills are not always second nature and if you don’t hone them, your freight agency is going to be dysfunctional. Deliveries will not get there on time and you will lose business.
Being able to handle any event takes smart planning and strategy. Put this at the top of your list of skills to develop as you begin or improve your freight agency.
#2: Ability to Keep Everything Organized: Organizational Skills
If you are like many freight agents today, you work independently. You are your own assistant, scheduler, booker, strategist, and financial planner. That is on top of managing your daily influx of requests and orders. You cannot compete in this industry if you can’t keep it all straight.
Your organizational skills are one of the things that set you apart from other agents. Even if you have no employees and you do it all yourself, it should never feel that way to your clients. Strong organizational skills will help you to be proactive and provide high quality customer service.
#3: Ability to Manage Workload and or Employees: Management Skills
Successful freight agents have to be good managers of their workload as well as people. If you’re running a top-flight freight agency, then you know very well how easy it can be to get overwhelmed by your workload.
Workload management begins and ends with having the right people in place, whether that’s you on your own or managing employees to cover important functions. The ability to have the right people in the right places to help you manage your workload takes a firm knowledge of what is needed and what personnel skills will enhance your business. In order to be successful as a freight agent, you must have excellent management skills.
#4: Ability to Connect with Clients, Vendors, and Customers: People Skills
People skills go beyond being good to your employees and helpful to your clients. Having these skills is more about your ability to connect with people from your customers to your vendors. In your daily interactions, are your communications fraught with tension and misunderstandings?
A freight agent with strong people skills knows how to express himself or herself in a respectful and understanding manner, even when there is a problem. Your job as a freight agent is to help your customers, clients, and vendors, get the job done. Your people skills will either help you retain more business or help you lose it.
#5: Ability to Build and Grow Your Business: Business Skills
Once you’ve established yourself as a freight agent, you need to build a thriving business that grows. That requires a number of business skills including:
- Negotiating Prowess – Whether negotiating a contract with a national carrier or figuring out the right pay rate for your drivers, you will need some negotiation skills to maximize your profits.
- Financial Planning – Without smart forecasting planning for your finances over the long term is going to hinder your business growth.
- Marketing Knowledge – In this day and age you have to know how to market your agency especially as an independent freight agent online and through social media.
Good freight agents are constantly adding new skills to their repertoire. If you know you lack some of these business skills, it’s not too late to learn. Think about taking a business finance class or marketing class to improve your business skills.
#6: Ability to Make Smart Connections: Networking Skills
Building your list of clients and contacts requires strong networking skills. As you are making connections, you have to be strategic. Think about contacts that could help your business both directly and indirectly then start networking.
Just because you work as an independent agent doesn’t mean that you don’t need other people to be successful. Business-to-business networking with other freight agents and brokers is a major key to unlocking your business potential by making smart connections.
#7: Ability to Handle Many Tasks at Once: Multi-Tasking Skills
All freight agents know that the ability to handle many tasks at once is an important skill. Part of the day you are working on building up your clientele. Another part of the day you are processing invoices and contacting vendors. For the majority of the day you in constant contact with multiple drivers on the ground moving freight.
Multi-tasking skills are a must if you plan on being a freight agent at all let alone a successful one. Start small and don’t overwhelm yourself until you know you can handle the incoming traffic. Don’t be a cheapskate either. If you need help, hire more personnel (or use smart TMS that does the administrative work for you – check out our CarrierRate2.0).
#8: Ability to Analyze Best Shipping Routes: Logistics Planning Skills
Your customers are looking to your agency because they need logistical support to move their freight. As the freight agent, your clients are counting on you to be able to provide them with the best shipping routes that will get their product from A to B with the fewest number of incidents (preferably none!).
Logistics planning is made much simpler today using advanced technology. Still, technology can only provide you with the information, you have to analyze it and make the best decisions. Your logistics planning skills can make you an extremely successful freight agent.
#9: Ability to Adhere to Different Regulations: Compliance Skills
Every state and city has its own regulations for hauling freight. It’s not usually right up a freight agent’s alley to know the ins and outs of regulatory policy. However, if you want to do your job right, you need to understand and comply with different regulations from multiple jurisdictions.
Particularly if you are shipping overseas, there are customs, duty, tariffs, and more to deal with. If you want to be a successful freight agent with a booming business, you need compliance skills so that your loads aren’t stopped in their tracks because you didn’t cross every “t” or dot every “i.”
#10: Ability to Apply Advanced Systems to Freight Management: Technical Skills
Did you know that more than 80% of freight industry professionals are preparing to harness the power of the Internet of Things to further speed up their supply chains? The future for logistics technology is wide open. From the IoT to drone technology your ability to compete in the highly competitive logistics field is going to take advanced technical skill.
That means you will need to invest the money to upgrade your technological abilities. Over 50% of logistics industry professionals plan on investing in their technical skills this year. Don’t be the one who doesn’t invest!.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring? For you to succeed as a freight agent, you need to be ready for the next big thing in advanced technology. Start figuring out ways that you could eventually incorporate driverless carriers into your business or add sensor automation to your operations. The more equipped your technology systems are to handle change rapidly the better.
Use the Smartest TMS Tools for Optimal Success
So now that you know what it takes to succeed as a freight agent, how you can dramatically reduce your costs while exponentially improving your freight agency? We have one word for you – GlobalTranz.
Our technology has been revolutionizing the freight industry for more than a decade. As leaders in the freight tech revolution, we have worked hard to create the type of technology that will help any agent from the novice to the expert succeed.
Many of your administrative functions can be automated using our CarrierRate2.0 software. Our ShipperCenter software helps agents find more customers and our CommandCenter is the central hub of all of your business activity giving you a bird’s-eye-view of your freight business. Contact us now for more information.