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What Is Carrier Engagement (& Why You Should Craft a Strategy around It)

“I know carrier relationships are important but carriers don’t seem to want one.”

“I’ve tried to get carriers to engage in the past, but it’s been unsuccessful.”


Sound familiar?


Ask any broker to list their top three issues, and carrier engagement is likely to be one of them. It might come up as a problem for small to medium-sized shippers, too.


So what’s going on? And why aren’t they engaging? But most importantly — why should you care?


The Problem

A key part of growing a relationship with your carriers is getting them to respond and engage with your team so that you can understand their needs and they can meet yours.


Today, there are hundreds of marketplaces out there for carriers to find freight. Some brokerages, especially large ones, have created their own, just for their freight. With an overwhelming number of places for carriers to look, so many of them turn to public load boards, because they have the most amount of freight in one place.


So if carriers don’t want to sign up for a new platform and you want to reduce your reliance on public load boards, what’s left?


3 Ways to Engage with Carriers

Generally speaking, there are only three ways to engage with carriers.

  1. Put your freight on the available marketplaces (public or private load board)

  2. Outbound email

  3. Outbound call

If you’re relying on existing marketplaces, your relationship will be more transactional — once they find and book the load, the interaction is done. If you send out a load list via email, they might scan it when it hits their inbox, or they might not read it at all. And if your phone call is just about the specific load you’re trying to book, the relationship ends when you hang up.


To give carriers a reason to engage with your team, you must devise a strategy. And hint: It’s more than just blasting out a load list to all the carriers you’ve worked with in the past.


How to Create an Engagement Strategy

A relationship with a carrier is mutually beneficial. You move more loads at consistent prices and they have a revenue stream they can count on. Plus, trust on both sides of the partnership can go a long way.


1. Ask yourself: How big is your brokerage and how familiar are carriers with your freight?

Most small to medium-sized brokerages lack name recognition and reputation isn’t established, so the differentiation must be in service. After one transaction is done, are they left wanting to engage again or were you just another load they booked and plan to move on? For larger brokerages, familiarity is less of an issue, which is why a private marketplace can work for them.


2. Figure out what your carrier’s need is.

Not every carrier is looking for the same thing — are you their main source of shipments? Or are you helping to balance their network? Whatever their need might be, be sure to notate it in their carrier profile, spreadsheet, or where you keep information on each carrier.


3. Build your touchpoints around the needs you identified.

Here are a few ideas.

  • For smaller carriers that count on you as their primary source of freight, identify and contract freight to their preferred lanes.

  • If you call about a load, don’t hang up when the conversation on that load is over. See what other loads might fit any available trucks or lanes they’re running — you might end up booking additional loads while helping the carrier fill their capacity.

  • Only contact a carrier with freight that they have (or previously) expressed interest in. Carriers are busy and the likelihood they’ll read a large load list is low, especially if it continues to be freight that doesn’t fit their needs. Large truck lists are difficult for you to digest — so why reciprocate with a load list?


Building a strategy around engagement can maximize your carrier relationships and grow your network of trusted partners. If you want to move more loads, contract more freight, and reduce risk on every transaction, get started with your team on a strategy today.



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