Man vs machine: is technology setting you up for failure?
December 19, 2023
Trucking is a unique industry that thrives on relationships, professionalism, and trust. New technology is helping the industry evolve in exciting new ways, but the importance of building strong connections between drivers, shippers, and carriers remains a top priority. The necessity of these personal relationships in a successful transport operation underscores the advantages of the traditional freight brokerage model that digital platforms have been unable to replicate with success.
“Success in trucking is built on relationships. Getting to the next level is built on how well you can establish relationships,” says Lewie Pugh, Executive VP of the OOIDA. “You can’t build a relationship with an app.”
Though stakeholders across the supply chain have an important role to play, the truck driver is the face of the product being transported. Whether an independent owner-operator or an employee of a carrier, the driver is the one who represents the brand and its values during the transportation process.
For better or worse, everything related to the transport process reflects on the driver. When an unforeseen problem arises with a temperature-controlled delivery or a shipment is delayed, it’s the driver who faces the immediate consequences. This sense of ownership and accountability is a key to success in the industry. However, truckers who utilize digital brokers are often left holding the bag on issues that a traditional broker could remedy.
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Success in trucking is tied to your ability to build partnerships. Unlike other industries where digital platforms and apps may suffice, trucking relies heavily on personal connections. Whether hauling freight for a major company or working as an owner operator with a single truck, the value of building a rapport not only with the freight broker and others involved in the delivery process is immeasurable.
While drivers are often perceived as the owners of a delivery’s success or failure, good drivers depend on their supply chain partners to accomplish their goals. The foundations of these partnerships are built on trust and reliability. By consistently delivering on promises, solving problems proactively, and fostering strong relationships, a truck driver not only secures a reliable income but forms lasting business relationships with representatives of the companies they worked with.
Technological advancements in the industry are an undeniable part of the modern transport field, but digital platforms and apps are not without their limitations. These platforms inability to establish the same level of trust, understanding, and connection as their human counterparts is a major drawback. The importance of human interaction, especially in solving problems and making decisions in real-time, cannot be replaced by algorithms.
At their core, digital brokerage platforms are technology companies. They can never share the traditional broker’s inside view of the transport industry. “These digital brokers went to the large retail shippers and basically bought some business. They put in low rates with low margins when they were flush with cash from venture capital,” explains Ege Avenue Founder Joe Lombardo. “Then the market turned, interest rates went up, and these guys couldn’t show a profit.”
Digital freight brokers, particularly those who entered the market with aggressive pricing strategies, are struggling to survive in today’s competitive market. Issues such as extended payment terms and a lack of commitment to the industry are among the pitfalls for digital brokers. Important factors such as an understanding of the industry, core competency in trucking, and a commitment to long-term success cannot be easily replicated by outside tech firms.
In a world where technology is rapidly advancing, the trucking industry remains rooted in relationships, professionalism, and trust. This shows the lasting importance of human connections in an industry that relies on the dedication and reliability from drivers and brokers. As we navigate the future of trucking, it’s clear that successful freight brokerage is not just about moving goods but about building and maintaining meaningful relationships. For an established and experienced broker that embraces the values you need to succeed in today’s market, look to the 3PL professionals at Triple T Transport. Contact us today to learn more about our full range of services or to receive a quote.