Strategies for building strong transport partnerships

June 27, 2023

In the transport industry, the word “partnership” can mean many different things. Brokers, carriers, and shippers may all have their own perspectives on what qualities make a great partner. Sometimes these views align and a lasting partnership is forged. In other cases, it can be difficult to get on the same page. In the modern transport field, what elements come together to create a partnership that rises above the level of a mere business relationship?

“Communication and negotiation,” says Nathan Helms, Director of Transportation Management Services for Organic Valley. “Partnership is all about what’s beneficial and what works for both sides. It can’t be a one-way street.”

Along with open and honest lines of communication, consistency is an important factor in maintaining strong transport partnerships.

“‘Partnership’ gets tossed around a lot in our business,” says Joe Lombardo, President of Ege Avenue Associates. “You’re a partner one year, and the next year if there’s a change in the market, you’re not.

What qualities define a true partnership in the transport field? Watch the latest episode of the Stay In Your Lane Podcasts for insights from industry leaders on this important topic.

Without the consistency that comes with knowing your counterpart will be there through ups and downs of the market, the title of partner is all but meaningless. Building the kind of partnership that can go the distance also requires transparency among stakeholders.

“To me, a partnership runs deep,” Lombardo adds. “It also has to have a certain amount of openness. It’s a lot of sharing of information. It could even mean bringing the carrier into the shipper’s planning process.”

Like any healthy relationship, transport industry partnerships require give and take to thrive.

“If we will do things for a client that we know aren’t profitable, but we choose to do them anyway, that’s more than likely a great partner,” explains John Mahle of Triple T Transport. “Vice-versa, if I need something and the client will do something to help us, that solidifies to us that this is a real partnership.”

What makes cultivating partnerships a worthwhile endeavor in today’s business environment? The peace of mind of knowing that someone has your back when problems arise is hard to put a price on. This is why true partnerships will always be superior to mere transactional relationships.

“Our goal is to bring value from every perspective possible,” says Mahle. “When that’s genuine, it comes across. That’s a pretty strong thing.”

It is also important to remember that good partners come in all shapes and sizes. A small time carrier shouldn’t feel at a disadvantage when attempting to create bonds with other industry stakeholders. In the vast transport ecosystem, everyone has a part to play.

“When I was an active shipper, partners tended to be the larger carriers, because they bring a lot to the table,” says Lombardo. “But as I step back and think about it, a partner could be a niche carrier with 25 trucks, it could be a guy with 100 trucks – as long as they’re bringing value.”

This sentiment is shared by Helms.

“Our bread and butter is with smaller asset carriers,” he explains. “We love working with smaller carriers because we’re important to them, and they’re important to us. They want to grow, and as long as they perform and communicate, it’s a win-win.”

“I want to align myself with people that want and need me as much as I need the service, communication, and everything that the relationship brings,” adds Mahle. “I think that makes a healthy relationship.”

Transparency, loyalty, and trust form the bedrock of strong transportation partnerships. Ready to build your network and forge the lasting partnerships you’ll need to thrive in today’s fast-paced market? Trust the experienced 3PL professionals at Triple T Transport for all your freight brokerage needs. Contact us today to get started.

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