Tim Breckenridge, the Sr. VP and co-founder of Rocket Logistics, shares his expert insights on how to succeed in trucking in 2023, with valuable strategies and advice for logistics providers looking to thrive in the industry.
First, Tim shares key advice for approaching shippers and winning business in the current market.
Understand Your Target “Don’t send out generic mass emails. Understand their network.” Before approaching shippers, research and understand their specific needs and network. Tailor your pitch to address the unique requirements of each shipper.
Create a Unique Model “Create a model that’s different than potentially what every other broker is doing out there.” Offer a distinct value proposition by providing services that set you apart from your competitors. At Rocket Logistics, they focus on a “carrier-first match with the shipper” approach.
Add Value to Stand Out “Get to know your shippers, add some value some way, be different than the guy down the block.” To win over shippers, go beyond just offering competitive prices; focus on creating value through innovative solutions and services.
Know Your Own Network “Know your network before offering it to a shipper.” If you’re an asset-based provider, be transparent about your operational capabilities and network. Be specific about your service offerings, top origin and destination points, and any additional features you provide.
Focus on Smaller Shippers “Don’t go for the targets, the Walmarts, the ones that are gonna have minimum truck requirements.” For smaller trucking companies, focus on small to medium-sized shippers instead of large corporations. Build a strong partnership with a hometown shipper to establish a solid operational base.
Build Loops Around Local Shippers “Build loops around that [hometown shipper], and you’ll find yourself being profitable.” Create efficient operational loops by partnering with local shippers and focusing on their needs.
Understand Your Break-Even Points “Understand your break-evens.” Analyze your origin and destination pairs to determine which routes are profitable and which are losing money. Focus on optimizing your operations to ensure profitability.
How Rocket Logistics Crafts Email Campaigns
Tim says to analyze historical data to identify top lanes and target shippers who match up with your operations.”We looked at their last two years of data and where they originated in their origin-destination pairs.”
From there came personalization and clarifying why they are contacting that specific shipper. “This is where our equipment lands. We’re emailing you because we understand your distribution matches up with either an origin or destination pair.” Craft a personalized email campaign highlighting your capabilities. So explain your truck count, trailer count, owner-operator count, and specific equipment types like van or reefer.
Next, emphasize your value-added services. For example, the ability to track, 24-hour customer service, EDI, and API. Showcase your value-added services in your email campaign to demonstrate how you can meet the shippers’ unique needs.
It also helps to include details about your insurance and cargo coverage to assure shippers of your commitment to protecting their goods.
However, you should remember that building relationships and winning business takes time and persistence. Stay dedicated to your efforts, and your business will begin to transform.
The Food Shippers Conference: A Unique Opportunity
“Food shippers is probably one of the best conferences that engages shippers, 3PLs, and asset-based carriers.” The Food Shippers Conference offers a unique opportunity for networking, as it brings together an even mix of shippers, third-party logistics providers, and asset-based carriers.
“It’s week-long networking; it’s almost like speed dating. “Everybody that’s there is open to networking.” So it’s a great way to gain insights. The conference offers an opportunity to learn directly from shippers about their current needs, supplier base diversity, and expectations for new providers.
Some of What Tim Learned at Food Shippers
“Shippers have a bloated supplier base right now because they needed extra capacity last year, but now that the market’s softened, they’re going to trim down their supplier base,” he explains. In this current market, it’s essential to demonstrate your unique value proposition to stand out and turn “no’s” into “yeses.”
Additionally, “being an incumbent right now is at an advantage.” Have you established relationships with shippers and provided support during the COVID-19 pandemic? Then you have an advantage in maintaining and growing those partnerships currently.
By attending the Food Shippers Conference and applying Tim’s insights, logistics providers can better understand shippers’ needs, differentiate themselves in a competitive market, and forge lasting partnerships.
The Rocket Logistics Strategy: Setting the Brokerage Apart
Routing Guide-Based Approach: Rocket Logistics employs a routing guide-based system. They ensure their carriers meet their “Ten Commandments.” This provides an extra layer of protection.
Transparent Relationships with Shippers: Transparency is key—Rocket Logistics shares carriers with shippers, fostering trust and open communication between all parties.
Focus on Front-End Sourcing: The company prioritizes upfront work in sourcing and building routing guides, streamlining the process, and providing excellent service.
Prioritizing Internal Carrier Base: The company prioritizes upfront work in sourcing and building routing guides, streamlining the process, and providing excellent service.
Avoiding the Risks of DAT: Rocket Logistics steers clear of the DAT load board to minimize risks, ensuring higher service quality and customer protection.
By implementing this unique strategy, Rocket Logistics differentiates itself in the competitive logistics market, offering its clients transparency, efficiency, and reliability. Their focus on building strong relationships with shippers and carriers sets them apart and drives their success in the industry.
Choosing Contract over Spot Market: A Focus on Stability and Efficiency
Tim emphasizes the importance of choosing contract freight over the spot market for stability, efficiency, and long-term growth. This approach minimizes service failures, financial risks, and labor-intensive solutions, enabling companies to focus on reinvesting in their businesses and securing sustainable growth.
Tim advises trucking companies to prioritize contract freight, ensuring long-term stability and profitability, rather than chasing short-term gains in the spot market
Securing long-term contracts can provide the necessary stability to reinvest in the business, grow operations, and buy new equipment.
“Wouldn’t you rather secure this business for six months instead of hustling for the next deal?” Tim asks.
How Rocket Logistics Handles Rates
Tim Breckenridge emphasizes the importance of determining a rate in trucking and its impact on profitability. He suggests that trucking companies should focus on the revenue per hour instead of the rate per mile, saying, “look at the actual revenue per hour that the driver is turning those wheels.” By analyzing the revenue per hour for the entire 70-hour clock for a driver, companies can identify areas for improvement and maximize profits.
Tim also advises against “throwing labor at a problem,” highlighting the significance of being committed to change and adapting to more contract-based work. He shares the value of building strong relationships with shippers and carriers, working on winnable freight, and diving into the numbers to create solutions that benefit everyone involved. By taking these steps, trucking companies can ultimately boost their bottom line.
Want more of Tim Breckenridge’s actionable and relevant advice for trucking companies? Don’t miss the full conversation with even more expert knowledge. Listen to the complete FreightCaviar podcast episode on Spotify or watch it on Youtube for a wealth of insider tips and inspiration.
C.H. Robinson finally settles a court battle over its responsibility in a 2016 crash that left a man paralyzed, details a report from Transport Drive.
A Timeline of the C.H. Robinson Case:
December 2016: A tractor-trailer crashes into a vehicle on a highway in Nevada, leaving motorist Allen Miller a quadriplegic.
2017: Miller files a lawsuit against the brokerage, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, claiming negligence in the crash. The case is filed in federal court.
June 2018: Miller’s attorney proposes a settlement of $27.3 million, stating that Miller will require about $545,000 a year for life care costs.
November 2018: A U.S. district court rules in favor of C.H. Robinson, stating that federal preemption of the Federal Aviation and Administration Authorization Act applies.
But: 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturns the district court’s decision and finds that a safety exception to the federal law applies.
June 2021: The U.S. Supreme Court denies C.H. Robinson’s request to hear the case.
Despite the company’s vocal pushback…
…which included an op-ed from President and CEO Bob Biesterfeld, the lower court’s ruling stands. According to their interpretation, C.H. Robinson can bear responsibility for the crash because of a safety exception in the Federal Aviation and Administration Authorization Act.
What does this decision mean for other brokerages?
Biesterfeld feels the FMCSA is shirking its responsibility to ensure safety among motor carriers since they set the industry standards. It could be that this decision opens the door for a lot more brokerages and shippers to be held liable for crashes at an unfair frequency.
On the other hand, Miller’s attorney says we don’t see many cases pursuing other brokers because “they’re not negligent. They do vet [carriers].” So, it could end up serving as a wake-up call to increase scrutiny when it comes to who brokers book business with.
The right truck buying is an essential first step in becoming an owner-operator. It is a thrilling experience and a significant financial commitment. While it’s simple to get carried away and become excited, it’s also simple to purchase a vehicle without fully understanding what it includes or how you’ll utilize it. This error, which might cost you tens of thousands of dollars, is much more likely to occur if you’re new to the pickup truck industry.
However, after buying the first truck, everyone who decides to become an owner-operator faces many tasks that need to be solved. Where to get the loads? What licenses and documents are required? How to make your business grow and prosper? Fortunately, there are services that provide any necessary support to the owners of operators in the conduct of their business, which is especially important during an unstable market situation in times of crisis. For example, Logity Dispatch helps you search for loads, negotiate the highest rates, manage all the paperwork, and coordinate the details.
There are certain crucial factors you should consider if you’re an owner-operator looking to purchase your first vehicle. You may focus your search using this guideline and purchase your first vehicle confidently.
A new truck or a used one?
New vs. used trucks is an old yet never-ending argument. New automobiles are more dependable, have priceless warranties, and have modernized technology and safety features. Buying used will save you money since you won’t have to repay a loan with interest, and the purchase price will be lower. While purchasing a used truck has benefits and drawbacks, there are three reasons why doing so is preferable to buying a brand-new vehicle.
Trucks are costly. If you’re searching for a full-size version, many of them have an MSRP that starts at approximately $30,000. But not with a secondhand vehicle. Due to depreciation, a used model is substantially less expensive. Granted, pricing will be slightly higher than when they aren’t in great demand since trucks and SUVs are now in demand. However, even if you purchase a used vehicle between 10 and 20 years old, it will still be much less expensive than a new one.
Is that beyond its prime? Okay, so it’s not. Full-size trucks are often employed for demanding tasks, but if you avoid purchasing one of those models, everything should be alright.
A More Durable Design
The two terms, reliability and durability, are distinct, and durability has declined with some vehicles on the road today. Most new versions are built of aluminum. Although most of the
body is, the frame is not. Both the truck bed and the hood are constructed of aluminum. The vehicle’s integrity is compromised, and its safety is compromised. The appropriate force will cause a vehicle like this to collapse like a tuna can in a collision.
However, some older, used ones were constructed of steel. The majority of the new Silverados and Rams are still built of steel. However, others contend that the versions with older designs are still more robust.
If you are concerned about its dependability, you can purchase something other than an older secondhand vehicle from the 1990s. There are several CPO programs available that can offer you a used vehicle with a maximum age of five years and a warranty that will be dependable and of excellent quality had no problems.
Is it worth financing your first truck?
Most drivers choose to finance when purchasing a vehicle for the first time when given a choice between the two. You don’t have to spend a lot of money all at once, and if you have a solid credit history, you will be given favorable financing terms. Additionally, there are a few advantages to financing:
There is a wide range of truck finance options
Commercial Hire Purchase
Numerous business tax benefits
Your company may qualify for tax benefits depending on how much you spend and the business vehicle financing option you choose. For instance, if your company’s yearly income exceeds $10 million, you may instantly claim a tax deduction on a vehicle under $20,000.
Nevertheless, depending on the truck loan option, there are significant differences in how much of the corporate vehicle you may deduct from taxes.
Business vehicle finance is flexible
“Flexible” means you have a variety of financing alternatives at your disposal, and most of them let you choose a repayment plan that works for your small business’s demands and budget.
The length of the term associated with your business vehicle financing is significant because it can affect the amount of money you must pay to acquire ownership; alternatively, for loans that grant you ownership immediately, the term is also significant to take into account the purpose of budgeting payments in the future.
Most truck financing choices have durations of between 12 months and five years, but if you want more flexibility, you should put a finance lease at the top of your list of possibilities.
Should I buy a truck from a transport company?
If you are a company driver for a large fleet, they could be trading in some good vehicles. Consider purchasing one of their old vehicles that you can see the maintenance and repair records on and that you know have been professionally taken care of. Not all fleet vehicles would fit into this category, but certain trucking businesses take great care to keep their cars in top condition.
This is an excellent approach to switch from business driver to owner-operator if you’re one. This can be a wise approach to becoming a truck owner if your working relationship with the firm has been good and you love working there.
You may have your eye on a particular vehicle at your business. It can be a vehicle you’ve operated since beginning your work with the industry. This is a smooth and straightforward method for switching from a corporate driver to an owner-operator.
Which type of truck to choose?
It’s essential to be clear about the kind of work the vehicle will do. This is crucial since the vehicle’s specifications will determine the truck you get. For instance, a double frame is optional if you want to transport ordinary freight. A powerful engine is also optional if your payload will be at most 80,000 pounds.
You’ll also save money since you won’t be paying for extra features. Only what you want to use the vehicle should dictate how adaptable it is.
How much money should I have for the initial truck maintenance?
Get the greatest vehicle you can afford, but retain at least $5,000—$10,000—or perhaps more—in funds set up just for the truck. Keep in mind that you will require more luck the less money you have.
How do you understand when you are being deceived when buying a used truck?
We have a list of common red flags to look out for when buying a car. Be alert to the following warning signs while purchasing a truck, whether in person or online:
The cost is less than the going rate. A secondhand vehicle’s pricing is generally too reasonable to be true if it looks low. When you approach fraudsters regarding a rare or exotic automobile, they often claim that it is located in another state or outside of the United States while posting images of the vehicles for cheap rates. Before sending the automobile, they will try to get you to transfer their money, which is probably different.
Escrow services are a simple method to safeguard your funds, but scammers may try to persuade you to use a fraudulent escrow service. Before sending the automobile, they will ask you to pay the account, only to cancel the deal after the money has cleared.
Purchasing a vehicle online without first seeing it. Scammers may make excuses like being too busy or far to see you. If the automobile is real, they can even provide you with a bogus inspection report to persuade you that it is in good condition.
Check Special Fees and Regulations
Choosing a bigger vehicle can include additional costs or a special license depending on where you reside. Even a light-duty pickup truck is considered a commercial vehicle in California, for instance, and is subject to a weight tax of $80 or more; the heavier the truck, the higher the price.
Before committing to a purchase, check with the motor vehicle authorities in your state. Although these costs may not be dealbreakers, it’s still a good idea to be aware of them before making a purchase.
Buying Your First Truck – Take Your Time!
As an owner-operator, purchasing your first vehicle is a significant undertaking. It is a considerable investment. Taking your time to locate the greatest vehicle is worthwhile if you can do so.
Find the manufacturer, model, and specifications that best fit your requirements by doing some research. Find the best local dealership by researching, then pick a trustworthy technician. By taking your time, you’ll get a far better value and a vehicle that is reliable and best suited to your needs.
Who can help your transport company succeed?
Logity Dispatch is an honest dispatch company that takes care of its clients and has provided dispatching services for owner-operators and truck fleets since 2015. Broad experience in the trucking industry, streamlined processes, and professional staff provide you with high-quality services to make your business grow.
Logity Dispatch suggests not only searching for loads but an array of services for drivers and carrier companies:
negotiating the highest rates and coordinating the details
broker and shipper communications
SAFETY& DOT compliance
trucking Invoice services
And much more.
Logity Dispatch doesn’t embellish reality or oblige clients to anything. They take a personal approach and are ready to replace a personal dispatcher if you’re unhappy with them.
Another win for robots! Locus Robotics, based in Massachusetts, has made a name for itself in the thriving warehousing robotics industry. This week Locus announced a $117 million Series F led by Goldman Sachs, G2 Venture Partners and Stack per TechCrunch. The company’s total funding is now around $400 million bringing Locus’s valuation close to $2 billion.
Locus is a standout among others in the industry like…
6 River Systems (acquired by Shopify)
Amazon Robotics (formerly Kiva Systems)
We can only expect ventures like Locus to boom…
…considering the accelerated growth of the eCommerce sector and rumors of names like TikTok pushing into the US market. In recent days, we’ve seen digital orders set records this Black Friday. In order to stay competitive, you’ve gotta bring in the bots.
Of course, industry giant Amazon still dominates. They were one of the early adopters of automation, acquiring Kiva Systems for their fulfilment centers back in 2012. Amazon sets the standards and goals that smaller retailers have to catch up to. Because of that, robotics startups have cropped up everywhere to bridge the gap.
Like others, Locus assures the public that no, our robots won’t run you out of a job.
They say they “understand the importance of having robots that work collaboratively with workers, not replace them.” They illustrate the point with digital line art showing an at-ease worker leaning against one of their robots. See? Total harmony.
For the future…
Locus looks towards further solidifying its place as a leader in the warehouse robotics space.
Powered Trailers Coming Soon Thanks to Range
Based in Mountain View, California, Range has created a powered trailer to “accelerate the electrification of commercial transportation” according to their website. Range was founded in 2021 by Ali Javidan, a former head of prototypes at Tesla.
How do They work? Range explains on its site:
An “integrated sensor and powertrain system” power the trailer.
A smart kingpin unit measures the load the trailer places on the truck.
The smart kingpin, sensor, and system communicate with one another, reducing the load on the engine under acceleration and recapturing kinetic energy using regenerative braking.
The trailers use standard interfaces and are compatible with both diesel and electric trucks. Even if the trailers weren’t plugged in, they can still safely haul cargo.
Who’s interested and why?
It makes sense that smaller trucking companies might be interested in this more cost-efficient alternative. The Tesla Semi, which reportedly completed a 500-mile haul, costs $180,000 or $150,000 for the 300-mile-range option.
The FMCSA has made its environmental priorities clear, wanting to curb engine emissions and pushing towards the adoption of zero-emission trucks. California leads the way in electric vehicle initiatives with goals to phase out diesel trucks in the next 20 years.
Range’s powered trailers could really help the little guys…
…stay relevant in this fast-changing industry. Their audience is clear to them. Range markets the powered trailers as a “practical, compliant, near-term solution to emissions mandates.”
According to Range, their trailers “reduce diesel consumption and tailpipe emissions by 41% in combined city/highway driving, with no increase to cost-per-mile.” And for those companies that may already have electric vehicles, the powered trailers extend the miles driven before the EV trucks need their next charge-up.
The company recently raised $8 million in Seed funding led by Up Partners, R7, and Yamaha Motor Ventures.
Latest and Greatest From Around the Freight Web
Somebody Help!:On Monday night, Biden called on Congress to take action to avoid a freight rail strike. On Tuesday, Congressional leaders spoke up, expressing support for legislation on the issue. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “Tomorrow morning we will have a bill on the floor.”
Drug Bust: A truck driver was stopped at the US-Mexico border where his load of “surgical kits” turned out to be hiding 22.97 pounds of cocaine (an estimated street value of $291,760). In a statement, the driver said he was “obligated” to move the drugs.
Korean Wave: South Korea’s trucker strike, the second one this year, rippled through the supply chain. The disruption blocked access to two of the country’s busiest container ports. Following a 6-day strike, the truckers have now been ordered back to work.
Final Battle: In the battle of the brokers, many see 2023 as the time to prove yourself or sink. Legacy brokers like C.H. Robinson and RXO have expanded their own automated systems to compete with native digital brokerages like Uberfreight and Convoy. For smaller firms without AI tech…things will get pretty rocky.
Fast Friends: Turvo and DAT have formally announced their partnership bringing efficiency in the form of a “one-stop shop” for freight matching. DAT VP of Sales says their load board network will host more than 535 million load and truck posts.
Elon Musk tweeted over the weekend that a fully loaded Tesla Semi truck completed a 500-mile trip at a total weight of 81,000 lbs.
The Tesla Semi is the first to meet the 500-mile target out of all its competitors.
Nikola, Mercedes, Daimler, and Volvo have not reached that milestone yet. Tesla’s achievement comes just a few weeks after Volvo’s Renault Trucks taunted Musk and his company for failing to deliver on past promises. Tesla’s pushed back its deal to deliver the first fleet of long-haul electric vehicles to PepsiCo by 2019 multiple times. The delivery of 15 Tesla Semi trucks is now set for December 1. It looks like it’ll finally happen.
Renault delivered its first electric trucks to Pepsi’s rival Coke in Belgium on Nov 26.
That means they beat out Tesla by just a week. It’s great to see a little friendly competition because it helps drive innovation in the sector.
Once Pepsi receives its promised first delivery, there are hundreds more Tesla Semis on order. Companies like UPS and Walmart are waiting for their fleets, too.