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Top traits of truck brokers

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Truck brokers dealing with perishable products don’t need superpowers—but they would certainly help. Every day, they deal with no shortage of challenges. In such a fast-paced environment, they need to satisfy their customers and haulers, ensuring product remains fresh in transit and arrives on time at its destination. They must be prepared, flexible, and able to cope with myriad problems from the inevitable claims and disputes to government regulations.

To excel in this role, individual brokers need a unique skill set that includes emotional maturity, problem solving skills, a strong work ethic, the ability to build rapport with customers and carriers, and a customer service mindset. They also must be highly organized and detail oriented, all while working at a frenetic pace. A mastery of transportation-related technology helps as well.

To gain a better understanding of this critically central role in perishables logistics, Blueprints contacted several experts in the field.

What It Takes
Among the constant challenges listed by Steve Howard, president of Patterson Companies, Inc. in Plant City, FL, are transportation regulations, understanding customer expectations, the seasonal nature of commodities, maintaining a reliable carrier base, and handling trouble loads. “It is the ability to effectively multitask, attend to details, communicate clearly, and anticipate challenges that distinguish the professional broker from the rest,” he says.

Nick Cuevas, logistics manager at MLS Freight Logistics, LLC in Edinburg, TX says there’s a checklist that must be checked twice—once when starting the day and again when ending the day. “It starts with truck locations, temperature checks, delivery times, appointment setups, customer updating, and any other special requirement or request from customers,” he explains. “When dealing with perishables, there are many problems that can arise if you don’t stay on top of every detail pertaining to the commodity. Details are the determining factors of a successful pickup and delivery.”

The best truck brokers are always on their game, according to Pat Byrne, satellite office leader of Total Quality Logistics, LLC (TQL) in Portland, OR, part of the TQL family headquartered in Cincinnati, OH. “Truck markets can swing wildly in produce growing areas. It’s important to stay on top of the markets every day to ensure you’re capable of providing the expert knowledge and service customers have come to expect. Our customers really appreciate it when we can predict an issue before it happens,” he shares.

“The fact that we deal in a ‘market’-based rate also has a broker wearing many hats, like negotiator, liaison, salesman, dispatcher, along with a few more. The list is long,” notes Joe Rubini, president, Rally Logistics, Inc. in Toronto, ON.

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