“There aren’t any bad teams, only bad leaders,” said Leif Babin in Extreme Ownership. That line really struck a chord with me. My first reaction was to start defending myself and my team. “We are doing well, sure we could improve but heck, we are an efficient and effective part of our company! I’m pushing everyday to do my best.” I have no idea why that was my first reaction but it was. Maybe it’s that underlying sense of insecurity and anxiety that can often make a successful sales person. That led me down a tract of introspection and learning that has transformed how I view leadership. I started my management career working underneath a militant leader in a restaurant who led our team out of fear. For that management style, he was effective. People listened when he talked, when he was in the building…you knew it, the tension was thick. People performed, we ran efficiently and were a shining example of how a restaurant should be run in our small restaurant group of 8 locations across the country. What was the problem then? We had a ton of turnover, common in the restaurant industry I know, but much more prevalent in this restaurant. People weren’t happy and as soon as another opportunity came up, they would jump on it. It was a constant problem that put a lot of pressure on our senior staff members and training team. We never really figured out the solution, we just dealt with it. That was such a great lesson for me on how important retention is and avoiding the easy excuse of, “well there’s always a lot of turnover in that type of industry, what are you gonna do?” I lead our Inbound Sales team here at FreightPros and you would assume, it’s sales, there’s going to be a lot of turnover in that role too. We have barely had any turnover in the last 2 years that I’ve been a part of this team. How? Why? I’ve always believed that, while my role is important, it’s nothing compared to the role that my teammates execute every day. I’ve listened to the audio book, Leaders Eat Last, by Simon Sinek twice in the last 6 months and for good reason. That book has helped me develop a lot of the beliefs I already have had, “treat your employees like family, if your child wasn’t performing to their capability you wouldn’t just kick them out of the house would you?” Of course not! You work with them, you develop them, you put everything you possibly can into their success and prioritize their needs over yours unquestionably. That’s effective leadership, that’s being a great leader, that’s being the type of teammate people will follow into battle, even if their lives are on the line. If your team succeeds, it’s because of them; if your team fails, it’s because of you.
Our sales team is no stranger to “pounding the pavement.” Don’t knock that business hustle. When it comes to business travel tips, they’ve come up with some best practices after spending long hours in airports and hotel rooms, stuck in traffic in a rental car, or hustling through an intense airport security line. So with their help, we’ve come up with 12 Tips for Better Business Travel. These are universal hints for better travel on your next business trip. Some of them are old school, some are new, but all should help you plan, coordinate, and execute your next business trip in style. Using this as a guide, you’ll be better organized, less stressed, and hopefully more successful for your business and your clients or customers. Travel for pleasure can be stressful, much less travel for work. But by following some successful steps laid out by our map-hopping sales team, you too can be a business travel pro.
What does it mean to deliver a quality freight experience? It’s a question we get a lot, and a valid one at that. As a (relatively) new team member, I often think back to my first days on the job, when I asked that very same question. What exactly does it mean to deliver a quality freight experience?
On my first day at FreightPros everyone was nice, smart, but most importantly, every single person I met was eager for me to be there and be a part of the team. Driving home that day my brain was racing just to process the influx of new terminology such as liftgates, PRO numbers, and freight class. But one aspect I was excited about included the opportunity to play my part in setting the standard for a quality freight experience.
Our vision statement (to set the standard for a quality freight experience) is something everyone at FreightPros lives by, whether we are helping a brand new client or providing service to a client of 3+ years, the strategy is the same. We are here to put the customer’s needs in full focus so we can find how best to provide top notch support throughout every stage of the shipping cycle. As every industry is adapting to the fast-paced, technology-driven marketplace, it is more important than ever to be there for each and every customer whether they ship just once or 20 times a week. Our company is built not to react to what our competitors are doing, but to proactively develop better systems that make our customers feel less like clients and more like partners. It would be virtually impossible for this company to provide exemplary customer support without first providing that support to each other in the work place. We believe with such passion that our vision statement rings loud and true due to the fact that we are providing the quality freight experience to each other on a daily basis. FreightPros is a growing company, one that is punching well above our weight in delivering success for our customers as well as ourselves.
I am often asked why I got into freight. Why become a freight broker? It seems like a niche industry, short on information and pizzazz (though we’re working to remedy that short on information bit with our shipping blog and Freight Papers). I thought my answer to, “Why a freight broker?” was, at the time, pretty simple: I wanted a fast-paced, challenging career, which relied on problem solving. I knew I would be able to make companies more efficient in their business, and that appealed to me. Truthfully though, freight is just one of a hundred different industries that offer those kind of rewards. So like anyone searching for a long-term career choice, I did my homework. I looked to the future. I reviewed the shipping and freight industry, found where it is today, and more importantly, where it will be in the next 10 to 15 years. What I uncovered sealed the deal in my decision to be a freight broker. Here are some facts to illustrate what I’m talking about: -82% of all goods in the United States get transported by a truck at some point. -6.8 million people work in the industry. -Volumes for truckload (not even including less-than-truckload) are expected to grow 3.2% through 2018, and an additional 1.1% every year through 2024. – Freight revenue should hit $1.3 TRILLION annually by 2024. Most of those numbers come from this very cool infographic I found last year, but there’s more information all over the web if you want to look. What an industry! I was looking for a career with a real potential for growth (duh), and being a freight broker offered just what I was looking for. Once I got into the freight brokerage game, I found that building relationships with customers was the most fulfilling part of the job. Sure, it’s nice to have the security of growth, but in freight you’re making a difference in people’s businesses and lives, and that feels good. I found the perfect spot for me at FreightPros, one of the fastest-growing companies in America, and one who wants to set the standard for a quality freight experience. It’s the best of both worlds. Freight is a real component of American Industry, we talked about it in our blog, Shipping up to Boston. Being a part of something special is what makes being a freight broker a truly rewarding career choice.
Like any good office, the FreightPros workplace mirrors our industry. This means the craziness of shipping bleeds into the office noise of freight tracking calls, sales, and the hustle and bustle of providing customer service in a hectic industry. In all this messy noise, it’s not uncommon to hear Spanish being spoken. We’ve talked about the power of communication in freight, and having Pros that can fluently speak Spanish is a very important tool in our ability to communicate with customers and carriers alike. Living in Texas, it’s important to speak Spanish anyway. It’s a big part of the culture in this state. Throw in the fact that the three biggest states for freight are Texas, California, and Florida, and it becomes a hazard if you DON’T speak Spanish in some capacity. You’re missing out on relationships, and you’re losing business. Freight is a billion dollar industry. It employs a ton of people, and there are large numbers that are more comfortable speaking Spanish. If you’re trying to be successful in an industry where you can’t communicate, chances are, you’re going to fail. “Freight” in Spanish is flete, but freight in Spanish is more than just a word, and as a broker we deal with the relationships between customer and broker, broker and carrier, and even customer and carrier. We need to be fluid, and part of that fluidity is being masters at communication. It’s no secret that the United States is becoming more multi-cultural by the day, and though the politics of this shift can be delicate and complex, the importance of communication is pretty simple. It’s very important! Speaking both Spanish and English has been a growing trend for years now, and there’s no signs of it stopping. And to be honest, it’s a good thing that being bilingual is becoming more prevalent in education and with our youth. We’ve long lagged behind some parts of the world in putting an importance on being able to speak multiple languages. Technology has opened up commerce and information in a way that it has become necessary for us to step into the multi-language ring. By having FreightPros that can use Spanish to communicate with drivers, dispatchers, and customers, we can cultivate better relationships. It helps us with everything from quotes to expedited shipping. We can provide better customer service. We take communication seriously, and freight in Spanish, flete, is part of that.