Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The good, the bad and the obvious

Business practices in the broker industry are a hot topic of conversation in the industry right now – largely thanks to the recently introduced TRUCC Acts in Congress.

While it’s not hard to get truckers to bristle at the mere mention of the word “broker,” it’s painfully obvious that it’s not just the truckers who get a little peeved when bad broker practices are highlighted.

I have been inundated with letters and calls from brokers – ones who say they stick to honest, upfront business dealings and don’t appreciate the brokers who drag their industry down.

It’s apparent that I must state the obvious:

Truckers know the pain of being painted with the negative stereotypical broad brush every time one of the less-than-stellar steering wheel holders make the front page after killing a family of four on their way to vacation. It’s no fun, and it feels like an uphill battle to ever get any respect.

It’s not so different for the good brokers out there. Brokering, just like any other profession, includes the consummate professionals, the shady characters, and the rogues who don’t even bother to get bonded and licensed but make money off the trade, usually to the detriment of the truckers and their clients.

Perhaps the bigger point to all of this is, choose who you do business with.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: You can’t sling a dead cat without hitting a broker.

Loosely translated out of Arkansas-speak: There are so many out there that you can pick and choose who you want to work with.

Check their credit ratings. Get references. Talk to them upfront about disclosure of paperwork and pass-through of fuel surcharges. Put your agreements in writing for crying out loud. Have an attorney specializing in transportation (or the Association) take a look at it to make sure you’re not setting yourself up to get the short end of the stick.

Smart business – it’s what this has to come down to for both truckers and the hard-working honest brokers out there. In an honest, open business relationship that shares the wealth in an equitable manner, everyone wins.