Flat Bed Carriers, or Flat Bad Carriers?

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During the economic downturn from 2008 to 2010 previously trustworthy brokers have gone broke, flat bed carriers turned out to be flat bad, and reefer companies seem like they’re smoking it (if you are in the freight industry you understand that reference). As the industry navigates through this new era in competition shippers have become reluctant to allow new freight brokers and trucking companies in the door. For those that do sneak in, the demands of shippers often leave freight companies scratching their heads.

Bierdman (2012) says the industry will further be characterized by shippers looking for stability in the midst of uncertainty. Qualified freight broker and trucking company candidates will have more value-added services, flexibility, responsiveness, risk mitigation, visibility, predictability, speed, and improved inventory management capability (Bierdman, 2012). The article states that as customers focus on lean inventories and JIT systems, pressure mounts for transportation companies to provide rapid responses to last minute requests while still maintaining low cost and open availability.

Oh, that’s it? That’s ALL they want?

Ostensibly the major 3PLs would fit this bill where other niche or micro- to mid-sized companies, by and large, would not. So is there just no place for the little guy anymore? As these demands on trucking and transportation companies abound, where can we take our toys as we’re bullied out of the playground?

The answer lies in shipper qualification; offering services to the right shippers for your business, not to the most shippers.

Focus efforts in qualifying prospects before you spend resources trying to forge a relationship with a company you are not compatible with. Not all shippers have nationwide needs, last minute requests, a need for warehousing capabilities, etc. Form an identity before making a personal call or cold calling companies that have requirements beyond your service capabilities.

Define prospects that would best suit your efficiencies and stop the one-size-fits-all approach. Whether you move flatbed freight such as machinery and heavy equipment; refrigerated goods such as frozen or temperature controlled foods; whether you operate in a specified geographical region or only move freight out of California to Texas ; define your perfect target and then prospect the customers whose shipping profile you will transition into smoothly.

The “dialing for dollars” approach that once yielded fruit for freight brokers, in this economy will leave one starving and begging. It wastes resources; it can stifle motivation; it will inevitably result in the spinning of the proverbial wheels, and not from hauling freight (pardon the pun).

I-48 has a customer base that spans a variety of industries in the United States, but we realize not every customer will be a good fit for us or us for them. Our employees possess decades of knowledge and experience and with a brief explanation of your shipping profile, we can determine how, if at all, we can fit your needs. If we can’t, we will try to guide you in the right direction. That mind set fuels our commitment to superior service.



Bierdman, David. Flexibility, Collaboration on 3PL Agenda. Journal of Commerce. January, 2012:180-184.

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