Joey Hougham, CEO at Trangistics, Inc.
There are many reasons people decide to become freight brokers. One of the most cited reasons is because of the flexibility one can have. You don’t necessarily have to be in an office at a certain time, you can serve your family and other interests by using technology that allows you to work from anywhere in the world. As long as you have an internet connection, you are at least plugged in. We all know as agents that the story likely starts there. You need sales, negotiation and problem solving skills to make it work successfully. This article showcases one of our own agents. This is Kevin’s own story of his transformation from a high school teacher to freight agent/broker.
It was May of 2013 when I sat down with my wife Mindy to discuss our plan to move forward into the next year. I was a high school teacher working in an uncertain environment with constant strain on budgets and it wasn’t clear from year to year whether I would have a job. The stress of supporting our family of six under those circumstances was significant. We already had some flexibility because Mindy was homeschooling our four young children. What we really wanted was a career that would allow us to raise our children in an accommodating, loving environment. I happened to know people from Trangistics and during some discussions the friends described the flexibility that a freight agent had. It was intriguing and ultimately, the beginning of our new journey.
Drinking from the Fire Hose
The startup was not easy and the story is similar to many new freight agents. You drink from a fire hose. Not only do you need to learn the industry’s lingo, but there are tools and procedures to understand as well as added stress that mistakes can cost you serious money. And not the least, try and find and develop customers; the hardest part of the entire endeavor.
Having a brokerage host that held my hand was important. But in the end, I just had to jump in and get dirty. This is truly what it came down to. You can watch all the instructional videos, conference call with current brokers, write down your plan, etc. But the bottom line is that you have to cast away any fears or doubts and start calling and emailing contacts with the attempt of getting your foot in the door.
I really feel like the relationship part of this business is so undervalued. It is common for people to underestimate the importance of building strong relationships with BOTH customers and your carriers. I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had with drivers – who already knew they couldn’t take the load, but just needed to talk.
For me, sometimes I still feel like the fire hose is on full blast :-)… But I also think that it is the part of the business that keeps it exciting and new. There is so much to learn as a broker but somewhere after the first couple of months, things started to feel like it was going to be doable and I could make this work. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I could see the silver lining and the potential freedom and flexibility that it could allow. For me it was never about the money potential. I knew from the onset, being a broker agent would allow me to live the lifestyle that I so desperately needed/wanted.
Settled, Ramping up.
It’s so important for a broker agent to continue to build momentum to be able to develop a long term business. However, in building this momentum, you often take 3 steps forward and one step back. We get excited about promising new projects only to have the rug pulled out from under us. I think this is the story of so many broker agents. But if you manage your expectations, everything in this business can be looked at as a learning opportunity, whether it was a successful load or a complete failure. You can be on this amazing high, thinking that you just locked down a lucrative long term, consistent deal, only to have it fall apart by things you never saw coming. At those points, you are back at square one searching for the next opportunity and customer. If you have the ability to dampen these emotional roller coaster points from your mind – find something to glean from the experience and press on, I really believe that one will be successful and ultimately build those contacts with consistency.
This was my story last Spring. I had been working with a fish processing plant moving up to 5 loads a day over a 5 month period. This was my first real “consistent” freight opportunity since I started and was ecstatic to say the least. Everything was set up, paperwork completed, credit checked, carriers lined up and on opening day of fish season, we moved our first 5 truck loads of fish. I was smiling from ear to ear… It was at this point I received a call from my customer saying that fishing season had officially been suspended for the remainder of the year… WHAT? I WAS DEVASTATED. Was I upset… absolutely. Was I frustrated… unbelievably… But in the end I knew that I got my foot in the door to an amazing opportunity, sealed the deal, moved loads, it just didn’t work out… I knew I could do it and was just the motivation I needed to press on.
From my relatively short tenure as broker agent thus far, I have a few things that I have learned that would be interesting to share;
- The industry is a bit sleazy compared to the educational environment I came from. But I also realized that it’s good to work with a host brokerage company that fits our own personal morals. That is, operate with integrity.
- Honesty, trust and character set you apart from the crowd. You may lose some short term opportunities, but if you stay the course and stick to your morals and operate with integrity, it will be recognized and you will win people over in the long term.
- This business is an emotional roller coaster. Highly stressful at times and equally exhilarating at others. Finding a balance and learning to enjoy both extremes as well as the lessons that can be extracted is what separates those that fizzle out early, and those that succeed in this business.
- Financially, this is a very challenging transition. There are no guarantees… EVER… I have weeks where I go… This is the most amazing job/opportunity ever. I am able to work on my own schedule, location independent and make an amazing living. I also have weeks where I say to myself “this job/opportunity stinks — we are going to be eating rice for the next month” In the end, perseverance will win, and battling through the hard times and not giving up will prove to be successful.
TIME AND FLEXIBILITY are INVALUABLE…. The opportunity to work location independent (anywhere there is a connection and phone service) provides what could be amazing opportunities for people with similar values. In addition to the fact that I am supported by Trangistics who encourages this – truly is both amazing and commendable. My family just spent 3 months living/working on the beach in Mexico, something we had always wanted to do but NEVER, EVER thought we would have the opportunity, or the means to do it. It almost seems like a dream as I sit here and write it about it. Three months out of the country, yet I was still able to work as if I was sitting in my own office, TIME AND FLEXIBILITY —- As a freight broker agent at Trangisitics. I certainly get what I’ve been looking for..
Trangistics is a principle driven freight brokerage whose foundation was built on integrity, honesty and transparency. We cater to agents of similar caliber. The founders came from a large “box” brokerage company and understand how business should NOT be done. We also grew up in the high tech industry where professionalism was paramount. So we brought that same professionalism to the transportation industry where the results resonate with customers, carriers and agents alike.
Do you have a freight agent lifestyle you’d like to share? Or… how about an interesting load success/failure that others could learn from? Contact us at [email protected]