Combining Technology and Talent for Seamless Freight Brokerage

Supply Chain|Blogs
pallet inside freight truck for turnkey delivery

Technology can enable many things, streamline processes and add transparency. However, technology is only a tool to help a corporation reach its goals; it is not the total solution. That is why Ryder’s full-service freight brokerage solution combines cutting edge technology with a personal concierge service.

Kevin Clonch, group director, customer logistics at Ryder, describes Ryder’s approach to freight brokerage this way: “We view ourselves as an extension of our customers’ supply chain and we treat their freight as if it were our own.” He adds, “We focus on solving our customers’ and our carriers’ problems. We treat customers and carriers alike — they are equally important to us.”

“At the end of the day, we give our customers that peace of mind guarantee which means, what we say is what we are going to do. We deliver on that message every time.”

Ryder’s service is a customer-centric and care-centric approach to freight brokerage comprised of several key elements.

The first is the idea of the concierge service that is based on hotel concierges who can help hotel guests with a variety of requests from recommendations for places to dine to assistance with securing tickets for events to information on local attractions. In essence, the concierge is the expert for someone who is not familiar with the area. “Some of our customers are not necessarily experts in all aspects transportation,” Clonch says.

“We have a lot of customers that wear many hats inside their manufacturing environment; they are experts in the products they manufacture but not in the best way to transport those products.” Ryder has been acting as a matchmaker between shippers and small to mid-size carriers for 20+ years and Ryder itself has nearly 90 years’ experience in transporting freight.

“As a result of our experience, we are going to provide customers with the best information, a very competitive rate and be the boots on the ground and experts in the trenches for them when it comes to anything related to transportation and logistics,” he says. “In essence, we will do anything that we can to make sure that the shippers we work with and the loads that we are routing for them are delivered.”

The second element of the Ryder approach to freight brokerage is that there is a single point of contact — a dedicated expert — for each load. “It actually starts upstream at the sales process,” Clonch explains. The person who sold the business is the same person that follows the load until it is delivered. That person negotiates with the carrier, talks to the driver and knows from the point of pickup all the way through delivery exactly what is going on with the freight. This single point of contact knows the entire evolution of the customer’s freight from beginning to end.

“This creates accountability to the customer and the customers’ freight,” Clonch says. “And we think customers value this over having to use a call center, especially if a problem occurs.” He believes customers appreciate the personal service over the anonymity of a call center.  The single-point-of-contact approach means that if a problem arises, the customer is going to know exactly who is going to solve that problem, and they know that person is just a phone call away.

The third element is Ryder’s policy of not giving back a load. Clonch explains that after accepting a load some brokers will give it back if they discover they can’t make money on it or if they cannot readily find a carrier willing to take the load. “While we are not the only broker out there that has this guarantee, we think this is an important part of our brokerage offering.” Ryder is committed to executing on the shipping and delivery process every single time it accepts a load. Ryder recognizes that if a load is returned to the shipper, the shipper is burdened with finding another way to move the load and often must go to the spot market where prices will be higher.

One of the reasons Ryder is able to offer this guarantee is because of the scope of its carrier network. Today there are 28,000 carriers inside the Ryder network and Clonch expects that number to grow to 40,000 by the end of the year. In addition, the carriers in the Ryder network cover a wide range of modes including full truckload (FTL), less-than-truckload (LTL), expedited, flatbed, dry van, temperature controlled, and intermodal.

Ryder’s carrier network is comprised of small to mid-size carriers. “Our carriers range anywhere from one-truck owners all the way up to those with 50 to 100 trucks,” he says. “We certainly have some larger carriers too, but 85% of our carrier fleets have less than 20 trucks.”

Another advantage for carriers is Ryder’s long-standing experience in transportation. “This allows us to empathize with the carriers that are out on the road every day trying to move freight,” Clonch say. This manifests itself in treating carriers with respect, solving their problems quickly and paying them on time every time. “We take a long-term view with our carriers. We are going to work with them for the long-term and allow them to be successful.”

Clonch also believes that one of the things that sets Ryder’s freight brokerage operation apart from others is the people in the organization. “We pride ourselves on hiring the highest-quality talent.” But Ryder does not stop at just hiring the best, it also invests in training its employees. “The training process for the people we do hire is very extensive and very thorough,” he says. “We train them so they become experts and can operate as an extension of our customers’ supply chain.”

With all its emphasis on the human element, Ryder does not shy away from the use of technology. “We let our technology do the non-value added  things and then facilitate the process,” Clonch says. However, problems and issues can arise during the shipping process — a truck can break down, there can be weather-related issues or traffic delays, for example. Some of these problems can be solved by technology, but technology will not solve every problem that comes up during the shipping process. That is where Ryder’s team of experts comes in. “Those experts work behind the scenes to get problems resolved and see that our customers’ loads get delivered.”

An additional benefit is that because the freight brokerage operation is part of Ryder, if freight brokerage customers grow, they can take advantage of Ryder’s end-to-end supply chain solutions.  Ryder’s integrated solutions include warehousing & distribution, dedicated transportation, e-commerce fulfillment, and last mile delivery.

Clonch explains, “We can grow with our customers. If you look at a lot of other brokerages, they can only provide brokerage services; they do not have the other solutions that Ryder has to offer to our customers that are growing. With Ryder, you end up with a one-stop shop for your supply chain needs.”

This article was first published in Transport Topics and reprinted with permission.

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