Choosing a Niche
There are many valid reasons for choosing a well-defined market niche. By targeting a specific market segment, you can tailor your service package and marketing efforts to meet that segment's needs. You'll also develop a reputation for expertise that attracts new customers.
You can design your niche based on geography (either the location of the shippers or the destination of the freight), types of cargo (agricultural, perishable, oversized, bulk commodities, etc.), size of loads, specific industries or some other special shipping need.
To choose a niche, first consider what types of shipments and/or shippers you'd enjoy working with. You may opt to simply handle general commodity freight-materials that are typically easy to handle and don't require any special attention. Or you may want to develop some expertise in areas such as heavy equipment, oversized loads, perishable commodities or even hazardous materials.
Don't limit your specialization plan to the commonly accepted areas; instead, find your own niche. Bill T., for example, does some interesting work for retailers. One major national chain hires his company to handle the distribution of point-of-sale promotion displays that have to be delivered to hundreds of stores on the same day. Other big businesses use Bill's company to manage shipments related to store openings and closings.
Your next step is to conduct market research to determine if there's a sufficient demand for the services you want to provide. If there is, move ahead with your marketing plan. If there isn't, consider how you might adjust your niche to one that generates adequate revenue.
There are tens of thousands of carriers operating in the United States. Your job as a broker is to identify the ones that provide the services your customers need and to confirm their reliability before using them.
You'll find carriers listed in a number of directories and trade magazines. Word-of-mouth is also a good way to find carriers; as you're out there networking, pay attention to what others are saying about particular trucking companies, and follow up on good reports.
You can also look for trucks at truck stops and on the road. When you see trucks that are clean and well-maintained, speak to the driver and find out something about the company. If it isn't practical to speak to the driver, make a note of the company name and headquarters location (it will be posted on the truck or the cab), and give the company a call.