NewsThe Freight Movement

How do freight brokerages grow so quickly?

( Photo: Arrive Logistics )

Now more than ever, supply chains are more complex and on-time performance is crucial. With so much talk about digital brokers and automation, it is clear that technology has made an impact on logistics services. But there’s a strong argument to be made that a key element supporting 3PLs’ hockey-stick growth is their people.

New freight brokers are typically fresh college graduates with little to no sales experience and no direct knowledge of transportation and logistics. Managers have to educate new hires about the industry—everything from equipment types to dimensions and weight limits and the quirks of specific markets—while at the same time giving them the confidence to move freight and work with difficult customers.

How do brokerages pull that off, and how do they do it over and over, growing a highly successful sales force exponentially year after year? Some brokerages rely on mergers and acquisitions to make it happen, but others rely on organic growth and an investment in their people.

Arrive Logistics is a tech-powered, growth-focused freight brokerage headquartered in Austin, TX with offices in Chicago, IL, and Chattanooga, TN. Arrive is one of the fastest growing freight brokerages in the United States and closed out 2018 by doubling in personnel and revenue for the fourth consecutive year.

“Our entire organization, from how our technology is built to our training philosophy, is all about giving our people the best opportunity to find success and do incredible things,” said Chelsea Woodhead, Chief People Officer at Arrive Logistics.

The freight brokerage life, of course, is not for everyone. Not everyone can maintain a positive attitude under pressure, and not everyone wants the opportunity to make more money based on how hard they work—that scares some people. When brokerages first start, they need to bring in brokers quickly to cover freight and take care of their growing shipper accounts. Some of those news hires work out, and some don’t. But as the companies grow, they gain more insight into exactly what kind of person they’re looking for, and team leaders grow more experienced in learning how to coach specific personality types.

“The bigger we get, the better we understand the type of candidate that will be successful here. If you’re hired at Arrive in 2019, you can trust that you were carefully selected and will be heavily invested in from day one,” said Kari Wainwright, Arrive’s VP of Recruiting.

Once a new hire gets trained up and starts moving freight, the company still has to find a way to keep the broker motivated. The intensity of the industry can be challenging. Finding ways to gamify aspects of the job brings out the competitive drive in employees while also increasing service levels. High-growth 3PLs we’ve talked to have annual games and sport-style competitions between teams of their brokers, display fun announcements throughout the day to let everyone know who’s doing a great job, and keep their teams tightly knit with plenty of opportunities to socialize.

“The goal is always providing the best possible service for our partners and to do that we need a highly invested and engaged sales force. We are always thinking of fun and competitive ways to produce results,” said Justin Frees, EVP of Carrier Development at Arrive. “We just finished up Fantasy Freight which was a ten-week long contest, made possible by Business Intelligence, where every team faced off to win suites at the Cotton Bowl. In the end, about 50 people won and were flown to Dallas and put up in hotels. We had an incredible time.”

We believe that Arrive Logistics is at the cutting edge of how brokerages recruit new people into the industry. Our impression of Arrive is that the company is not interested in the ‘numbers game’ of churning through mass hires to find the few people are suited to the pace and intensity of the job.

Instead, Arrive wants applicants to understand exactly which kind of people do well as freight brokers, whether they’re competitors, hustlers, networkers, or industry veterans. The recruiting video below doesn’t make a bunch of exaggerated promises to new people, it simply presents the portraits of a variety of Arrive people who are already successful, and asks new hires “How will you arrive?”

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John Paul Hampstead, Associate Editor

John Paul writes about current events and economics, especially politics, finance, and commodities, and holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Michigan. In previous lives John Paul studied Shakespeare in London and Buddhism in India, but now he focuses on transportation and logistics in the heart of Freight Alley--Chattanooga. He spends his free time with his wife and daughter herding cats, collecting books, and walking alongside the Tennessee River.