How to Improve Your Freight Brokerage
Maybe you are young, have ambitions of opening your brokerage, and are wondering if it is possible. In this article, I speak to Andrew Silver, the CEO of MoLo Solutions and son of Coyote Logistics founder Jeff Silver. He began working in logistics at 16, and he details his journey and shares tips on how to take your brokerage to the next level.
What was your childhood like, and at what age did you get involved in logistics?
“My dad and stepmom both started working for American Backhaulers in the ’80s,” Andrew said. “We grew up affluent, certainly very privileged, but for me, I was certainly not the best kid. I was a troublemaker.” He got the chance to start working for his family when he was 16. “The first day was winter break of ’06,” he said. “I worked on the carrier side the first five years I was in the industry, mostly in an intern role.” He was one of the first summer interns at Coyote logistics.
Andrew started as a carrier rep during his senior year in high school. He attended the University of Michigan, where he continued to work as a carrier rep. “I had some excellent relationships with owner-operators. That was my focus,” he said. “It was fun. Freight brokerage is a fun, lively environment if your options are going to class or making money doing that.” He would sometimes use his driver as an excuse to skip class. “I told myself that would be my long-term career, so that was where I focused my time and energy.”
What kind of advice would you give to a 19-year-old who wants to start a brokerage?
“Anyone can do it, and anyone can be successful if they do it the right way,” Andrew said. “You have to be willing to work really, really hard.” He recalls sometimes working 17-hour days to move freight and get new customers. “The hardest part is getting the customers,” he said. In his opinion, the industry is saturated, and most freight brokerages are similar in how they do things. “If you’re 19 and want to start a freight brokerage, do it!” Andrew’s advice was: “Pay attention to what other companies are doing and figure out how you can do more.”
- Find a way to get customers.
- Service them well
- Grow with your customers
- Build a network of drivers and carriers
What changes do you see in the market now compared to 2006?
“Definitively, it was not that saturated back then,” Andrew said. “There’s been this boom dating back to 2015.” There was a lot of investment in the industry around 2015 when ‘digital freight brokers’ came about. “I think it’s a win for the industry when the pressure is created amongst the competition,” he said. “Everybody is forced to be better.” This is the most saturated the industry has ever been.
How did you become a broker of the year?
“You got to be hungry and go out and get the business,” Andrew said. “You’ve got to be banging down doors. I don’t think there’s a magic answer other than grit and grind.” According to him, marketing ploys can get you in the door, but you must show up and execute every day or lose that freight. He said the reason why they win awards: “Concerning the service aspect; it’s our number one priority.” The natural inclination in the industry is to be short-sighted and do what’s best for you today. “It’s why companies like us can be successful, “Andrew said. “We keep our eye on the long term.”
Tell us about how working at coyote helps you manage your team.
“We certainly tried to take the best of our experiences,” he said. “Our goal is that people take the best of those experiences and build on them.” Andrew sat down with the people at MoLo and wrote down a list of things people hated the most about freight brokers to avoid making the same mistakes. “The environment we wanted to create was one where people supported one another.”
What do you look for in a carrier before giving them consistent freight?
“Honesty, first and foremost,” Andrew said. “On that first conversation with a carrier, try to understand as much as possible about what they want and their needs.”
- What they are trying to accomplish with their organization
- Whether it’s an owner-op
- Regionally based or national carrier
- Set expectations
- Be available to answer their calls
What does the future hold for MoLo?
“We should grow faster than we were growing based on the opportunity,” Andrew said. One of the reasons why they reasons they did this deal with ArcBest was the potential for both companies if they stay aligned on their mission. ArcBest has 30 000 existing shipper customers, and MoLo has 600. “We did over 600 million in revenue in our fourth year,” he said. “And that was off of only 600 customers.”
“We want to stay consistent with what we’ve been because our model works,” he said. “There will be some time over the next three to six months where we will be integrating our people.”
“Our people did so well over the last two years. It just seems ridiculous to say you must come back to the office,” Andrew said. “I think that’s a very dated approach.” Not only did MoLo commit to allowing people to work from home, but they also committed to what will be one of the best offices in Chicago at 167 North Green. “It’s spectacular, and it was a conscious decision,” he said. “We are going to give the people who want to be in the office the absolute best place to work in the city of Chicago.”
What TMS will you be using?
“We will use the Mastermind technology,” Andrew said. “We were the earliest users of it. We were kind of the guinea pigs as they were building it.” It will allow much connectivity directly with shippers and within the organization.
What changes do you see in the industry in the next 20 years?
“I have no idea. What I don’t think is going to happen is I don’t think brokers are getting replaced anytime soon,” he said. “I don’t think autonomous trucks are the broker’s end by any means.” He thinks technology will continue to grow and help people to be more efficient, but it won’t replace the freight broker. “As long as companies like MoLo do it better than most of them, we’ll be in good shape.”
What kind of advice would you give to a recent college graduate?
“The challenge with today’s remote world it’s allowing these college grads to continue to find a way to skirt by,” Andrew said. “You can cheat the system in a remote environment and get away with doing the bare minimum.” There are a lot of opportunities today to come in and make an impact somewhere. “Don’t let that temptation to be lazy get in the way of any ambition you have.”
“At the end of the day, we spend way too much of our life working,” Andrew said. “Don’t take a job if you don’t feel fulfilled when you do it. “Instead, he urges young graduates to find companies that align with what they are trying to accomplish. “Then give it everything you have.”
Click here to listen to our entire conversation.