By Joe Cottone, Jr., Customer Solutions Architect with DAT’s Enterprise Customer Success team
As we roll through the first of the year and into the heart of Q1, we’re starting to see RFPs come to fruition.
How do you prepare for your awards? How do you develop the necessary capacity on lanes where you may not have any established? How do you understand the market and properly spot quote freight that you may not have been awarded?
Regardless, if you’re just getting your brokerage started or have an established customer base, when it comes to award management, aside from literal trucks to haul your loads, efficiency in process is key. Accepting your awarded lanes is easier in a slower market – like we would usually see in Q1 – and likely even easier considering the market conditions we experienced throughout 2023. Still, utilizing DAT RateView and the Market Conditions Index (MCI) allow for an informed process.
Accept your lanes but understand the fluctuation in price and seasonality that you may see through RateView’s 13-month historical average. Will produce season come into play when booking loads on this lane? Has the load-to-truck ratio (and the load search and truck search data) within MCI changed over the last day, eight days or even the last 30 days?
Also, within RateView, consider your company’s own contributions that populate on lanes you’ve run and contributed. Take into account how you buy as a company versus the market. Your best practice is to consume as much data and information about the market as possible before making a decision.
How to capture capacity
Once you’ve made a decision to accept your volume of awarded freight, you need to secure capacity. A broker can prepare for an influx of awarded freight, but until those loads are in your system, it’s difficult to develop capacity on lanes you haven’t run before.
Utilizing a tool like DAT LaneMakers allows you to search for capacity that you may not have discovered previously. This tool gives users the ability to search for carriers that are not only posting trucks but searching for loads on specific lanes. It highlights active postings and overall search numbers as far back as one full year. Perhaps a carrier you already work with is looking for a lane that you’ve just been awarded – that’s where you can lean into building better relationships and ultimately covering all of your awarded loads.
Mind your margins
As I mentioned above, understanding the data you’re consuming is paramount. This leads to having better conversations with your shippers and making a margin. When you’re not awarded certain lanes and they make their way to the spot market, how do you best quote that freight to win it and profit?
DAT RateView is a tried and tested data source to help with that. But what about those more obscure shipping locations? Lanes where there are fewer data points or fewer contributions behind the RateView rate?
For instance, when utilizing RateView on lanes where there’s only an X(extended)-Market to X(extended)-Market rate from the last 15 days, consider how large that geographical area is and how that might affect the rate DAT is publishing. Compare that to a rate with enough contribution data to warrant granularity at the 3-digit-zip to 3-digit-zip level over the last three days, where DAT will be able to give you a more concise look at the lane you’re trying to quote. All that to say, consume as much data as you have when making the decision to spot quote a load.
Achieving status with your shippers as the market expert on top of a well-built relationship will always help you win freight, but especially in slower markets, we still need to fall back on data and process.
About the author
Joe Cottone is a Customer Solutions Architect as a part of our Enterprise Customer Success team. Joe joined DAT with 10 years’ experience in the brokerage industry, supporting and running operations from small to large, primarily working with Enterprise level Shipper customers. With industry knowledge and experience, Joe brings an ideal perspective to both our stakeholders and customers. Our Success team can help offer guidance with any question, offer specialized product training, or gather product feedback to share with internal teams.