Why We Have Partners not Clients

How do you view the customers or clients that use your services? Are they simply a client, or are they viewed as a mutually beneficial, long-term partnership? There has been a shift in the business world over the last few years from viewing customers as clients to viewing those relationships as partnerships. By changing how these transactions are viewed, it opens up a different world of opportunity, loyalty, and growth for your business. These changes in the relationship building process over the past few years will focus on how business units see themselves and their relationships with customers, as well as how companies set themselves up for success in the long term.

There are a variety of reasons why viewing these relationships as a partnership is a valuable method to better reach business goals, such as an increase in customer loyalty, more word-of-mouth referrals, and increased and ongoing revenue. A partnership must include common interests in order to be successful, because when both parties in the partnership are having their needs met there is no reason to look elsewhere. If businesses are able to be honest about what they can do, be reliable with their deadlines, quotes, and estimates, and establish trust, these partnerships can create long-lasting and loyal relationships. Many companies in the transport and logistics industry are now consistently calling their relationships  “partnerships”, because the days of unconditional loyalty to one business are over, so it’s imperative for a company to expand and maintain a strong network of partners to stay competitive.

Honesty

In all aspects of life honesty is an important trait to possess, but when building a network of partners for your business it’s even more valuable. In the transport and logistics industry, entering into a partnership with customers, brokers, and carriers requires realistic expectations and honest information about the whole transportation process from start to finish. 

When everyone involved are honest with what they are bringing to the partnership, and what the expectations for the whole process are, everyone benefits. Over the last few years, expectations between customers, carriers, and brokers have become more sophisticated, where professionalism with less ‘filler’ conversation has become more important to the success of a partnership. Being upfront about everything means your reputation will improve, which will lead to an increase in loyalty from current partners, as well as an influx of new businesses or customers wanting to become partners.

Know exactly what can be offered when speaking to a prospect without overselling or making false promises, and if there is a question that can’t be answered, ensure them that they’ll get an answer to their questions as soon as possible. An important aspect of being honest with prospects or current partners is to educate them on all possibilities, good and bad, so they know what to expect and what could possibly go wrong and what best case scenario is. Anyone working with sales people has experienced an overpromise and an underdeliver, so being upfront and honest is a valuable tool to ensure there is a long-lasting and beneficial partnership.

Teamwork

When brokers and carriers form partnerships with each other, teamwork becomes a big aspect of their collective success. A common occurrence when a broker and carrier have a successful partnership is helping each other out of a bind to help make the transport experience fluid. For example, when a lane needs to be filled, a carrier can help the broker fill a lane so a shipment can be completed. This happens less often when each shipment is considered a new deal with a client, rather than a long-term partnership because there is less incentive to help each other out of a potential predicament. Teamwork between the two parties can result in on-time, guaranteed shipment results, and carriers being paid on time, which solidifies the partnership for continuing business together.

Reliability 

Reliability is a make or break quality to have when working in the transport and logistics industry, because things could go wrong during the shipment process and its imperative that there is an honest and open discourse between all of the involved parties. Reliability is not only important when it comes to shipment or payments, but also throughout the whole partnership. If you are late to meetings with your prospects or partners, it does not look good for how your company is being represented. If you are late to one meeting, will your prospects or partners be able to rely on you to be on time for the next?

One major aspect of a successful partnership between brokers and carriers is when brokers pay their carrier partners on time. Many relationships between brokers and carriers fall apart because brokers often have a cash flow problem, and if a broker cannot pay a carrier on time it could disrupt future shipments. This is bad for business for both parties, so reliable payments are key to building long-lasting partnerships. Also, being reliable when quoting for fees and total payouts is fundamental for improving trust and reliability with carriers; surprise fees and changes to estimated payouts is not the desired outcome for a carrier. An unhappy carrier means that partnership will not last, which can create bad reviews, a worsened reputation, and lower revenue. 

Trust 

Trust is another aspect of doing business that can make or break a good partnership. Without trust between all parties, what can the partnership rely on? If a shipment will be later than it’s estimated arrival time, it’s a broker’s duty to inform end customer. Being able to build trust between partners makes all aspects of the shipment run smoothly. Creating a trusting relationship also involves fair pricing for your services; fair pricing and reliable shipments results in returning customers and ongoing revenue. Many customers assume that many things can be done when it’s not really possible. Listening during meetings with your partners rather than talking can help you understand the expectations of the process, and it will allow you to build up trust within your partnerships when realistic projections are made. Both sides need to ensure that the expectations are realistic before the agreements are finalized so there is no surprises throughout the process.

Why Building Partnerships is better for the long term 

Viewing relationships with customers and clients as partnerships is vital to having long term success, especially in the transportation and logistics industry. A crucial aspect of success within this industry relies on word-of-mouth referrals and reviews from current partners, so when you are able to be honest, work as a team, be reliable, and establish trust, it will create more opportunities for not only new revenue, but ongoing revenue with your current partners. When you are able to view a partnership as an ongoing, mutually beneficial agreement rather than individual deal agreements, you can effectively forecast future revenue from that partnership. Since the transport and logistics industry is mostly transactional based, a long-term partnership with a client can lead to endless possibilities, both within that partnership and for future partnerships.

Once that partnership has been established and there is a certain level of expectations, things become much easier for all parties involved. The atmosphere in meetings is less tense and more open, conversations are more fluid and go smoothly, and when expectations are consistently met, it ensures that those partnerships will continue to bring in revenue.

Conclusion 

Viewing clients and customers as partnerships can add substantial value to an organization, because when both parties aim to achieve the same goal, both will benefit greatly. Establishing a partnership instead of simply “signing a client” shows that both sides are willing to look at the big picture of an agreement rather than each shipment as an individual deal. Sometimes the rules of business can be simple; being upfront and honest with all aspects of the agreement can establish a long-term partnership that will benefit everyone involved. A happy partner leads to new relationships, increased revenue, and a more successful business, and customers and clients want a partner they can trust, produces reliable results, and is predictable. The transportation and logistics industry is often different than many other industries, where there are many different parties involved in a single agreement, so ensuring everyone involved can be trusted to continually do their part leads to success for everyone involved