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Key to better freight rates: Speak your broker's language through data, business confidence, market knowledge

Updated Jun 22, 2022

According to research, nearly 80% of owner-operators indicate they just don’t like to negotiate rates with a broker. That may be the case, but it's a fact that a better understanding of how to communicate with brokers and speak their language can pay off for carriers who engage in negotiations.

That was the message during a session at the Mid-America Trucking Show in March with’s Brent Hutto, who serves as the company’s chief relationship officer, and Tyler Johnston, Mercer Transportation’s director of operations.

Johnston said most brokers are in the same camp as truck owners, generally speaking, when it comes to distaste for most negotiating. “We want to build a relationship,” he said. “The quicker we can get to a solution -- that is the goal. It’s not to nickel and dime everybody at every opportunity we get.”

In a separate “Negotiating From the Driver’s Seat” session hosted by DAT Freight and Analytics at MATS, similar messages were underscored by DAT’s Robert Rouse and board user Chad Boblett, a dry-van-hauling independent owner-operator and founder of the Rate Per Mile Masters Facebook group.

“The No. 1 way I succeed with brokers? I know what I’m looking for, and I know my rate,” Boblett said toward a goal of illustrating ways owner-operators can gain a measure of control over negotiations, such as they may be. Underscoring points similar to those of Johnston, he noted brokers’ chief desire is getting beyond having to call “carrier after carrier after carrier” to get any load covered.

An owner-operator armed with market knowledge backed up by data and a clear set of expectations when it comes to freight rates is liable to be successful achieving those rates more often than not.

[Related: The owner-operator's No. 1 rate negotiation tool -- don't forget your right of refusal]

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