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Finding Loads PDF Print E-mail
Written by Guest Editor   
Aug 28, 2006 at 02:48 PM

I see a lot of discussion online about the effect on load price of car dealers posting loads on Central Dispatch-- with or without their own authority. I also see discussions about whether buying auto transport leads is a good way to find cars to haul.

Whatever shortcomings it may have, Central Dispatch obviously serves a purpose in the marketplace. Same goes for the marketing companies that sell auto transport leads. Good, bad or indifferent-- these companies are a way for you to find loads to put on your trailer.

The question you might want to ask is: what kind of loads? Both auto transport lead companies and load posting boards make auto transport companies compete against each other for business, just in different ways.

If you have to discount your normal load price to get a load on Central Dispatch, then the amount of money you didn't collect on that load is the amount you are (in essence) paying for the luxury of not marketing your company's services.

The amount by which you discount your load price AND the amount you pay for the auto transport lead is the same thing.

Marketing, sales, advertising-- whatever you want to call it-- it all amounts to the same thing: making sure prospective customers understand why it is in their interest to use your company. This is the bedrock of all marketing.

If you don't know why people should use you over some other guy, then that's your homework for tonight. What do you do differently? What services do you offer? Do you have special routes that might really help certain dealers who have multiple locations in your general service area? Do you run only three year old or newer equipment? Do you employ only drivers with five years experience or more? Do you only use soft ties to tie down cars?

If you still can't think of anything, then how about your present customers. What do they say about you? Would they give you a letter of endorsement? It might not hurt to ask!

"John Q. Driver has been providing reliable service for The Big City Auto Dealer for the past thirteen years. Since we started using his company, we've only had one damage claim, and that was handled in a straightforward and professional manner. John is an excellent communicator, and does what he says he's going to do!" -- John Q. Manager, The Big City Auto Dealer

"We've used John Q. Driver to help us with our overflow ever since 1998, and have been pleased with his committment to helping us maintain a high level of service our clients expect." --John Q. Terminal Manager, Sumbig Auto Transporter Company

"John moved our Honda Odyssey from Seattle to Maryland, and he made the whole process easy for us. We read a lot of horror stories online about auto transport, but John returned all our phone calls the same day, and our van got here without a scratch. We strongly recommend John Q Driver for all your auto transport needs!" -- John and Jane Doe, Customer

Once you know what your strengths are, play to them! Get some high quality flyers printed up (if you don't have business cards, do that as well.) Give them to prospective customers, or better yet, give them to people in a position to refer new business to you. Have you ever bothered giving your business card to a realtor? When someone moves somewhere, they usually have to sell their car! How about the directors of 55+ communities in places along your route in the sunbelt. A lot of retirees may go back up north in the spring.

Do you keep track of your old customers? Why not send them a thank you letter for their past business, and throw in a couple business cards. If they liked the service you provided, it'll help them remember you when someone they know needs your service.

If you provide a special service that auto dealers might like, have you told all of them about it? What about banks? After they've had to repo a car, who is transporting that car to auction? Are their towing companies in the area who don't offer auto transport service? What about the human resources department at big employers near your shop? If they are transferring an executive or manager, a lot of times they'll be the ones paying the relocation costs when he or she moves to a new branch or office. Who is helping them with this aspect of relocation?

These are all sources of new referrals. Put together a professional sales flyer and send some out on slow days. Pick up the telephone and make some calls. Explain in one clear statement who you are and what your purpose is.

"I'm John Q. Driver. I provide an extremely high level of service for all my auto transport customers, and I'm looking for people who might need my services, or know people who do. Would it be OK if I mailed you my business card?"

You may not consider yourself a salesman, but if you can clearly define what it is you do best, and communicate what it is you love the most about your work, your enthusiasm and honesty will be more productive than any slick marketing guy with tasseled loafers. So the next time it gets slow, don't just sit around waiting for something on Central Dispatch. Try marketing-- because they say that having a great service but not marketing it is kind of like winking at a girl in a dark movie theater. You know what you're doing, but nobody else does!


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