It doesn’t take a lot to start a freight agency. An entrepreneur needs passion, brokering experience, a book of business, and access to phone and internet.
That’s really it.
That being said, how does a freight broker run a freight agency from their home on a day-to-day basis?
We’ve had several successful agents at LDI who began at home and now run their own offices. Some continue to choose to work from home! So we’re here to share our best Work From Home tips with you.
Keep a separate work space in your home and don’t let non-work related tasks overlap in that space.
Our brains make associations without our awareness. We associate specific spaces with specific tasks or actions. For example, some people have trouble sleeping, even though their bedroom might be perfectly set up for relaxation. Sleep psychologist Shelby Harris, PsyD, says a bedroom should be used exclusively for bedroom activities. “A lot of people watch TV in bed or pay their bills or even do their taxes, and then wonder why their minds continue to race when they want to go to sleep,” she says. “We encourage people to make their bedroom a sanctuary for sleep.”
When you consistently work diligently in one place, over time the mind is trained to associate that space with work. Don’t sit on the couch in the same spot you watch TV to work, because you’ll want to turn on the TV. Moreover, this might be tempting for someone who thinks they perform better when there’s background noise, but studies indicate cognitive performance decreases with background noise, so we encourage agents not to do that. Translation: people don’t work well with distractions.
Tip #1: Find a dedicated work space
Find a distraction free place in your home, or a specific place on your porch, solely for working. Make your calls, build your loads, and send your emails from those specific work spaces. Consequently, it might take some effort to create these work habits in the beginning, but dedicated spaces for work and pleasure in the home will help keep a work-life balance.
The right equipment makes all the difference.
A desk computer or laptop, phone, all-in-one printer, paper shredder, and second monitor will be the most useful pieces of equipment in a home office.
There isn’t a need for a high-end brand new computer, as LDI’s TMS, LDI Freight, doesn’t demand a lot of computing power. Don’t spend precious early-stage dollars on the latest and greatest when your current computer will work just fine. If your current computer is on its last leg, consider a refurbished computer directly from Samsung, or an Open Box Special at Best Buy.
In the same vein, personal finance writer Jill Cornfield recently wrote for CNBC that laptops (and even smartphones) are a great deal to purchase used. “You can save hundreds of dollars when you buy refurbished electronics, and there’s a lot to choose from.” Cornfield also points out that depending on where you purchase the refurbished/open box/used electronic, there might be a warranty attached to it.
A reliable phone is a must have item. During Episode 06 of The Midnight Freight Broker Podcast, our host Nate said “A freight broker has to have two things: a phone and integrity. If you lose either, it’s game over.” A cell phone can work, or a landline is fine too. Whatever phone path you choose, make certain you’re always able to answer and your connection is crystal clear.
You might not need an all-in-one printer. As a brokerage grows and hard copies of documents make sense, then an all-in-one printer is very handy to have on premise. They generally act as printer, scanner, and fax machine.
Optional: Paper Shredder
Likewise, where there is paper, a shredder is convenient. In case of printing sensitive information (or when you get those credit card offer letters in the mail), it’s comforting to be able to shred the documents.
Optional: Second Monitor
A second monitor can be an incredible asset. If the table or desk space is available, invest in a second monitor. A second monitor is a second computer screen that has a power cord and connector to hook up with the primary computer. A monitor does not have processing power, it is only a screen and needs to be hooked up to a computer to work. A computer might detect a second monitor immediately, but if it doesn’t, a quick YouTube search should pull up a tutorial. Working on two screens takes a little getting used to, but once you’ve experienced it, it’s hard to go back to one monitor.
Tip #2: Start with good basic equipment
You don’t need an oak wood desk or 5 drawer filing cabinet to get started brokering. That is to say, if you have a reliable computer and phone, you can launch. As you get comfortable with the rhythm of the workflow, fill in your needs with additional equipment as it’s needed. Just don’t pre-purchase a lot of equipment that’s only purpose will be to take up space.
If you have a dedicated space to focus on work and the right equipment to get the job done, then the last thing needed to run a freight agency out of your home is a goal.
Write out a list of things to accomplish for the week. Some things will be repeated daily: 10 new prospect calls and follow up on a customer who hasn’t shipped this month. But some tasks will be new week to week. Once that list is in front of you, tackle the most important thing first and work on it until completion. Then the next most important thing. Then the next. And the next.
Additionally, have your monthly goal, quarterly goal, and yearly goal in front of you. Make certain actions are being taken to achieve your goal. Your day will be filled with a lot of calls and loads to book. Don’t lose sight of your big goal.
Tip #3: A clear goal is crucial to entrepreneurial success
If you need help clearly defining your goals or paths to achieve those goals, contact your recruiter or business developer at LDI. We’re here to support you! Don’t forget: your success is our success.