For those that work in auto shipping as I do, it’s like not like any other industry you have ever seen. Those not in the business often wonder how often anyone ships a car to begin with. Most believe those that do are a dealership or a distributor of some kind. But this business is different than you may expect. Most auto transport is actually done by private individuals buying a car, selling a car, moving, going college, etc.. So that’s why theres a lot of reasons to want to work for an auto transport company. The main reason being that the business is lucrative.
The thing that matters most is that you want to work for an ethical auto transport company. This is how you last working in this as a career AND see success in the industry.
There are a lot of people out there that ship their cars for a multitude of reasons. So I have learned to keep people happy so they refer you. Keep snowbirds happy so they use you twice a year. Keep dealers happy so they always want to use you when they sell out state.
It’s hard. Especially with how this works. You need to balance giving the right information and not overpromise or over commit to further than you know you can offer a customer.
Remember, from the prospective of the person shipping their vehicle, it is like nothing they will ever deal with. They find out there are no guaranteed dates for pick up. No exact date for delivery. Some won’t even promise a price. Most auto shipping is also C.O.D. (cash/collect on delivery) which means cash, a money order, or certified check at delivery like it’s 1975. Chances are not a single person on the phones has ever seen the inside of a semi truck, let alone works for a company that owns one.
This is because the industry is segmented between the brokers that arrange the shipping and carriers that move the cars. Those carriers have zero interest in talking to people directly. There are so many brokers, there’s an entire database of “loads” (vehicles posted, ready to be shipped) that all the trucks need to do is click on the ones they want and off they go.
As mentioned, the business is also mostly C.O.D.. There are two reasons for this. First, most carriers are “owner-operators” (one truck, one driver, they own it.) also need money flowing in to operate, so they do not want to wait for brokers to pay them. The second reason is many brokers don’t pay them on time. Some don’t even pay at all so they have to claim their bond. As a result of needing money to operate and the huge distrust for bad brokers, they want to be paid at delivery. Hence the C.O.D. (cash/collect on delivery).
Another thing to understand is that because of this separation between the truck driver and the salesperson, it leaves a lot of grey area on dates, prices, and times. Because brokers need to wait for a car carrier to reach out and say “Hey, I want this.”, nobody should be promising exact dates or a result. The reason for this is simple. By doing so, the broker is speaking for a party they don’t know if or when they will exist when making such statements.
So those that try to fill in this grey area with promises of flowers and rainbows will book all day with many initially very happy customers. That is until it comes time getting the job done. The ones making the customer believe something on total chance will most likely have nothing but an angry person on the line. So, depending on who gets the customer will determine their experience.
The good brokers are upfront, try to educate the customer about how the business works, and don’t try to overpromise for that deposit. Be one of the good guys.
Competitive, Rough, and Sometimes Out of Control
As a result of having so many players both very good and horribly bad, working for an auto transport company can get a little rough. Those already working with an auto shipper have probably seen some of the problems first hand.
Although there is a ton a regulations on how the services are performed by the car carriers that take the vehicles, there is very little out there controlling the sale of these services. There are literally no rules on how they are marketed, and who can market them. This makes it a pretty cutthroat industry. There’s no code of ethics like you have in the Realtor Associations, for example. Only the most basic consumer protection laws exist to at least keep things somewhat under control.
You have the good guys that try to guarantee the price, not oversell the service, not post a car without a contract to the aforementioned board, be honest about dates, make good on their followup and customer service. On the flip side, you have the bad guys that have things like open-ended contracts that hide fees, salespersons making false promises, ignoring customers, posting cars without permission, and changing prices. Again, be one of the good guys.
The Opportunity of the Auto Transport Broker
I’m not going to get into a training of how you run quotes and book loads. That is for you to learn the day you sit in the chair at their office. But I will focus on the ethics that should be shown to you.
The fact that the industry is so open it does create bad apples that work for auto transport companies and even establish them for the purpose of a quick buck. But for others it creates some pretty great opportunities and a promising and happy career.
Someone can go and register for their broker authority, get a surety bond, and within a short times be authorized to broker loads. No test, no quiz. Just pay the fees and the bond. The bond exists to assure you pay your truck drivers.
Now, usually someone does not wake up and say “I want to open an auto transport company today!”. It normally will be a person that has worked for some time and decides they take a go at it on their own. The business truly is not rocket science, but sales experience with this particular type of work is unique. Anyway, although it isn’t hard to learn, the hardest part is getting people in the door.
For me it is a beautiful business. I love it. It has taken me from a place where I was struggling financially and wasn’t getting anywhere, to making an ok living. I’m not vacationing in Bali just yet but hey, baby steps. I love the industry for the the opportunity of starting from nearly nothing to making something good. I’ve shifted through many hats at our company, but have been mostly focused on writing the content at National Express Auto Transport for the last few years.
So there’s the fork in the road. Are you going to start a positive and honest business or perhaps do whatever it takes to get your money in the door?
How Companies Get People Through the Door
This is business has turned into an online business for the most part. This happened many years ago. The business is very decentralized. There’s no “UPS” car shipping. You don’t drop off your Camry at the Post office. So, especially since most auto transport is regular individuals they will simply whip out their phone or sit on their computer and look to see who they may want to use. This is where your future customer will most likely come from. You as an employee of that auto transport company need to be ready and have a good grasp on the job.
But first of all, for this to work, you have to be front and center to be found. There has to be a presence online and it needs to show everything about your service, what you do, how you do it , and all the things your soon to be customer would want to see.
Auto shipping is pretty much all done online. Nearly all auto transport companies cater to individuals more than companies or dealerships. Where does Mr. Regular Guy go to get information if you they are not in an industry? Google of course. This is no different.
Not Everyone Can or Wants To Invest The Time and Money to Grow
When looking for a place to work at, you’ll notice that some people get a lot of incoming calls. While others do outbound sales. This is an important distinction to be aware of.
There’s a lot of effort involved in a company marketing themselves, especially if you begin to work for a company starting out. They need to have at least a basic website, have a proper phone system, and company emails. No matter how nice and expensive the website is, there isn’t any “build it and they will come” either. It needs to be marketed, advertised, and search engine optimized. The company needs to be seen as an authority in the space.
So, dealing with CPC (cost per click ads), getting natural search traffic, or other advertising is challenging. The CPC advertising gets the phones ringing but can easily eat all the money up if not done right.
Therefore, a lot of companies go with what is easier. Which is buying leads as opposed to marketing themselves.
So that’s why there are two different kinds of broker companies you will encounter during your search for a good auto transport company to work for.
The Difference Between Working for a Company that Buys Leads or One that Advertises and/or Gets Natural Traffic
As mentioned earlier, there are basically two types of broker companies. They are the companies that are known, get natural sales traffic, and advertise. This results in incoming calls and leads. The other is the kind of company that is not receiving many incoming leads from past customers and new business and buy leads. So these are companies that rely on outbound leads and calls for their business.
Companies That Buy Leads
Individuals and companies that buy leads do so because they are looking to get money in the door at a low cost without it being overcomplicated.
As far as showing up on the natural list of search results (the ones below the ads), that often takes an entire team of developers to create a profitable online presence that shows up naturally.
For years lead companies have existed that get the business for brokers that are not showing up in Google or Bing’s favor, either with ads or naturally. The lead provider has done this work for you. They specialize in is making it so your customer finds them, so they can send that lead to you. Each at about a cost of $1.50. (These are known as shared leads. More on that in a moment.)
Leads Are a Great Business For the Provider
For the lead provider it is money for them in the bank. Lead providers get a much better return on investment for advertising because of how they function. Since they get paid for every lead that they sell wether it converts or not, they can sell that lead to several people at at time, then each lead is actually for them a “sale”.
Each sale then make as much $30, depending on how many people share that lead and what they charge for each one. Usually can be 8–12 companies, most of the time it will be more. The more people that are buying leads, the more money can shovel back in to their websites and advertising campaigns.
So, if the cost of each conversion on Google ads let’s say is $7–8 dollars (because 3–4 out of 10 visitors get a quote), the rest is profit as much as they can repeat it. And if they have organic results, it’s literally 100% profit. So if they can sneak on to the search results, that there is easy street for a lead company.
A regular auto shipper can run the same ads as the lead provider, but each conversion can cost a heck of lot more. The reason is while the lead provider makes money just for getting a quote, the auto shipping company needs to sell the service. And even if they have automated quoting on the website, it could be one out of dozens of people getting pricing that actually calls to place an order or books online (if the website has that ability). The lead provider wins just by advertising.
Converting Leads Is Hard And Tedious Work In Comparison to Offices that Have Incoming Sales
Once a lead comes in, you have to act fast and call them quickly. The reason for this is simple. You are competing with many other companies and the cost of that lead was subsidized by you and all the other buyers of that lead. You are working at an auto transport company that is working against others like yours.
Leads are great to get living, breathing people on the phone, but it’s a lot of work. What you get for the low price tag creates a need to be extremely organized, persistent, and disciplined.
As mentioned the lead is going to several companies or single man operations that are doing the same thing. The moment the lead appears, you have to be the first one calling and the best one calling that customer. If they don’t answer, you need a follow-up plan that will make it so you can get them on the phone as soon as possible. If you don’t you have lost that lead.
Conversion Rates Can Suck
They just can. Do not expect the money to fall at your feet. It seems like people sometimes enter their information for fun. No answer, disconnected numbers, bad emails. It’s rough.
People Sometimes Enter Fake Information
You have to call out to these customers. There aren’t any incoming leads to your phone or email. They think the info will appear on the screen when they hit “submit”. Since they are worried they’ll actually have to speak to someone, the info will be fake.
The hook of the lead provider is that they make it look like the visitor will get a price. Not a message saying thanks and we’ll get back to you. And by “we” they mean those that just got the lead.
The Lead Does Not Know They Are a Lead
One of the biggest issues with leads is that these people for the most part have zero idea what they just did.
We are in a world where all the resources at our fingertips has made it so the days of old have gone. Less and less people want to sold. Less and less want to be convinced. Most want to do research and make it be their own decision, not because John the broker called.
The lead websites would barely get anyone to fill in their quote form if the prospect actually knew what would happen next. Most people totally ignore calls from people they don’t know. You will notice prospects decline your calls after a ring or two.
But most good sales reps won’t give up that easily. For example, in my early days working for transport companies that bought leads, I would send a text, call from the office phone, and call from my cell at the same time.
Why? There is a huge disadvantage if you miss them. Because after that first phone call, the reflex reaction will be that to silence their phone if they get overwhelmed. Also, the first person that reaches them has the highest chance of getting the sale. So understand the perspective of the person on the other end of those calls..
Exclusivity Is Available but Can Cost Brokers Too Much
If the buyer of these leads want more exclusive opportunities, they ask the if lead provider will sell leads shared with less people. But they will need to expect the price to double or even triple. Not many broker companies want to shell out the cash as they fear it won’t convert. If they do get them, those leads are handed to the senior salespeople because they are more expensive and must have the best chance to convert.
Incoming call leads (where the lead provider forwards you a call to their phone number) can cost $10,20, or even $30 a call. Incoming call leads are the hottest you can get. Usually if someone is calling, there is a one in four chance they will book. But due to how expensive these are, there may be few companies buying these.
The Urgency to Get the Sale Makes Salespeople Seem Rude
If you work at a place that buys leads, it’s hard to be patient, cordial and take time with customers. Those that don’t book a lot and don’t book quickly don’t get paid. The trap that most selling on the phone fall into is getting frustrated when the person on the other end is taking too long deciding or asking too many questions. The salesperson sees opportunities are passing them by.
So if the customer begins to ask to many questions and leads are being rotated around the room, they try to quickly end the call or even hang up on them mid-sentence.
That’s why you’ll read a lot of reviews of how rude and nasty people feel the salesperson was.
So for many it’s “yes-no-go, yes-no-go”. If they don’t answer the phone, it’s try and try to get you between the next lead. Around and around the wheel goes, with the more persistent salespeople trying for a while. It’s high pressure, non-stop to get as much booked as possible.
The Urgency to Get the Sale Can Make Good Salespeople Lie
This is a big one. With chasing down leads there is massive competition. So it’s easy to get desperate and just say whatever it takes to make a sale. So it’s tempting to give too low of a price to lock people in and then try to raise it later on (or make other guarantees).
This is not to say it doesn’t exist in companies that take incoming sales. It does. But it is much more prevalent here.
To most customers, price will be the yes or the no, unfortunately. It’s blah, blah, blah, price. So, unless the person on the line really likes you, they will just go with the low price even if you try and warn them. That can put you in a position to get creative.
Lead Providers are Not Bad on Their Own and Does Not Mean Companies Using Them Are
As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. You can make good on leads with hard work and honesty. Many companies that work in a positive way ethically buy leads. It’s not fair to say they do not. There are also many that do both purchased leads and have incoming sales.
Ethically and Successfully Converting Leads
You don’t have to resort to deception to secure a sale. For example, keep track of your customers that said no or didn’t go with you because of a bad broker giving a low price. See if their vehicles are still sitting on the board. You can call, follow up, ask them if they are still waiting on that “spectacular“ price. You can convert those that you thought you lost with hard work. Plain and simple.
Companies that Advertise And Have Search Traffic
Ideally, working for a company that gets inbound leads is where you want to be if you want the best chances of success in the business.
These are a lot harder to find. You also need to be a good salesperson to get in the door. When I first set foot at one of these offices, I could not believe the difference in everything from the people that worked there to the moral of the employees. It felt like Disneyland.
Customers are Coming to You
They read the website, saw the reviews. Liked what they saw and are calling to ask possibly book an order. People reaching out are coming to you which makes a huge difference in how your experience will be with a customer. One out of four calls or up to one out of six calls will turn into an auto transport order. This is of course if the company you’re working with has good reviews online.
Without a doubt, it is a lot more passive to deal with incoming leads. As a result, you will feel better taking time with customers because you know that there are calls consistently coming into the office that you could take advantage of. As a result you can go the extra mile more often to help others.
Less Employee Turnover
When working at an inbound auto shipper, it is a whole different story. A lot of times, outgoing call centers face difficulty in maintaining proper morale and are constantly plagued with issues of employee turnover. People get frustrated they can’t handle the business or feel they are spinning their wheels.
The Lead Model May Not Be Sustainable Much Longer
Google introduced what has been coined as the “YMYL algorithm”. It was named that way by specialists that deal with trying to get websites and companies showing up on Google‘s natural search results. YMYL stands for “your money or your life“. As funny as it sounds, it has a real meaning behind it.
In a nutshell, it is Google’s way of authenticating websites providing services online. Most recently it was introduced into the banking and health niches. If Google cannot find evidence of certified professionals and licensed individuals providing advice on topics, Google will devalue the website’s ability to naturally show up online.
My belief is that it is sure to make its way down to other industries that require licensing and certifications. This means that non-certified businesses (such as unlicensed lead providers) may soon disappear from search engines and pay higher advertising rates to show up on the search ads.
Keep in Mind Not All Companies Bringing Sales Inbound Are These Great Nirvanas to Work At
Some come with those bad habits they’ve found along the way. Like price switching, funky contracts, and lots of consumer complaints.
Regardless of the type of company, they can have carefully crafted contracts that state the customer’s price is estimated “within a $200 range” for example. Many people don’t read the fine print. This is done in an effort keep deposits. The evidence will be in their reviews. Be sure to stay away from those employers.
This is industry is great. If you work hard, have good ethics, care about the people, you will do well. Earn trust from those that come to you with their daily beater-mobile or their pride and joy and you will develop referrals, loyal snowbirds, dealers that recommend you, and much more.