What It Takes to Make It in the Freight Brokerage Business
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In this episode, Blythe interviews Anita Bassi, Vice President of People and Operations at  SPI Logistics. They discuss her career journey in the freight industry, the day-to-day challenges freight agents face, and the unique way SPI supports its agents through technology assistance and proactive fraud prevention to reduce turnover and cultivate enduring partnerships. Anita also emphasizes the importance of networking and continual career development for freight agents to stay competitive, as well as offers advice to agents looking to thrive in this fast-evolving industry.




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Show Transcript

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Blythe Brumleve: 0:05

Welcome into another episode of Everything Is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight. We are proudly presented by SPI Logistics and I am your host, Blythe Brumleve. And speaking of SPI Logistics, we have one of the best people working at SPI with Anita Bassi. She is the VP of People and Operations over at SPI. So we're going to be talking all about what makes for a successful freight agent program in 2024 and beyond. So, Anita, welcome.

Anita Bassi: 0:34

Thank you, I'm excited to be here, kind of Now as we were just talking before the show.

Blythe Brumleve: 0:40

You mentioned that you hate doing podcasts. They're a little nerve wracking. I totally get that. So let's just start off with sort of your job role in title. You recently upgraded, so it was a formerly client experience, but now it's VP of operations too. So tell us a little bit about what that day-to-day role looks like for you.

Anita Bassi: 1:02

Yeah, in terms of operations, exactly what you think I'm having with day-to-day operations of the organization. So my team handles any issues that come in. So if there's a carrier issue, a stolen load, an accident or just an agent issue where they're having problems with their computer, it's the TMS software where the ones who are kind of coming in and troubleshooting helping them. But we're also taking the lead when it comes to hostage loads, a carrier not being happy, any complaints coming in. So although I focus primarily on the agent side of things, we handle quite a bit of the operations and that includes carrier satisfaction and those relationships. So it just seemed like a natural progression to change my title and role and really take on operations altogether.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:48

Yeah, I think anyone who's met you in person knows that you are just. I joke to Mike, mike Mikulik, who also works for SPI. He's been a former guest on the show for anybody who's listening that may want to check out those episodes as well. But I joked around to Mike that I was like Anita scares the shit out of me because she's so badass and I don't. I was like I have to make sure that I'm on my P's and Q's when I'm around her. So this is if you're a little nervous, then I'm a little nervous too, because I was like I got to make sure this interview is right.

Anita Bassi: 2:18

I feel like I'm harmless. But I get that sometimes I'm like I'm just like I'm like a big teddy bear because I look kind of like scary. I have that resting face, but I'm actually quite friendly and nice. I'm very kind.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:29

Yes, you definitely are, but you're also a woman in this industry that you want to impress. So I say that as like a full on, like I want to make Anita proud because I feel like if I make Anita proud, then everybody else will be okay too, so let's make sure that we come with it Now. What I thought was really interesting because I also told you before we started recording that I was listening to your conversation, Trey Griggs of Standing Out show, which was a great interview and a conversation that you guys had as well. But what I thought was really fascinating is that before you ever joined SPI, you grew up in the trucking industry. Your dad owned a trucking company. Is that correct?

Anita Bassi: 3:11

Yes, he did. So he started off as a truck driver, since I can remember, like probably as a toddler, so he was driving a truck like in town. Then he kind of moved to highway, then he moved back into town. Eventually the company is working with who, by the way, is like a fabulous trucking organization here Ended up having to close shop, you know, because I think it was during one of the recessions, and so at that time he took the leap and opened up his own trucking company, and so then I was kind of immersed into the industry at that time, right, like dispatching, understanding how the ports work, seeing how claims affected people, not just the administration of the claim, but like the impact has on real people, like the driver is a trucking company, the customer relationship yeah, just all of it. I found it really dynamic. I just didn't think I would follow suit.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:02

Yeah, I would imagine that, seeing it from that lens because I think you mentioned during the podcast that you watched him late at night having to answer phone calls and answer concerns of other drivers and just seeing kind of like the impact of like the work-life balance that he had so when it came time to join the industry again, were you hesitant at all to join or was it just a good sort of it felt right.

Anita Bassi: 4:31

So when Joe reached out and we had the interview, I really, really liked Joe off the bat. I liked what his vision was for the organization and I actually went to my dad to talk about like the industry and the company and he recalled SPI because he had actually been a carrier for us. Oh yes. So he started saying, look, is this person still there? And I was like no, dad, that was like 20 years ago. But he had nothing but great things to say about SPI. So from that point of view I wasn't hesitant. Also, when I originally started with SPI, I started more of an HR based role so I did not have as much exposure to, I guess, like the opportunities or the problems that might arise in this industry. It was more to do with like the people actually in the office or agency offices building up the culture, and the only really insight I had into like transportation in that particular role was claims management. So that was it was kind of like a soft introduction and so I didn't find it stressful or, you know, hesitant to come in. I was enjoying it. It was. It was dynamic and also six years ago the industry was quite different from what it is now. You know you weren't having all these insurance companies where you have problems with claims and things like that. So it was quite different and I was not hesitant. I think it's just completely, completely changed like the landscape of what we do in transportation or as a freight broker now.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:56

And for folks who may not be aware who is Joe and his relationship to the company Sure.

Anita Bassi: 6:01

So Joe Chandler is our president and our chief operating officer, and so that's who I reported into, and he had been with the organization about two years when I joined and he actually ended up bringing Mike, who's our VP of sales and marketing, and myself on. So that was the time that he kind of decided that, you know, we needed to have more of an HR presence, and so that was my background. I came in on the HR side but I had always been embedded within like an operations team, and so I had two roles I've always played. I've always kind of understood how does HR really impact the strategic vision of an organization and the bottom line, and so it was kind of a natural fit. And then, as I kept working with the team here at SPI, I just I love the industry. I just found it so dynamic. Every day is different, it's very challenging, but also when you resolve a problem it's so rewarding because there's so many players in the game, right. And so then I just kind of naturally progressed towards operations and that side of things.

Blythe Brumleve: 6:57

So for HR, you had mentioned this earlier that you still are heavily involved in HR right now for SPI and you just mentioned that it really impacts the bottom line. Can you kind of expand on that a little bit? How does you know? Because I think for most folks they kind of know HR is like the department that you go and you report a problem to. But you mentioned how much it impacts the bottom line. I'd love for you to expand on that a little bit.

Anita Bassi: 7:23

Yeah, and I think any organization that wants to be successful really has to see the value in HR, because we're not just those individuals who come to get like, a write up from, or can we terminate this employee, or you know, I want to have an event, so like or like I don't know what to do, so give it to HR. But I think the important thing about it is that we are the ones selecting the individuals. We are the gatekeepers to who represents the organization. So having great HR leads to a successful bottom line because we bring on the talent that represents the company, who is aligned with your culture, your values, your mission. You train them right, you get them on board and you put them into this perfect little package to hand off to operations. But in our situation as an organization, it's so nice that HR and ops are under one roof, because now we have the people we bring on in client care right, but they're also training our agents. So we're kind of doing it as an HR department that that really isn't HR function training. And so when an agent on boards or a sub rep for an agency office on boards, we take them through the full training, we onboard them and we help them with continuing training to when so things change. But also we understand the operations of the organization so we can act quickly when they have questions. We're not saying, hey, just hold on, let me talk to your operations manager or the office coordinator. We can just answer those questions for them during training. We understand the industry ourselves and we also understand how to be able to dispatch a qualified load or how to find what the proper rate would be. So aligning those two departments allows you to be profitable.

Blythe Brumleve: 9:03

I think no, that's a great breakdown and it makes a ton of sense because you're not only balancing the employees that you have in the office but you're balancing the freight agents that are coming into play. Because I think what makes SPI super unique compared to other freight agent programs is that you only have freight agents. You don't have an in-house brokerage team that almost I don't want to say can kind of steal freight away from the agents. But it's eh. Borrow might be the best phrase, share might be a better phrase. Why the focus on? And maybe this I'm not sure if you can answer this question for me, but I'm going to ask it anyways but for the freight agents in particular, why the focus there when you could add an additional line of revenue with an in-house brokerage? But does that muddy the waters too much?

Anita Bassi: 9:54

I think it might ease the water but, I think as an organization, we've made a decision as to what our product is, and our product is service, and we are here to provide a great service. We are back office support. That is what we specialize in and that's where we spend our resources and our people's training so we can provide this great service. At the end of the day, right, if we were to bring in in-house brokers, you're then deviating from kind of a service, because now we're also having to bring on our customers. We're providing a product kind of you know what I mean. So you're muddying the waters. You're also creating competition with your agency-based model and I think it also becomes who do you service? Do you service your in-house customers or do you service the agent's customers? And this keeps it so clean for us and it's just something we enjoy doing. It's great having partners who know what they're doing. We don't have to become experts in every type of freight, because our agents are experts in their customer's freight. But what we are experts in is understanding how do we onboard, how do the systems work together? How do we integrate new tools for you so you can just focus on dispatching the freight, getting the customers. If there's a claim, we're experts in finding that claim, resolving it for you, finding a way out of it, and even when it comes to accidents, things like that. That's what I think we pride ourselves on, and it just gives us a competitive advantage, I guess, in comparison to other brokers?

Blythe Brumleve: 11:18

Yeah, for sure. And let's get into a little bit of what that onboarding experience looks like. You mentioned the value of HR being able to train and onboard people and make sure that they're a cultural fit. Is that sort of the same approach to agents as well, making sure they're a cultural fit as well?

Anita Bassi: 11:39

Yeah, and I think one thing we do strong here is that we work very closely with sales, so Mike and I have a great relationship. We're on the same page when it comes to identifying agents who are going to be onboarding. Him and his team do a great job of qualifying the agents, because it's just like employees yeah, you're interviewing them, they're interviewing you too. And I think it's the same way for agents. Yes, they're interviewing us, but we're interviewing them as well. Do you fit our professional code of conduct? Do you have the ethics, the morals that we want? Does it make sense? Are you a fit for the culture that we've created and that we try very hard to protect at SPI? So those are all things better to do those conversations and making sure that works out. But then, before we even onboard, Mike's really great with us having calls with the prospective agent demoing our system, making sure that there's a great fit, because what we don't want and you don't want this in HR either is turnover. We don't want the attrition to be high. So when we onboard agent, they don't leave because I think we've given them a very real picture of what they're going to get at SPI, who the players are, who they'd be working with, what the system looks like, what we can truly offer. We try not to promise something that we can't back up, and that's the same thing on the employee side too.

Blythe Brumleve: 12:54

Now we've had Eze, who's in charge of IT over at SPI. He was talking about the technical aspect of onboarding a new agent and being able to connect to all of their different systems. What about on the operations side of things? What does that onboarding experience look like? Does, I guess, take me from the agent signing on the bottom line to getting fully up and running with SPI?

Anita Bassi: 13:21

Yeah, so once I've demoed our TMS and we've decided. But basically the onboarding process starts from setting up an agency agreement which, by the way, we have no non-compete.

Blythe Brumleve: 13:31

So that's always a win, right.

Anita Bassi: 13:33

Yeah, so we set up the agency agreement. We schedule a day within it's usually typically 24 to 48 hours, depending on the agent's availability and if they're actively working and it's hard to onboard during work hours, then we'll make our team reach out and they'll coordinate it maybe an after-hours session, so we're really flexible that way. Basically, within 24 to 48 hours they'll be doing an actual training session. So we have two training sessions that they'll go through, not just with our TMS but all of our load boards, our company Intranet, any kind of tools and technology that we have is kind of what we spend the majority of the two days training on. And then we provide them support with getting their customers onboarding, making sure we have the credit agreement sign so we introduce them to AR. We also introduce them to AP at that time, so explaining what are the payment terms that their carriers can be looking for, because we also want to make sure that they understand our procedures so they can relay the correct information to their carriers and to their customers. And if they have carriers that they want to onboard, we typically try to get that onboarded before. So put them through our carrier vetting process to make sure there's not many issues and just working with getting them all set up for their go live date of dispatching their first load within our system.

Blythe Brumleve: 14:46

How long does that process typically take, because it sounds like it's relatively short.

Anita Bassi: 14:50

It's pretty quick. I would say one to three days. They're up and running.

Blythe Brumleve: 14:54

Yeah, wow, we actually did. I thought you were going to say like one to three months that's what I would have assumed just learning any kind of new technology. But I guess if they can take all of their current technology with them wherever they go and make upgrades where needed, then the onboarding process can be a lot quicker than that.

Anita Bassi: 15:11

Yeah, and with our company, intranet, we also have a lot of resources. So we have training videos for all of our TMS. So even though we'll take them through training, we provide them additional resources. So if they don't want to talk to us on the phone, they don't want to call us, and they would just have a couple quick questions after training, like how they're booking their load or a freight plan. We have all the video resources for that too, so they can go step by step. They're narrated by us so they can completely understand how to get things done. So it's quite efficient that way. But we have a great carrier and client care setup team who's available all the time. We have after-hours support, so we run 24-7, basically.

Blythe Brumleve: 15:47

There was one point in the conversation with Trey that you were talking about a new agent that you wanted to help. Or maybe he was an existing agent and he was onboarding a new customer, I believe but he didn't know how to use Teams and you guys actually set up a training session and got Teams set up for him so he could lay in that new customer. Is that accurate?

Anita Bassi: 16:07

Yes, that is so we do that with Zoom or when they have these online meetings, because we do have agents who are not as comfortable with tech. So a lot of the times we will jump on and we'll do like connect-wise and we'll show them how to get it done and set up, or they might get locked out of their email or they might get hacked, and so it's us also going in and having our IT team go in and support them and doing a check and doing whatever we can to get them up and running quickly as possible. Just going that extra mile, because I think people appreciate when you actually genuinely care about them, and I think we do.

Blythe Brumleve: 16:40

Yeah, because you were listing all of the things that SPI provides and it was claims HR, day-to-day ops, insurance carrier setup and vetting, ap payroll training, fraud training or fraud help. That's a lot of stuff that I mean, it's essentially the entire back office, right.

Anita Bassi: 16:58

We're 100% back office support and again that comes back to we have decided this is our service and we are going to be great at it. So everything that they need it's a one-stop shop and we're there for them.

Blythe Brumleve: 17:10

Yeah, because I think you had mentioned too that it was. You're almost in the client services business, where your agents are your clients, and as long as you're giving them everything they need, then hopefully they don't have any reason to leave.

Anita Bassi: 17:22

Yes, exactly, and I think that's where that model is different again, because it's like they're partners but they're also clients, right. So we might go with them to pitch their customer on a new lane or a new product or a new sale, right, but at the same time they are also our customers, so it's making sure that we provide the same service to them that we encourage them to provide to their customers. So it's kind of just a round of fact there.

Blythe Brumleve: 17:48

Are you in freight sales with a book of business looking for a new home? Or perhaps you're a freight agent in need of a better partnership? These are the kinds of conversations we're exploring in our podcast interview series called the Freight Agent Trenches, sponsored by SPI Logistics. Now I can tell you all day that SPI is one of the most successful logistics firms in North America, who helps their agents with back office operations such as admin, finance, it and sales. But I would much rather you hear it directly from SPI's freight agents themselves. And what better way to do that than by listening to the experienced freight agents tell their stories behind the how and the why they joined SPI? Hit the freight agent link in our show notes to listen to these conversations or, if you're ready to make the jump, visit spi3plcom. Are you a broker, ready to level up your business? Well, I've got a game changer of a solution for you because, let's face it, your TMS choice can make or break your company, and that's where having the right ally becomes key to success. Meet TIE Software, an all-in-one platform with user-friendly automation that makes your day-to-day operations smoother and smarter. Whether you're running a big brokerage or a startup, tie's got your back through every phase of your domestic freight Gear up because your logistics journey is about to get a serious upgrade. Experience it now by heading over to tie-softwarecom for a demo. So what I imagine during the onboarding process there's going to be some concerns, there's going to be some questions, there's maybe some objections or obstacles that you have to overcome. What are some examples of maybe some of the more common ones that SPI helps them to resolve to speed up the onboarding process?

Anita Bassi: 19:37

Yeah, so typically this is ironed out before they actually onboard it's usually during the prospecting phase, and so if there's any questions we usually put them in touch with the right department to answer those questions. But, for example, I would say that most two common ones that we deal with are claims, claims questions, what our role is going to be in claims, because a lot of agents who come to us have had a lot of issues with their claims department. So not enough support, not helping them file the claim, not giving them direction. So those are usually the biggest hesitations. Or they've been burned, they've had claims that aren't able to get settled but their agency doesn't go the extra mile to get legal involved or to pursue the claim they just accepted, maybe at the denial phase, not appealing, or they've had to pay out of pocket for ones that they weren't negligent in. There's no fault of their own, there's no shared cost. So those are the questions that typically come up with claims, and so we explain our process and how it works and we fully take ownership of the claims in terms of the administration. So that's kind of one of the areas that could be a hesitation. They're looking for a new agency who can better support them in that side of things. And then the other question lately that's coming up is care vetting. And I would say that's because of the fraud and it kind of goes hand in hand with the claims and the stolen loads and the double brogared loads and the you know the you know the frauds that are being used. So you know, a lot of the new agents are now asking hey, what are your career vetting processes? What system are you using? What are you doing internally? And so that's kind of something we've been working with and you know, I think we have a great career vetting process, we have a great career vetting tool with highways.

Blythe Brumleve: 21:19

So I think we can alleviate a lot of those concerns with just a quick conversation. Yeah, it almost sounds like they're looking for a partner as well in order to help them get through some of these more difficult problems and focus more on their customer relationships and selling more freight, while the back office things and things that could really impact their business I mean, one claim could maybe put, you know, some companies out of business.

Anita Bassi: 21:45

Yeah, or you could lose the customer and some agents only have, like, one particular customer. So when they're coming to you and they're saying, hey, like you know, I had three claims back to back. We had poor career vetting processes. We're on our last strike here now with this customer, what do we do? We have a lot of different processes. So those things are really important to agents as we go into this like unchartered territory right now, and that's what we're seeing, and so what other you mentioned highway.

Blythe Brumleve: 22:10

What are some other ways that you're helping with carrier vetting and fraud prevention?

Anita Bassi: 22:15

Yeah, we still. We have our own internal systems too. So you know, we we carry 401. We have carrier sure, we carry the order sign in four-pr negligence because we're. And then we have other things within the internal TMS that we've created to just have an internal carrier scorecard. So making sure we're checking. Also FMCSA changes to contact information. So there's a lot of good resources out there and a lot of them aren't that expensive, like carrier sure or having access to 401. But just doing your due diligence and as an industry, I think we have to encourage everybody to get on these platforms and I think that's the only way you're going to be able to weed out these scammers and these fraud clusters and the double broke ring. But if we can encourage everybody to do even one system, I think we can help a lot. And then when you're going to these conferences, it's great. So Mark Funk, our director of carrier procurement, went to a carrier conference and he actually ended up creating a broker chain so we can talk to each other and figure out best practices. But just communicating with each other is important.

Blythe Brumleve: 23:18

And it almost sounds like some of these issues are catalysts for why a freight agent would leave somewhere else and then come and join SPI. Is that a safe assumption that carrier vetting is one of those top reasons?

Anita Bassi: 23:31

Yes, carrier vetting, which leads to sizable claims. So of course that's a big, big one.

Blythe Brumleve: 23:37

What are some other ones that you know any offhand?

Anita Bassi: 23:40

I think those are the two challenges that we've seen and prior to carrier vetting it was mostly claims questions that we had, or lack of support. So not having a department like the client care or the carrier set up team that was responsive, delayed times, taking an hour or two hours to respond to an email. So responsiveness is a huge thing obviously in this industry, and so agents coming without that lack of support are going to be looking for a new home.

Blythe Brumleve: 24:04

Now we had talked briefly about having maybe an in-house brokerage is almost a little bit of competition to a freight agent program. But what about the freight agents themselves? Because I get the impression and I've talked to a few of the different agents with SPI that a lot of these freight agents are friends, like they're not seeing each other as competition. Is that by design within the HR part of the program With an SPI?

Anita Bassi: 24:28

Yeah, yes, with an SPI, they're friends. I was going to say I thought you meant external as well. Yeah, definitely with an SPI. It's actually. I love it. I think that we've just created this culture of a family and so when we have our annual conference, they're sharing ideas, they call other agents to get help or to recover loads or sharing customer accounts that maybe are too big for them to take on by themselves covering for vacation time. They have great friendships, so it's become like a network, but it's also having respect for everybody's boundaries when it comes to this is their client. But again, yes, they are very resourceful and sharing and helpful and it can be tough in this industry when you maybe only have enough business to have yourself and not have employees. So creating networking relationships within the company to allow yourself to take a vacation.

Blythe Brumleve: 25:19

I didn't even think about that aspect because for a lot of freight agents it's a one-person operation and so then they have the help, of course, of SPI. But if you want to take that vacation, you probably can't with other programs, but with SPI you can actually trust that the other freight agents within the system are going to be able to help you out as well to enjoy a little downtime.

Anita Bassi: 25:41

Yeah, and we don't try to interfere too much in that part of it. But when they have those conferences, that is the opportunity to network and create those relationships. And, especially since we have very little attrition, they see these people over and over and you begin to trust them and you create those relationships. And it is important because I think about my dad who never really took a vacation because he was running the company on his own and it can be tiring. It's like a burnout factor there too. So having people that you can rely on account as friends, it's really important and we see those relationships for sure in SPI.

Blythe Brumleve: 26:12

It's neat, and there was a previous guest on the pod in case anybody wants to listen to. It is Tynan and he actually is a freight agent for SPI, but he is working underneath another freight agent that's also part of SPI, so this was a pathway for him to enter the industry and then start to build his book of business. Is that a common program that is offered, or is it more like a case-by-case basis for SPI?

Anita Bassi: 26:38

Yeah, that's a case-by-case. We're very open to helping. I'll do interviews for agency offices when they want us to jump on or they're hiring a higher level position. When it comes to sales, our team is totally willing to help and do interviews and give our opinions and our feedback because, again, they might not be experts in HR but we can do that for them. And then we're also keen to help and train. So if there are situations that come up like Tynan's, yes, we're completely hands-on to help and train them and then try to find a solution. But that's a definitely a case-by-case. It's not like a regular service.

Blythe Brumleve: 27:12

Yeah, because, especially with the sponsorship and the relationship that we have with SPI, we know that you need a book of business, you need to be established in order to be a good fit for SPI. But there are case-by-cases where you can maybe impress Anita with your skills and then get on boarded with SPI. Just see them in there, Because, as you were talking and you were mentioning that sometimes you join other calls, I would be having you interview or helping me interview everyone, because I know that you would be able to catch something that I wouldn't be able to catch. So kudos to those free agents that are putting the Anita power behind their hiring. Now we had also talked. I went to my first rendezvous SPI rendezvous, annual conference that you guys have. I believe the way you approach it is you have one in Vancouver, then one in a US city and then back to Vancouver and then another US city. Is that the right fluctuation?

Anita Bassi: 28:08

That is, we were just in heavy planning right now for 2024.

Blythe Brumleve: 28:13

And it's going to be in Nashville. For this year it's usually around like April, may timeline. What all goes into planning an event like this?

Anita Bassi: 28:21

Like a small wedding. So I get like hot sweat thinking about it. Now. It's like a small wedding, to be honest. There's just so much care and love that goes into this conference and even though where I started in this company, where I am now, I can't let it go because there's so much happiness that comes from it, from the agents, and how much they enjoy it, and so I just want to make sure it's really perfect for them and it's a time for us to appreciate and thank them for their business as well. So we try to make it educational that we have speakers come out, we have executive basically presenting on topics that are important, that are happening, having some breakout sessions, but really the heart and soul of it is to network and to have fun, and it's like a couple of days for them to go and get to meet other people who are in this industry where they might not get the time to do that right, they may not have time to go to conferences, so they had to come out and have fun and let loose, but also learn and meet with members of the leadership team, but also with all of our staff. So it's just a great event overall, but that's kind of the purpose of it, that's.

Blythe Brumleve: 29:28

I didn't even really think about the fact that freight agents are kind of a lot like drivers, where they don't really have that office community. They have to go and they're working remotely for most of the time, and so for this event, it probably is one of the few occasions out of the year that they get to network with other like-minded individuals who are going through the same like trials and tribulations that they are. I would imagine that the education being shared is really top notch at each one of these events.

Anita Bassi: 29:57

Yeah, and I think, and that's like again, this is like the opportunity where we share everything that's going on. So it's great. And this year is amazing. I think we only have like four or five agents not attending and the rest are all coming. So it just kind of speaks to the volume of like that family feel that we have and the fact that everyone is really excited to come. But, yeah, they share a lot, they learn a lot and we have some great speakers. This year we're going to be focusing more on like the carrier vending side of things, but because, again, it's like the issue at mine right now.

Blythe Brumleve: 30:24

So, yeah, it's like the nature of the industry. You know it. Fraud is just the incredible explosion in it. I think it was 57% of cargo, just cargo crime in general, not even you know carrier fraud or you know impersonation or anything like that, but cargo crime itself was up 57% year over year. I saw that stat that was just released yesterday, which is just insane to think about, and that's under reported to right. Like a thinner report.

Anita Bassi: 30:49

You think about like so yeah, we have access to carbon, that we're reporting it, but a lot of organizations don't have access to that because you have to be a member, you have to pay for it, so a lot of them don't report it. A lot of this information is just like that data is just left there. So if we think it's 57, imagine what it really is.

Blythe Brumleve: 31:05

So what else is is on it? I mean, I know SPIs freight agent program is best in biz, but how do you, how do you decide what to add to it? Like, what are, what are some of, maybe some additions that you're going to have in 2024 that might complement the freight agent program? Or do you have kind of unlock?

Anita Bassi: 31:24

I feel like we have a lot like. We are introducing a couple new tools like I'm not privy to speak to as of yet, that we're going to be announcing at Ronnie. So we're always looking for new technologies. We're always looking for new items that are going to make our agents lives easier or more efficient or automate the process. The only difference for us is, even if we automate the process on our end is we don't let go of our staff. We want these tools to better the life of our staff, to help our agents, who can then, in return, help their customers. But yeah, I think in terms of what we may focus on, that's maybe a my question for sales.

Blythe Brumleve: 32:01

Yes, we got to get him back on the show so you can talk about, you know, some of these things and some new additions to the program. Now, before we kind of wrap up what, I guess, what advice would you give to somebody who is maybe already a freight agent and is thinking about making the jump?

Anita Bassi: 32:20

Yeah, I'd like to mean a freight agent as an employee or just in general, just a freight agent.

Blythe Brumleve: 32:25

Maybe they're there with another company right now and they're thinking about making the jump to to SPI. What kind of advice would you give to them to make sure that all their ducks are kind of in a row before they make that leap?

Anita Bassi: 32:36

Yeah, I think well one. There has to be a catalyst for the reason why they want to leave, right. So I think they really need to identify that and see are they getting what they're paying for? Because it being a part of a brokerage, like any other industry, like real estate, whatever you're paying to be a part of that brokerage, right? So are you getting the bang for your buck? Are you getting the support? Are you feeling protected? And I think that's a big one coming into 2024, because shippers understand that loads are being stolen. They also want to know what are you doing to protect my load? Are you educated in that area? Is your brokerage informing you? Are they on top of it? Do they have good processes? Do they have the technology to move forward in 2024? And I think that's a big one that people who have not invested in technology to this point, especially on the carrier bedding process, are going to be behind. And so, as a freight broker, I think you have to real assessment as to what your system is capable of and what it's not capable of, because if it's not capable of giving your carriers a scoring, it's not capable of limiting loads or finding out, you know, is there associations or whatever the insights or risks might be to that carrier, you're going to be in trouble and you're going to be at high risk of losing that customer. So if you're not prepared and your agency is not prepared, I think that's a big catalyst for change and at SPI we are ready and we can help you out. So, all right, my little self.

Blythe Brumleve: 34:00

No, that was a great answer because I was just writing that down. That that's going to be our. We have a new editing technique for, I guess, some behind the scenes knowledge, but we have a new editing technique for our videos is where we're taking a good pull quote from the conversation to put at the front of the conversation kind of real people in. So that was the one, so that's what I just wrote down. So in case anybody's listening and they want to kind of, I guess, see how the sausage is made, I guess this is a terrible pun. But, anita, anything else that you think is important to mention that we haven't already talked about.

Anita Bassi: 34:35

No, I don't. I think, at the end of the day, I know the industry. You know I talked to some for agents and I feel for them that have been in the industry for 15, 20 years and they've gone their entire career without any problems, any issues, and now they're dealing with double broker loads or us coming in and saying, hey, we got to tighten, you know this process or that or like, but why? You know we're going to issue and it's just a lot of change. And I just want people to hang in there and I think that, even though it might not feel fun right now because we're combat combating so much crime, okay, back there, and it is a fun industry to be part of and the people who work for it are amazing. So just hang in and enjoy and it's a great ride.

Blythe Brumleve: 35:12

Yeah, I think it's kind of like any industry the more digital tools you add, the easier it is for everyone, but it's also the easier it is for the fraudulent players as well. So we got to kind of, you know, keep up with the times in order to protect ourselves and our business and our customers. So, anita, this was awesome, this was great. Working folks follow you, sign up for SPI's freight agent program or, you know, book a meeting, any of that cool stuff.

Anita Bassi: 35:36

Yeah, I think I'm easily accessible by email. I'm like total millennial. I hate talking on the phone. Same, but a bassi at SPI3PLcom. You can stack with me on LinkedIn as well. Otherwise, you can go to our website and there is a quick. You know you're interested. Send in your information and I've come over to our sales team. Okay, touch with us as well.

Blythe Brumleve: 36:01

So this was awesome, not not scary at all, great conversation and a ton of value. So what more can we ask for?

Anita Bassi: 36:08

Thanks so much, boys. Absolutely Well, better than I thought. Yeah, you did. You knocked it out of the park, awesome, thank you.

Blythe Brumleve: 36:21

I hope you enjoyed this episode of Everything Is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight, telling the stories behind how your favorite stuff and people get from point A to B. Subscribe to the show, sign up for our newsletter and follow our socials over at everythingislogisticscom. And in addition to the podcast, I also wanted to let y'all know about another company I operate, and that's Digital Dispatch, where we help you build a better website. Now, a lot of the times, we hand this task of building a new website or refreshing a current one off to a co-worker's child, a neighbor down the street or a stranger around the world, where you probably spend more time explaining the freight industry than it takes to actually build the dang website. Well, that doesn't happen at Digital Dispatch. We've been building online since 2009, but we're also early adopters of AI, automation and other website tactics that help your company to be a central place to pull in all of your social media posts, recruit new employees and give potential customers a glimpse into how you operate your business. Our new website builds start as low as $1,500, along with ongoing website management, maintenance and updates starting at $90 a month, plus some bonus, freight marketing and sales content similar to what you hear on the podcast. You can watch a quick explainer video over on DigitalDispatchio. Just check out the pricing page once you arrive and you can see how we can build your digital ecosystem on a strong foundation. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this episode. I'll see you all real soon and go Jags.

About the Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Creative entrepreneur in freight. Founder of Digital Dispatch and host of Everything is Logistics. Co-Founder at Jax Podcasters Unite. Board member of Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. Freightwaves on-air personality. Annoying Jaguars fan. test

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.