By Bob Chappuis
“You’re just another broker.”
Working at Uber Freight, I hear this a lot. It’s especially discouraging because it often comes from people that I respect and admire.
What we’ve accomplished at Uber Freight over the last few years has been amazing and I can say with confidence that we are not just another broker. To skeptics, I offer up the following.
It’s expensive and time-consuming to match carriers with shippers when phones, email, and fax are your primary tools. Yet it’s still the standard in our industry to rely on these as a primary means of communication.
Take it from me, someone who started my career in freight by making 120 outbound phone calls every day. I started at 6am sharp to ask carriers where they had available trucks. On a good day, I was able to match one truck to a load every hour. Multiply that by a few hundred well-paid brokers and you have issues around efficiency and cost.
While in my previous role, I started to realize that there could be a better way to match supply and demand and someone would soon take the cost—aka me!—out of the equation. It’s worth mentioning that around this time, I took my first Uber ride and had a breakthrough, “Uber should get into trucking.”
And in 2017, we did. Using the same technology powering our rideshare business, the Uber Freight platform seamlessly pairs carriers with shippers. What traditionally takes hours can now be done in minutes—no telephone or fax machine required.
At the same time, I also realized that my incentives weren’t always aligned with the needs of my customers. For example, I was given an incentive to pay the least amount that I possibly could to book a carrier—and it wasn’t the case that the cheapest truck was the best truck.
I worked side-by-side with hundreds of other brokers and collectively we had thousands of unique carrier relationships between us. Because of this, the decision to book a truck was often driven by the individual broker rather than the optimal truck from a network of thousands.
My belief is that Uber Freight aligns the interests of shippers and carriers by putting the decision in the hands of those who use our powerful platform coupled with our tech powering a smart algorithm. This model empowers carriers to choose a load that works for them without being under the mercy of a broker.
Last, and least expected for me has been that our “brokerage” is always on. When mistakes happen—a carrier cancels a load, a shipper needs to adjust a pickup time—our tech quickly autocorrects. Or, when a shipper needs to schedule a load at 10pm for pickup the following morning, they can do so with the confidence there will be a carrier available. And this always-on work is not just driven by tech. We have a team of dedicated and smart people who work around the clock to provide support should an emergency arise.
Shippers can tender a load on their own—day or night—and carriers and their drivers can pick it up as soon as it goes live. Think about it—staffing a full-service brokerage 24/7 would be next to impossible, but at Uber Freight we’re able to keep the lights on at odd hours.
As interest in our industry heats up, I’m thrilled to continue the dialogue about how Uber Freight and others are moving the industry forward. I am proud to share our accomplishments and let everyone around me know that we’re not just another broker.
Bob Chappuis has been working in the freight industry for 10+ years. He joined Uber Freight 3 years ago and currently works as a GM, overseeing carrier operations. In Bob’s own words, “My team works to ensure we build the world's largest network of highly engaged carriers, from owner-operators to large fleets.”