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Debunking a Myth: Being Truly Cradle to Grave and a More Strategic Freight Agent

Many freight professionals have significant expertise in one aspect of the freight ecosystem. But why limit yourself to one portion of the freight life cycle, when you can become a truly strategic expert as a cradle-to-grave freight agent?

If you’ve worked primarily as a W-2 agent in the freight industry, the concept of owning and operating your own freight brokerage can seem both appealing and daunting. Many freight agents shy away from the freedom and flexibility that being an independent freight agent offer because they’re afraid of the complexities of cradle-to-grave service. 

But that’s a myth, and we’re here to debunk it! Being a cradle-to-grave freight agent not only empowers greater planning and strategy, but also can help you earn more with your freight business. And here at Tallgrass, we help our agents improve their cradle-to-grave service each day. Let’s explore what it means to be a cradle-to-grave freight broker, and how it can take your career to new heights. 


What Does it Mean to Be a “Cradle-to-Grave” Freight Agent?

The typical definition of cradle-to-grave in the freight industry is that you as an agent are dedicated to your customers from the time you give a quote to the moment you book, track, and trace their freight. At Tallgrass, we take it a step further into something truly full service. Our agents are with their customers from the very first call all the way through invoicing!

“Most people in the industry understand cradle-to-grave to be from the time you get a quote to the time you cover the truck,” says Sean Richardson, TGF President. But at Tallgrass, we define cradle-to-grave far more broadly. “To us, cradle-to-grave begins with the first communication with the customer, all the way through the final invoice.”

Being a cradle-to-grave freight agent is all about networking with your customers. You know who the decision-maker is and you know who loads the trucks, who pays the invoices, and who is involved in every single step of the process. By having this full spectrum of communication and connection with your customers, you not only help them to feel more supported with their freight loads, but you also increase your customer retention by expanding your interaction beyond a singular point of contact. It’s an authentically strategic approach that allows freight agents to deliver the finest service.


How Being Cradle to Grave Helps You Be More Strategic

“Being cradle-to-grave allows you to manage all aspects,” Sean explains. “It gives you such an advantage.”

Big box stores and other W-2 brokerages limit the strategic capabilities of agents, Sean notes. In that model, agents only engage with the customer through selling, pricing and booking a load. As a W-2 freight agent, you might expend hours building a load only for it to get stalled with the operations team. You can’t control when the freight ships with a carrier and you have no visibility of where your load is in the process once it leaves your scope. 

“Anyone who has been in the industry long enough has had a frustrating moment where they’ve busted their butt for days or months to get the opportunity to move a shipment for a customer,” Sean explains. “And that opportunity finally comes, and something gets stuck that’s outside of your control. You find yourself playing a frustrating game of telephone. 

And that’s where a cradle-to-grave approach erases those pain points: With everything under your roof, you can oversee every step of the process. “When you’re cradle-to-grave, you can engage the carriers you want to use, the drivers you want to use, you can communicate proactively and keep things running smoothly with a hands-on approach. At the end of the day, it makes you a better freight broker,” Sean says.

Cradle-to-grave allows freight agents to be full-service. When you’re with your customer and their freight from start to finish, visibility and control is the name of the game. You work directly with carriers, dispatchers, and drivers to schedule and move loads as quickly and efficiently as possible. You get to decide what carriers to work with based on your historical experience with them as well as their prices to get your customer the best possible situation for their freight.


How Being Cradle-to-Grave Helps You Earn More

Many freight brokers worry that they won’t have the time to be full-service and that it will ultimately cut into their earnings as they have less time to book new freight because of the time spent on existing customers. Yet at Tallgrass, we watch this myth get debunked all day, every day as our agents’ businesses are thriving and growing!

“If you look up and down the Tallgrass Freight Co. agent roster, that myth is debunked constantly,” Sean says. “There’s a certain level of empowerment when you own your own agency. You have the autonomy and authority to serve your customers the way you want to serve them, which always comes back in extra margin and revenue in the agent’s pocket.”

Because you have full control and autonomy over every step of the freight process, your customers will be much more loyal to you and trusting of how you manage their loads. You can build rapport with your customer and understand what’s most important to them. Your firsthand knowledge of everything happening means they can trust you to keep them updated so they never have to wonder what’s going on with their freight. And that sets the service bar so much higher than customers are used to — which sets the stage for repeat business and loyal customers.

You also aren’t tied to anyone else’s approval to move forward with your bookings. Since you report only to yourself and your customers, once the freight is in your hands it is completely up to you how fast it moves. You have the luxury of creating your own schedule and booking freight according to your own timeline and availability, and you will never be stuck waiting for someone else to do their part and get your freight moving.


How Tallgrass Supports Cradle-to-Grave Success

At Tallgrass Freight, we give our agents the freedom and flexibility to run their business the way they want to run it. We provide technological support through a user-friendly CRM and a back office support team that’s not just open to agent input, but asks for it and implements suggestions as quickly as possible to make the user experience better for our agents. Our freight brokers have access to top-tier agent development, with a team dedicated to furthering success.

To top this all off, our reputation in the marketplace means that our agents will never have to worry about getting stuck with a credit profile that carriers won’t want to work with. Carriers love the Tallgrass name because they know it means an excellent credit history and reliable cash flow that gets them paid faster.


If you’re not sure whether you’re prepared to take on a cradle-to-grave freight brokerage, we’re here to help! Join the Tallgrass team and let us help you figure out how to organize your day, creating a solid plan and growth strategy that will have you earning more within just a few months here. Contact us to learn more about becoming an independent freight agent with Tallgrass!