This story spotlights Jeff Baumgardner, solar energy specialist at BBI Logistics. BBI is a full truckload freight brokerage based in Columbus, Ohio. Connect with Jeff on EnergyBin to discuss freight options for your company.
Jeff Baumgardner works in a competitive field with a complex sales cycle and big responsibility for customer assets.
“Freight brokering is an ambitious job because you’re constantly reaching out to prospects in competition with every other broker out there. But you’re not selling just a service. You’re selling yourself as a consultant who can help manage customers’ freight, not just get them trucks.”
Jeff is the solar energy specialist at BBI Logistics. He acts as a consultant and partner to solar companies for their freight-related needs.
BBI was founded on the notion that if brokers invest time into forming meaningful relationships with their customers, they will succeed in giving customers a hand-tailored, ‘mom & pop’ experience.
The company is a full truckload freight brokerage firm for shipments in the United States and Canada. BBI has access to a vast resource pool, which provides customers with many options to choose from.
“We don’t just move your freight from point A to point B. We strive to be consultative and always looking out for further optimization in your supply chain.”
This approach spans from years of experience in the freight industry - experience that many solar companies may not necessarily have on their own. In that respect, Jeff remarks partnering with a freight broker can help.“Maybe a solar company has never worked with a fully qualified logistics analyst. That’s where someone like me can be their partner to explain and advise them on their real-time options as opposed to just providing them the same quote every time.”
Searching for qualified leads
Getting the word out about BBI’s services is challenging. Jeff was using the Internet to scope out leads. But the problem with scraping Google search results for solar equipment brokers and suppliers is that they are not always well-advertised or publicly accessible.
When Jeff stumbled upon EnergyBin, he immediately recognized the online business community as an opportunity to build relationships with other solar companies.
Finding qualified leads is a laborious task. Once you find prospects, there’s the challenge of getting ‘face time’ with them. But EnergyBin helps open the door to a vetted group of pre-qualified leads who could benefit from speaking with a commodity-familiar freight broker.
“It’s very hard to connect with the inner group of distributors and brokers who are regularly buying and selling solar equipment. They tend to work off the radar and are unlikely to invest resources in advertising. So, finding them is a challenge.”
Jeff saw EnergyBin as a way to build relationships with members and the solar community as a whole. Every day, he reviews broadcasts and reads company profiles on the platform. From there, he reaches out to primary contacts to introduce BBI. He is not calling to sell to them but rather to learn from them and see if there’s a fit for future mutually beneficial business opportunities. He hopes to earn trust in his conversations with companies.
“When I use EnergyBin, I can call and actually make conversation about what I see [in broadcasts], share information and gain insights from others. EnergyBin helps open the door for such an introductory call to take place without feeling so cold.”
The fact that members are vetted to a degree establishes an initial level of trust that allows members to communicate more effectively and efficiently with each other. In most cases, Jeff’s calls have productive outcomes regardless of transactional exchange.
“EnergyBin is a unique way to generate new business. But I didn’t join EnergyBin to just sell what I have to offer in the short-term. I joined to seek out new partnerships for long-term business opportunities.”
Building long-term relationships
From Jeff’s point of view, being part of EnergyBin goes beyond lead generation. Networking is about helping others succeed and forming mutually beneficial relationships. That means being open to share information that can benefit other companies. Jeff always makes a point to share shipping expertise with others, regardless of whether or not they are his customers.
“You don’t need to be my customer in order for me to drive you in the right direction.”
In his conversations with solar companies, Jeff recommends obtaining quotes from multiple providers. He notes that options will range based on market volatility, local capacity, company capacity, and tenure of the relationship with the freight provider.
“It’s never a good situation to go too far down the rabbit hole with one vendor until you’ve seen pricing from another provider.”
If you feel pressured for time, consider partnering with someone like Jeff, who can help you navigate the process. The advantage of working with a freight broker is he will do the research necessary to guarantee the best price, regardless of the ebb and flow of the market. It can be extremely volatile from week to week in certain geographic areas due to seasonal freight production.
When solar companies routinely obtain quotes, the industry as a whole achieves a higher degree of transparency. Jeff believes transparency is a key ingredient in building long-term relationships.
“Incumbents deserve their customers’ loyalty, but they also need to be kept on their toes. I expect my competition to treat me the same way. So, I need to be competitive. Being transparent about pricing gives prospects and customers the freedom to make their own decisions.”
Striving to be the best
Jeff and BBI have a vision to become the best in the freight industry at solar and energy moves. That aspiration requires the company to persevere in continuous improvement. It takes humility to look at your company and ask, “What can we do better?” –or- “Do we have the time and resources to be putting this (logistics) portion together on our own yet?”
For BBI, that means optimizing the customer experience. The company is in the process of applying for a freight-forwarding license for international shipping. They are also developing an asset-based division with the goal of fleet ownership. Both of these efforts will provide more shipping options and flexible service to meet customers’ unique needs.
Most importantly, BBI wants to ensure that the customer relationship remains at the center of everything they do. Jeff plans to continue using EnergyBin as a way to connect with customers.
Already, he has seen that new relationships formed with EnergyBin members have led to new business opportunities for BBI. He encourages other solar companies to use EnergyBin in the same way.
“Don’t just look at the transaction. Look at the long-term relationship opportunity. Using EnergyBin as a relationship tool may lead you on a road to success you might never have traveled down.”
A special thanks…
To Jeff Baumgardner for sharing about how a freight broker like BBI Logistics can help solar companies optimize their supply chains.