Strategic Sourcing: Using ISO’s Power Lane to Build a Reliable Carrier Network

Strategic Sourcing: Using ISO’s Power Lane to Build a Reliable Carrier Network

Every freight brokerage needs to grow its business to survive in today’s volatile market, but not at any cost. 

A successful broker’s value is in its ability to pinpoint and meet customers’ individual needs, and diverse capacity must continuously be added to meet those needs. And yet 85% of shippers have said they are reducing or consolidating use of 3PLs this year, according to the 2024 3PL Study

As known entities like Yellow drop out of the ranks and trucks are still abundant, it’s tough for brokers to strategically grow their businesses with all the unknown players, and it can be tempting to default to the cheapest carrier available. But growing strategically or growing cheaply results in two very different outcomes. Why? Because the rate of booking the cheapest carrier is often very different from the true cost of building a network of cheap, unreliable carriers you can’t trust.

Technology is the key to growing strategically and avoiding fraud and costly service failures that will put you out of business in this deflationary market. 

Blind Dates Usually Don’t Result in Long-Term Relationships

Picking an unknown carrier from a load board is like an episode of “The Dating Game.” You don’t have any background information to prevent ending up with a loser. 

Without a standard way of measuring carriers’ service levels or a central database in which to look them up, freight brokers are forced to blindly source carriers that could end up being totally unreliable.

Brokers face three primary challenges when sourcing new carriers for their network:

  • Fraud. Compliance and insurance checkpoints are essential first steps to fraud prevention. But without reliable service data before onboarding, brokers are still exposed to bad actors that make it through the screening process.
  • Unreliability & service failures. Even without being technically fraudulent, unreliable carriers’ performance leads to unhappy customers and a bad reputation for the broker.
  • Margin erosion. Whether it’s through fraud or a service failure, an unpredictable carrier’s lack of performance results in higher cost per load, higher operating costs, and lower margins. 


FreightCaviar the new carrier selection funnel

Source: FreightCaviar

Technology continues to solve the fraud prevention challenge. The more advanced the broker, the more likely they are using a variety of compliance and visibility solutions, such as Highway, to build trust with their customers. But ensuring compliance does not mean you know what they’re good at and when to use them. That data is still missing from the process, leaving brokers to rely on rates and internal knowledge when it comes time to book.

To truly avoid “growth at any cost”, freight brokers can add “Carrier Performance” to their selection tech stack. Carrier Performance management helps provide industry-wide context into expected service levels, helps you measure the cost of unreliable transportation providers in your network, and allows you to source new trucking companies based on their reliability scores. 

Compliance + cost + service is the complete formula needed to select the right carrier for customers. With these data points in hand, bad actors and unreliable or costly providers can confidently be filtered out of the sourcing process altogether.

Grow Your Carrier Network With Power Lane

Power Lane is a feature within ISO’s carrier performance solution that helps freight brokers grow their carrier networks through the use of a strategic discovery tool. Power Lane allows freight brokers to search by lane and identify both existing carriers in their networks and potential carriers, along with their performance scores. Here’s an example of how that looks in ISO:

ISO's Power Lane in action

When you click into the top option, Velocity Trucks, you have the option to view their carrier profile and contact them right from the app:

The carrier profile view in ISO's power lane

This feature is particularly useful for finding reliable carriers that consistently run specific lanes, aiding in both immediate and strategic capacity planning. By leveraging performance data, Power Lane helps freight brokers build more efficient and reliable carrier networks, ultimately reducing costs and improving service levels.

When combined with rate data and compliance solutions, the procurement automation that brokers strive for is finally possible. Picture a scenario where waterfall tendering incorporates data from all the following sources:

Strategic carrier sourcing with compliance + cost + service

With carrier sourcing in mind, a user has a more sophisticated data stack with which to evaluate new partners. When you have to quickly cover a load for a strategic prospect, here’s how it goes:

  1. Search the lane in question in your TMS and see who is available in the network.
  2. Nobody comes up; this is a new one for your brokerage.
  3. Check the lane with Highway to find carriers that pass the fraud compliance sniff test. FRAUD CHALLENGE SOLVED.
  4. Go to ISO’s Power Lane, search by the lane and find the available out of network options with high ISO Scores and Highway connectivity. RELIABILITY CHALLENGE SOLVED.
  5. Use rates and ISO’s historical bad bounce cost calculations to select the most cost-effective, high-performing carrier available and give them a call. MARGIN CHALLENGE SOLVED.

Power Lane is just one of ISO’s powerful offerings. We also empower freight brokers with:

  • Industry benchmarking to instantly compare carrier performance.
  • Performance APIs to facilitate data-driven decisions across the operation.
  • Proactive networked scorecards for shippers, carriers, facilities, lanes, and employees.

Our mission is to be the industry’s trusted source of actionable supply chain performance data. We aim to solve the most complex problems in the supply chain with thoughtful, experience-driven solutions that eliminate waste and add value for all stakeholders within the global ecosystem.