How to Choose the Right Freight Broker
Are you wondering what a freight broker does and if they are right for your business?
The search for a freight broker that will help you scale your business can seem intimidating. But it can also prove to be one of the most rewarding. Choosing the right freight broker is critical for growing businesses. Handing your freight off to someone that will mishandle it is the last thing that you want to do.
By the end of this article, here is what you can expect to know:
- What a freight broker does
- What you should expect
- And the 5 things you need to know to find the right freight broker for your needs
What does a broker do?
When you need to ship freight, using a freight broker can save you time, effort, and hassle. Freight brokers act as your middleman between you and trucking companies that have the capacity for your shipping needs. Think of freight brokers as funnels that give you access to a network of vetted carriers able to haul your goods. You save time and hassle working with a freight broker by taking advantage of their network of carriers, which usually ranges from regional to international.
A freight broker's network of carriers is all the relationships that the broker has built throughout the years. Through years of serving customers, freight brokers build a network of reliable carriers that deliver on time, are known for safety, and can fill your specific needs such as expedited shipments.
It's the job of the freight broker to:
- Be knowledgeable of laws and follow industry regulations
- Find space on a truck to get your freight delivered
- Ensure that your goods arrive safely and on time
- Track your shipment from start to finish
- Negotiate rates within your budget
So if you need your shipment out the door and don't want to search for the right carrier, coordinate with a trucking company, and worry about the shipping process, then finding the right freight broker for your business is for you. We'll get into how to find the perfect freight broker in a bit, but first, let's go into detail about what the freight broker will do for you. Keep in mind that a freight broker can also be called a logistics broker or a shipping broker.
Freight brokers vet for reliable carriers
A successful freight broker with a network of reliable carriers develops this high-quality network by vetting carriers to meet specific criteria such as safety, reliability, on-time delivery, price, and more. It's critical for the safety of your cargo that you work with a freight broker that values integrity, consistency, and reputation more than making a quick buck.
Freight brokers vet carriers by asking questions such as:
- Does the carrier have proper insurance and authority requirements?
- What is the carrier's area of expertise?
- Do they have a reliable track record?
The purpose of working with a professional freight broker is to save you time, effort, and hassle. So filtering through carriers based on these questions guarantees that you will not need to worry about your shipment.
A logistics broker manages all aspects of your shipping
A freight broker handles the entire journey of your freight, including figuring out what resources will be needed along the way. Once a broker has found high-quality carriers to work with, they can begin planning your trip with their carrier, which involves choosing the best route, ensuring that all necessary permits are in place, and making sure that there are enough resources available at each stage of the trip.
You can also expect the freight broker to schedule pickup appointments, update you on the trip, find a recovery option if something were to go wrong, coordinate with consignees on delivery, help manage shipping costs, and help you to improve your supply chain strategy. A freight broker’s job is to take care of every single aspect of your shipping process so that you don't have to.
What to expect working with a freight broker
Now that you know what a freight broker is and what they do, let's talk about what you should expect from working with a freight broker. It's important to set clear expectations of your shipping needs with your broker in the beginning. You should expect transparent communication from your freight broker. As soon as your freight leaves your dock and into the hands of your broker's carrier, you should not have to chase information about your shipment. You should have a clear view of your shipment's journey, either through satellite tracking or updates from your broker or their team.
What you should expect from your logistics broker:
- transparent communication
- your set expectations are met
- a clear view of your freight's journey
- no need to chase down information
How to Choose a Freight Brokerage
Choosing the right freight broker to work with can cause a drastic improvement in your business and shipping experience. So we highly recommend that you take time to digest this info so you can make the decision that will help you scale your business.
1. Size of the freight brokerage
Freight brokerages come in all sizes, with some freight brokers being much larger than others. Large freight brokerages in the US manage hundreds of thousands of loads and can have over 1,000 employees. These freight brokerages typically offer their services to large companies with complex logistics operations. Smaller and mid-sized brokerages usually provide their services to smaller businesses or individuals who need help with shipping a relatively small amount of freight. The size of a freight brokerage does not necessarily determine its success, but it is generally indicative of the scale of its operations and capacity. When it's time to decide on a freight brokerage, it's best to take your own needs into account and search accordingly.
With larger freight brokerages you will have an easier time re-powering a load or re-routing a shipment, but sacrifice the attentive experience and excellent customer service you can expect with a smaller brokerage. You want to avoid working with a brokerage too small though, because they will lack the resources and carriers available to them if something were to go wrong with your shipment. We believe the best route is to find a brokerage in the middle so you can enjoy a more attentive shipping experience, while also having a backup plan if something were to go wrong. Ultimately, the best advice is to look at your shipping needs and decide, after researching, which brokerage will fit.
2. Communication from the freight broker
Communication is critical in all relationships. Your freight brokerage relationship is no exception. One of the best ways to gauge a broker's effectiveness is to ask for references from their current customers. A reputable freight broker should be able to provide you with a list of satisfied clients who are happy to vouch for their services.
When you contact these references, be sure to ask about the freight broker’s communication, pricing, and level of service. If the references are positive across the board, then you can be confident that you're working with a freight broker who will get the job done right. But, if the references are less than stellar, then it's best to look elsewhere. By taking the time to do your research, you can be sure to find a freight broker who will meet your needs and exceed your expectations.
3. The freight broker's access to capacity
Over 95 percent of all trucking companies in the US have less than 20 trucks. You can see how utilizing a freight brokerage may be useful when you consider that there are almost 700,000 trucking businesses in the US. So you need to make sure that the brokerage you're researching has the ability to connect you with carriers that have the available capacity to meet your shipping needs. This is especially important during peak times when demand is high and capacity is tight. If you don't have access to the right carriers, you could end up paying more for shipping or having your shipments delayed. So when you're looking for a shipping brokerage, be sure to ask about their access to capacity, their experience with shipping to your desired destination, and their rates. That way, you can be confident that you're getting the service you need at a price you can afford.
4. Reliability of the freight broker
Reliability means more than on-time delivery when choosing a freight broker. You should expect the broker to follow through on their promises to you, including price. After all, dealing with delays and unexpected costs can quickly eat into profits. Even more, you should expect your freight broker to always be transparent about their fees and charges. When it comes to shipping, there's no substitute for a reliable freight broker that you can trust.
5. The freight broker's ability to follow through
Working with a freight brokerage should bring you peace of mind. If something unplanned pops up during transit, the broker should be ready and willing to pick up the phone. This allows you to relax knowing that someone is there to take care of the situation if anything goes wrong. Plus, a good freight brokerage will have a network of truckers that they work with regularly. This means they can usually find a driver even if it's short notice. Good freight brokers understand that it is their responsibility to give you peace of mind by handling situations as they arise.
Work with a reliable logistics broker
Congratulations! You've made it to the end of this article and have a great understanding of what to look for when choosing a freight brokerage. You also understand what you should expect from a freight broker when you begin working with them. Be sure to keep in mind the 5 things to look for if you're in the market for a freight brokerage. By choosing a freight broker that is reliable and has access to the capacity you need, you can be sure that your shipping process will go from creating headaches to becoming more enjoyable.
Our goal at MigWay is to be your all-in-one supply chain solution. We've made a name for ourselves in transportation due to helping our happy customers meet their shipping goals. Our freight experts have been brokering freight and connecting clients with reliable carriers for over 30 years. We can help you with your shipping operation and are available to answer any questions so that you can make the best decision for your business!
Give MigWay a call today to start shipping your freight with ease!