Whether you are a truck driver looking for a break from long hours behind the wheel or you are new to shipping and eager to learn a new business, an exciting career opportunity within the trucking industry is freight brokering. A freight broker is a person who acts as an intermediary between a shipper that has goods to transport, and a carrier that has the capacity to haul the freight. The broker arranges the transportation, tracks the load, updates the shipper on the status of the load and keeps records of deliveries and pickups.
Brokers Make it Easier
While some shippers have contracts with trucking companies to transport their goods, an alternative is for shippers to work with truck brokers. Brokers make it easier for them to find quality carriers that have a good reputation and are proven to be reliable in moving freight. They save time by not having to find a carrier themselves and the freight broker makes money by paying the carrier less than what the shipper is willing to pay for their goods to be moved.
Going through freight broker training and becoming a licensed broker can be a profitable career move if you know how to attract the right customers. You stand to make a great deal of money as a truck broker, but only if you know which shipments to go after and how to handle the business side of things.
What Customers Are Looking For
One key to running any successful business is to know what potential customers are looking for. So here’s a summary of what those trying to find freight brokers want to see:
1. Proper licensing –
Nothing scares potential clients away more than the fear that you might be shady. And that’s exactly what they’ll think if you don’t have a license from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Amazingly, some brokers try to operate without this all-important piece of paper. That puts them at risk, and serves as a red flag for potential clients. So, if you haven’t got your FMCSA license yet, get it right away.
2. Multiple modes –
The best brokers offer more than just OTR tractor-trailer services. Sometimes freight must go by flatbeds, reefers, train, padded van, or air. If you have connections with these carriers, you’ll quickly become the brokerage of choice for clients who need to utilize these different options.
3. Choose the carriers you work with carefully –
Anyone familiar with the trucking industry knows that there are people out there operating rigs with no insurance or CDL. Your customers don’t want anything to do with them and neither should you. Make certain that all drivers you work with have their ducks in a row before offering them a contract.
4. Use e-mail to stay in touch with drivers –
Clients will want to know how you match carriers to particular loads. They also want to know that you can confirm the freight was picked up and delivered according to the agreement. The best way to assure them that you’re on top of this is to keep written records of your contact with the driver. In this electronic age, the best way to do that is with e-mail. Of course phone conversations are fine too, but back up agreements with something that can be printed out or sent to clients.
5. Good credit counts –
No one wants to work with a business that’s on the verge of bankruptcy. Potential clients will want to know that you pay your vendors on time, and that you don’t have any liens or judgments against your brokerage. Make sure you are paying your bills in full and as promptly as possible, and you’ll come out ahead in the long run.
6. How long you’ve been in business matters –
This is one of the unpleasant facts that new brokers must face. You may possess all the necessary paperwork. You might be totally honest and have an extensive network of reliable, experienced carriers. But if you just hung out your shingle yesterday, so to speak, you’re still going to be viewed with suspicion by those looking to find freight brokers. You can partially compensate for this in several ways:
Don’t bring up the age of your business unless you’re asked about it.
If you are asked, emphasize the positives. You were a professional driver for 20 years before becoming a broker, tell them that. If you’ve completed training programs that give you an edge over more established brokerages, mention that as well. If all else fails, then compete on price. Charge less than older businesses, at least until you’ve proven yourself.
Seek clients among smaller or highly specialized companies – the big boys often overlook these clients, and they may be more willing to work with a new broker. They’ll have fewer loads for you, but they’re a fantastic way to build your reputation. When they see you treat your clients right, they’ll give you positive word of mouth with their contacts.
7. Join professional associations –
The Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) is the “Better Business Bureau” of freight brokers. To be a member, you must abide by a strict code of ethics. Joining the TIA or similar groups shows that you’re serious about running your business properly, which clients love to see.
Of course none of these suggestions will do you much good if you’re not properly organized. TruckingOffice software makes organization easy, so you know what’s going on at all times with your clients, your fleet, and your employees. Our product is easy to learn and to use, so get in touch with us today to see how we can help you get organized!