Why you should love the Freight Brokers you loved to hate
Does this sound familiar? You’re delivering to a new consignee and pass a prosperous looking company with a whole bunch of trucks with different names on them pulled up to the bays. After you’ve made your delivery and are on your way back to the highway, you stop at that busy company, find a place to park, and make your way to their shipping/receiving office. You’re hoping to pick up a new customer but instead, you find out that all their logistics are handled by an outside freight broker and you’ve just lost twenty minutes.
It’s a growing trend. As companies succeed it becomes more and more time consuming and expensive to make their own deals with independent truckers and trucking companies, so they hire a broker to do all of that while they go back to focusing on what they do best: manufacture and/or distribute products.
Even companies that still run their own traffic departments are leaning more and more towards the use of freight brokers because snafus are expensive. They want trucks to come and go easily. They don’t want to find out when it’s too late that a driver doesn’t have cargo insurance or has fallen out of DOT compliance, and they especially don’t want their loading docks tied up while people argue.
The broker is the guy who shoulders the responsibility for anything that interrupts smooth, seamless shipping operation. Traditionally, companies that use freight brokers never blame the trucker; they blame the broker. So, the buck stops at the broker—which can be a very good thing—especially when lawyers get involved.
Brokers aren’t driving, so they have plenty of time to focus on finding companies that have a lot of products to ship. They locate customers and then matches are made—all without you taking your eyes off the road or worrying about anything except what you do best—handle your end of business.
Beyond his most important role of handling the sales function by nailing down consignees, let’s look at what else the broker does for you that makes it worthwhile to share your pay with him. He’s got your back even when it seems more like he’s on your back. He provides a safety net for you by double checking to make sure your paperwork is all up to date—he won’t let you forget to get done what’s needed to stay on the road and stay profitable because if you aren’t making money, neither is he. And, when you need to vent, your freight broker is just a phone call away—which usually works out better for you in the end than it would if you were ranting directly to your customer.
He also provides “price protection” for you in the sense that once the deal is made through a 3rd party, there can be no renegotiating, regardless of how bad business has been this week for the customer company. And remember, the fuel surcharge always goes wholly and directly to you and is not shared with your freight broker.
When a consignee company where you pick up frequently is using a single freight broker to handle all their logistics, not only can you stop worrying about sales, you will only have one point of contact for a large number of loads, which translates into time savings. And, when you arrive at your destinations you can expect things to be well organized, which will get you in and out faster.
So, all this sounds great, but not all freight brokers are created equal. How do you find the good, reputable brokers? Identify the brokers used by the most reputable manufacturers and distributors. It stands to reason that the best companies will not tolerate anything less than the best freight brokers. And, of course, you can also expect good brokers to have a good business rating, an FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) license and TIA (Transportation Intermediaries Association) membership.