7 Minute read

What makes a good freight broker? As a carrier, are there things you should be looking out for when working with brokers?

These are the questions that many carriers end up asking themselves, especially when they first get started or when they haven’t found the right broker.

1. What is a Freight Broker?

Freight brokers are essentially the matchmakers of the trucking industry. They work directly with shippers and carriers. Shippers appreciate brokers because they find reliable carriers to transport freight, and carriers value brokers for providing consistent leads.

Whether you’re just starting out or have been in the industry for years, establishing a relationship with an experienced reputable broker is a good way to diversify your freight source and find consistent leads.

Benefits of Working with a Freight Broker

As an independent carrier, time is money. The time you spend scouring load boards and cold-calling shippers is time you could spend moving freight and turning a profit. Enter freight brokers. What do freight brokers do? They handle the time-consuming legwork that goes into finding freight, making them a valuable asset for carriers.

You don’t want to waste time sorting through load listings that don’t suit your operation. When you work with a broker, they learn what types of loads you are interested in and offer you hauls that meet your specifications.

And while finding a great load is one thing, to keep your business operational and profitable, you need to find the right loads consistently. One of the biggest benefits of working with a broker is they help provide consistent leads. If you develop a great working relationship with a broker, they can connect you with ideal loads and even dedicated freight. They can be a mouthpiece for carriers when it comes to bidding on lanes.

It’s important to find an experienced and reputable broker who will help your bottom line and help your business grow. They’re a great resource for carriers who are trying to efficiently run their business.

2. How Do Freight Brokers Find Loads?

If you prefer working independently, you may have thought about trying to find loads without working with a freight broker. While this approach isn’t for everyone, it’s important to know how to source and manage loads if you’re working without the support of a broker.

Freight brokers source loads through referral programs, cold and warm calling, and online platforms and advertising. Brokers will also use load boards to find reliable carriers to transport loads. If you’re working without a broker you can use the same strategies to find loads.

The challenge is that this process takes a lot of time. Brokers can save carriers a lot of time and energy as they can connect you with freight more quickly and efficiently, optimize resource productivity, handle issues that arise during transport and serve as one point of contact.

If you do choose to work independently, you’ll need to build time into your schedule to attend to all the services typically covered by a broker. Do your research into possible leads, network, and use load boards to find freight.

3. How Much Do Freight Brokers Make?

Freight brokers are your partners in the shipping industry.

A shipper will pay a broker to commit to their freight and the broker will then find and pay a carrier to transport it. Freight brokers are incentivized by a percentage of the deals they broker. The bigger the load fees, the more the broker makes.

Accessorial fees, which are added to the standard shipping fees by the carrier, can affect how much a freight broker brings home. So brokers are motivated to avoid unnecessary accessorial fees in order to earn a better percentage. Being upfront about any necessary accessorial fees will help you build a reputation for honesty and transparency and a better relationship with shippers and brokers.

Brokers and carriers should have a strong familiarity with all of the potential accessorial fees that could be added to a shipment. Although these fees can be necessary for some circumstances, careful planning can help avoid them. When brokers and carriers avoid adding these fees, shippers are more satisfied because their bottom line looks better.

Some of those accessorial fees include:

  • Redelivery, if the freight can’t be delivered because no one is there to accept it
  • Metro pickup and delivery, if the carrier has to navigate a busy urban area
  • Limited acces, if the carrier has to go through extra security at a school, prison, hospital, or other facility in order to deliver the freight
  • Additional stops or destination change, if the freight has to be dropped off at multiple locations

4. How to Build Trust and Lasting Relationships With Freight Brokers

In an ideal situation, freight brokers and carriers have a great relationship based on communication, reliability, and trust. Like in any relationship, these things don’t come automatically: They take time and effort. Some carrier-broker relationships are quite strained, creating frustration, tension, and sometimes even a loss of income.

When you form a strong relationship with a broker you can benefit from their connections, resources, and logistical support.

Building a relationship with a broker you trust is invaluable. You can build a strong relationship by:

  1. Communicating regularly and clearly
  2. Being honest about your load preferences
  3. Choosing a broker with lots of experience in the field
  4. Knowing your own limits as a carrier

5. Should You Work With a Broker?

Freight brokers provide many valuable services that help carriers run efficient and profitable operations. Brokers can be a source for consistent loads, handle the time-consuming legwork that goes into finding freight, troubleshoot issues that may come up during transport, and more.

If you decide to seek out loads on your own without the support of a broker, you’ll have to take on the responsibilities that brokers typically handle. So what will you need to do to find and manage loads if you work independently?

To successfully find and manage loads on your own you’ll have to:

  1. Network for opportunities. You must network and branch out to make money as a carrier. First, you will need to do market research, whether that is by exploring local companies online or connecting with family or friends who own companies. Once you have acquired a list of potential customers, your next step is to start connecting with them to find the right opportunity.
  2. Manage relationships. You’ll have to put a lot of work into building and maintaining relationships with shippers in order to secure freight contracts. Do research into which shippers you’d be interested in working with and be ready to problem solve.
  3. Track and understand the market. As rates can change from week to week, even for the same lane or type of load, it’s important to keep tabs on the market. If you’re able to track and understand rate fluctuations then it’s less likely you’ll get stuck with a lower rate on a load than you should.
  4. Market yourself. You should consider developing a digital brochure about your carrier business or a website that advertises what equipment you have available. These resources show potential customers that you are a professional carrier, ready to offer them a quality shipping experience.

6. How to Get Dedicated Freight Through a Broker

While load boards are a great way to find transactional freight opportunities, carriers looking to grow their business should work with brokers to pursue opportunities for dedicated freight. Dedicated freight is a great way to ensure consistent and reliable loads and revenue.

Some of the perks of dedicated freight are:

  • Consistent work and revenue
  • Improved efficiency
  • Freedom from the unpredictability of transactional freight

The best way to get dedicated freight is to establish a strong relationship with your broker. When you establish a strong track record of reliability and consistency, and are vocal about your load and lane preferences, brokers are more likely to enlist you to run dedicated freight.

Xpress Technologies, a division of U.S. Xpress Enterprises, has revolutionized the freight transportation industry by using its innovative XT ELD (previously called the Haulynx ELD) to open dedicated freight opportunities for you.

7. Xpress Technologies Comparison Against Others

Xpress Technologies combines a pioneering machine learning platform with the U.S. Xpress Logistics brokerage. Xpress Technologies puts a premium on transparency and visibility so carriers can access the best freight possible for their business.

Xpress Technologies puts carriers first, and built a platform with a continual feedback loop from independent trucking companies like yours to make sure it continually addresses the unique needs of carriers.

Load boards can be an efficient way to find freight, make bids, and negotiate prices. There are many digital load board platforms available that can help owner-operators, and small carriers find freight. A number of brokerage companies like Uber Freight, Convoy, and J.B. Hunt, have online applications that carriers can use to find freight.

Xpress Technologies is making finding the right freight easier than ever with machine learning-powered software so carriers can find the loads and lanes that suit their needs without the hassle of manually searching.

Whether you prefer to work directly with a broker by phone or email, or book loads digitally, with Xpress Technologies you get the best of both worlds.

8. Why You Should Break Up with Your Current Broker

Having the right people on your team can be the difference between you succeeding, stalling, or failing. But it’s not just about finding the right people for your team, it’s finding the people who will grow and adapt with you over time.

It’s important to work with a broker who has extensive industry knowledge and experience. However, it’s also important to work with a broker who actively embraces, explores, and creates resources that’ll help your business continue to succeed as the logistics industry continues to evolve.

Xpress Technologies combined a pioneering machine learning platform with the U.S. Xpress Logistics brokerage so carriers can take advantage of both digital and human brokerage services, and easily access the essential daily tools you need to run your trucking business.

Xpress Technologies is, above all, dedicated to carrier success. We want carriers to have the tools and relationships that will help your business grow. The trucking industry is changing, and you need to take advantage of the technologies and support that’ll help you adapt and stay competitive.

The tools and relationships that may have worked for you once, may not be working now. If you’ve noticed there are gaps in the brokerage services you’re currently using, it’s time to break up with your current broker and switch to Xpress Technologies.