Freight brokerage, what do you think of when you hear this? Perhaps you envision some guy in his PC tapping away at the keyboard while sipping coffee. Perhaps you see freight brokerage workers more as the woman in a nice outfit sitting behind her desk calling trucking companies.
Well, actually both could be right. Freight brokerage people do work from home but and from traditional offices.
They use all the new technology modern tools like: trailer trucking tools and electronic gadgets at their disposal, to get the job done. Sometimes they work long hours; usually they get an early start to their day.
Well first off, don’t confuse freight broker with a freight agent. What is the difference? – You might ask! – Well, let me tell you!
The short answer is: the freight agent is usually an independent contractor or other salesperson who works with/for a freight broker or freight brokerage firm. Agents tend to work on a commission based off each shipment.
On the other side, the freight broker gets a percentage in return for using the broker, support with administrative matters, insurance, and such.
So then what do the freight brokerage people/ companies do? –Well the most simple way to explain this is by saying that they are the people that find and mach those needing to ship cargo with those who can haul it.
In more exact detail, they are either a company or an individual who specializes in meeting up shippers with carriers in order to get the freight shipped.
They often negotiate prices, handle insurance, customs declaration and duties, and assist in the coordination of other logistical needs.
Therefore, all people involved in freight brokerage are required to be licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
About all of this and more, I will go into detail as you read on.
|Entry-level Education||High school diploma or equivalent|
|On-the-Job Training||Short-term on-the-job training is common|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||7% growth|
|Key Skills||Listening skills, clear speech, critical thinking|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
So when a client needs to get their items from point A to point B, it is the freight brokerage companies and individual people who they call to handle that.
They do this through a variety of means; some have a client list and carrier list database (or use a service), others use their own custom-made CRM that is tailored to fit their particular needs.
Others, especially those just getting started in the trucking business will often cold call or use other means to reach potential clients.
Brokers with a good reputation will get repeat business and through word of mouth they will gain more customers.
The ones who offer both the best and most reliable services and the best possible prices will have no issue finding clients. Freight brokers must be flexible and able to make adjustments as needed. They also must keep in contact with both the carrier and the client from pick-up to drop-off.
There are numerous ways to get what need as far as training. Often people who decide to deal with freight brokering are those who had worked in the industry prior to becoming a broker. Others might have started out in an administrative support position or even as an agent before getting their license.
If you want to learn more, there are many logistics and freight brokerage courses available at many of the community colleges and online.
Additionally, if you thing that freight brokering is the right business for you, then most likely you will need to get some experience and training in:
As stated, you can find comparable training/education from many sources. When it comes to industry specific training there are various courses; some run about a week others might be longer.
These courses can offer a lot of valuable and important information; however they can also be very expensive.
Remember, freight brokerage is a career that requires constant upgrading and learning; you learn as you go!
Freight brokers as the main nice in the freight brokerage business, must be very knowledgeable about the shipping, logistics, the ever changing governments rules and regulations and every new trend in the transportation industry.
Being involved in the freight brokerage means that you will need to be up-to-date on the current regulations and other industry specific information all the time!
In 2014, there were 78,800 jobs that were taken by cargo and freight agents’ personnel. In the same year the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), reported that annual revenue for the cargo and freight agents was $43,960.
Furthermore, freight brokers make up to $90,000 / per year, that is quite a good earning don’t you think?!
The economy in US is in constant improvement; the trucking industry is in constant growth as well so that means that the freight brokerage business is blooming too! So now more than ever it is the right time to become a successful freight broker!
You can go online and find all kinds of guides and resource materials. This will only better assist you in being the best freight broker you can be. Now before you race right out and try to get your license there are few more things to consider which I will cover.
Research, research, research, I know I say that a lot, but they say knowledge is power and it truly is! You really need to understand what you’ll be getting yourself into.
So, that is the idea behind this; to offer a little insight and explain the basics actual role of the freight brokerage, and also offer some other things to consider.
Freight brokerage firms fill a very important role in the logistics and freight transportation world. They are often the bridge between carriers and shippers, those with trucks and those in need of a truck.
As I stated earlier they can be the key negotiator getting the shipper the best price and getting the carrier cargo to transport. They also can assist with schedules, deadlines, and other areas that might not be handled by one end or the other.
In addition to acting as the go between, they track freight shipments and maintain key records of the shipment from pickup to drop-off.
They are also subject matter experts that see the legal part of the transportation and can sort through the maze of regulations and other procedures. Many can even assist with other related legal matters (permits, Customs, and such).
The freight brokers are also the key to ensuring all the steps are followed during the shipping process. Their livelihood depends on successful transporting of cargo, as much as it does for everyone else involved. Same like the trucker needs to protect the freight; they need to protect it too!
Just remember, there is a lot of responsibility involve with running a freight brokerage firm and being a freight broker.
Starting a freight brokerage firm might be a little involved and even a bit tough, at first, but don’t get discouraged you can start up a solid freight brokerage firm! Being a freight broker doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you are prepared. But, you will need several things to start.
First and more important is that whenever you start a venture, the first thing is support (supportive friends and family), patience (lots of it), and open sponge like mind, and last but not list, a good working space.
Once you have all that, you will be ready to take the journey of being a freight broker.
This might seem overly simplified but it is true. This is not a job you can learn as you go. You get better at, you can get more comfortable with it, but you can’t be a success without knowing the industry.
That means you must develop and continually refresh your industry related skill set, so what you need to do in order to gain this knowledge is to study, absorb as much as you can!
You need to be able to have at least a general understanding of the industry as a whole. That doesn’t mean being a subject matter expert on every facet, but a good general understanding is a must.
When it comes to skills that you need, well, various experts with have their own opinions. But, here are a few good skills that you will have or learn.
The first one is math. Yes, math is one of the most important skills you need to have. You will be doing so many calculations that you’ll see numbers in your sleep!
If you don’t have good people and communications skills you’ll find it hard to succeed. After all, being a freight broker is truly businesses where you will be dealing with people on a daily basis.
Sure it won’t all be face to face, you’ll speak on the phone, and you might video conference, email, text, and even communicate through social media. So if you can’t communicate with strangers of all walks of life, you’ll have a hard time negotiating deals.
You’ll also need to be computer smart. That doesn’t mean being a computer programmer or anything that involved, but you’ll need to know how to operate the systems and the freight finding procedures.
Furthermore you will need to run personalized software programs designed to help and fit the freight brokerage companies, and communicate through online means.
I touched on this earlier, but I can’t stress the importance of this! Training and knowledge are so important. You really need to be up on the business and know the rules before you tackle your own freight brokerage firm.
There are numerous books out there for you to read. Most of these can be found online. You’ll need some business course, and related training too.
Additionally you will want to attend a freight broker school. There are several to choose from, some are online and some are in a more traditional setting.
Here are just a few that I firmly recommend to you:
It is up to you to decide which is best for you! But check them out and compare what they offer with your needs.
You need to check with your state to see the entire legal requirement to starting a business there, but the FMCSA’s federal guidelines for brokers’ registration apply regardless which state you reside in.
But just like anything, you will need to name it and register it. It is advisable to check and make sure the name isn’t already taken. You want something that is not too generic but not elaborate.
For this, you can check a variety of sources; one should be your Secretary of State, for your state.
Furthermore, you will need to check with the US Patent and Trademark Office that the name that you have chosen is not already taken.
Something else you need to consider is how you’ll set-up your business. Will it be a:
Though you can do a lot of the research yourself, always seek legal advice.
This is essential for any business. Your freight brokerage firm will need a solid business plan.
These can be anywhere from a short couple pages to one hundred or more. So don’t get carried away but try to think of it as a roadmap for your business.
I’ve already cover on food truck business plan; perhaps in one of my next articles I can write about freight brokerage company business plan! Who knows!!!
The business plan serves many purposes. It can be the basic guide for your business. It is a useful tool to layout the business structure and what is expected. But what some people might not know it is also what you’ll use to secure potential partners and credit (loans).
Just as the business plan is the base for your business, the marketing plan is equally important. It is the plan of how you will get your name out there and find clients. This is what you’ll use to tell the world you’re there.
The creation of a solid business plan and a sound marketing strategy is where your research skills pay off. You can hire firms that will do all this for you if you don’t have the means or time to spend getting it all together.
Ok, this goes without saying. A freight brokerage company and freight brokers are only as good as the clients they can get. It won’t matter how good your business plan and marketing strategy is, if you have no wanting your services.
Not having clients is like an airplane without wings. It might be nice and shiny with all the best accommodations but it ain’t going to get off the ground. And neither will your business, without customers to send emails and call your phone!
Sometimes shipper and carriers can be a fickle lot. They like to stick with what they know and trust.
If you’re new to the industry it might be a struggle to break through that barrier. But don’t give up, they will use you and when they do, show them why they should use you again and again!
Of course you might be wondering how you get them to call you the first time?! Well you can call around; you can join the networking site, order directories, and get your name out there for them to see.
Yes, you will need to apply for a USDOT registration number. You will also be required to have your broker authority from the FMCSA. This is also referred to as your Motor Carrier Operating Authority (MC number).
Follow all the instructions, both at the federal level and for your state (or where you plan to operate in).
You will be required to pay all associated fees; this is around $300 but double check, as things tend to change. Follow the various links and you will be fine. If you wish, you can seek legal assistance. There will be a waiting period and a review of all your information, so be patient.
Now just because you were able to right a terrific business plan and you have everything in perfect order, you paid all your fees, doesn’t mean you are a freight broker. You will still be required to get a freight broker bond. This is a federally mandated requirement.
You can find various insurance companies that can assist you in obtaining yours. There are limits on what you will be required to have, so check on it to ensure you are in the legal limits.
As with any insurance, rates will depend on the amount, the company you are insured with, and you credit rating.
Make sure you read the policy fully, even the small print on the bottom of the page, ask questions as you feel are needed. It wouldn’t hurt to have your attorney review it as well. The better your credit score is the better rate you’ll get, so try and keep it good!
Ok this isn’t the same as the bond, but equally important. You will need to get cargo insurance, truck insurance, general liability insurance, and other coverage as appropriate to your business. You can do this as soon as you are issued your MC number.
This is not only to protect you and you freight brokerage firm, but to protect the clients as well. Most will ask to see proof of this before agreeing to sign on with you. The amount available and the fees will vary, both from your needs and the provider you choose.
I did warn you that there is a lot involved when starting up a freight brokerage firm and becoming a freight broker. So what is next? You will need to choose a process agent for each state you plan to operate in.
Once you find them you will need to complete and submit the Form BOC-3 (Designation of Agents for Service of Process). This completed form gets submitted to the FMCSA. You can go to their website and see how to do this.
You also want the best GPS, and such. Well the same is true for a freight broker. It doesn’t matter if you’re a traditional brick and mortar business or work out of your mom’s basement there are some things you’ll need.
Perhaps, some are more obvious than others, but you’ll need a good computer with high-speed internet. You will need a Smartphone and/or some kind of tablet. These will need to have the appropriate software and applications (preferably synced) to better aid your business operation.
It is also highly recommended to have a separate office space, don’t just work off the kitchen table. Make sure your website is professional and your social media pages are up to date. Post as often as possible, but keep them professional.
As with everything and anything it all comes down to money. In order to start the freight brokerage business you need to have enough money.
Not just enough to cover all your permits, licenses, insurances, registration fee, and equipment cost, website, and all those other hidden costs, but, you will need to have enough to cover yourself for at least six months upfront.
Typically that means going to the bank or other lenders and getting a loan.
To do this, you will need to have all your information in order including all your training, related certificates, and other supporting documents. This is where you will need both good credit rating and a great business plan!
You are going to be the middleman, so that means that you are the thin line between the carrier and the shipper. That also means that you will often have to pay the trucking company before you can receive your service fee from the carrier.
In that case, same like the trucking companies are using freight factoring, you can use a freight broker factoring to manage cash flow.
This is often something people overlook. That is why I mentioned the business and marketing plan earlier. The plan is how you will get the word out and let the world know you’re here to handle their freight brokerage needs. But marketing is more than that!
Especially in this age of social media and competition, marketing yourself is an equally important as marketing your organization. So you need to find ways to stick out.
Make sure your social media pages and websites are both professional and inviting. The information needs to be easy to find.
Well hopefully this information helped you to find out what you needed to know about freight brokers companies and freight brokers. They are an essential part of the transportation world. We all know the truck drivers are important, and we appreciate them for doing what they doing, but without someone to line up the freight, what would they haul?
You might not want to be a freight broker, but it is important to understand them and what they do. They can literally be the lifeline, a struggling business needs. Carriers and clients sometimes have a hard time locating each other. That is where the freight brokers fill the void.
Are you a freight broker or using any freight brokerage services? Do you have any tips to better assist those seeking freight brokerage services or maybe have any questions for a freight broker? Share your comments and questions with us in the comment box bellow.