There are more than 20,000 licensed freight brokers in the United States, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), so finding a trusted freight brokerage can be tough. We’ve put together a list of things to help shippers identify traits to look for in your logistics provider.
- Longevity: First and foremost, how long a freight brokerage has been around speaks volumes. Especially after the freight market boom of 2018, numerous third party logistics providers (3PL) have been starting up each year. Maybe you’re in the market for a new transportation provider now, but this probably isn’t a process you want to go through every year — so it’s important to find a brokerage that will be around to service your needs for years to come. Freight broker companies that have been around for decades have experienced market fluctuations — or worse — so it’s safe to say they’ll be prepared to handle the next challenge.
- Accountability: Top freight brokers understand not everything will go as planned. In this industry, something can, and will, go wrong. How will your transportation partner respond? Hopefully, they anticipate problems that could arise and have plans in place that could solve those problems quickly.
- Confidence in Rates: Experienced freight brokerages (see a trend here?) know the market. They have access to the right tools and large volumes of freight, so they have more data to study — which ultimately leads to better, more reliable, rates for shippers. That gives those logistics providers more confidence in their quotes, which will ultimately mean you can trust they’ll stand behind it (plus, they hopefully have good values).
- Quality Carriers: The top 3PL companies have access to 100,000+ carriers across North America, but in the case of moving your freight, quality is more important than quantity. Quality logistics providers use a selected group of trusted partner carriers on a regular basis. This allows those logistics providers to better know those carriers and who does what best. That way, a carrier that specialized in your type of freight is the one safely transporting your load(s).
You may be wondering why brokerages have access to so many carriers if they’re only using a select few. Ultimately, the jobs of those brokerages is to get your freight safely delivered, so having access to that many carriers allows that job to get done. But when evaluating licensed freight brokers, ask how they determine which truck to assign your load to. What kind of process is in place to find the most qualified carrier for your freight?
- Adaptability: It’s important to find freight broker companies that understand your unique needs, but beyond understanding, actually adapt to fit your needs. Whether your industry allows for plenty of lead time before moving loads or requires quick turnarounds, you want a licensed freight broker that can be flexible. And do they have trusted partner carriers that specialize in hauling your commodity, moving freight through your region or have the correct equipment to safely transport your freight? If something changes last minute, your broker should be able to find a solution quickly in order to avoid delays.
- Technology: Right off the bat, it’s important to point out that technology is only good for you as a shipper if it’s used in the right way. Does your broker have technology that integrates with the systems you’re already using and know well? It should also be technology that fits you. It is accessible 24/7? If there’s a specific feature you’re looking for, can they make it happen?
Above all, remember it’s a freight broker’s job to move your freight the way you want it moved, as long as it’s safe and legal. So don’t just settle for a 3PL who promises the world, but doesn’t deliver on those promises. Ask questions. Find a transportation partner who you can trust time and time again to come through for you when you need them.