While most customers contract with carriers to haul their goods, there are a growing number of loads that are being handled by freight brokers. A freight broker offers services that connect the people needing goods shipped with authorized freight carriers. Brokers simply negotiate the deals, they don't actually handle the freight themselves. If you are an independent carrier or owner operator, should you work with these brokers? Here are four things to consider when using a freight broker.
1. Will they pay me?
This seems like a no-brainer, yet there are brokers out there with bad track records and you definitely don't want to get stuck with one. Especially when your bills come due. Make sure you do your due diligence and ask around about the broker. Are they known to pay on time? Feel free to ask them for credit references if you are unsure.
2. Do they communicate well?
Loads don't follow a 9-5 Monday through Friday schedule. Make sure this is a broker who is willing to take calls after hours and on weekends. If they are hard to communicate with on the front end of the contract, that is usually a bad sign.
3. Are they committed to giving quality information?
Having accurate addresses, phone numbers, directions to shippers and receivers, and business hours is vital if you are expected to complete the job. Make sure that they are forthcoming with information and that the information is complete and accurate.
4. What is the lane volume and quantity?
While it is always good to make new friends in the industry, if they are only needing to haul in your area one-time it may not be worth the hassle of setting up a business relationship. On the other hand, if they consistently have lanes that interest you, it may be very worthwhile to get to know each other.
Working with freight brokers can be a great way to gain new business as a small carrier, but you have to know the right questions to ask. Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself; and if you feel like something isn't right, trust your instincts.
What other questions do you have about brokers or logistics companies? Let us know in the comments and we will do our best to answer them in a future blog!