The end of 2018 is right around the corner. Are you as prepared for 2019 as you thought you would be by now? Before the busy holiday season hits, carve out some time to reflect on the past year. Did you stay on budget? Did you overcome challenges? Who helped you out the most? If your answer is no or I don’t know, you may not be working with the right freight broker. A quality freight broker creates value by balancing your specifications with your expectations.
Here are our tips for measuring the effectiveness of your freight broker:
1. Check their credentials
Freight brokers must be licensed through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). According to federal regulations, anyone who arranges transportation must carrier a property broker licensed. You can look up licensed freight brokers here. To become licensed, freight brokers must carry proper insurance and be bonded to protect shippers and carriers from fraud and illegal activity.
2. History & Integrity
Freight brokers rely on experience and carrier relationships to succeed. You rely on them for their buying power and expertise. It takes time to understand the ins and outs of freight shipping. As such, you should make sure your broker has had the time to build deep relationships with carriers and independent trucking companies.
3. Overall Value
Deep carrier relationships are based on freight volumes, usability and time. Every year, carriers pass along general rate increases (GRIs) to freight brokers and shippers. A top freight broker can absorb rate increases by leveraging market position and volume to negotiate a lower rate for brokered shipments.
4. The Right Stuff/ Equipment/ Requirements
Not every freight broker is created equal. Most freight brokers offer a variety of modes and services, but specialization still occurs. Not all freight brokers may able to handle a cross-border shipment from the United States into Canada, for instance. Did your freight broker have capacity? Did you need more than one broker to take your loads? Consolidating shipments through fewer brokers can save you time and money. Ensure the freight broker has experience shipping your product.
5. Insurance Options & Claims Process
Damage and loss is an unavoidable risk of freight transportation. How your freight broker handles the claims process makes all the difference. An effective freight broker will also offer the option to purchase additional freight insurance. You want to work with a freight broker who can quickly respond to errors and help you avoid them.
6. Response Time & Reliability
Speaking of response time, not all freight brokers are held to the same standards. It’s difficult to measure reliability without finding out the hard way. You can, however, look up the broker’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) profile. A high BBB rating can help you quickly determine if a freight brokerage is in good standing with its shippers, vendors and carriers.
Your freight broker should be quick to return your calls and messages. Look for a brokerage that puts a team to work for you. Like a superhero, every great freight broker has backup. Your broker should also communicate via your preferred method. If you prefer email communication over phone calls, your freight broker should accommodate your request. The freight broker you choose should be an extension of your shipping department; a phone call or message away.
Where is my freight? That’s the daily question you’re tasked with answering for your end customer. The right freight broker gives provides freight visibility. Your freight broker should have a tracking system in place that helps you keep an eye on deliveries. Most freight brokers offer online tracking, or will keep you updated via phone, email or text message.
Not all freight brokers are technologically savvy. There are few that offer an all-in-one experience online. If managing your shipments online is important to you, then choose a freight broker that gives shippers back-end access to their transportation management system (TMS). Brokers and high-volume shippers use TMS software to calculate freight rates, schedule driver appointments, pay bills and generate paperwork.
10. Don’t just go with the lowest price
Resist the temptation to choose a freight broker based on price alone. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Consider all the factors, including price, when evaluating your current freight broker.
Since 1998, FreightCenter has helped more than one million shippers find the best value among hundreds of top carriers. Rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau, FreightCenter offers full service transportation solutions for shipments - big or small.