Have you ever tried to find your own freight loads and ended up wasting time? Some carriers try finding their own freight because they like to work independently.
While this strategy can work, it’s certainly not the solution for everyone.
Freight brokers leverage relationships with companies that need freight moved and offer loads they’ve sourced directly from customers. That allows their owner-operator and dispatch clients to spend more time focusing on other areas of their business rather than searching for freight.
The Benefits of Working with a Freight Broker
Many independent carriers benefit from working with a freight broker because they gain access to more loads and have more consistency in their day-to-day business operations. How do brokers find these loads, anyway? What are their secrets? What keeps freight brokers relevant in today’s transportation marketplace?
There are many benefits of working with a broker including having one main point of contact, being able to depend on your broker to handle issues, brokers’ access to the latest technology, you can get connected to freight more quickly and efficiently, and the optimization of resource productivity (just to name a few). The percentage the brokerage takes is for the expertise, qualifications, and load consistency a broker brings to the table.
Using a broker helps you avoid situations in which you have to learn a lot of new material in a short amount of time. These situations can potentially lead to lost income and costly mistakes.
Let’s break down the primary methods brokers use to source loads and find the right carriers to get the job done.
Referrals are a big part of almost every industry in today’s marketplace. The trucking industry is no different. By continually impressing their shipping partners, brokers can earn more business through official referral programs and informal word-of-mouth recommendations.
Referral programs work in a few different ways. The most traditional method is to send a thank-you note or small gift to anyone who refers a new freight client to the broker. Someone who runs shipping logistics for one company will probably know other people in their industry and can say to their colleagues, “I know of a great broker who can help you move your freight.”
A newer method is to offer consistent incentives, generally in the form of a financial payout, to individuals whose referred clients come back again and again. This motivates people to refer the best-of-the-best of shippers, who need consistent freight carriers.
These programs usually aren’t sustainable for an independent carrier, which is why freight brokers are the right people to support them.
Cold & Warm Calling
Freight brokers are generally in a better position than independent carriers to cold or warm call companies. The process can be time-consuming for independent carriers, especially when they have to balance so many other aspects of their business.
A cold call is when an individual contacts a company and offers their services. Unfortunately, this approach can be high-effort, low-pay-off, as there’s no guarantee the company even needs the offered service. That’s why a good broker will often utilize warm calling instead.
Warm calling is when you contact a company because you recognize that they need the services you offer. Knowing which companies need your service involves a lot of research, industry knowledge, and access to databases with additional information.
Online Platforms & Advertising
Freight brokers who market their services may use less common means of finding shipping loads. For example, a targeted marketing campaign can help a broker find shippers who need their exact services, while a direct mailer can cast a wider net.
Brokers can use both organic and paid advertising to find new clients. Organic advertising is anything that the advertiser doesn’t pay for, like a social media account or blog. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies drive traffic to their blog without paying for advertising. However, there are still costs associated with organic advertising: someone in the company has to know about SEO, write the content, create the post schedule, and drive engagement on all the relevant platforms.
Paid advertising includes print ads in magazines and newspapers, roadside billboards, direct mailers, and other traditional advertising methods.
Sponsorships can be another opportunity for brokers. Sponsoring a local community event can build brand awareness for the brokerage.
As you can see, brokers do a lot of hard work behind the scenes for their carriers. They spend a great deal of time and energy to increase the number and quality of loads their carriers can choose from.
A load board is essentially a matching system for all parties involved in the trucking industry. It is an online marketplace in which shippers and freight brokers find carriers available to take their loads.
After accessing the load board site, freight brokers search for an empty truck to match the load they need to be transported.
If you have never accessed a load board before, you can think of it as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, but for freight shipments. Brokers and shippers post their shipping needs and carriers can access those listings. The more familiar a broker is with the industry and with load boards, the easier it is to navigate and find the right carrier for the right shipper.
Moving Beyond Traditional Brokering
The freight brokerage industry is a changing field, just like transportation and shipping as a whole.
Xpress Technologies provides the next phase in the world of freight brokerages. Xpress Technologies is a technology company built by truckers for truckers; it is a tool that carriers of small and mid-size fleets use to interact directly with carrier sales representatives.