What is a freight broker?

Published on
Jan 3, 2020
Contributed by

What is a freight broker and when should I use one?

Whether you carry freight or need to ship it, there are so many moving parts that it’s easy to drop the ball. Miscommunications, delays, and freight damage can cost you big time. For shippers, as you grow your operation and ship more freight, you might not have time or the staff to maintain your quality standards. And as a freight carrier, you need reliable access to freight so you can boost your earning potential. No matter which end of the equation you’re on, you might need to work with a freight broker.

What is a freight broker?

A freight broker is a middleman between shippers and carriers. Instead of taking possession of the freight, the broker facilitates communication between the shipper and the carrier. They’re the ones making sure the handoff goes smoothly between carriers and shippers, and that freight arrives safely, on time. Shippers like working with freight brokers because they have a single point of contact from point A to point B while their freight moves to its destination. Working with a broker eliminates the messy process of negotiating with a carrier, planning routes, and tracking freight. Carriers also like working with freight brokers to optimize their routes and minimize deadhead miles, boosting their earnings in less time.

Freight brokers use their expertise to improve delivery times, prevent damage, and increase your supply chain efficiency. These brokers offer lower rates because they combine the freight volume of all the shippers they work with, negotiating lower rates that they pass on to their customers. Flock Freight® has a digital freight broker service that offers the speed and convenience of a traditional freight broker, but with a helping hand from its powerful proprietary algorithms. Flock Freight serves as an extension of your logistics team, matching shippers and carriers for on-time, damage-free shipping. You focus on your business and let them worry about moving the freight.

When do I need a freight broker?

If you’re shipping freight right now without a problem, it might not be the right time to bring on a freight broker. It depends on your business and industry. But if you’re looking to improve your shipping process, a freight broker may be able to help in these three situations.

1. Cost reduction

Worried about costs? You aren’t alone. Shippers live and die by their margins, and cost reduction is one of the most popular reasons shippers hire freight brokers. Freight brokers are experts at freight. They have the experience and connections to optimize your supply chain, finding easy wins that slash your costs—passing the savings on to you.  Plus, freight brokers are consultants. You can bring them on to help you as needed, so there’s no need to hire in-house employees to handle your shipping. Flock Freight does this with our experienced team of logistics experts and cloud-based computing, speeding up the shipping process to save you even more money.

2. Capacity

Every business wants to grow. But if you’ve grown too quickly and have a hard time managing freight, you might need a freight broker. A freight broker steps in and lends a helping hand to your logistics when you’re up to your eyeballs in work. If you need to process a huge influx of freight in a short window of time, a freight broker has the expertise to handle it for you. It’s a great solution for seasonal businesses, too. Avoid speed bumps as you scale your business. Use a freight broker to consult you as needed when you’re at capacity. Flock Freight can remove the overwhelm of shipping freight when you need us so you’re always covered.

3. Time and quality

Time is literally money in the world of shipping. If your freight isn’t delivered on time, it can have serious consequences for your entire supply chain. A freight broker will work with carriers to optimize their route, eliminating costly delays. Plus, freight brokers have procedures in place to minimize any damage to your cargo. If you’re shipping fragile, time-sensitive freight, a freight broker can get you to the finish line without the headaches. That’s Flock Freight’s specialty; in fact, with FlockDirect™️ we give you complete control over your pickup and drop-off schedule, ensuring shipments arrive on time and in pristine shape. With our FlockDirect service, Flock Freight is the only digital freight provider that guarantees shared truckload (STL) shipping at the point of sale. Our proprietary algorithms match your shipments with freight that’s moving in the same direction, creating one load-to-ride shared truckload. We carefully arrange each shared truckload in last-in, first-out (LIFO) order. Using a LIFO loading mentality means the truck driver doesn’t need to trans-load or cross-dock your freight before delivery, keeping shipments in one piece. With STL service, your freight arrives intact and on time.

How do I find great freight brokers near me?

A freight broker’s location doesn’t matter as much as their qualifications. Whether you choose someone down the street or across the US, use these three factors to sift through freight broker companies and find the right partner for your business.

1. Experience

You’re entrusting a freight broker with your livelihood. Moving your business’s products is a big responsibility, and that means you need to hire a freight company with experience. Research potential brokers. Look at their website, reviews, and social media. Are they established and reputable? Do you trust them? If your gut is saying no, move on to the next freight broker. You need someone you can trust. Be on the lookout for freight brokers with specialized experience, too. The more they know about your industry, the better. Specialization means they’re more familiar with your business, and that means they can find more quick wins to save you time and money. For example, Flock Freight specializes in LTL freight, which means our in-depth knowledge and experience help us save you even more time and money.

2. Licensed, bonded, and insured

Every freight broker is legally required to be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). To be registered, you must also be bonded and insured. You always want to make sure your freight broker is licensed by the FMCSA. This will protect your business in the event of fraud or damages.

3. Carrier partnerships

Remember, the freight brokers themselves won’t be taking possession of your freight. They’re finding carriers for your freight as a third-party. That means you need to trust your freight broker’s judgment to choose a reliable, safe carrier. When you’re evaluating freight broker companies, ask them how they choose their partner carriers. You want to make sure they’re checking for safety first, as well as quality and speed. If you’re looking for a freight broker that can move your freight on time, with virtually no risk of damage, look to Flock Freight, the only broker in the industry that can move your LTL freight via STL service. When you select FlockDirect, our shared truckload service, your shipment will move on a single truck to its final destination, eliminating damage, late delivery, and accessorial fees.