As long as there is a need for the movement of goods, freight brokers will be in high demand. And, with the rise of E-Commerce, more shipments are being made than ever before. If you have great relational, communication, and organizational skills, you may find that you can not only perform, but excel, as a freight broker. Take a look at the ins-and-outs of freight brokerage and learn how you can use your abilities to impact the supply chain industry.
What is a freight broker?
Freight brokers are liaisons between shippers and carriers. They act as a “transportation intermediary” for shippers by finding carriers to haul their freight. They are also known as truck brokers, transportation brokers, property brokers, and third-party intermediaries.
What are the day-to-day responsibilities of a freight broker?
A freight broker makes sure that goods are transported in both a timely and cost-efficient manner for clients. Throughout the shipment process, freight brokers manage activities such as:
- Generating leads
- Identifying and selecting reputable carriers for freight service
- Negotiating contracts with carriers
- Providing clients with shipping quotes
- Booking orders with carriers
- Finding the most efficient shipping routes
- Tracking shipment status’
- Communicating with shippers, carriers, and dispatchers throughout the supply chain process
- Ensuring that government regulations, banking policies, and documentation requirements are followed in the shipping process
- Tracking data about goods and carriers in databases
Freight brokers are expected to be up to date on the latest transportation market trends through research. They also use their data to research the best ways to allocate their resources. And, freight brokers play a big role in the financial aspect of the shipping process, as they:
- Determine shipping costs
- Invoice shippers
- Pay carriers and agents
- Extend credit
What are the necessary requirements to be a freight broker?
Typically, only a high school diploma is required to become a freight broker. A bachelor’s degree can enhance job prospects.
Career opportunities can also be increased by gaining practical work experience, such as through an internship. Or, prepare to earn a professional certification that will help you stand out in the crowd and expand your knowledge of the field. A popular way to get ready for a certification exam is by taking a freight broker course. A previous student, who works for United Tribe Logistics, writes that “the course used real-life examples and different learning materials that still help us operate a business.”
What common skills do HR freight brokers possess?
A few of the most common are:
- Digital literacy. They track lots of data, so proficiency with Microsoft Office programs like Excel or other computer systems that organize logistics is a plus. This goes hand-in-hand with organizational skills.
- Whether verbal or written, freight brokers spend much of their time building relationships with carriers and shippers and making sure all parties are on the same page. They must be able to build and keep good relationships, meaning they need good people skills as well. Their whole career is based on excellent communication.
- Problem-solving. Freight brokers will need to be able to come up with creative solutions to the challenges mentioned above (weather, late deliveries, etc.) and be able to do so without inducing unnecessary stress on themselves.
- Negotiation. They need to have the business acumen to negotiate strategically.
Other skills include multi-tasking, working in a high-paced environment, and managing time well.
Is being a freight broker and a freight agent the same thing?
No! There are similarities in the two titles, but also some differences. One primary difference is that freight agents typically work for a freight brokerage or an independent broker and do so working on commission. A portion of the commission a freight agent makes will typically go to the freight broker. According to the research I found, the following is given to the freight agent in exchange for their commission:
- Administrative support
- Liability buffers
- The reputation that comes with the broker’s name
A freight broker will typically call more of the long-term shots and work on a higher-level scale as they build their reputation. They are required to secure both a brokerage license through the FMCSA and a surety bond. They also carry more liability.
What are some challenges of the freight broker role? How can they be overcome?
As a freight broker, the biggest challenge is the competition. There is a high number of competitors vying for clientele, whether it be suppliers or carriers, due to an in-demand market and the low cost of starting a business in the industry. Eric Weisbrot, the Chief Marketing Officer of JW Surety Bonds, writes that freight brokers can ease the pressure that comes from competition by “establishing a niche in the market, creating a sustainable business model and marketing strategies, and boosting business relationships.” The right marketing tactics and team members can help build relationships that give your name credibility in the industry.
Logisticate IT, a logistics and IT company, also writes about the case-by-case challenges that freight brokers face in their workflow. Most of the time, the delivery process will be smooth. However, logistical issues can arise, like weather problems, late deliveries, damaged or missing cargo, or other long delays. Freight brokers must anticipate how they will solve these problems IN ADVANCE through careful planning. Other experts say their biggest struggle is load management and communicating with truck drivers during delivery. Freight brokers spend lots of time trying to get delivery updates from drivers. Therefore, building relationships early on is key; knowing your truck drivers enables you to effectively communicate and obtain necessary information more quickly.
How do freight brokers add value to an organization?
Freight brokers bring efficiency to an organization. Without their organization and communication, shipments couldn’t get delivered, which would disrupt the entire supply chain! Look at how often freight is transported in our society. The size of the freight brokerage industry shows the tremendous value a good broker brings to the table.
As a freight broker, you contribute to something so much bigger than yourself on a daily basis. Get prepared, get certified, and get ready to create a name for yourself in the freight brokerage industry.
BONUS CONTENT: Fast Freight Broker Facts
- Salary*: The average freight broker salary in the U.S. is $51,198 as of July 27, 2020. The salary range typically falls between $44,248 and $58,781.
- Job Outlook**: At the beginning of 2014, there were 13,565 licensed freight brokers in the US. In January of 2015, the figure had climbed to 15,203. Needless to say, the number continues to grow—showing that freight brokerage is a profitable industry.
- Work Environment: Many freight workers work independently, so they work from home. Others work remotely for a brokerage firm. Some work in an office setting, as well.
- Work Schedule: Many freight brokers set their own hours, deciding when and how much they work. They create their individual work-life balance around shipping and carrier schedules. If in an office setting, they may work typical office hours (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
- What Is a Freight Broker and What Do They Do?
- The Day in the Life of a Freight Broker
- Freight Broker Job Description
- 10 Reasons Many Beginning Freight Brokers Fail
- Freight Brokers’ Workflow Challenges
- What Is the Difference Between a Freight Broker and a Freight Agent?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hi! My name is Marah Whitaker (think Laura with an M). I am the Marketing Assistant for UTC Center for Professional Education. During the workday, I spend time writing blog posts, creating content for social media, developing email campaigns, and building relationships with our customer base. During my free time, you can find me getting lost in a good book, having spontaneous dance parties, playing piano, and going to Buffalo Wild Wings on Wing Night. Professionally and personally, I aspire to live by the Mr. Feeny quote, “Dream. Believe. Try. Do Good.” I strive to use my passions to serve others and contribute positively to the world around me.
Connect with me on LinkedIn.