Trucking

7 Freight Brokering Tips for Success

CloudTrucks Team

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Becoming a freight broker is a relatively easy and low-cost way to start a business. Still, from there, you’re facing a steep learning curve, a fiercely competitive industry, and tight margins—a perfect storm for two-thirds of new brokers who fail in their first year. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Assuming you’ve already registered with the FMCSA, secured a surety bond or trust fund, and established your business’s legal structure—the road to success remains before you, and to help you along the way, we’ve compiled these seven tips on how to be successful as a freight broker. 

Tip 1 - Prioritize Relationships

Untested brokers must establish a level of trust with their customers. It’s tough because building these relationships takes time and requires strong communication skills, but the payoff is well worth it. It’s your classic foot-in-the-door situation. Once you’ve gotten in with a customer, keep that door open and grow their trust by communicating promptly and honestly while delivering consistent results. 

Your customers will measure your reliability as a broker on your ability to consistently move their freight from point A to point B on time and at the best rates. They are, in short, the cornerstone of your business. They directly influence how successful you will be, so prioritize relationships with them at all times and look for those golden opportunities to go above and beyond. 

To get the ball rolling, start by calling sales reps for material handlers, forklift companies, etc., and ask:

  • What’s important to them in a broker?
  • What can you do to get more opportunities with their company?
  • May you quote their next job?

Above all, be always be ready to deliver once a prospective customer agrees to use your brokerage to move their freight. 

Tip 2 - Be Quick To Respond

Shipping goods is a fast-paced industry, and people are busy, so respect their time. When you get an estimate request, respond as quickly as possible using the same medium (phone, email, etc.) with a reasonable estimate. Keep in mind; you’re probably not the only broker to whom they’ve sent the request. 

When responding, keep it brief. Customers are generally looking for a ballpark number at first. You can work out the details later—once you’ve locked them in. 

By responding promptly to your customers and potential customers, you’re demonstrating your reliability and your willingness to get the job done while at the same time showing them you respect their time and business. 

When responding, keep it brief. Customers are generally looking for a ballpark number at first. You can work out the details later—once you’ve locked them in. 

Tip 3 - Know the Costs Inside and Out

While it’s true that freight brokering has cheap start-up costs, it’s essential to keep in mind that an inaccurate estimate can destroy your profits on a trip, and if it becomes a habit, can quickly pull you under for good. 

To avoid driving your business into the ground, familiarize yourself with the shipping/trucking industry and remain updated on carrier rates. 

Time is always of the essence in this business, and the faster you can get a quote back to leads, the more you will book them while minimizing the chances you’ll tank your profits on a bad call. 

Having experience in the industry before you become a broker is a significant benefit in this aspect of the business but is unnecessary as long as you do your homework and make it a habit to know the costs inside and out. 

Tip 4 - Learn Something Every Day

The more knowledge you bring to the table, the more likely your customers will trust you to meet their needs. It’s a massive, fast-paced industry, and the more you know, the faster you’ll be at delivering quality estimates which will give you more opportunities to book leads and drive your revenue.

Keep in mind; you’re more than a broker; you’re also a salesperson, a negotiator, and a communicator. Make sure to refine these aspects of your knowledge base daily by consuming every bit of knowledge you can get your hands on by reading books, articles and checking our blog from time to time. You’ll find it easier to develop and hone your competitive edge to better position yourself in a highly competitive industry. 

Tip 5 - Target a Niche

The industry is segmented into numerous niches, so it makes good sense to target a specific niche, especially if you’re an unestablished freight broker. 

Focusing on a specific niche in the shipping industry, such as frozen foods, produce, or construction materials, allows you to remain focused on one particular system until you’re an expert in your chosen niche. 

This approach makes it easier to build a launchpad in your area of expertise, enabling you to acquire referrals that may facilitate your expansion into peripheral services because you have a network already in place and the reputation to go with it. People will know they can rely on you and that means everything in this business.

...target a specific niche, especially if you’re an unestablished freight broker.

Tip 6 - Leverage Technology

There’s a wealth of industry-specific technology available to you which you can leverage to increase your efficiency and productivity as a freight broker, such as:

  • Transportation Management Software (TMS) is essential in today’s market to plan, execute, and optimize shipments while ensuring regulatory compliance. 
  • Develop a marketing plan to increase your visibility and place finding new leads on autopilot. You can even hire a digital marketing agency for this purpose to further improve your efficiency.
  • Use auto-diallers to speed up the cold calling process—these work by automatically dialing the next number on your list when you end your current call.
  • Use load boards to locate and secure loads or to conduct market research for shippers in your area that will need your services. 
  • Partner with a Virtual Carrier such as CloudTrucks where we source drivers for your loads. CloudTrucks is on the cutting edge of trucking technology and works by  sending our owner operators loads via our app —a favorable setup for drivers and brokers looking for drivers. 

Tip 7 - Be Patient

As we said in the beginning, it’s quick and easy to become a freight broker but it’s difficult to be a successful freight broker. Trust is a significant factor in a $700 billion industry, and earning people’s trust takes time. In the early stages of your business, you’ll be busy working to establish a reliable book of business and doing the necessary legwork to succeed.

Above all, being successful as a freight brokering agent is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be frustrating setbacks along the way, and it may seem like you’re spinning your tires at times. However, if you remain patient, utilize sound business practices, and stick with it, you’ll find the rewards well worth the effort. 

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