When a business needs to get connected with shippers and freight service providers, they often rely on a freight broker to manage the logistics of that engagement. Shippers and carriers each have unique requirements and schedules, and a freight broker acts as a middle man who matches two good partners together to arrange successful shipments. For shippers, outsourcing freight transportation needs instead of working directly with a carrier is often the easiest, most hassle-free way to guarantee a shipment reaches its destination fast. Shippers can skip the paperwork and solve pressing problems, and carriers save time and money by filling their truck capacity. CLX Logistics is unique for our specialization in bulk chemical transportation, but freight brokers exist in all areas of the industry, including lowboy hauling, oversize loads, auto carriers, and many others.
Freight brokers are often non-asset-based, meaning they don’t own their own equipment. Not having your own equipment offers some level of flexibility in finding the ideal equipment for any type of freight but can be limiting in some sectors, such as chemical, which rely on highly specialized solutions like the CLX Bulktainer.
Typical freight brokerage transactions begin with a request for coverage, followed by immediate order tender and freight scheduling. In this process, a 3PL’s role is to assist with dispatch, loading, transit, unloading, and ensuring delivery while communicating progress updates to clients via phone and email. When a carrier backs out of a contract, a shipper can’t find a qualified carrier, or an urgent delivery arises, freight brokers are the ones who can find, book, and dispatch a truck immediately while maintaining clear client communication.
Freight brokerage professionals are currently in high demand in the US. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects significant increases in freight brokerage jobs due to demand, and internet search analytics show a rise in long-tail keywords like “how to become a freight broker.” As inexperience floods the market, it will be harder and harder for companies to find the right freight broker to suit their sector.
Save yourself time, money, and headaches with this article. Keep reading to learn how to choose the right freight broker for your business in 2022 and beyond.
Screening Your Freight Brokers
Now that you know what freight brokers are and the service they provide, you can see how partnering with a good one is essential to getting the most out of every dollar you spend. The difference between a reputable, experienced freight broker and someone else can easily lead to dissatisfied customers, lost contracts, and wasted money. Consider these points when screening freight brokerage options in the marketplace.
All freight brokers in the US must be licensed by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Administration, and there are many unlicensed freight brokers out there. Log into the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) site and input the provider’s USDOT and MC numbers to check the legality of any freight broker you choose to partner with. Any time you see suspiciously unrealistic rates and capacity, be sure to do your homework to ensure you don’t get involved with anyone that could put you and your customers at risk.
Modes of Transportation Offered
Smaller and inexperienced freight brokers may only offer limited services and capacity that can change at any moment. Even fewer have access to a nationwide intermodal network of shippers and carriers to maximize time, costs, and efficiency at every step of the way. Consider freight brokers with experience orchestrating multiple modes of transport to help achieve the fastest and most dependable
Every freight broker needs insurance, but not all policies are the same. Key points to discuss with a potential freight broker include:
- The cargo liability policy
- Request to be listed on the policy
- Request for a COI
The financial strength of a freight broker is paramount as shippers are on the hook for all invoices of the underlying carrier that the freight broker doesn’t pay if the broker closes its doors. Even if your company paid the freight broker for the load, if the motor carrier isn’t paid, you’ll have to pay them too.
Transportation management systems (TMS) have made big strides in recent years, enabling small and mid-market shippers to optimize global freight flows in a single platform without breaking the bank on technology investments. A TMS helps freight brokers level the playing field by offering a new level of visibility to supply chain operations like moving freight, finding capacity, communicating with partners, and improving service. A best-in-class solution like CLX TMS includes a fully integrated carrier network that provides real-time visibility into your entire supply chain, with features like:
- Cost savings through load consolidation and maximizing modes, routes, and assets
- Reducing freight rates associated with carrier activity, compliance, and performance reports
- Analytics dashboards that highlight opportunities and results
- Competitive supply chain infrastructure
- End-to-end logistics management services
- Automated transportation management processes
- Benchmarking results against the world’s largest chemical freight database
Level of Expertise
Does the company provide educational industry resources surrounding their industry and the specifics of their services? Do they publish case studies and whitepapers? Do their leadership participate on any industry boards or associations? Not every freight broker needs these things to be effective at what they do, but a proven history of dedication, reputation, and years of services go far to provide peace of mind that you’re working with someone who understands and anticipates the volatility and unpredictability that the industry has become known for.
Freight Brokerage in Chemical Logistics
As mentioned earlier, many if not most freight brokers specialize in some subsector of the global transportation market. It may surprise you to learn that, despite the complete dependence on chemical products shared by countless organizations, few freight brokers specialize in chemical logistics. Some of the largest markets in the chemical sectors include:
- Oil and gas
- Consumer goods
- Food manufacturing
- Wood processing
- Equipment manufacturing
They all depend on specialized chemical freight brokers, such as CLX Logistics, whose brokerage and logistics solutions satisfy specific regulatory pressures and safety and security concerns and are backed by the expertise and capabilities needed to transport hazardous liquids and solid chemical substances safely. CLX Logistics’ hyper-specialization and deep experience in the industry have led to a reputation for:
- Expert issue management and reliable dual-method communication
- Qualified network of 300+ trusted carriers with national reach
- Fast and accurate shipments delivered on time
- Accessible and responsive customer service team
- Support for a variety of shipment modes
- Timely in-transit tracking, reporting, and updates
- Dependable shipment delivery confirmation
Getting Started With the Right Freight Broker
With this knowledge under your belt, you’re ready to start screening professional freight brokers. Freight brokerage is a relationship-driven, transactional service that depends on seamless communication between a 3PL, the carrier, and the client. CLX Logistics is known for our long-term relationships with both trusted carriers and shippers in frequent need of freight brokerage services and the ability to support the missing links in streamlined supply chains.
If you need a carrier immediately, we can help. Contact us today to talk to a specialist.