Freight brokers work as intermediaries between shippers and motor carriers. It is often easier for shippers to hire one broker to find carriers for all of their freight than to find different carriers to carry particular loads. Carriers can also benefit from serving one or two brokers rather than serving a large number of shippers individually. Shippers pay the broker’s shipping charges and brokers pay the contracted carriers after keeping a percentage of the shipping charges for themselves.
1. Sort your loads by delivery time. Put the loads that have the earliest delivery times on top of your list because these will be the most critical for early assignment. Look closely at the mileage on the loads. Some loads will not deliver as early as others, but may be more critical due to transit times.
2. Post your loads on load boards. Load boards, such as rightnowloads.com, are online sites that allow shippers and carriers to connect in regard to individual hauling jobs. Posting your loads will allow carriers to see the loads that you have and call you. Most load boards do not charge brokers for the basic service of posting their loads, but you will have to register to use the service. Be sure to post the equipment type, mileage, pay rate and delivery date and time.
3. Use an Internet directory service to locate carriers in the areas near your freight. Many small carriers will not have a listing in these directories; you will receive calls from them when you post the loads on a load board.
4. Call interested carriers and make sure they have the equipment the job requires. A flat-bed carrier cannot help you if you need a dry van or a refrigerated van.
5. Check any carrier that you are thinking about using through the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSR) Safety System (SAFER.) You can use SAFER to check a carrier’s safety rating, see any accidents that the carrier has been involved in for the past three years and confirm that the carrier has insurance on file with the government.
6. Ask the carrier for references and a copy of their operating authority. The carrier will naturally give you the names of companies that will provide good references, but at least you will be able to get a sense of the job that the carrier can do.
7. Ask the carrier to have their insurance agent fax you proof of insurance. It is better to receive the proof of insurance from an agent than from the carrier. It is too easy for a carrier to fake insurance paperwork and you must make sure a carrier has insurance before you give them a load.