Unless you have direct shipper contracts, you’re probably working with a freight broker or a freight forwarder.
Freight brokers are an important part in helping freight get moved. They work with shippers and hire drivers to move the loads. This means you don’t have to spend time looking for loads from shippers (which is very difficult, by the way). You can work with brokers consistently or do a one-off load.
For these reasons, building relationships with brokers is not only important, it’s necessary to make sure you get the call when they need help on a load.
Why Freight Brokers Are an Important Asset
Brokers are necessary because they can connect your empty truck with an available load, sometimes faster than you could on your own. Here are just a few of the benefits of working with brokers.
- Offer Flexibility: Working with freight brokers keeps you from having to depend on one source of loads. Brokers post thousands of loads a day. As a truck driver, you have to think about where you’re at, where you’re trying to get to, and how much money you need to get out of load. Imagine if there were only one broker or one load board for all truckers. You’re also not likely under a long-term or exclusive contract with a broker. You can take one load and move on, or if you had a good experience, you can confidently accept another load in the future.
- They Bring You into Their Network: Many brokers have multiple contracts. That means that you might haul for one of their clients one day, and the next week you’ll be hauling for a different one. That’s a good thing for you. You have more chances to keep your truck loaded and moving from the same broker.
- Save Time and Money: Think of how many cold calls you’d have to make to shippers asking if they had loads they needed moved. These contracts are likely already in place with brokers, or with carriers they’ve had long relationships with. If a broker is calling you or placing a load on a load board, they have that load already. You’ll spend your time negotiating a rate instead of asking for business. When you’re an owner-operator, money in the door is better than the hope of money later.
These three benefits just scratch the surface of how a freight broker helps your business. Now let’s look at how to create stronger relationships with your broker.
Build a Strong Relationship with Your Broker
You may only work with a broker once. That’s OK. But you might work with a broker a lot. Either way, you want the transaction to be professional and leave the door open to other opportunities. Here are some tips to strengthen broker relationships.
- Be a Good Communicator: Make sure you are clear on load details. Ask questions upfront and keep them in the loop. The more your broker feels they can trust you, the more loads they might send your way.
- Keep Promises: Following through on commitments is key. Once you’ve dropped off, let the broker know and remind them to keep you in mind for future jobs.
- Be Appreciative: If you’ve worked with a broker multiple times, make sure they know that you appreciate their partnership. A simple “thank you” can go a long way.
- Be willing to take difficult loads: As you can imagine, things can happen when moving a load from Point A to Point B: carriers cancel, breakdown, last-minute loads that need to get somewhere ASAP. Whatever the reason, you can shoot up some broker call sheets by taking on some of these loads. You bail out a broker, and they’re more likely to remember you on future loads.
Working with a freight broker is just the same as any other partnership. It requires time, energy, and effort to cultivate a strong relationship, but the payoff is well worth it.