Freight brokering is a lucrative business venture and it is no wonder why many people are drawn to it. Many truckers have been jumping ship to become freight agents, and sometimes, starting their own brokerage. Truckers have insight and experience in the transportation industry and have worked with brokers. So it’s a natural transition to move from trucking into brokering. In addition, a lot of people come from completely unrelated industries and make a killing as a broker or freight agent.
It is easy for people to assume that switching to freight brokering was the most logical step forward since truckers already have knowledge about the industry. However, is knowing about the industry really enough to be successful as a freight broker? We have to consider the fact that freight brokers have one of the highest turnovers in business with a huge percentage failing in their first year of business.
This begs a few questions: “What skills and competencies are needed to be successful in this industry? What should you learn before starting as a freight broker? And what can you risk only learning while doing the job?” We’ll put together the pieces of what the profession asks for and reduce the risk of losses by answering these questions and helping you make the decision of entering the world of freight brokering.
What Does It Really Take To Be A Great Freight Broker
To know what it takes to succeed, let’s first lay out some basic info about freight brokering. As you probably know, freight brokering is the business of matching shippers who need to move goods with truckers who have space available on their trucks. Freight brokers do not own or operate trucks, but they act as a go-between for shippers and truckers, negotiating rates and arranging shipments.
Freight brokering is different from trucking in that truckers are responsible for moving goods from one place to another, while freight brokers are responsible for finding trucks to move goods. Freight brokers also work with a variety of carriers – including railroads, air cargo carriers, and ocean liners – in order to find the best transportation solution for their clients.
Given these responsibilities, we’ve pieced together 7 of the most needed skills successful freight brokers have mentioned that are essential to keep your freight brokerage competitive in the market. You don’t need to have a trucking background for this. Just good business skills and a great way with people are a good start.
7 Essential Skills to become the Next Top Freight Broker
The skills that are essential for a freight broker are communication, organization, customer service, accounting, marketing, shipping knowledge, and of course people skills.
Communication is key in this industry:
Freight brokers need to be able to communicate with shippers, truckers, and other carriers in order to get the best rates and arrangements for shipments. They also need to be able to communicate effectively with their clients to understand their needs and find the best transportation solution for them. A freight broker who can articulate his/her expectations is more likely to get the results that they or want out of a transaction. This also makes it easier for clients to provide their thoughts about the tasks and thus be able to lay out what they can deliver and cannot.
Helpful Tip: A Freight Broker should know what areas they are not knowledgeable about and be able to communicate this with their clients. This may expose a vulnerability but opens an opportunity for a partnership in finding a solution. Faking this may only lead you to break a potentially lasting business relationship.
Organizational skills are another essential skill for freight brokers. They need to be able to keep track of all the shipments they have arranged and make sure that everything goes smoothly. They also need to be organized to keep track of their finances and ensure that they are making a profit. This is where being able to choose the right tools comes in. To be able to keep a competitive business, freight brokers will need the right systems to manage administrative tasks and thus focus more on strategizing business moves. These systems include the right CRM (Customer Relationship Management), Load boards, TMS (Transportation Management System), etc. LoadPilot has been known to aid budding freight brokers to make their transactions easier to process. It is user-friendly and gets you to not just complete tasks but more importantly, to understand the processes.
Helpful Tip: Take time to try different systems before purchasing them. Some systems provide a few trial days for you to assess the system. Take note of what you envision your process to be, and maximize the days you are in your trial period to test all facets out. Not all systems have the features you need so best to find the best fit for your company.
Customer service Skills
This is another important skill for freight brokers. They need to be able to deal with unhappy customers and resolve any problems they may have. They also need to be able to keep their customers happy by providing excellent service and finding the best transportation solutions for them. This is a skill your brokerage should never fall short on. There is rarely a transaction that is already perfect at the planning stage and no questions or concerns arise in the process. You should be able to provide support to your clients with any inquiry or request. In return, they will be able to deliver to your expectations.
Helpful Customer Service Tips:
1. Listen to your customers
One of the most important things you can do when providing customer service is to listen to what your customers have to say. Pay close attention to their needs and wants, and take their suggestions into account.
2. Be responsive
When your customers reach out to you, respond as quickly as possible. Don’t leave them waiting for a response.
3. Be proactive
Don’t wait for problems to arise before addressing them. Proactively reach out to your customers and let them know what’s going on with their shipments. That way, they won’t have to worry about anything.
4. Be helpful
When your customers have questions or need help, be there to assist them. Don’t make them feel like they’re bothering you or that they’re not important.
Money is the name of the game so some basic accounting skills are also essential for freight brokers. They need to be able to keep track of their expenses and profits so that they can stay profitable. They also need to know how to file taxes correctly for their business. This skill is essential for you to be able to monitor your business’ health and avoid unnecessary losses. Some systems provide accounting aids and you can take time to learn how to utilize them.
Helpful Tip: If you feel that it is more efficient to hire someone who can manage this better for you, by all means, do so. Mismanaged financials could be hurtful even long after a business is closed. Better not put yourself in that position.
You’ll need to find shippers in order to make sales So some basic marketing know-how is going to be a big help. They need to be able to create marketing materials that will attract attention and convince people to use their services.
One great way to begin with this is to set up your social media profiles for your business – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. You’ll need to be consistent at putting-up content. The more frequent your posts are the better. Be sure to keep it professional and business focused.
Helpful Tip: You can learn how to set up your website and link to it from all your social media accounts. There are even website builders that offer their services at super affordable rates like EZ Freight Websites.
This can be a huge benefit but isn’t essential. Freight brokers do need to be familiar with the different types of shipping options available so that they can find the best solution for their clients. This makes it easier for them to strategize with their shippers as well as with their carriers for more efficient delivery of loads. This skill can be learned as you go along but training yourself early gets you ahead of the game and makes you earn your clients’ trust faster. One of the most important tasks you’ll have as a broker is finding more freight to move. Knowing how freight brokers find shippers is super important to your success. You can you marketing strategies or a shippers list.
You’re not just moving freight, at the end of the day you’re working with people. A successful broker or agent needs to be able to effectively manage their team and keep them motivated. They also need to be able to handle difficult situations that may arise. This skill can be learned with experience, but it’s important to have a good foundation for it.
Helpful Tip: If you’re having trouble managing your employees, consider seeking out help from a professional people management consultant. They can help you develop strategies that will work best for your business.
What To Do Next:
If you’ve been dreaming of getting into the exciting world of brokering, you now have a good understanding of the skills you’ll need. A freight broker is responsible for the management of goods being transported from one place to another. To be successful in this field, it’s important to have a variety of skills. Communication and organization are essential, as well as customer service skills. It’s also important to be familiar with accounting and marketing concepts, as well as shipping procedures. People management skills are also necessary to effectively manage employees. If you’re looking to become a freight broker, make sure that you possess these essential skills or dedicate the time to learn them. Starting off as a freight agent can be a great way to go.