Not Sure How to Find the Best FTL Broker? Let us Help!
Last Updated Aug 2, 2023
Moving freight via full truckload can be a challenging task, to say the least. This is true even for the most experienced shippers.
With the rapid increase in FTL shipping rates, and a steady flow of new technology to integrate, an experienced FTL broker in your corner significantly reduces the stress. And that's not to mention how they improve your operational efficiency.
However, with so many FTL brokers out there, how do you find and hire the right one?
For those shippers who realize the value of an experienced FTL broker or 3PL, here are 3 easy tips for hiring the right freight broker.
What is a Freight or FTL Broker?
An FTL broker is also commonly referred to as a freight broker.
FTL brokers are tasked with helping shippers handle some or all aspects of their shipping needs. These tasks include finding the best rates and booking FTL shipments on behalf of the clients they serve.
Pretty straightforward, right? Well, for the most part, it is...
But there is still one subject that some shippers often get confused about. The confusion sets in when they try to wrap their head around the differences between an FTL broker and a 3PL.
And that's actually a rather common point of confusion!
The primary difference between these two is that a broker sets up the shipping for their clients, and is for lack of a better term, a middleman. They are generally limited in their resources but make up for it with the support of a strong network of carriers.
Meanwhile, a 3PL is typically an all-inclusive shipping provider. What this means is that they’ll handle things like shipping and receiving, warehousing, storage, and inventory. And the really well-rounded 3PLs handle all other tasks such as freight invoicing, auditing and more.
However, what is not commonly known is that some 3PL’s (like Redwood Logistics) offer FTL brokerage services, as well as traditional 3PL services. An experienced 3PL that offers FTL Broker services maintains strong relationships with multiple shippers, carriers, and other supply chain partners. This gives them experience and an edge in multiple freight handling industries.
With that being said, if you’re looking for the right FTL broker, here are three pro-tips we suggest you follow!
Make Sure they Serve Your Industry
A good freight broker is one that offers services for your specific industry. And contrary to popular belief, not all freight brokers serve all industries. Some focus on manufacturing, while others specialize in retail or eCommerce companies.
However, it’s also important to work with a freight broker who has experience with other industries. There are times when your company will need to utilize logistics services that are not common. Services such as LTL, parcel, multimodal or intermodal all require the same level of dedication and specialization.
By establishing a solid relationship with a diverse FTL broker, you’ll be set up to expand your service offerings as needed.
A freight broker that has experience working with FTL carriers, freight forwarding, and various shipping modes has the diverse experience you need to operate a lean supply chain. Diversity of services matter more than ever in this day and age, and your customers have plenty of options.
And that's not to mention that the modes of transportation needed for certain deliveries are growing every day. Suffice it to say, there are many areas in which your broker must be able to perform adequately to get larger jobs completed efficiently.
Furthermore, by working with a diverse freight broker, you can stay on top of shipping trends that impact your business. This includes things like surcharges and other items you often don’t notice on your invoices. These costs are far too often passed along to the customer in the form of higher priced goods and constantly rising shipping charges. A seasoned freight broker helps you to lower these costs, which in turn, keeps your customers happy and coming back to you time and again.
While an FTL broker is an outsourced agent who simply sets up shipments for you, remember that they still represent your company!
Don't be shy about asking them to provide you with references from some of their past clients. Checking their references gives you some idea as to their work ethic, communication skills, and overall trustworthiness.
As a matter of fact, right from the beginning, it shows they want to earn your trust. If you ask them for references and they open up the books for you to review, that is a sign that they are proud of the previous work they’ve completed with past clients. Secondly, it gives you one of the most coveted things in any industry, it gives you peace of mind.
And that is something that you can't get just anywhere!
Still not sure whether you need an FTL broker, a 3PL, or a mixture of both?
No worries, we completely understand the frustration. That is why we are dedicated to helping clients get their operations up and running. Redwood Logistics has the years, the experience, and the reputation to get the job done properly and efficiently.