There are a staggering amount of Third Party Logistics and freight brokers in the domestic United States. Last we checked there were over 16,000 freight brokers in the continental U.S. They range from a wide variety of people, from stay-at-home parents working part time, the small broker or brokerage house who handle a select few clients exclusively, to the large brokerage houses with multiple locations and large operations nation and world wide.

Regardless of size, every broker or brokerage house must follow at the bare minimum the 4 tenets soon discussed later in this blog. If your Freight Broker is following less than the 4 responsibilities listed then there is something terribly rotten in Denmark! Each of these responsibilities build upon each other to create an environment where your company should receive the best possible service without sacrificing safety in regards to your products. So what sets a good broker apart from the rest of the pack? Glad you asked.

Rule #1: A good freight broker/ freight consultant makes sure that your freight is always insured and moving with a carrier that has sufficient liability coverage.

– If when you ask for a freight quote from your current freight broker or carrier and they do not ask you for a value for your shipping property and give you a price instead, then this is a definite red flag. This broker is only concerned with selling price, and not service. Each carrier has specific Liability coverage that depends on factors such as: class, value, commodity etc…The only time this may be negated is if you have a good broker that knows your products well and already knows what the value of each shipment is and chooses a carrier with correct liability.

***Suggestion: If possible always supply your freight broker a value of the shipment, and if you do not know what the value of the shipment ask your broker what is the coverage for this carrier.

Rule #2: A good freight broker/ freight consultant chooses the right carrier for the job.

– Sounds simple right? Actually it can get pretty intense and brokers that sell price may not know all the in’s and out’s can cost you a fortune when a little planning and knowledge of your freight will allow you to save hundreds and possibly thousands annually.

– For Example: If you have a volume partial load with freight that is 101,” which is more than the average 96” height, some brokers might have you use a flatbed so that loading could be made easier. Someone ignorant in freight might “O-K” this move but once the shipment gets to delivery location we find out that the receiver does not have a dock or a forklift and no possible way to off load freight. What happens then? A knowledgeable rep might have requested a trailer with swing doors, allowing higher freight to be loaded in a normal van making it cheaper, and safer for that freight to travel.

***Suggestion: If your freight is different or peculiar in any way such as expedited, guaranteed, large volume, odd sizes, heavy weight make sure that your freight broker gives you a few options so that you can see what works best for your freight.

Rule #3: A good broker/ freight consultant must convey all special instructions to the carrier, usually on the Bill of Lading.

– It’s that simple, if your delivery needs a residential delivery and a lift-gate delivery with a pallet jack and call before delivery…then the carrier must comply with your wishes. I don’t care if the client asks the driver to sing his ABC’s upon delivery wearing a tu-tu to the receiver, we must convey ALL special instructions. Some of the standards are : Liftgate, Government, Residential, Limited Access, C.O.D, HAZMAT, Appointment, etc…

I have seen a lot of different types of special instructions through out the years. Some of them pretty standard, and a couple that were pretty unorthodox as in:

“Driver may not wear Blue Jeans upon delivery, other wise prison guards may think of Driver as an escaped or escaping convict and treat them as such”…That could have been bad for the driver who didn’t get the memo on wearing his favorite pair of Levi’s.

and “… On Second stop, go to second story floor, knock on room 210 and ask for Big Tony for remainder of freight, he may or may not give it to you but tell him Danno said it was cool”…From what I remember, Big Tony opened the door pushed the boxes through and shut the door. Freight delivered. Some people say Don’t see no evil, don’t hear no evil LOL… In all seriousness, I am sure whatever Big Tony moved that day was legal. I think. These are definitely on the rarer side but are completely true and happened to me in my beginning history of freight.

***Suggestion: It is always better to be upfront with your freight broker about special delivery instructions, even if you are worried about the price going up. It will prevent a lot of other problems, and allow the broker to choose the right carrier that fits your needs.

Rule#4 : A good freight broker/ freight consultant must check the safety rating of each new carrier that hauls freight for the client and make sure that their safety rating and liability is of an acceptable score.

– There are a lot of carriers out in the market that offer pricing that is almost unrealistic. When a broker who sells price, and not service offers you a rate that seems almost too good to be true, it most likely is. Time and time again a carrier that sells their services low usually have safety scores that are so bad that they have to undercut their safety and service qualified competitors in order to work. A lot of people are lured with the bait of “cheap freight”. Murphey’s law, it always comes back to bite them in the butt. I have experienced freight being held hostage, $60,000 damages, carriers that lie and say you have the full truck and when it delivers there is other freight on the truck and so on and so on. The long and the short of it is, there are a lot of qualified carriers out there and a good broker should be more worried about getting your freight there efficiently and safely, not to hire a bad carrier to increase their profit margin.

– Another scary thing that is starting to become more prevalent is identity theft. Just a couple of months ago, a friend of mine was hauling a load for his client and he hired a carrier who’s safety rating checked out fine. It turns out that this “carrier” was part of a large organized crime web where drivers where using fake MC#’s and commiting carrier fraud to pick up freight from unsuspecting shippers and stealing the entire truck of inventory. They caught the guys in this huge warehouse with 11 other trucks running the same scam. Yes I know, it is scary. That’s why make sure your broker insures your freight to protect you.

***Suggestion: If you get a shady feeling from the carrier or broker, and trust me there are tell tale signs, you can ask Boa Logistics or another reputable broker to check their safety rating for free. This way you can have peace of mind in the transportation of freight.

I can go into depth on each of the four tenets but we would be here all night 😉 You may have noticed that I used the term “freight consultant.” I believe that in working with a good broker your relationship will evolve into more of a consulting-freight management dynamic, rather than a relationship based on price.

A good broker should be your consultant in all matters, should be offering creative and efficient solutions for your company, and it starts with the 4 responsibilities listed above.

Contact us here at BOA Logistics and try us out.

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