If you are in the trucking industry, you likely know what a freight broker is but just in case, a freight broker is a company that connects a shipper, who has goods that need to be shipped, to someone who can transport them. Ideally, they rely on a reputable freight broker to assist them on getting their goods where they need to go safely and efficiently. A freight broker has an index of authorized motor carriers that they know can get the job done promptly. With technology moving forward, there are many ways to digitally streamline this job. This can be an opportunity to be a part of the trucking industry without actually driving a truck.
The best foundation for a freight broker is experience in the trucking industry. Brokers typically have a large network of truck drivers/companies and have strong partnerships with them. As a traditional broker, you will be at a desk physically matching loads with trucks. This route is a viable in today’s industry and still very popular. Freight brokerage have relatively low start up costs with business relationships being the most valuable asset.
In the past number of years there has been many technological advances in the world of freight brokerage. Digital freight matchers (DFM) have streamlined the service and made it easier for everyone to get a slice of the $50B commission pie. It is estimated that the trucking industry generates $700B/year in the United States alone. It is no surprise that freight broker companies have been popping up constantly, with a few clicks or taps of the finger the driver can find fright on their route or a broker can find a reliable driver.
So where should you start? If you are going the traditional way, you will still need a transportation management system. When you are just starting out it can be simple. You won’t need a lot of functions; you really just need a backend system to manage your loads. The cost for this can be as low as $50 a month. As your business grows, you can always upgrade to include more features on your system.
If you are going down the digital road you will need to invest in making sure you have a friendly user experience and do not worry so much about your backend.
Finding a pricing system that makes sense and is fair to everyone involved can be tricky. You need to make sure you have enough funds to support your business and yourself. Not only that, the fee should be reasonable for the shipper. With industry experience, finding a fee that meets everyone expectations can be done easier. Also, keep in mind invoices do not get paid instantly, be certain to plan accordingly.
Insurance seems like an obvious step to starting a new business but it is still important to mention. Be sure you work with a company that has experience in the industry and understands your needs. This insurance should cover any property you might have as well as any employees you have.
If you want to stand out in the market, consider finding a niche. This can help to build brand awareness, as well as, trust with your shippers and carriers. Another way to stand out is to look for value-add that you can provide to your users on both ends. This could be giving them extra data that other DFMs do not offer.
There are many ways to stand out as a freight broker. We have provided a few tips here but there are many more! Just remember, the freight business is all about people and relationships. When you find good brokers, try to keep them and give them incentives to work hard for you and the company. If your employees are not treating your carriers properly, word will get around fast in the trucking community and could really damage your company’s reputation.
When you are planning to hit the road as a truck driver it can be overwhelming trying to decide what to take with you. Knowing you will be on the road without all the comforts of home can make it challenging. It can be especially tricky if you are new to truck driving or don’t know how long you will be away from home. So here we have rounded up a list of essentials that you could bring with you to help when it is time to get on the road.
It is important to have some key tools and supplies with you. They can come in handy if you have a breakdown or need to do a quick repair of something on the inside or outside of your truck. Here is a short list of tools and supplies that you consider bringing with you on the road: screwdriver, brake cleaner, zip ties, pliers, hammer, wrench set, tire pressure gauge, flashlight and batteries, pocket knife, shovel, chains for tires (if there is a chance you will run into poor weather), and wire cutters.
Clothing and Personal Items
It may seem unnecessary to think about what clothes and personal items you will bring on your trip but it can really contribute to the comfort of your trip. If you think ahead and consider factors like weather, location and duration of your trip it will help to plan what to bring. For example, even if it is a small possibility that you could run into bad weather bring extra sweaters and a warm jacket and pants so that you don’t have to worry about being cold. Some other things to consider bringing with you would be: a shower kit, a grooming kit, enough clean underwear for the duration of your trip incase you don’t have access to a washing machine, any pills that you take, raincoat, any necessary PPE, sunglasses, raincoat and wipes for any small spills that may occur.
Keeping a clean truck is important for your comfort and safety. It is important for your safety for a couple of reasons. Keeping your truck clean and free as possible of germs can help you stay healthy during and after your trip. Also, if you have a messy truck there is risk of something distracting you while you are driving and causing major damage. Keep key cleaning supplies in your truck such as; a handheld vacuum, paper towels, all-purpose cleaner, disinfectant wipes, laundry detergent and air freshener.
Electronics and Accessories
Electronics can be very helpful tools but it is important to bring a paper map or atlas in the off chance that all technology fails. Some things on this list might seem obvious but they are important and worth having on the list. Be sure your cell phone and two chargers, incase one fails and you are not in an area to get a new one. For entertainment during your downtime you could bring; a handheld gaming device, e-reader or tablet. Even if your truck has a built in GPS it would be good to have a handheld GPS that you could use if the one in your truck malfunctions.
Being prepared on the road is one of the best ways to help yourself get through long trips away from your home and family. Preparation starts long before you get on the road and is an important step in your overall trip.
Today, technology can be overwhelming. There are many options on the market, it can be a difficult decision figuring out what type of technology your fleet or truck could use and whether the return on investment will be worth it.
The other tricky thing about technology is that it is constantly changing. You always risk adding something to your truck and finding out a couple years or even months later that it is obsolete or needs constant updates that can be money or time consuming.
That all being said, technology has major advantages on the road. It can be time-saving, accident preventing and can save money if used properly.
Electronic logging devices are now mandatory in Canada and the United States. These devices electronically log commercial trucks hours of service to ensure drivers operating these vehicles are within the legal requirements of driving and resting. Some people who own smaller owner-operator businesses believe that e-logs make them less competitive, that the only way for them to keep up is to ‘stretch the truth’ when they log their hours of service. But owners who have been in the business for years can see the advantage of using them. One owner said that it took nearly two years to change over the whole fleet but once he did, he found that it contributed to his fleet doubling and it improved the drivers work life drastically.
A technology that has been evolving in the past 15 years or so is driver’s scorecards. When they were first introduced, they got a bad reputation for being the tool that could help ‘shame’ drivers into doing better on the road. They have since evolved into a great tool on the road that is more accurate and takes into considerations far more factors such as load type and transmission shifting data. The information is now a great tool for driver coaches to share with trainees and is a valuable training tool.
A forward-looking camera system more familiarly known as a ‘dash cam’ have been around for years but like most technology has improved immensely in quality. They are getting smaller in size and larger in functionality such as storage space, nighttime vision and high-definition imagery. These camera systems are a great way to protect the driver of the truck. It can be a way to defend the driver in a false insurance claim, for example, if someone is looking for an easy way to cash in on their vehicle by making a false claim the camera can capture the accident to prove the innocence of the driver.
There are many different ways to let technology help you on the road that we have not listed here. You have to find what suits your operation best. Whether you are an owner-operator or own a large fleet technology is something to consider. It will be an investment and take time to install and learn but at the end of the day it could be a real positive factor on your bottom line, safety of your drivers and efficiency on the road.
Maintaining a clean truck is always important, it keeps you
productive and healthy, both mentally and physically, as you live your life in
a small space. Along with having a clean truck, keeping up with your personal
hygiene should always be a priority on the road. Now, more than ever, it is a
critical key to sustaining life on the road.
Interior of your truck
There are obvious steps you can take to keep the interior of
your truck clean but here we thought we would break down small steps you can
take so that it doesn’t become a time consuming and overwhelming job.
- Clean out the garbage daily. Take any coffee cups, food wrappers or bottles out before you sleep every night. When you do this, you will avoid it piling up. After all, this is your workspace and home for the next number of weeks.
- About once a week spend 15 minutes vacuuming out the dirtiest spots of your truck. You can use your vacuum for the dashboards and any curtains you have in the truck.
- Depending on the weather, it is important to wash your windows at once a week. Most of the time the exterior of your front windshield will need to be cleaned at least once a day, if not more.
- Once a week, take your mats out of your truck and give them a good wipe down. Also, when you are getting into your truck, take a few seconds and get rid of any visible dirt on your footwear.
With the current COVID-19 pandemic happening, it would be
wise to keep an alcohol spray (at least 70%) in the cab of your truck. Spraying
the surfaces of your truck frequently will help to protect you and anyone else
you may come in contact with on the road.
Personal hygiene while you are on the road can help you in
many ways. It will help with first impressions, mental health and overall
physical health. When you are packing to hit the road keep these tips in mind.
- You don’t know when you will have access to a shower. Pack everything you might need to keep you clean and feeling fresh. This includes items such as: a towel, facecloth, shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, razor and shaving cream
- Don’t forget to wash your clothes! There is no sense spending time keeping your body clean if your clothes are dirty. If you know you will not have access to a washing machine you could pack enough clean clothes to get you through your entire tour.
- If you will not have access to running water, alternatively, you could use baby wipes to replace a shower and hand sanitizer to ‘wash your hands.’ But it is important to remember that nothing will replace a warm shower with soap and clean running water and soap to wash your hands.
Making sure you and your truck clean on the road can help in
so many ways. Feeling your best will allow you to stay alert on the road and
sleep better at night. Keeping your truck clean will keep you healthy on the
road. Be sure to make cleanliness a priority when you are on the road!
What Does Distracted Driving Look Like?
Distracted driving can look so different depending on the situation. There are times that drivers may not even realize they are putting themselves and other people on the road in danger. Distracted driving can be as little as looking at the temperature control. Other driving distractions include someone or something happening outside the vehicle, passengers, eating, drinking, smoking or a mobile device.
It is a known fact that truck drivers can spend countless hours in their trucks. With long days and nights on the road, there is no doubt being stuck in the truck can get boring. When boredom sets in it is easy to get distracted. Distracted driving is extremely dangerous and, in most cases, avoidable.
What is the Risk of Distracted Driving?
There are obvious risks when it comes to distracted driving. You are putting yourself and everyone else on the road in danger. This is especially apparent when you are one of the largest machines, if not the largest machine, on the road. This paired with heavy loads and busy roads can be fatal. The worse-case scenario of distracted driving can be fatal. If not fatal, distracted driving can cause damage to your truck, other vehicles, bodily harm or downtime and loss of income.
In the United States, according to the Federal Motor Carrier
Safety Administration, truck drivers who text and drive are 23 times more
likely to be involved in a serious incident while drivers who talk on a
handheld device are 6 times more likely to be involved in a serious incident.
How can Distracted Driving be Prevented?
Being prepared can go a long way in preventing distracted
driving while on the road. Before you hit the road think ahead. Get comfortable
in your seat, have something to eat and put your cell phone away. While you are
driving, keep your mind focused on the road so that if something comes up you
can react as quickly as possible. If you do need to make a call or send a
message, pull over in a safe area and use your mobile device.
Testing in a Safe Environment
If you had a chance to see how well you can handle
distracted driving would you? How well do you think you would do? Most truck
drivers believe they are able to handle being distracted while driving. Our
friends over at Bison Transport, put that to the test and ended up with an
interesting simulated video. The skilled truck drivers were surprised with the
results. Take a look at the video here.
The trucking industry in Canada employs over 300,000 people, this includes both drivers for-hire and drivers who are involved in private trucking activity. The trucking industry can be an appealing industry for men and women who are goal-orientated and like to work independently. Here we are going to explore some facts about the trucking industry in Canada and the United States.
- Days in the truck can be long. Some drivers prefer to only drive in the daylight, so they are up early and stop for the day when the sun goes down. Some drivers prefer to drive through the night when there is less traffic. Depending on your delivery schedule you will likely be able to choose which you prefer, as long as you are still following company regulations.
- The Canadian Trucking Alliance reports that in Canada, the trucking industry is worth approximately $65 billion with more than 260,000 drivers and over 400,000 employees overall. In the United States, the trucking industry generates approximately $650 billion in revenue each year. This is about 5% of America’s Gross Domestic Product (GPD).
- In Canada, to avoid fatigue in drivers, there are laws in place which allow truck drivers to only drive 13 hours in a day with a required 8 hours off.
- Trucking is a key trade enabler between Canada and the United States. More than 80% of all US exports to Canada are moved by truck.
- Most long-haul truckers in Canada and the United States are paid by the mile. In some cases, short distance drivers, are paid hourly.
- Almost everyone in society relies on the trucking industry in some way. This could be anything from online purchases being delivered to their doorstep to critical goods being delivered to businesses across Canada and the United States.
- In the United States, most drivers cover about 125,000 miles a year. This equals about 500 miles a day.
- Being a long-haul truck driver in the United States or Canada can give you a unique perspective. While making a living you will have a chance to see all of the beautiful scenery that these countries have to offer.
- In some cases, truck drivers will have to be able to lift a minimum weight while loading/unloading the truck. This will vary depending on the job. This is something you will have to find out before you start the job and make sure you are physically able.
- On average, truck drivers with little experience will be paid about $35,000 a year. After a year or two of experience drivers can expect about $45,000 to $55,000 a year. Truck drivers who haul oversized loads or hazardous materials can expect more.
- The trucking industry continues to evolve and find strategies to improve the environmental effects gas emissions have. Diesel trucks today run much ‘cleaner’ than they did years ago. In fact, it would take 60 trucks today to equal the gas emissions from just one truck in 1988.
- The top three transported goods in the United States are clothing, food, furniture.
If you are a truck driver or a family member of a truck
driver reading this, tell us what else you want people to know about the trucking
industry. Comment below and let us know!
There is no doubt that winter is the most difficult
season to drive in. Driving in snowy and icy conditions is unavoidable as a
truck driver at times. Since winter is not going anywhere, we thought we would
provide some tips and tricks to help avoid any accidents or downtime in the
cold winter months.
Relax and slow down
When road conditions start to get wet, slippery and
snowy it is important to adjust your speed accordingly. If the road conditions
start to worsen as you are driving remember to relax and do not panic. Do not
follow other drivers to close be sure that you give yourself enough reaction
time to avoid accidents. If you get to the point that you feel like you cannot
drive anymore find a safe place to pull over and wait until conditions get
Winter Operation Training
As a responsible driver, it is important that you take the time to have proper safe winter operation training. Learning maneuvering and skid control skills are essential in having a safe and successful winter. Be sure that you understand where your tire pressure should be in different climates. A set of chains can always be helpful and in some states and provinces is actually mandated by law. Proper tire pressure can make a big difference on the road when there is snow or ice.
A complete and proper check is critical when weather conditions are less than perfect. Be sure that your defroster and heater are functioning at 100%. Be sure your wipers are working well and all of your fluids are topped up. It is also important that your mirrors and windows are clean before setting off for the day. Keep your lights cleans so you can be seen and take every opportunity to fill your fuel tank.
Know Before You Go – Be Prepared
Check the road conditions before you set off. Check with other drivers who may have just come off the roads that you are heading to. Be sure you check in with someone so they know where you are when possible. Keep your truck supplied with food, drinks, and proper winter clothing so that in the event you get stranded you will have your basic needs. Do not leave your truck if you become stranded or stuck.
Remember, there is no load that is worth risking your life or the life of others on the road. Even the most experienced drivers need to pull over in a safe location and wait for the road conditions to get better.