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.
Securing your load is an incredibly important part of being a safe and responsible truck driver. There are so many risks involved when it comes to transporting a load that is not properly secured on or in your trailer. Commercial truck drivers can carry a wide variety of cargo in an assortment of trailer types. No matter what type of trailer it is one of the most important things you can do before you move the vehicle is to make your load is secure.
Imagine you are out on the road and suddenly you feel your load shift and something slip off. If this happens, there are so many problems that can follow. Someone could be traveling behind you and could cause serious damage to the person or vehicle. It could cause you to lose control of your vehicle, it will most likely cause damage to the cargo which means you aren’t delivering what you agreed to in the time you did. This is going to cause a financial penalty to the company you work for, you personally or both.
Before you hit the road, make sure your tie-downs have a combined rating equal to at least half of the loads weight. Make sure you know what your load weighs. You will need this information for a number of reasons. Depending on your load, tie-down straps are required to be in certain places, you can find out this exact information from the regional or federal laws. They vary from province to province and state to state so make sure you fully understand the laws where you are traveling.
If it is possible, double checking your load after you have traveled a certain distance is a good idea. Around 50 miles down the road, check that the vibrations or something unpredictable hasn’t shifted your load. Making sure your load’s weight is evenly distributed can also help if you do have an incident on the road. For example, if you loose control and veer off the road and your load is top heavy it could increase your chances of rolling the vehicle.
At the end of the day, there are a few key steps you can take to make sure you and your load are safe before you hit the road:
Check that your load is properly secured, then check again and then maybe one more time!
Understand the laws and rules around load securement in the region that you will be driving
Know the weight of the cargo you are carrying and work with your supplier and your employers to make sure you have properly secured your load
Just remember, not properly securing your load poses a safety risk for you and everyone else on the road. On top of that, it can be extremely financially damaging between broken cargo and the hefty fines that come along with not fastening your load correctly.
It is no secret that truck driving can be a very dangerous career. There is so much to keep in mind while you are trying to keep yourself safe. This list will hopefully help as you take your journey out on the road.
Wear Your Seatbelts
This one might seem obvious but it is so important. It is going to decrease your risk of bodily injury if something is to happen on the road. Whether it is a minor or major accident your seatbelt really could save your life.
Frequent breaks on the road are beneficial for a number of reasons. They give your mind and body a chance to rest, even if you don’t feel tired it gives you a chance to regroup and stretch your muscles. It may feel like you are wasting time but in the long run it will keep you on the road longer. It will help to avoid mistakes later and looking after your body will keep you in the truck longer where you and your employer can make a profit.
Be aware of what the weather is going to do. Weather can change quickly, especially if you are in the mountains. Be prepared with all of the proper equipment for whatever weather you might run into. Know what lies ahead of you and plan accordingly.
This is a subject that comes up often and it is a notable one. Cell phones contribute to distracted driving every day. It is a valuable tool that most people can’t imagine living without now. Of course, they need to be used by truck drivers. The important thing to remember is to use it wisely and safely. If you need to use the phone and do not have access to a hands-free system, find a safe place where you can pull over to use your phone.
As a general tip, when in doubt slow down. It takes longer to stop when you are driving a truck especially if you are loaded. If traffic is getting heavy, the weather conditions are not good or there is road construction just slow down and do not use your cruise control. Cruise control should be used when road and weather conditions are ideal. When you drive slower it could help to prevent an accident or at the very least help to decrease the effects of an accident.
Pre-trip and post-trip inspections are critical. They will increase your safety ensuring all parts of your truck are in ideal running condition. It could help to avoid something going wrong on the road when the vehicle is at full speed. There are apps on your phone you can use to be sure all aspects of your inspections are done. It can even be set up with your to send the report directly to your employer.
There is never a guarantee of safety on the road, every time you go out there are risks that go along with it. There are many steps you can take to decrease the chance of an accident happening. The most important thing is to stay calm on the road and take your time.
It’s no secret that truck drivers spend a lot of time on the road. Hours delivering important goods can add up quickly, but what happens when a truck driver does not get enough proper rest? It can be life-threating for the driver and other people on the road. It is crucial that drivers, especially truck drivers stay alert on the road. We have gathered up some tips to help when sleepiness sets in on the road.
Don’t Fight It
If you can, start your journey well rested. When you are on the road and are feeling drowsy, find a safe place to pull over and take a short rest. Research shows a power nap of less than an hour will provide your body with plenty of energy to keep moving forward for hours.
Sugar can provide you with temporary energy but what happens when the crash comes? Eating healthy food on the road can help you to continue moving and meeting those critical deadlines. Maybe instead of candy or a donut consider easy finger food that will keep you chewing and alert and provide you with last energy. Some of examples of that would be carrots, celery, trail mix or almonds. Some other options that won’t keep your stomach full but will keep you busy are sunflower seeds or gum.
What to Drink?
We all know that coffee is sold as an energy burst, which is true but too much coffee can cause a caffeine crash. When you are on the road it is best to drink small amounts of coffee with larger amounts of water. Avoid sugary drinks that could cause an upset stomach or a sugar crash.
Phone a friend
If you have cell service and can safely make a handsfree phone call then the perfect time to catch up with loved ones is on the road. If your mouth is moving then you will be alert, keep that in mind. Try to schedule calls while you are on the road so that you can keep your mind active while driving. The plus to this is, it’s good for the soul to talk to loved ones!
For a short amount of time, cranking the AC or cracking a window can help you to stay alert. But please note, this is not a long-term solution. If you are feeling drowsy enough to open a window or crank the AC it might be time to start looking for a safe place to pull over and take one of those power naps.
Before you start out on your trip, know where you are going, how long it is going to take, where you are going to stop for bathroom breaks, food breaks and overnight stops. This may help with avoid driving into awkward lighting like sunrise or sunsets which will make for a much easier and safer drive.
Take ‘Energy’ Breaks
If anyone sat in the same spot for too long, they would become tired and not as alert as they could be. When you are ready to stop, think about doing some jumping jacks or quickly walk around your truck 10 times. This can help to kick start your energy levels and keep you alert for hours.
We know there are many other ways to keep alert on the road. Some of it is trial and error when you are on the road since every individual is different. The main thing is to find out what works best for you.
Is there any advice you would pass on to fellow truck drivers or travelers?