How to Pick the Perfect Shipping Broker
There are 16,000 brokers in the United States. Both new and experienced shippers often wade into the sea of brokers and are immediately overwhelmed by the sheer quantity to choose from. Since every broker seemingly does the same thing—find you a truck for your freight—it can be hard to differentiate between them.
But finding the perfect broker is important. A top-tier broker will partner with you to lower your freight spend and will provide transparency into the shipping process. How do you find the right broker for your company? Take a look at these three factors.
Although on the surface it seems like all brokers offer the same basic services, not all brokers are created equal. A good broker partner will be able to provide more than just dry van transactional services. Having experience in a variety of shipping modes is necessary to provide the best service. The more that your 3PL offers you, the greater the likelihood that they can help to lower your freight spend through creative shipping solutions.
It’s also worth taking a look at how efficiently a 3PL can scale their services. If your shipping needs grow or shrink, can your broker’s services grow and shrink with them? A 3PL that has a carrier network in place and can tap into hidden capacity through private fleets can make sure you have a truck when you need it.
In addition, your 3PL can act as an expert partner and provide advice and logistics solutions for any shipping challenge you have. Custom enterprise solutions and freight management services can add value to the 3PL partnership. Look for 3PLs that have proven track records in these areas.
The people that a 3PL employs are the face of the company. A good customer operations representative will be on top of your freight, providing you with updates along the way. Carrier sales and procurement teams work to find the best truck for your shipment. Experienced, talented, friendly, and easy to work with employees are a hallmark of a top-tier broker.
This is why it is critically important to look into the culture and track record behind the 3PL. You can do this by asking your potential broker for a list of references to contact. Once you’ve acquired the list, ask the following questions:
- • Have you had any service or coverage issues with the 3PL?
- • Does the 3PL keep you informed about your shipments?
- • Are the employees you work with knowledgeable?
- • What is the overall track record for this 3PL?
Last but not least, you’ll want to partner with a 3PL that has technology that not only meets, but exceeds your needs. Technology-driven logistics companies are more efficient than old school brokers. With a sophisticated transportation management system, a broker can provide you with instant quotes and load matching. Freight rates are based on historical cost data and pricing algorithms instead of best guesses. With a carrier score carding system, a broker can factor in the compatibility of carriers and the likelihood of the carrier accepting your freight so your shipment is given to the most suitable carrier.
Modern technology can also help to lower your freight spend. For example, Redwood’s proprietary TMS, LoadRunner®, captures private fleet lane data so that you can instantly unlock hidden backhaul capacity to lower your freight spend while maintaining reliable, consistent service. In addition, when quoting a lane, LoadRunner® provides intermodal pricing automatically so our reps can give you other relevant options for your freight.
Find the Perfect Fit
Choosing a broker or 3PL to partner with is an important decision and has a direct impact on your bottom line—whether it hurts or helps your bottom line depends on the broker you choose. Make sure you don’t choose a broker that’s stuck in the past.