Freight Brokers: Why Freight Broker is a “Dirty Word” (and the Alternative)

While countless shippers are looking for ways to expedite the carrier selection process and bring their shipping costs down, many are hesitant to use a straight-up freight brokerage service—and it’s easy to see why. The term “freight broker” has become something of a dirty word in logistics circles thanks to a few unreliable brokers that take shippers’ money and leave them with little to show for it.

But is brokering freight as a practice deserving of that negative reputation? And if you want to move freight, don’t want to handle it yourself, but also don’t want to use a freight brokerage, what other options are available?

Not all freight brokers are on equal footing

As with any service, the value of freight brokerage depends on the level of professionalism, experience, and trustworthiness of the broker in question. Some have been in the business for years, are fully licensed and bonded, and help dozens of clients move freight every day. But for every reliable broker adding value to shippers’ operations, there are others earning a high commission for shoddy services.

That said, the landscape of freight brokerage isn’t the Wild West that it used to be. In 2013, legislation was passed that significantly increased the cost of the freight broker bond—a significant requirement for becoming licensed. This made it harder for just anyone to call themselves a broker, helping to protect shippers from the kind of bad apples who were tarnishing the industry as a whole.

Despite this, it’s still crucial for shippers to carefully vet potential brokers before deciding who to work with. This can help them avoid getting ripped off—or worse, experiencing reputational damage.

FULL DISCLOSURE: CTSI-Global is not a freight broker, but our carrier management services allow shippers to reap all the benefits of working with a broker without any of the risks or downsides. We combine our decades of industry experience, deep relationships with trusted carriers, and cutting-edge transportation technology to help our clients save time, money, and frustration. Our network is 20,000 carriers strong and growing every day—and we work tirelessly to help our clients unlock excellent rates with optimal quality of outcome.

When freight brokers cut corners, shippers pay the price

Serving as the liaison between shippers and carriers, freight brokers take a lot of responsibility off shippers’ shoulders, freeing up their staff to focus on other work. By handing this responsibility over to the broker, shippers expect them to do their due diligence in vetting potential carriers and ensuring that shipments proceed without a hitch.

Sadly, many brokers have been known to cut corners in the past—posting loads on any old freight board and selecting the lowest-price carrier, regardless of their reputation, in order to boost their own profits. In some cases, this has left a permanent black mark on the shipper’s status, since a late or damaged order ultimately reflects poorly on them, not on the carrier or broker.

Top-rated freight brokers won’t do this. These businesses are diligent about vetting any and all carriers they work with—and reevaluating them on an ongoing basis to ensure that quality and consistency remain high. These brokers also invest in leading-edge in-transit tracking systems to stay abreast of any problems that might arise. Some bumps in the road are unavoidable, from bad weather to traffic accidents, but brokers can help clients protect their relationships with customers—and their reputation—by providing visibility and communicating effectively.

To broker or not to broker

Choosing the right freight broker can be challenging, and for shippers that have been burned before, handling things in-house often seems like the best option. Unfortunately, this requires their staff to spend countless hours on the phone with potential carriers with no guarantee of finding the most competitive rate.

There is a third option. Let a full-service logistics firm that has been in the market 60 years, with a 20,000 carrier network, and that processes 5-million transactions daily, broker freight loads for you. You can scale up or down as needed, let go and trust the reliability, and know that you have a long-term partner for nearly any logistics needs—TMS, logistics business intelligence, freight audit and pay, all the way to full-on logistics management services. Instead of brokerage alone, you have as-needed access to an entire ecosystem of supply chain optimization tools, services, and consulting. Discover the CTSI-Global difference. Contact us to handle your freight.

Reader Interactions