If you’ve spent any amount of time within the bulk trucking industry, chances are you’ve built relationships with folks that ship liquid and dry bulk products and need capacity. As a bulk freight broker agent, you can provide that capacity to your contacts while developing your own career in the process. In this article, we’ll examine the role of freight broker agents within the bulk shipping industry, and help you decide if such a career is right for you.
What is a freight broker agent?
A freight broker agent is someone who has existing relationships with shippers and can match their loads to freight broker and/or carrier transportation services. You can go the fully independent route and be responsible for finding shipper loads and then finding the carriers to haul them. You would need the appropriate licenses, bonds and insurance to operate legally, while handling all sales and non-sales activities such as dispatching, billing and invoicing.
Or, more commonly, you can work for a carrier or with a freight broker that already has a large network of carriers. With the freight broker model, you need only bring a load to the brokerage, which then finds the carrier and handles the rest of the process. When working for a freight broker, you will receive a commission on all loads you bring in.
Benefits of working with a freight broker
A primary benefit of working with a freight broker is that, as stated above, the freight broker will already have a network of carriers. So, in many arrangements, once you bring in a load from a shipper, your work is largely done as the broker has carriers at the ready to haul the product. This frees you up to find more business instead of handling additional aspects of the load.
Additional benefits include the ability to be your own boss and, in most instances, a regular payment schedule. Freight brokers like Bulk Connection pay their agents commission every week, saving you the time and energy of chasing down payments.
Lastly, most agent-broker relationships do not have to be exclusive, allowing you to work with more than one brokerage.
What is the difference between being an agent for a brokerage vs a carrier?
A huge difference between the two worlds is one of “focus.”
In the asset-based carrier world, the focus is asset utilization and personnel retention. It’s equipment-driven; the carrier has the equipment and, as an agent, you see that it is used as much as possible.
With a good 3PL freight broker, your focus is solely on customer satisfaction. Agents are completely agnostic when it comes to using one carrier’s equipment over another – the best equipment for the job always gets that job. Your role is to manage relationships with hundreds of carriers and customers, and the customers’ needs always dictate the carriers that are put on a given load.
The bulk freight industry is becoming even more relationship-driven
Prior to the pandemic, many shippers – even large ones – were leaving key shipping decisions to lower-level employees. That person then just sends out a blast to 10-20 carriers saying, “I’ve got this load, give me your best rate.” Typically, this does not produce any appreciable savings or lead to beneficial relationships. When the next capacity crunch occurs, who will the shipper turn to for help?
What we see happening now is that shippers are looking for partnerships with transportation providers they can plan with and rely on. This often works as a managed transportation arrangement in which a shipper can come to a broker like Bulk Connection and say, “we want you to manage this portion of our business on a long-term agreement.” The broker can then act as a logistics division for the company that can aid in planning, managing risk and adapting to changing industry needs.
If you already have relationships with shippers, then finding a bulk transport broker that you believe in to do right by those relationships can be the key to success for both you and your customers.
Getting started as a freight agent
If you’re looking to get started as a freight agent and wish to work with a freight broker, you owe it to yourself to do some research on the companies you consider working for. You’ll want to know where your responsibilities begin and end and what the payment arrangement looks like.
You’ll also want to understand the broker’s track record in terms of customer satisfaction. The last thing you want is to bring your contact’s load to a broker that falls short of the mark and ends up tarnishing your relationship with the shipper. Conversely, when your freight broker executes your shippers’ loads to perfection, your standing with your contacts will grow even stronger.
Bulk Connection has been taking good care of our agents, shippers and carriers for over 30 years. We treat our agents right and many of our agents have been with us for many years – even decades.
Once you connect us with your customer, we receive each load request, book the freight, do the paperwork, monitor the shipment, and handle any hiccups. We do the work; you get a commission. Simple as that. With other logistics companies, agents may have more responsibilities that extend into day-to-day operations, but at Bulk Connection the agents’ focus is on selling and scaling up their book of business.
To learn more about working with Bulk Connection as a bulk freight broker agent, contact us today.