When you partner with the right freight brokerage company, you add an established network of reliable carriers to your transportation toolbox. Align with the wrong broker, however, and your seemingly reliable network can quickly turn into a shipping nightmare. Worse yet, this nightmare may not reveal itself until months after your loads are delivered – when a carrier comes calling for payment the broker should have handled.
While all freight brokerage companies will tell you how reliable and trustworthy they are, the truth is that some are much more reliable and trustworthy than others. By taking the time to perform due diligence and ask the important questions, you’ll be able to separate the experts from the rest of the pack.
- How much experience does the broker have? When researching freight brokerage companies, you’ll find ones with decades of freight experience and ones with just a few years or even months. And, while experience isn’t everything, it counts for a lot – especially in a tight capacity market where you can’t afford to make a mistake. The experienced brokers should have long track records of timely payments as well as knowledge of shipping lanes, equipment, and ways to secure capacity.
- Does the broker have proof of compliance and insurance? You will need to ask your prospective brokers for operating authority and surety bonds, as well as regulatory compliance (as applicable). Failure to produce any of the required items should be a major warning sign. Most reliable brokers also carry their own insurance instead of simply relying on carriers’ insurance. Common types of insurance among brokers include contingent liability insurance, contingent cargo insurance, and errors and omissions insurance.
- Will the broker provide references? When you entrust your loads to a freight broker, you want to know it’s not their first rodeo. You’ll want to learn how customers with products like yours view their experiences with the broker. Is there a history of problems like product damage, inadequate equipment, or payment issues? To obtain these insights, get a list of references that you can contact directly.
- Does your broker have a quality program? Certification within a quality management program like ISO-9001 shows that the company is committed to quality service and continuous improvement.
- Is there round-the-clock coverage? Among other things, you want to look for a broker that will provide 24/7 customer service (i.e., an actual human to talk to when you need someone). As transportation is not a 9-5 operation, your freight broker’s customer service operation should be at the ready day and night as your load navigates the supply chain.
- Is the broker asking the right questions? When freight brokerage companies collect information on a load, they should be asking questions. Lots of questions. For example: what is the cargo value? Do I need a lift gate? Load locks? If it’s a bulk load, what type of liquid bulk tank does the product need? Is it hazmat? Is a safety data sheet required? Brokers that ask the right questions offer a good indication they know what they are doing and are prepared to handle your product safely and effectively.
- Does the broker have industry affiliations? As with experience, membership in professional affiliations – whether freight shipping affiliations like Transportation Intermediaries Association [TIA] and National Tank Truck Companies [NTTC], industry-specific affiliations like the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD), and even the Better Business Bureau (BBB) – can add to a broker’s trustworthiness. It shows that the broker is dedicated to the industry(s) and attaining the knowledge and resources to grow within it.
Bulk Connection Freight Services
With tank truck capacity as scarce as it’s ever been – and only getting scarcer – you simply can’t afford to make a mistake in choosing your freight broker. Why? Because if things don’t go right, there’s not likely going to be another truck to swoop right in and save the day.
With three decades in the freight brokerage industry – and a tireless commitment to customer service (yes, 24/7 customer service) – Bulk Connection has the experience, the reputation, and the expertise to get the job done right. We know the lanes, the equipment and, most importantly, your products and we have the network to move them. Contact Bulk Connection today to learn more about our freight transportation services.