Freight brokers are responsible for moving your material and cargo through customs. They deal with import and export. They wait for items and make sure they clear so you don’t have to. In short, they take care of all the logistics for you, so you can focus on other things. The question for many businesses is how to streamline working with the freight brokers themselves. Here are six tips for dealing with freight brokers.
Verify That They Are Legitimate
Freight brokers work in one of the most strictly regulated industries on the planet. You can verify that a freight broker is legitimate by verifying that they are registered with the immigration and border control department for the country they work in. You can check the broker’s reputation online, but you should take it one step further by asking the local legal bodies and people who work in customs about the organization. Even better is when you can find brokers who specifically handle the goods you’re shipping.
Note that size isn’t necessarily the factor you should be concerned about when researching the freight broker. There are smaller freight brokers who deliver excellent results. Big firms typically have more capacity than smaller firms. For this reason, if you’re looking at daily shipping, you may want to work with a larger, established broker. However, small brokers may be just as legitimate and cheaper to hire, especially for small and infrequent shipments.
Have Your Goal in Mind
Every business is different and so is every load. You need to understand your goals so that you can identify the best freight broker for your needs. For example, are you trying to save as much money as you can, or are you trying to minimize delays? You may need to pay more for someone that loads quickly. If you want to save money, realize that a series of moves and a longer route may be necessary.
Go with the Best, Not the Cheapest
Instead of trying to find the cheapest freight broker willing to work for you, find the best shipping brokers. They’ll be able to find the best shipping options for you, and they may network with companies you don’t even know about to get things done. Cheaper isn’t better if they don’t carefully handle your product or approach every load with diligence.
One benefit of going with the best freight brokers is that they will follow all the local laws and regulations regarding import and export. The best freight brokers can get almost anything through customs as quickly and easily as possible. They understand how to resolve logistical problems. For example, they know how to organize and secure a shipment so that the load can go through even if you packed it wrong.
Understand What the Broker Needs
If you want things to go well, you need to know – and then provide – the information your freight broker needs. This information is necessary for them to get your product through customs as quickly and efficiently as possible. You need to be transparent with them, at least about the products they’re moving. They need to know when the load is available and when it needs to be delivered.
Know that the weight of the load isn’t the only thing the broker needs. How the products or materials are packaged can impact the unloading process. Freight on shrink-wrapped pallets can be unloaded easily, while looser items may take longer to unload and thus cost more. You may be expected to help load and unload to get the rate you want.
Be Open and Honest in Your Communications
Even when working with the best freight brokers in the area, things will, from time to time, go wrong. Things will go from bad to worse if you withhold information. Don’t delay bad news. If the freight is supposed to show up in half an hour and you’re an hour away, contact the broker as soon as possible. That knowledge prevents conflicts that can destroy the relationship you’re trying to build. If there are problems with the shipment, document the facts. However, you need to focus on solving the problem, not assigning blame. This helps keep the freight broker’s confidence, even when things go wrong.
Educate Yourself about the Industry
The more you understand about the market, the greater the odds you can reach a deal with the freight broker. If you understand the demand for trucks and their availability and the rates based on their origin and destination, you can discuss matters with the freight broker as an equal. Where the load to truck ratio is highest, expect to pay the most. If you know what the peak rate is for the route and time you want to ship, you’ll understand what the broker will consider a fair market rate.
Freight brokers are your partners in getting supplies, components, and final products to their destination. Hiring a freight broker isn’t an expense but an investment in getting things where they need to go as soon as possible, with minimal hassle.