As an owner operator, your relationships play a huge role in the success of your business. Whether you’re new to the trucking industry or transitioning from company driver to owner operator, you’re no doubt focused on building relationships with the best freight brokers for owner operators. Connecting with the best freight brokers can help you keep those wheels turning and earning, while reducing the time you spend searching for freight for your truck. In this blog, you’ll learn what to look for in your freight broker relationships and how to identify potential freight broker partners who can see you through the ups and downs of working in the trucking industry.
What Is a Freight Broker?
Before we dive into the best freight brokers for owner operators, it’s important to define what a freight broker or freight brokerage does and how working with a freight broker is different from working with other types of companies in the trucking industry. Freight brokers serve as a “middleman” between shippers who need to transport their freight by truck and owner operators and carriers looking for freight for their trucks. Freight brokers must obtain a freight broker license with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). As part of getting a license with the FMCSA, brokers must obtain a surety bond and file it with the FMCSA. These surety bonds protect shippers, carriers and owner operators against fraud and any potential misuse of a broker license.
The Best Freight Brokers for Owner Operators Use Time-Saving Technology
The best freight brokers for owner operators use technology that is easy to use and that truly saves you time. When evaluating freight brokers as potential long-term partners, consider whether the tech the broker asks you to use is user-friendly. Is it easy to track and book loads with the freight broker? Does the broker’s technology save you time or does it just add to your workload? Prioritize loads from brokers who use technology that’s built with owner operators in mind and that makes you more productive and efficient. After all, the more you reduce down time, the more time you have for driving and earning.
Provide Incentives for Repeat Business
The best freight brokers for owner operators also recognize that you provide a highly valuable service as an owner op. Many freight brokers love to work with owner operators like you because you can provide the level of service required for high value and white glove loads. Seek out freight brokers who offer incentives if you book multiple loads with them. Whether it’s a formal driver loyalty program or an informal incentive program, these extra perks can reduce your operating costs and the time you spend looking for loads.
Offer Detention Pay
If you’ve been working in the trucking industry for any length of time, you know that time spent waiting to load or unload cuts into your drive time and profit margins. The best freight brokers for owner operators use a digital freight tracking app not only to track loads, but also to document detention time so they can bill shippers for it. Data from mobile apps like Trucker Tools’ free driver app can be used to show how long you were detained at a shipper or receiver facility and to justify billing the broker and their shipper for detention time.
The Best Freight Brokers for Owner Operators: Help You Get Paid Quickly
Cash flow is a major concern in any business, but it’s an especially big concern for owner operators like you. When you submit paper copies of documents to a broker to be paid for transporting a load, it can take 30, 60 or even 90 days to receive payment. That’s why it’s a good idea to work with freight brokers who use technology that helps you get paid as quickly as possible. Be sure to ask any prospective broker partners whether you can upload BoL and PoD documents once the load is delivered and submit these docs instantly via an app or website. Submitting these documents digitally can speed up your payment times, which is always a good thing!
Real-Time, 24/7 Access To Loads
One of the final things to look for in an ongoing partnership is real-time, 24 hour/day and seven day/week access to your freight brokers’ loads. The best freight brokers for owner operators understand that you’re more than a driver — you’re also a small business owner. That means that you’re not necessarily searching for and booking loads during regular business hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Seek out those freight brokers who provide you with access to their loads any time of day (or night). If you use Trucker Tools’ free driver app on the regular, you can search for and book loads at any time through the app. You also can use the app to negotiate rates with brokers, track loads, find the cheapest fuel, book truck parking and much more!
Check out our “Best Practices for Long Haul Truckers.”