Partnering with an LTL freight broker can make all the difference when it comes to convenience – but how can you make sure you get quality service?
A professional LTL freight broker can provide access to lower shipping costs, optimized route planning, and increased capacity. However, a less-than-stellar freight broker can be more trouble than it’s worth.
Whether you’re looking for your first freight broker or switching from an existing arrangement, there are a few key factors to consider while browsing brokers.
This article will explore the top 7 factors to consider when shopping for an LTL freight broker for your business.
What to look for in an LTL freight broker
As you stack up freight brokers for comparison, keep in mind the following factors before you make your final decision.
Factor 1: LTL expertise and experience
The first and foremost criteria to check when comparing freight brokers is their experience in the industry.
You ideally want to partner with a freight broker who brings a high level of expertise to their business – this will ensure their recommendations are appropriate for shipping your freight type and reflect experience with LTL shipping specifically.
To evaluate a broker’s expertise and experience, you can consider metrics such as their years in service, breadth of logistics offerings, customer reviews, and brand reputation.
Factor 2: Licensure
Next, checking that your broker of choice is properly licensed is essential.
All reputable brokers are licensed through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and you can confirm licensure by entering the broker’s licensing information (including their USDOT number) here.
In addition to the license, brokers must obtain a bond or trust. The total amount varies by state, but the bond is typically a BMC-84 or BMC-85.
A freight broker can’t legally function without an up-to-date license and active surety bond, so don’t be afraid to check that these are in place before you make a booking with a new freight broker.
Factor 3: Types of transportation
Depending on the type of shipments you’re looking to have transported – and where – you’ll have specific freight requirements.
As you approach freight brokers, it can be helpful to have a list of these needs to hand, including:
- Shipment volume and weight
- Shipment frequency
- Freight type
- Start and end point locations
With this information, a quality freight broker should be able to provide recommendations on the optimum type of transportation for your shipment and inform you of whether their brokerage can meet these needs with their available fleet and equipment.
For example, if your shipment needs temperature-controlled LTL OTR shipping and the broker specializes in flat-bed FTL shipping, then you know it’s time to move on to the next broker on your research list.
Picking a freight broker with concrete knowledge of the exact type of shipping you require will offer you the best assurance that they can handle your shipment appropriately.
Factor 4: Intermodal shipping options
Similarly, checking if your freight broker offers intermodal or multimodal shipping options can be a great idea.
Intermodal shipping comes with a range of benefits, including:
- Reduced overall transportation cost
- Increased fuel efficiency
- Improved environmental impact
- Increased capacity
- Greater shipment flexibility
Opting for a freight broker that provides multiple shipping options such as OTR, rail, air freight, intermodal, and international ocean freight can open up your shipping options and help you to choose the optimum journey for your shipment.
Factor 5: Insurance and claims assistance
As you review an LTL freight broker’s insurance, there are a couple of key points and phrases to keep an eye out for.
First, you want to be sure that your freight broker’s insurance is up to date! As with their freight licensure, all policies must be currently active. Successful FMCSA licensure requires freight brokers to be actively insured, typically by general liability and cargo cover.
Next, consider the insurance type.
Contingent cargo policies have a wide reach and cover gaps in a motor carrier’s insurance. However, this type of insurance only comes into effect if the motor insurance does not provide cover.
Shippers’ interest policies offer wider “all-risk” coverage and typically prove a better option than contingent cargo policies. For this reason, as you compare freight brokers, you may consider opting for one covered by a shipper’s interest policy.
If your freight broker offers this service, claim assistance in the case of a need to request insurance cover is another fantastic time-saving benefit.
Factor 6: Freight tracking
Being able to track your freight on the go is one of the best benefits of the new wave of logistics technology that’s helping LTL freight brokers to go above and beyond.
Freight monitoring capability allows you to enter your shipment tracking number and locate your shipment to view its progress towards its destination.
Factor 7: Industry certifications
The final factor we’ll cover in this guide to choosing the best LTL freight broker for your business is freight broker industry certifications.
A freight broker may have certifications such as:
- Certified Transportation Broker (CTB) license
- ISO 9001 (International Standard for Quality Management Systems)
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
While these certifications aren’t required to operate as a freight broker in the US, they can be a positive sign that your freight broker has a high level of expertise and is committed to ongoing industry-relevant education and development. And who doesn’t want a freight broker who knows their stuff?
LTL freight solutions across North America and beyond
If you’re looking for an LTL freight broker that’s sure to deliver, then you needn’t look any further than Jansson.
We’re FMCSA licensed industry experts committed to providing first-rate logistics with communication to match.
As an independent agent of Landstar, Jansson can link you up with vetted OTR and intermodal logistics carriers across our vast transportation network. To find out more about how our LTL services could meet your freight needs, or to request a quote for your shipment, reach out to Jansson today!