09 Oct Ask the Right Questions and Find the Right Freight Broker
Do you use a Freight Broker?
At last count, there were about 18,000 freight brokers operating in the United States. You’ve probably had the opportunity, or more likely the need, to work with one during the past year.
Maybe one of your critical loads got dropped and a freight broker found you a truck in the nick of time? Maybe your tender rejection rate was up in a tight market, and you had to shop around?
Either way–working with a third-party logistics provider (3PL) wasn’t your first choice, right? In fact, if you still see a freight broker as a necessary evil in an industry that breeds skepticism and deception, you’re not alone. There are so many third-party providers out there. How do you know who the good guys are when so many cut-throat brokers are gunning for the fast buck while expending the least amount of energy to get it?
Here at AMT, we’ve been in the business for 30 years. We’ve seen a lot of brokers come and go. The truth is there are lots of 3PLs who offer valuable services, especially in today’s market.
The economy is booming. And we’re heading into peak season with the holidays approaching in the midst of a trade war with China. When you add the driver shortage and events like Hurricane Florence to the mix, you might find it a little harder to find trucks.
If you aren’t working with a 3PL, now is a great time to start. And if you have but you’re still wary, you might want to rethink your opposition.
How do you choose a good Freight Broker?
The best way to find good transportation partners is to ask the right questions. Actually it’s a pretty good skill to cultivate. But too often, we’re afraid to ask questions. We think asking questions makes us look dumb or uninformed. We’re afraid people will take advantage of us. At the risk of getting all philosophical on you, questions don’t show weakness but instead an active and interested mind.
So go ahead and ask questions! Here are three that will help you find or choose a good 3PL.
How many options do you offer?
It’s a great time to be a logistics provider because there are so many options for freight. Do the 3PLs you work with ever suggest new modes of transportation? Do they talk to you about IM (Intermodal), LTL, or truckload? How about warehousing or partial shipments? What about white glove LTL–sure it takes a little more coordination and expertise, but it might make a big difference.
And what about the hard stuff–when you’re up against a wall? Is your broker willing to provide a higher-than-normal rate when capacity is tight and your shipment has to go? If they don’t have courage to talk about the hard stuff, you can’t trust them.
Where’s my truck?
This one’s a no-brainer. Your logistics partner must offer 24-hour tracking and visibility. The technology is just too good these days. If they don’t offer it, you should look elsewhere. Right now.
But technology isn’t the whole story! Time and willingness to go the extra mile are equally important.
We’re talking about customer service here. Let’s not downplay the value you gain when you can talk to a live, friendly, ready-to-help person 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. From the time your freight is picked up until it delivers, you can’t beat real people for updates and up-to-date information.
What’s going on in the industry?
There’s so much extra a 3PL can offer–from market reports and technology trends to interactive communication and industry updates. You want a freight broker ahead of the information curve rather than behind it.
Your freight broker should be a master of customer service that doesn’t end at the loading dock. Check out their blog and website. If they’re not up-to-date, providing news of the latest trends and trucking’s interesting innovations, you’re missing out.
Don’t settle for a provider who isn’t passionate about knowledge and passing that knowledge along.
Ask good questions and the answer will be clear!
We’ll be honest. Here at AMT, we want to work with shippers and carriers committed to building strong relationships. We know the trucking industry is notorious for having trust issues. Believing outside folks will care about your freight as much as you do is an iffy proposition. We get it.
But we’re different, and we encourage you to give us a call. We’d love to answer the question–What can AM Transport Services do for you? Give us a call today (or check out our website). Let’s start a conversation. It’s a great time to be in logistics–we’d like to tell you all about it!