Tips for a Successful Freight Broker Career
There are a lot of big draws to a career as a freight broker: strong job growth, flexibility, the possibility of being a freelancer or small business owner and the option to work from home, among many others. A freight broker is the company or individual that connects shippers with carriers to move goods from place to place. It involves a lot of communication, negotiation, organization and logistics, and problem solving.
Freight brokering can be a great career, interesting, rewarding and always fast-paced. But to be successful as a freight broker does require some effort. You need to have certain skills and to be highly self-motivated. Here are some important tips to make the most of this career once you’ve decided it’s the right one for you:
- Start with an education. You don’t have to go to school or earn a degree to become a freight broker, which is one of the reasons some people want to get into this career. However, it will help you be more successful quickly if you understand the industry and how to operate in it. Training at a good school is therefore an advantage. If there are no programs at colleges near you, consider an online introduction to freight brokering, which can be as short as a couple of months and can be completed on your own schedule.
- Get licensed. While there are no specific education requirements you have to meet to start working as a freight broker, you do need to be licensed at the federal level. Brokers are licensed through the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Licensing requires a fee, insurance and a surety bond. You’ll need these to start your career.
- Spend money on your website and app. If you are going it alone in the freight brokering industry, be sure your clients have a website or app to use that provides a good experience. This is what will keep them coming back to you for business, so if it’s hard to use, confusing or often not functional, you’ll be in trouble. You don’t need a lot of investment money to get started, but don’t scrimp on making the user interface positive for your prospective clients.
- Learn business basics. Again, if you will be starting your own brokerage, it’s your responsibility to make sure it runs smoothly. This means that you have to do everything from marketing to clients to accounting. You don’t need a degree in business, but understanding the basics of managing accounts, invoicing, bookkeeping and customer relations is crucial.
- Develop strong working relationships. This industry is all about connecting people, even if it often seems like it’s about money and logistics. You are matching people to people, and your job will be easier and your business more successful if you establish good relationships with trusted carriers. Providing shippers with reliable carriers is the backbone of freight brokering, so when you spend time building relationships with a few solid carriers you can do your job better.
- Join professional associations. To continue learning about your industry, to network and to develop a professional reputation, you need to join up with other professionals. One group to join is the Transportation Intermediaries Association. It provides lobbying on behalf of brokers, educational opportunities, networking meetings and other member benefits.
- Choose your employer carefully. If you prefer to work for a brokerage company instead of or before setting out on your own, choose wisely. Do your homework and find a company with a good reputation and that treats its brokers and agents fairly. This is a growing industry, so you have the leverage to be choosy about your employer.
If you’ve chosen freight brokering for your career, learn everything you can before jumping in. Anyone can get into this industry, but you’ll be most successful and have an advantage over others if you take the time to learn the business first. Learn, get licensed and prepare to run a business, and you will be ready for success.
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