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successful freight broker

How to be a Successful Freight Broker & Get a Thriving Career

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November 7, 2022
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How to be a Successful Freight Broker & Get a Thriving Career
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Freight brokering can be an outstanding career that provides a high income, excellent commissions, benefits, and the opportunity to work from home. Shipping has never been more vital, and these jobs are in high demand, with no signs of slowing. New business inventory management practices and recovery from supply chain constraints have pushed an unprecedented need for brokers.

Zippia projects a 7% growth rate in this career choice between 2018 and 2028, which will result in 32,400 additional freight broker jobs. The pandemic resulted in differences from 2018 projections. Still, those projections have pushed into the post-pandemic at even higher recruitment numbers.

Cargo and freight agents' employment will rise at an annual rate of 2.6% for the foreseeable future, and brokerage clerks will see a 2.7% yearly growth rate in jobs. This growth rate in employment is due to the freight brokerage sector growing to an incredible $41.47 billion between 2020 and 2024.

Yes! This a tremendous career; we'll give you all the tips on how to become a successful freight broker.

What Does a Career as a Freight Broker Entail?

Freight brokers spend their days fostering connections and looking at ways to get cargo from its starting point to its destination as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. The broker is a middleman that makes what could be a complex transaction become simple. For those that wonder how to be a good freight broker, it's important to know the duties that are apart of every day,

Freight brokers never come into contact with cargo; they move it from an office to an endpoint, almost like a chess piece.

The duties of a freight broker entail:

  • Conducting the movement of freight from its origin to the destination.
  • Negotiation of the pricing and services with shippers and freight services.
  • Monitoring and tracking of freight and resolution of losses or damages.
  • Optimization of shipping times through analysis.
  • Maximization of loads for truckers and reduction of deadhead miles.
  • Adherence to and knowledge of industry requirements and legalities, including adherence to licensing requirements.
  • Keeping track of ongoing registration and regulations requirements.
  • Keeping up with trends and changes in shipping, logistics, and transportation.
  • Vetting transportation carriers and services for reliability.
  • Ongoing business development to find new clientele.
  • Management of client relations.
  • Representing the interests of the brokerage.
  • Developing a sales and marketing strategy.

That might sound like a lot, but it becomes easy very quickly and makes every day a new adventure.

Where are Freight Broker Jobs Available

The national average salary plus commissions for freight brokers in the US is $62,105 per year but can vary by state. Freight broker jobs can be found nationwide, but some especially active areas are:

  • Chicago
  • Chattanooga
  • Ohio
  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Arkansas

Types of Freight Broker Business Models to Know

Cradle to the grave (C2G) and the Buy/Sell (Chicago model) are the two most popular freight broker business models. Each has its benefits and challenges when maximizing a freight broker's earnings. When someone learns how to be a successful freight broker agent, it will be under one of these two methods. Either can be how to run a successful freight brokerage.


Because it gained popularity first with Chicago brokerages, Buy/Sell is often referred to as the Chicago model. This model uses a strategy of dividing sales and operations into separate roles. The sales group handles signing up new shippers and expanding the current business. At the same time, the operations team is responsible for moving loads, including sourcing, rate negotiation, and managing loads.

Cradle to the Grave (C2G)

Cradle to the Grave is the original broker model. Each broker is responsible for growing their book of business while managing the entire process from beginning to end. It's a popular model, especially for independent brokerage agents who like to manage every aspect of the brokering process.

Pros and Cons

The pros and cons of both models mostly come down to an agent's working style. Still, there are a few benefits and challenges due to the organizational structure.

The Chicago model is efficient and allows sales pros to focus only on gaining customers and expanding business. Having two teams makes this model easy to scale up with brokerage growth and great for training new people. The drawback is that organizing two separate teams can be tricky to execute and costly upfront for new brokerages.

C2G is excellent for those that want to take total ownership of their accounts. There is just a single point of contact for each shipper, making for a great customer experience and a deeper level of trust. The benefits of a single point of contact managing the whole process become a drawback, though, if the freight broker leaves the company. Also, service levels can be inconsistent between brokers.

How do Freight Brokers Earn Money

Freight brokers make their money based on the transaction's profitability or what is charged to the shipper minus the costs of getting the shipment from point A to point B. They operate at what can sometimes be thin margins, so great load management is essential. The top six ways brokers increase their incomes are:

  1. Connect loads to data-driven insights to generate greater profitability and spend less time quoting loads.
  2. Properly managing company assets if the company also has its own trailers and drivers.
  3. Efficiently source capacity by expanding networks, working with new shippers, and identifying at-risk loads.
  4. Hold carriers accountable to ensure rates are correct, submit damage or late delivery claims, and overcome challenges that arise if dedicated fleets or contract freight suddenly disappears.
  5. Continue to grow supply chain relationships to identify hot markets and new technologies and processes that add value.
  6. Resell the savings of full-time equivalents (FTEs) to shippers. Reselling FTEs means shippers get a dedicated professional to manage their shipments, resulting in lower costs than if they tried to tackle shipping independently.

7 Freight Broker Skills for Success

Freight brokers utilize the same skills that lead to success in our daily lives. If you have some of these skills and are willing to learn more, you're on your way to a successful career.

  1. Online writing
  2. Cold emailing
  3. Public speaking
  4. Pitch deck building
  5. Social media networking
  6. Decision making
  7. Math

Notice that the first five skills all center around communication skills. A broker constantly communicates with different parties and needs to relay information and listen effectively.

Characteristics of the Top Performing Freight Broker Agents

The top 20% of freight brokers deliver 80% of the results. There are several factors that all top freight brokers have in common, including:

  1. They are in the game for the long run – They know it takes time to build a business and a lot of learning along the path to success, and they are ready to be patient, diligent, and always learning.
  2. They love problem-solving – Top freight brokers see problems as opportunities to serve their clients better. They own their mistakes and solve problems as they arise.
  3. They provide solution flywheelsThe best freight brokers are experts at delivering solutions. They have developed a solution for every problem, and the more solutions they can offer, the more valuable they become to clients.
  4. They are market experts – Top performers are always experts in their fields, which means they take time to learn and cultivate their knowledge. Freight brokers become experts using all the data and analytics tools they can find, pull all the information together, and advise their clients as experts.
  5. They build shipper and carrier networks – Freight brokers have two customer sets, shippers and carriers, requiring attention. Top brokers treat each as a network that they serve. Carriers that a freight broker treats as customers are loyal and enjoy working with that broker.

5 Freight Broker Prospecting Tips

Finding and securing new clients is the heart of being a successful freight broker. Without clients, all of the most extraordinary brokering skills in the world mean nothing. Freight brokers that get out there and the prospect will get the business.

The top five freight broker tips are:

  1. Cold Calling – Pick up the phone, smile, and dial. Shippers need to ship now, and reaching the right person when they need a solution brings a broker a new client.
  2. Cold emailing – Short, pointed messages to shippers make emails stand out. Use a subject line that gets the email opened, include a call to action, and keep it under 140 words.
  3. LinkedIn – Direct messaging and group interaction are the two most successful methods for getting new clients on LinkedIn. A direct message needs to be professional and focused on making an introduction before selling.
  4. Referrals – A broker with happy clients should never hesitate to ask for referrals. A potential customer referred by a satisfied client has an extremely high chance of converting into a strong business relationship.
  5. Conferences – In person or virtual, conferences are a great way to network with prospects. New virtual conferences save the money and time associated with travel and shouldn't be missed.

How an Established, Tech-Driven, People First 3PL Sets Brokers up for Success

Tops 3PLs succeed by setting their brokers up for successful careers by providing the backing, tools, opportunities, and culture that help brokers excel. A great 3PL provides:

  • Support resources: Brokers with access to support resources solve problems faster and keep freight moving. Resources may include tools and knowledge to help brokers secure new clients, communications tools, or access to other brokers to exchange ideas.
  • Technology: Helping brokers automate processes and have greater access to data and insights keeps them competitive. Technology that gives brokers more time and data lets them recognize market shifts, stay rate competitive, better analyze routes, and forecast coming changes.
  • Focus: Brokers learn more and perform better with a 3PL behind them that helps them with recognized best practices. Taking lessons learned, 3PLs pass the knowledge gained to brokers so they may best focus on the tasks at hand.
  • Culture: Within any business, culture is at the forefront of company effectiveness. Great 3PLs recognize the need for a solid, supportive culture that lifts everyone.
  • Career path: 3PLs need management personnel, and the opportunity for brokers to excel and move up in their career sets them up for ongoing success.
  • Money: At the end of the day, everyone needs a paycheck. 3PLs that offer support, technology, strong culture, and ongoing career advancement means brokers make much greater salaries.

Great 3PLs know what it takes to help people learn how to be the best freight broker.

Freight Broker & Logistics Jobs at Wicker Park Logistics

Wicker Park Logistics is committed to providing support, learning, strong company culture, and advancement opportunities for its freight brokers and logistic personnel. Check out our latest openings by visiting us on Indeed.

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