Truck Driver Training: Should You Consider it?

According to Bloomberg, in 2013, there were approximately 25,000 unfilled truck driver positions across the US, and the shortage for qualified drivers continues. Add to this the median salary of $38,000 and the fact that by 2020, there will be a demand for 330,000 truck drivers in the country and it is easy to understand why trucking has become a sought after career prospect. However, before you are put behind the wheels of a 26,000-80,000 lb monster vehicle, you will need to get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). So, here is a look at the options available for truck driver training and what to expect from the programs.

Are you eligible to become a truck driver?

The bare bone basic requirements are simple: you have to be 21 years of age and clear the DOT medical test. Beyond this, companies will also look at a host of other factors when hiring a truck driver. For example:

Driving record

Trucking companies may have some variations when it comes to employment and criminal background requirements but a clean driving record is non-negotiable. If you have been convicted of driving related offenses, no company will even look at your resume for 5-10 years after the conviction. DUIs, DWI, license suspensions will all be career killers.

Criminal history

Although felony cases are reviewed case by case; you will not find truck driving opportunities for 7-10 years after being convicted for the offense. Misdemeanors can also lead to disqualification, depending on the nature of the offense.

Employment history

A poor job history with significant gaps in between can pose a problem, so be prepared to address it if this is an issue for you. Usually, trucking companies will verify your work background for up to 7-10 years. If there are discrepancies, make sure that you have a solid explanation for these.

Education

You will need at the very least your GED, high school diploma or equivalent education. Although this is not a licensing requirement, most employers expect this much.

Options available for truck driver training

truck driver training - image by raymondclarkimagesStudying to become a driver comes in a few different forms. Find a path that is going to work for you to help you get where you’re trying to go.

Studying on your own

You can get your CDL without actually attending a truck driver training program. However, this can be a difficult feat to pull off since you will be expected to demonstrate your ability to operate the vehicle safely and with ease. Also, even if you do obtain your CDL, landing a job without going through a training program will be difficult. Instead, if financing the training program is a problem, you should consider company sponsored training.

Trucking company sponsored programs

These are not free but you have to either pay nothing up front or only minimal fees. However, the trucking company will recover their expenses through salary deductions over a period of time. Some may even offer bonuses eventually which will make the training course free.

There are two ways in which a trucking company can handle the training; they will either send you to one of the CDL schools that they have a relationship with, or they may have a training division in-house. In terms of the topics covered and the type of training given, the basics will be the same with the theory designed to help you get through the written tests.

As far as the vehicles are concerned, you will be trained to operate the kind of vehicles that the company owns. This can be both a pro and a con. The advantage is that the on-job training period will be lowered since you will be driving the very same vehicles that you were trained on. However, if your company trains you to operate automatic transmission vehicles and overtime, if you want to move to another company that has manual transmission trucks, this would mean an additional investment in training or longer on-job training. The worst part is that this may limit your employment options when you want to move to another company/location.

CDL private training schools

These are run by independent establishments. The courses they offer are pretty standard and if you go to a good school, they will also include placement services in the tuition fee. It is also possible to take a truck driving training course from some community colleges. These programs are quite thorough in their approach and reasonably priced. However, they will also be longer than the courses offered by independent schools.

Prehire

This is a win-win situation albeit it calls for a bit of work. In this case, you go through the interview, pre-employment screening and medical tests before you approach a CDL training school or while you are going through the training. Once you are found to be eligible, the company will issue a pre-hire letter which is essentially their way of telling you that once you get your CDL, you stand a very strong chance of being hired by them. However, this is not a job guarantee, so it would be best to aim for 2-3 pre-hire letters.

Financing your truck driver training

CDL training courses offered by independent schools cost in the vicinity of $3000-$7000. Getting a loan is usually easy and you get 6 months after your graduation to begin repayment, which works out to $125-$200/month. However, if you cannot avail a student loan, these are your other options:

Federal and state grants

Different types of funding are available under the Workforce Investment Act which can cover the entire tuition cost. Dislocated workers who cannot go back to working for the same company, plant or industry are also eligible for these grants.

Company grants

Many employers offer educational/training incentives and truck driver training may be covered by some approved programs. Check with the HR department of the trucking companies you’re looking at for more information on this.

Tribal Council

Native Americans are eligible to receive funding through the Bureau of Indian Affairs or the tribal council.

Using credit cards

If you have good credit history, you can easily get a new card that can be exclusively used to fund the training program. Typically, you can find cards will have an interest free period of a few months that will allow you time to repay them before interest begins to add up.

School offered funding options

Many independent CDL schools offer the option to start training by putting a down payment and paying the rest in installments after you find a job.

VA Loans

If you didn’t have a transportation or driving job while in the military, you can still get the training you need! Most community colleges will offer VA loans. However, you will need to get in touch with the college to find out the amount they offer and the out of pocket cost that you will have to incur.

When choosing a truck driver training school, only go to an establishment that is state accredited. Next, consider the location of the facility. Opting for a school that is away from your home town would mean that you will have to spend more for accommodation or commute.

The price should also be a consideration but certainly not the only one. Yet, if there is a huge difference of about $1000 in the fees, this calls for deeper digging. Finally, play close attention to the most important factor- Training Quality. The driving time, job placement guarantee, instructor experience should all be closely studied and compared with that of other schools.

Also, you should ask about the number of students handled by each instructor as this is bound to impact the training quality. Take the time out to tour the facility and talk to the students and the instructors and even observe live training sessions if possible. All of this will give you maximum value for your investment and make it easier to find employment after completing the truck driver training program.

image by Scania Group

Freight Broker Jobs – 10 Sources For Finding Work in the Transportation Industry

Finding freight broker jobs can be challenging, but if you know where to look you can find some great opportunities. Whether you have experience or are just getting started finding the right opportunity for you is an essential first step in building a solid career. There are opportunties at smaller companies as well as larger companies.

The first step in any solid career is starting with a solid foundation by becoming a subject matter expert and competent professional.

Study your craft, learn your industry, and do your best to become a valuable asset. Demonstrate that you know how to book business, can handle the communications, develop the relationships, and make things happen.

There are a lot of freight companies that do not move freight but only train workers and you can find them online. There are also firms that offer freight agent positions training with pay.

We’ve put together these resources to help you find freight jobs online. These will prove to useful to both beginners and experts in the industry.

Freight Broker Jobs – 10 Sources

1. Indeed.com

Indeed.com puts together a list of companies and job adverts pertaining to the transport and freight brokerage industry. The job positions are location based making it easier for job seekers to find the one that best suites them. Apart from that, this sight also has a forum where members get to discuss ways of getting jobs in the transport industry and also help each other in finding the best job they are looking for.

Indeed.com

2. Glassdoor

This is American site will help you find a job with some of the best companies around. It will give you an opportunity to anonymously review freight jobs or companies and their management, which is very important when trying to secure employment. You will also get to post salaries and other feedback about employers. This is aimed at eliminating the notion of salaries being a private thing.

Glassdoor

3. Monster.com

If you are ready for a new and challenging job, you should take a look at this site with its location based job titles in freight brokerage. It gives a list of both part time and full time jobs within the various locations in the U.S. It will also help you to make a killer résumé that you can upload and always use to apply for jobs in transportation saving you the stress of having to write one every time you need to apply for a position in the companies that have advertised for vacancies.

Monster.com

4. LinkedIn

One of the easiest ways to secure a job in the transport industry is by creating a vast network of resourceful people. In view of this, LinkedIn offers you a platform to connect with employers and employees in the freight industry making it easier for you to know where there is a vacancy, in what companies and how you can get to apply since mostly you will be talking to the employers themselves. It also gives you an opportunity to market your experience and expertise among those already in the industry.

LinkedIn

5. Simply Hired

Simply Hired is an employment website, mobile application and also an online recruitment advertising network. This site runs like a Google search for transport jobs and a quick way to find and survey massive numbers of companies that have posted their jobs online. Its mobile app enables you to look for jobs easily using your device and also apply to them ASAP. Furthermore, the website will enable you to receive personalized search results when you upload your CV, and as such you can be in a position to apply for thousands of freight jobs with the same resume. You can get to browse by job category, City, state, employer and the duration whether full time or part time.

Simply Hired

6. www.sureway.com

Sureway has been helping people find work for more than 20 years within the American community. They find the right fit between clients and employers, while they tailor and train them for work. Their employment services give you the confidence and support to get the job that is right for you.

sureway.com

7. Logistic Dynamics Inc.

This is an expert source for third part freight logistics. LDI specializes in connecting the right candidate, agents and brokers, with customers while taking their needs into considerations. The company has access to over 50,000 motor vehicles for transportation as well as over 70 locations in the whole nation. If you are an experienced freight broker with great customer relations LDI is where to look for a job. They also help those interested in earning competitive income by owning their own freight broker agencies.

Logistic Dynamics Inc

8. Payscale.com

This is another website that offers vast jobs in the freight industry based on various categories. You can get to research and compare average salaries matched to your exact job profile.

payscale.com

9. www.expeditersnetwork.com

This is an ultimate guide that will help you get committed owner operators and carriers. This site brings together carriers and drivers while promoting new and evolving methods of transportation, industry resources and information in a balanced, fair and productive marketing arena. It also combines helpful resources in the industry to manufacturers, drivers and companies.

www.expeditersnetwork.com

10. www.truckerstraining.com

TruckersTraining.com offers one of the best resources for those seeking careers as truck drivers or in the general trucking industry. The authors of this site have vast experience in truck driving and will provide you with a one-stop-resource for anything regarding getting a job as a truck driver including but not limited to guidance on attaining a commercial driving license, guidance on the best truck driving school and various articles of the transport industry.

www.truckerstraining.com

And one extra for the road:

www.freightquote.com

Freightquote was voted one of the best places to work in Kansas City that was launched in 1999. Currently it has been acquired by C.H. Robinson, one of the largest third party logistics providers. Freightquote is the largest online freight shipping provider that delivers truckload, expedited LTL, LTL and also intermodal solutions to diverse customers. You will get to share in their mission of people processes and technology improving the world’s transportation.

www.freightquote.com

Know of a great resource for finding work? Please share in the comments below.

Everything You Want To Know About Freight Broker Salaries

One of the fastest growing professions in the transportation industry is the freight broker profession. A freight broker is an individual or business that works as a liaison between individual or company that needs an authorized motor carrier and shipping services. The start-up cost of freight brokerage business is easily affordable, when compared to other professions in the transportation industry. However, many people who want to work as a freight broker have doubts about the freight broker salaries, which they can expect in this business. To get an accurate estimation of freight broker salaries, you must understand the process of making money in the freight brokerage business.

How does a freight broker earn money?

The process of making money in the freight brokerage business is pretty simple. When a company wants to move a load of freight from one place to another, they will pay for the cost of transportation. Therefore, the client of freight broker pays the broker to move the freight. However, it’s not the broker who moves the freight, but instead uses its contacts and resources to find the right person for transporting the goods. In this process, the broker pays the transporter lesser amount to move the freight than the amount it got from its client. The difference of these two amount is called a “spread” and this “spread” is the profit of a freight broker. Salary of a freight broker is profit minus the operating expenses.

For example, if a freight broker charges a company $1000 for a 500 mile trip and finds a transporter who can haul the freight for $750, then the broker has made a profit of $250. The most important factor that decides the broker’s overall weekly income is the number of loads he can move per week. Some brokers are able to move 1-3 loads per week, while other can move 8-10 loads per week. Also, the spread for each load may vary. Therefore, there are many factors that influence the income of a freight broker.

Average salary of a freight broker

salary-3 2The nationwide average freight broker salary is nearly $43,600 per year. The yearly earnings of independent freight brokers can be much higher and reach up to $100,000 to $150,000 per year. However, there are many factors that can influence the average freight broker salaries. These factors include location, company, experience, benefits, skills, etc. A proper understanding of these factors can help aspiring freight brokers in taking decisions that will enable them to get good salaries.

Top three factors that influence freight broker salaries

The three most prominent factors that influence the average freight broker salaries are discussed below. Some of these factors influence the salaries more as compared to other factors, but each factor is important while considering the salary that an aspiring freight broker can expect from this occupation.

1. Experience

This is the most important factor that can influence the salary of a freight broker.

Entry-level: An individual with 0-5 years of experience is considered entry-level freight broker. They are newcomers with no experience in the field. They earn less than the nationwide average salary of a freight broker.

Mid-level: A professional with 5-10 years of experience in this business is considered as mid-level freight broker. The average salary of mid-level freight broker is more than $50,000 per year.

Experienced: A professional with 10-19 years of experience in this business is considered as experienced freight broker. The average salary of freight broker in this category is more than $60,000 per year.

Late-career: Most of the freight brokers move on to other positions after spending 20 years in this profession. Therefore, people with 20+ years of experience are considered to be in the last stage of their careers as a freight broker. The average salary of late-career freight brokers can be up to $80,000 per year.

2. Skills

Having good skills is another factor that is associated with high salary in this occupation. The skills in this business includes creating contacts and providing efficient services.

Contacts: The database of contacts is an important factor that differentiates a high earning and low earning freight broker. A skilled freight broker builds a vast database of contacts by using methods like personal networking, exploring professional associations, doing internet research and going through various other resources. These contacts then act as a foundation for earning a high salary in this profession.

Efficient services: Freight brokers who can deliver quality shipping methods at affordable prices have a great chance of developing lasting business relationship with their clients. Most of the times companies need long-term freight broker services. Therefore, by providing excellent service you can expect repeat business.

3. Location

The average freight broker salaries are also influenced by the state where they are providing their services. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top paying states for this occupation are Connecticut, District of Columbia, Washington, Oregon and Nebraska. The average freight broker salaries for all these states are more than the nationwide average freight broker salary.

Differences between freight brokers and freight broker agents

Freight broker agents are the professionals who work for freight brokers. A freight broker carries all the liability and has to comply with federal and state regulations regarding the transportation of freight. Typically an agent has less experience and fewer resources than the broker and is going through a learning curve in this business. Most of the clients of freight broker agents are shippers that have a small business and need transportation of low volume freights. Therefore, it’s no surprise that a freight broker agent earns less money than freight broker.

Difference in earning potential of a freight broker and a freight broker agent

The nationwide average freight broker agent salary is nearly $35,600 per year. Therefore, the earnings of an agent is much less than the earning of a broker, but the start-up cost of being a freight broker agent is also very low. The factors influencing average freight broker agent salaries are the same as the ones influencing the salaries of freight brokers.

Conclusion

The job of a freight broker can be very exciting, but also very demanding. However, if you work smartly and have the patience then in some years, you will build a strong client base, which will make your job highly rewarding.

image by Shawn Carpenter and 401(k) 2013

$75K Freight Broker Bond Options – Which is Right for You

This is a guest post from Eric Weisbrot from JW Surety Bonds to provide a little more clarification on bond options for brokers with the new requirements.

In the freight broker industry where fraud is unfortunately a common occurrence, federal regulations offer protection to all parties through proof of financial responsibility, among other requirements. If you are a licensed freight broker, you likely know that the requirement to maintain your authority has been increased from $10,000 to $75,000, causing panic throughout the industry.

As several options for the financial security requirement are available, it is imperative you fully understand the upsides and downsides of each.

What Options Are Available?

The FMCSA currently requires freight brokers to file proof of a BMC-84 surety bond or BMC-85 trust fund.  Either will satisfy the requirement to operate legally and ensures payments to shippers or motor carriers should the broker fail to carry out their contract.

With the highway bill Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), financial security choices for brokers have been expanded to include a group surety trust fund, an option that allows freight brokers to pool deposits together in a trust fund.

What is a Freight Broker (BMC-84) Bond?

A freight broker bond serves as a guarantee to the parties involved that the broker will follow FMCSA regulations and that potential claims will be paid for.  Form BMC-84 is filed with the FMCSA as proof that you have met financial responsibility requirements.  With a freight broker bond, you pay a percentage of the bond amount as premium to a surety company, who may require collateral as well, to guarantee you and back your bond to the full amount mandated by law.

What is a BMC-85 Trust Fund?

With the new requirement, the BMC-85 trust fund is $75,000 of your money placed with a financial institution, held in escrow as long are you are licensed.   Once you have identified a bank, trust company or other insured institution, you deposit full collateral in a trust fund.  Not only are these funds tied up for the duration of your business and drawn upon in the vent of claims, there are also fees assessed to maintain the account.

What is a Group Surety Trust Fund?

A third option is the group surety trust fund, where a number of brokers and forwarders pool deposits on the required $75,000 and place with a financial institution.  Group trust funds may be attractive to those brokers who cannot qualify for a surety bond, or can qualify but only with unattractive terms such as high premium or a cash collateral requirement.

Having many brokers participate in a pool sounds good as it spreads the cost to the group, but in reality this format increases the risk to its members.  Reserves will likely fall short of potential claims if the group is very large.  For example, if 100 brokers deposited $4,000 each, there would be $400,000 in the pool.  But with the $75,000 bond requirement, the collective liability is $7.5 million.

In fact, the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) has requested clarification of the group trust fund option from the FMCSA, as they see the pooled trust as a potential risk to the industry in that sufficient assets may not be readily available to pay claims.

Also a concern is that the group trust fund appears to be a form of self-insurance that groups high-risk applicants from a high-risk industry, who at the same time are trying to pay expenses, turn a profit themselves, and still be in the position to pay claims.

Compare the Freight Broker Bond, Trust Fund and Group Trust Options

The most notable difference between the BMC-84 bond and the BMC-85 trust fund is found in your bank account.  A surety bond premium is only a percentage of the full amount of the bond.  This premium is paid annually, but allows your cash to be available rather than secured in a trust account.

When it comes to claims, with a BMC-84 bond, the surety company is there to pay damages because your bond is a form of credit to you.  Surety companies have experienced claim specialists who will investigate on your behalf and try to avoid cancellation.  This is very important to you because of the regular occurrence of false claims in the freight broker industry.

With a BMC-85 trust fund, claims are often immediately settled with your cash from the trust fund with no initial investigative period.  After claims are reviewed, payment may be adjusted after the fact.

As for the group trust fund, if you have a choice between a surety trust pool and an actual surety bond at the same cost, the surety bond is the best choice; you’ll have the financial backing of an insurance carrier with a set amount of reserves where only your claim activity can negatively affect your business.

How to Get the $75K Bond

Until recently, all freight broker bond programs required one or all of the following, collateral, personal/business financials and strong credit. JW Surety Bonds has negotiated a new program for the $75K Freight Broker Bond to help the small to midsize brokers stay in business.

  • No collateral required
  • Approval even with bad credit
  • No personal or business financials required
  • Bond rates for this exclusive market cannot be beat
  • Online approval in 5 minutes

If you feel the surety bond is the best option for you, visit our website to apply and get an instant approval

Do You Know about These New Surety Bond Requirements for Freight Brokers?

It used to be that the surety bond required for freight brokers was at $10,000. Soon, it’ll be $75,000, thanks to legislation signed by the President in July of last year and which will take effect in July of 2013.

The new business cost drew some howls from small freight brokerages, but since there’s some months yet before the law takes effect, you may want to know what the updated surety bond requirement would mean for your business.

History of the Freight Broker Surety Bond

The bond requirement that freight brokers have to comply with to obtain their license came about as early as the 30s. Back then, it was designed to protect shippers from unscrupulous brokers. In the 80s, judicial action extended that protection to carriers to ensure that freight brokers paid the truckers for services rendered.

Many decades later, around 2004, there was a petition from a major trucking association to further increase the bond set in the 70s at $10,000 to as much as $500,000. They argued that the current surety bond amount is insufficient to cover their losses when their trucks aren’t paid by fly-by-night freight brokers—the rates have to account for inflation, too.

One counter argument after another shelved the proposal, until three big industry associations usually at odds with one  another—the Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), the American Trucking Association (ATA) and the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA)—were able to iron out an agreement for the increase. Their lobbying in Congress yielded fruit when the bill increasing the surety bond passed.

There’s some comfort to what some legal experts are saying. The law on the new freight broker surety bond may actually take effect several months more after July 2013.

The regulation will still undergo public comment, re-evaluation and rewriting (based on the comments submitted) before freight brokers will actually shell out the necessary expense. And then there might be legal challenges to the new law, setting back its implementation to a few months more. Industry insiders are saying the new surety bond may take effect in 2014 or even in 2015. Freight brokers will be given enough time to raise the funds to comply with the new regulations.

How the New Surety Bond Will Affect Freight Brokers

Again, the increase in the surety bond requirement is supposed to protect shippers and carriers from shady freight brokers. The higher rates are designed to weed out fraud in the industry and keep motor carriers from taking on losses when freight brokers fail to pay them.

Some small freight brokerages though are accusing the big brokerages behind TIA—a professional association of freight brokers—that they’re trying to eliminate competition from small operations (the ‘mom and pop’ variety).

They may not be far off, given the possible consequences for smaller freight brokerages are once the rate increase on surety bonds goes in full force:

  1. Mergers between freight brokers. It’s the best solution—when two freight brokerages combine their economic power in order to afford new rates. This could yield to a stronger, better business and partnership because both will bring a solid base of loyal shippers and carriers to the table.
  2. Sale of freight brokerages to more liquid brokers. Some brokerages may get lucky. Since they’ve built enough reputation and goodwill for their brand, not to mention a steady base of customers, they could get other brokerages—existing or new brokers—to purchase their business. At least, they’ll exit with enough finances to show for their years of hard work.
  3. Business closures. Indeed, $75,000 is a big outlay that small businesses won’t absorb easily. Although the higher surety bond rate will edge out unscrupulous freight brokers it’ll also negatively impact reputable but smaller property brokers who can’t afford the new rates given today’s economic climate.
  4. Stiffer requirements for obtaining surety bonds. Experts are saying that underwriters will hesitate to take on a $75,000-bond more than ever. (They’re already cautious on the $10,000 bond.) To compensate, they might ask freight brokers to match it with liquid assets comparable to or even more than the amount of the new bond rate.
  5. Changes in hauling rates. The country’s economic prospects are picking up but not enough to cushion the impact of increasing rates. The freight broker may have to distribute the added expense across loads. Otherwise, they’ll have to take in more loads to absorb the costs so as not to turn off customers if they have to increase service rates. Somewhere somehow, there are additional risks and tradeoffs to this possibility but until the rates are in effect, we’ll never know what they are.

Actually, other freight brokers welcome the rate increase, particularly because there’ll be fewer competition in the market. Plus, there’ll be additional barriers to entry into the freight brokerage business. To date, there are about 20,300 property brokers with surety bonds in the country. With the rate hike, this figure could dive considerably, resulting in more business for surviving freight brokerages.

What we haven’t factored into all these though is the resiliency of small business owners. We make up the backbone of the American economy. We’ve gone through many challenges and survived many of them. Unlike “mega” brokerages, “micro” freight brokers can survive on up to 10 steady, profitable customers so there’s a huge likelihood that we’ll weather this surety bond rate hike, too. After all, every business suffers setbacks once in a while but no business owner worth their salt has ever backed down from any problems or challenges yet.

Five Ways Freight Brokers Can Find New Customers

For new freight brokers, the prospect of building a steady stream of shippers can be very daunting. There are stories of fresh, eager brokers whose excitement dissipated after a few months of prospecting but getting only one or two shippers whose business were sporadic at best.

Setting up a new freight brokerage and finding customers to keep it viable is always difficult. Freight brokerages aren’t that dissimilar from other businesses—the service might be different, but the way to acquiring a stable base of shippers is the same across any industry: through dogged persistence and a commitment to excellence.

Here are some tips on how to find shippers who can bring in sales month in and month out, to keep your freight brokerage profitable:

1. Make sure that you have a lock on your niche

We’ve previously discussed the importance of targeting a specific niche when you’re starting out as a freight broker. You’ll be able to build your expertise about this particular market, differentiate your business, and create a reliable reputation in the process if you focus on a niche.

2. Search the internet for manufacturers and suppliers in your niche

Five Ways Freight Brokers Can Find CustomersOnce you’ve locked on your niche, finding shippers in your market will be easier. One way that freight brokers do this is through the internet. If you chose a particular market because you’ve had a previous exposure to it, say you worked in that industry for several years, you probably already know the top suppliers and shippers in this space. If that’s not the case, there are several websites that have a comprehensive database of all manufacturers in the country like Solusource.com, Thomasnet.com, Globalspec.com and KellySearch.com. These directories link to the company websites; they even allow you to connect with these suppliers via an email form on the site.

3. Register your company on free and paid freight boards

Grab a membership on these boards by registering your company. You can find shippers with loads looking for carriers on these boards. Free boards let you search their database without paying for membership. Paid sites, however, come with incentives like a credit score—probably the best way to ensure that a shipper or carrier is legitimate.

4. Cold call prospects

Making cold calls is probably the most dreaded part of being a freight broker. There’s nothing like an outright “No” that discourages freight brokers faster than they can get one customer out of 300 shippers they’ve called. The more successful callers had two things going for them: (1) knowing why they called before the call, and (2) knowing about the company they’re calling. It’s rare to achieve success the first time you make that first call so don’t get discouraged. Over time, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t so you can adjust your techniques to be able to acquire new shippers with ease.

5. Networking

Whether you network online through social media or in the real world through attending expos and exhibits, you build business by getting yourself and your freight brokerage out there. There will always be another freight broker who’ll need your assistance later on, another shipper who’ll get tired with his current broker, another carrier who knows people to connect you to and so on.

Establishing your freight brokerage business may require you to put in 50 to 60 hours a week in the first few months. Most of your activities will be spent looking for shippers willing to put their trust in your freight broker skills. If you’re discouraged along the way, keep in mind that it takes time to acquire a number of customers who can give you steady business every month. Once you do, though, firm up relationships with them by providing dependable, timely service; that way, you’ll gain a loyal base of customer for years to come.

image by charamelody

Here’s Why You Absolutely Must Choose A Great Name for Your Freight Broker Business

Do you want to know one absolute essential piece of your marketing plan that you absolutely must nail? Choosing a name for your freight brokerage business.

You thought you could just go with Joe Smith’s Brokerage and that would be fine? Or you haven’t really given your naming strategy much thought? That’s okay – and from the looks of things it’s not uncommon either.

However, we’re talking about building a business with excellence as a core principle and any business that takes themselves seriously is going to take marketing and branding seriously.

Take Your Marketing and Branding Seriously and You will Reap the Rewards

Taking your marketing seriously means that you take the time and effort to build a great name for your business – one that you can build in to a brand that represents the strength of your organization.

Choosing your business name ranks up there in importance to creating a viable freight broker business plan—the right business name can get your foot right into the door…and the wrong one can consign your freight brokerage to obscurity.

Naming your business can be plenty stressful, too. It’s about this time when many entrepreneurs start wringing their hands, confused and frustrated, and not sure how to proceed. That’s because a good business name must not only tell your target audience what your business is exactly but why they should choose your freight broker services above the rest.

But dont’ fret! There is a solution and working through a few simple steps will help clarify things for you and help you on your way to building a fantastic brand for your freight broker business.

The Qualities of a Good Freight Broker Business Name

Stressful as the process may be, there’s a way to take away the pain from the naming game…like keeping in mind the following aspects of a top-notch business name before you sit down and start brainstorming for an unforgettable one.

  1. It must have value. What will the name evoke when the customer hears the name of your freight broker business for the first time? What kind of image will it convey? Will it express a fun personality or a staid demeanor?
  2. It must be unique. Think branding and trademark. Certainly, you don’t want to sport a copycat name that echoes an industry leader’s branding rather than yours. Besides the iffy legalities of piggybacking on another freight broker’s brand, it tells your potential customers that you don’t have the creativity they need to handle their business, much less have the kind of distinction to your services that’ll make you stand out from your competition.
  3. It must be memorable. How will your business name appear in your logos, on the web, or anywhere you’re going to place your brand on? Is it simple enough to remember or is it too complicated that it’s much simpler to forget it? Take care though that it’s not too simple that it’s become generic…and forgettable.
  4. It must be internet ready. Although a website might be too early to think about while you’re still organizing your business, getting a business name that can also act as your domain name will make it easier for your customers to find you on the web.
  5. It must convey credibility. It’s easy to go for the business name that’ll make your freight brokerage stand out. But you don’t want to stick out too much among the rest that you’re sacrificing integrity and reliability—two of the important characteristics that customers look for in a trustworthy freight broker.

It’s important that you outline the characteristics and connotations that you want to associate with your business name. The process is vital because if you want to outsource the business name generation to a naming firm, it’ll be easier to communicate what you want—you’ll have a starting point they can work on.

Once you’ve got your preferences defined, it’s time to hunker down and work on coming up with a unique, valuable, memorable brand for your freight broker business.

How to Choose a Business Name for Freight Brokers

So now, you’re ready to pick a name for your business. What’s it going to be? Whatever name you come up with, it’s going to stick with you for a very long time so choose with care.

Here’s how to generate a business name:

  1. Walk in your customer’s shoes and brainstorm ideas. What do you want your market to think about when they hear the name of your freight brokerage? Staid and steady? Reliable with a fun side? Or creative and innovative? List down all the characteristics that you want them to associate with your business. See if there’s a common thread among particular words you’ve come up with and sort them into related groups.
  2. Branch out to related meanings. Consider each word group and continue adding nouns, words and phrases that are connected to your original word list. Bring out the dictionary, thesaurus, and if possible, a list of Latin and Greek roots, suffixes, prefixes and phrases—they could come in handy.
  3. Mix and match. Play around with word combinations. Create a new word if you must, merging roots, suffixes and prefixes, and even words and concepts from two different languages. Keep at it until you come up with a list of 10 possible business names for your freight brokerage. While you’re mixing and matching words, keep in mind your branding—what you want to convey to your market. And please, stick to short words that you can pronounce easily.
  4. Discuss with trusted associates. Your top 10 list isn’t the end of the name game yet. You need the fresh perspective of somebody else who can tell you what this list of names tells them at first blush—if they communicate value, are memorable or unique. Ask the opinion of one or more people whom you know have your best interests at heart so as to receive honest assessments. Afterwards, whittle down your list. Cross out the names that don’t suit the image and value that you’re trying to establish.
  5. Research for uniqueness. This one’s tedious work but you need to make sure that the business name you’re thinking of using isn’t being used by another outfit. Google the name, visit local business resources and authorities, and check against existing trademarks to make sure you’re not treading on someone else’s branding. By making sure that the business name you’ve chosen is one of a kind, you not only avoid legal trouble down the road, you’re also making a claim on a unique and potentially memorable business name for your freight brokerage.

So let’s say you’ve brainstormed, considered and researched thoroughly and you now have a business name to go with your freight broker business. The last thing to do is to file the appropriate papers—incorporation papers, trademarks or service marks—to make the name your own.

In the United States, once you associate your business name with your services, getting the trademark is automatic. The only reason why you’d want to make a state or federal filing is if you want your rights applicable across geographical boundaries. Should there be any legal problems down the line, your rights may only apply to the particular localities and not across the nation if you don’t secure your business name this way.

Like it or not though, a business name is one of your must-haves in creating an identity and a branding that distinguishes you from other freight brokers. By following this advice, you won’t have to rely on a hit-and-miss system when choosing a name for your freight brokerage. Plus, you get to avoid the pitfalls of a truly horrendous, downright bland name.

image by faroekat

An Invitation to Write for Freight Broker Training Headquarters

Are you a broker, a broker agent, or own your own freight brokerage firm and love talking about the business? We would love to hear from you and publish your content here at Freight Broker Training Headquarters!

Currently, it’s not a paid gig, but if you are in the business posting here can be a great boost to your own website and we’d love to have you share your content with our readers!

We’re looking for first time contributors as well as experienced writers/content creators  that can become a consistent presence here at FreightBrokerTrainingHQ.com.

Content

Generally anything that is useful for our readers is good content for a guest post here. It can be related to how to market your services, general info on transportation and logistics services, or your own personal experiences.

Here are some specifics of what we’re looking for:

  • Freight Broker How-To’s
  • Freight Brokerage Business info
  • Logistics News & Industry info
  • Freight Broker Training Tips & Tools

The Process

We want to make it easy as possible for you to contribute! All you need to do is fill out the form below to get started. In the comments, let us know what you’re writing about and we may talk a bit so that the post and topic clear and match up with what we’re doing here, but rest assured – we’re super easy to work with!

If your post idea is accepted for publishing you’ll get a username and password to log in here to draft your post. We’ll go over it and give you feedback as necessary and then once everything is ready to we’ll publish it. It’s important to fill out your profile once you’re logged in so that your credit for the post is awesome.

Guidelines

  1. Your post must be original and not previously published either on the Web or in print.
  2. You agree not to publish it anywhere else, including your own blog or Web site. You may, however, post a brief “tease” or summary on your site that links to the post.
  3. You may provide up to three byline links: one for your blog or Web site, one for your bio or About page, and one for your Twitter username (optional).
  4. Your post should be at least 500 words long, but we don’t mind if they’re long. In fact, we prefer longer posts to shorter ones!
  5. Practical examples are important. After reading your post, readers should have not only gained new insights and ideas about the industry, but learned how to actually implement these insights and ideas in practice.
  6. We will publish your bio that you submit in the profile section of WordPress so make it awesome!

Editing

As we review your submission, it’s likely that we’ll edit for proper grammar, punctuation, etc. We will also provide a short introduction to your post that frames up why we think your contribution is valuable to the discussion regarding the freight broker training and larger transportation and logistics world.

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7 Mission Statement Mistakes That Can Spell Doom for Freight Brokers

The mission statement is the first, crucial part of a freight broker’s business plan. It identifies the goals of your freight brokerage, the specifics of how to achieve these objectives, and the principles that will guide your business in achieving its goals.

The problem is, too many businesses don’t find value in their mission statements. It only exists for compliance’s sake, a bunch of words that get consigned to oblivion once they’ve satisfied officialdom. The power behind mission statements isn’t harnessed. Instead of giving enterprises a laser focus on what they do, clarifying everything—it becomes a useless tool.

Mission statements are very powerful things but to keep them relevant and useful, you’ll have to craft one the right way…and then use it. The only way to know if you’re writing your business intent right is to know the mistakes that other companies have made. Here are some:

Employees and partners did not contribute to the mission statement.

The relevant stakeholders in your business were left out when your freight brokerage’s mission statement was being written. Either you outsourced the crafting or sat down one lazy afternoon and whipped out something that you think your business is all about. Whatever you did, you missed out on valuable inputs when you chose to ignore the opinions of those who had the experiences, knowledge, or background to contribute to and clarify your business focus.

Although you started and own the brokerage, collaborating with your freight agents or partners lends a broader perspective to your mission statement. At the same time, they can identify what elements should be included or modified to keep your mission statement laser focused.

Specific and desired outcomes are undefined.

While mission statements are dynamic declarations of intent, this should not stop you from drilling down to the specifics of your enterprise goals. Identifying what you want to achieve is a basic element, but when deciding on desired outcomes, keep an eye out for whether you want these goals to be for the long or short term.  If your goal is achievable within, say, five years then you can be as granular as possible in your language. If you’re thinking of further expansion in the future, then let your language accommodate this expectation.

Whether the goals are achievable within two years or 10, mission statements are meant to be updated so that they remain relevant to your business. Set a schedule for when to review your business goals with your freight agents and partners and adjust them according to present and anticipated realities in your space.

What you want to do is improbable, incredible and unlikely.

Tread carefully when defining your desired outcomes. While mission statements must straddle a good balance between realism and optimism, it’s possible to stray into improbable territory. You might be laying down business goals that you have no way of attaining…which is why input from the parties that are involved in achieving your objectives are important. They keep you grounded on what’s doable and at the same time point the way to what’s achievable.

Language used is meaningless, vague and uninspiring.

The best way to capture your audience’s attention—whether it’s a customer, employee, supplier or industry partner—is to create a memorable image in their minds. Use concrete visual triggers rather than abstract concepts in your language when you’re drafting your mission statement. Creative writers would say, “Show, don’t tell.” As a freight broker, what are the images that come to mind when considering your industry? Choose images—like roads, trucks, loads, clocks, and so on—that your audience regularly encounters to create powerful triggers in their minds. Or, you can zero in on a key theme inspired by your desired outcomes to create a picture in your mind and include what you see in your statement.

Here’s the mission statement of Otis Elevators which is an excellent example of what we’re talking about:

“To provide any customer a means of moving people and things up, down and sideways over short distances with higher reliability than any enterprise in the world.”

 There’s no compelling story at the heart of your mission statement.

By story, we don’t mean creative fiction. The story that’s relevant to your audience is the satisfactory resolution of a painful problem. You’re in business because there’s a problem that you’re good at solving. For example, as a freight broker, you take care of getting a shipper’s load from Point A to Point B—safely, on time and cost-efficiently—by arranging deliveries with reputable trucking firms. Right then and there, you’ve lit in on your client’s emotional hot button—the secure, timely, and cheap transport of their precious assets.

Also, provide differentiation from your competitors. Who do you serve best? What is it that you do best that the other freight brokerage firms can’t do? Include these types of stories in your mission statement to create unique branding for your company in your mission statement.

The mission statement targets a very broad audience.

Do you know who your customers are? Do you have a particular niche that you service? What do you do best as a freight broker? What is the nature of your brokerage services? When you have the answers to these questions down pat, you’ll narrow in on your target audience (or market), and be able to create compelling messages to connect with them in a meaningful way.

Your mission statement is a long essay.

If your business intent is too long winded, using highfalutin words that only people with several initials after their name can understand, then might as well ditch the effort of crafting a useful mission statement. With your mission statement, aim for short and sweet, about one to two sentences (not paragraphs). If it’s possible to use your mission statement as your slogan or tagline at the same time, then all the better. It becomes a mantra that’ll motivate you, your employees and partners for those times when the going gets tough.

There’s a lot you can do wrong when you’re trying to tell the world why your freight brokerage exists. The mission statement isn’t only a declaration of intent, it’s also your primary branding tool—it helps separate your freight broker services from the rest of the pack. By doing it right, it will keep you focused and grounded on why you’re in the freight brokerage business in the first place.

image by ImNewHere

Why Are We Here?

A question that comes across our desk from time to time, is why did you decide to start this site? It’s simple, really.

This site is built to be a resource for those who are trying to make their way through life and start a life of independence. All you have to do is turn on the news and it’s all economic doom and gloom all the time.

But we’re of the opinion that there is plenty of opportunity for people who are resourceful enough to roll up their sleeves, do the hard work, and make things happen. This site just happens to focus on the people in that group that are interested in working in the transportation industry.

Freight brokers are hard-working people and there is good money to be made as a broker. We’ve seen it ourselves from our experience in transportation – hard work is rewarded by the people who know their stuff, and are willing to dig in and make things happen.

As we get this site moving and growing, we’re covering a lot of basics. But we can already see there is so much opportunity for growing and covering other areas of logistics and brokerage.

We want to introduce those who have no experience in the industry to what it’s really like. We want to show them what’s involved in finding work, becoming a broker agent, becoming a broker, starting your own brokerage, what’s the life of a broker like, etc.

We don’t have the answers, but what we do have is a desire to produce outstanding, relevant and easy-to-use information that will help aspiring brokers on the way. We are dedicated to top-notch research, finding answers to the questions you have.

Do you have a subject that you would like for us to cover? Just let us know in the comments below.