Month: March 2019

Direct Freight Services Has a New App!

direct-freight-app

Direct Freight Services, one of today’s leading load boards now has a new app!  The new app lets drivers search for loads from Direct Freight’s extensive loads database right from the comfort of their favorite mobile devices.  

The database has more than 300,000 loads daily that can be filtered to weed out the ones you’re not interested in and return only relevant, potential loads.  You can search and filter by a variety of preferences including origin, radius of origin, destination, ship date, full or partial size, trailer type (dry van, flatbed, reefer, step deck/single drop, double drop, van & vented, curtain van).  The returned results can be sorted by age (newest), pay rate (highest), deadhead (shortest), trip length (longest), origin city (A-Z), origin state (A-Z), destination city (A-Z), destination state (A-Z), trailer type, load size, weight ship date, credit report, and company name.  By customizing with your favorite filters and sorting your results, you can find just what you’re looking for with just a few taps.

Until now, Direct Freight was available on mobile devices by accessing the website but the new app streamlines everything to run more smoothly and efficiently on Apple and Android smartphones.  

Each screen within the app is clear and easy to navigate.  Posting your truck is simple and quick―simply input your origin, destination, trailer type, and the dates that you’re available and let the shippers find you.  You can also include your vehicle’s length, width, height, maximum weight, and any special comments you’d like to make.

No more sifting through loads that are already taken.  Direct Freight updates its loads in real time so you’ll always get current information.

When searching for loads, it’s difficult to know who to trust.  Unfortunately, there are scammers, dishonest shippers, and ones who are resistant to pay.  The new Direct Freight app has the same helpful credit score feature that is found on the Direct Freight website. You’ll  know exactly who you’re working with, reducing the risk of getting scammed. Along with detailed information on freight brokers and shipping companies, you can also see how long each shipper takes to pay so you can avoid the ones that are slow to pay if you choose.  Reviews are also available. Once you’ve found a shipper that you’d like to contact, there’s no looking up numbers and trying to remember them, just call them directly from the app!

Owner/operators and carriers who rely on Direct Freight to find loads or post trucks know what an invaluable tool it is for the success of their business.  The app is available on the App Store and Google Play and can be used with an existing Direct Freight account. If you don’t have an account, you can sign up in the app or on the website.  

Finding loads has never been easier than with the Direct Freight app.  To find out how Direct Freight can help you find the right loads and keep your trailer loaded go to DirectFreight.com today.

Traffic Congestion Costs the Trucking Industry Billions Annually

trucking-industry-traffic

Nobody enjoys sitting in traffic, breathing in fumes, inching along at tortoise-with-a-limp speeds.  Traffic congestion is an increasing problem in the U.S. and is responsible for fender benders, pollution, and missed appointments, not to mention lots and lots of swearing.

Traffic congestion is much more than an inconvenience or an annoyance.  According to ATRI (American Transportation Research Institute), traffic congestion added $49.6 billion to the costs of doing business in the trucking industry in 2014.  For truck drivers, it’s not just a matter of burning through fuel, it causes problems delivering loads on time, increased wear and tear on trucks, and decreases the number of loads that can be taken, along with those ballooning fuel costs.  With the ever-growing population, and companies like Amazon driving a consumer expectation of two-day deliveries, more and more trucks are joining the traffic every day.

It’s a multi-faceted problem and its solution is equally complex.  

 

What Cities Can Do

Adding more lanes to roads and highways may be inevitable but big government road construction projects that increase capacity for vehicles have become politically unpopular in an era where global warming has demanded we decrease carbon emissions.  Additionally, the results of these big road projects can be unpredictable. Boston’s Big Dig project which took 16 years to complete, cost state and federal taxpayers $15 billion.  By moving the interstate underground, drivers heading to the airport and those in the downtown areas saw some congestion relief, but drivers coming in the city from any direction still face daily stop-and-go traffic.  In fact, it’s been observed that when these road projects are complete, more drivers flock to these roads and abandon the alternative routes that they’ve been taking to avoid the original traffic resulting in congestion all over again.

There are numerous things that cities can do to help ease traffic instead of or in conjunction with road projects such as carpool programs, incentivizing public transportation, creating truck-only lanes, replace tolls booths with high-speed toll sensors, and use moveable median barriers to reverse lanes during peak hours.  

 

What Truckers and Trucking Companies Can Do

While we look to government solutions, we must also look to truckers and trucking companies to take an active role in solving the problem.  The trucking industry has been focusing on technology to find better routes for trucks to minimize the amount of time spent sitting in traffic.

Some things that truckers can do to save fuel:

Fill those deadhead miles.  Deadhead miles are return miles with an empty truck.  Look for return loads so you’re not driving an empty truck.

Fill up.  The fuller the tank, the better the mileage.

Avoid idling.  Turn the truck off whenever possible.

Cruise along.  Use cruise control when it’s safe.  Trucks are designed to run efficiently this way.

Keep the truck maintained.  A well-maintained vehicle uses less fuel.  Get regular oil changes, A/C checks, tire condition checks, and wheel alignments.  

Keep tires inflated.  Regularly check tire pressure to make sure tires are not under- or over-inflated.  

Don’t speed.  The optimal speed for saving fuel for trucks is 65 MPH.

Take it easy.  Speeding up and slowing down unnecessarily can eat up fuel.  Regulate speeds.

Limit A/C usage.  At lower speeds, open windows cause trucks to use less fuel than the A/C does.

Be more aerodynamic.  Make sure that the roof-mounted air deflector is adjusted so air flows over the trailer.

Use the right technology.  The right route-planning software can help truckers plan the most efficient route.

Direct Freight Services allows truckers to not only find loads but it also provides tools to deliver those loads as efficiently as possible.  By using the load board to fill return miles, deadhead miles can be minimized. The Direct Freight website also provides information on hazardous weather conditions that can slow delivery times, and the turn-by-turn truck-specific routing can make sure you avoid traffic without getting lost.  

To see how Direct Freight  can improve your fuel usage, go to DirectFreight.com today!

How to Start Your Career as a Freight Broker

freight-broker-career

It’s no surprise that the trucking industry is booming.  E-commerce has made it easier than ever to find and purchase anything that businesses and consumers could possibly imagine. The constant thirst for things brings the growing need for shippers and carriers.  

For shippers to do their job effectively, they need to be like an octopus with many arms working independently.  One arm to find a dependable carrier. One to negotiate rates. One to make the arrangements and another to track shipments and make sure they arrive on time.  And several other arms to deal with any breakdowns, slowdowns, or other emergencies. That’s why, as the industry grows, more and more shippers are employing the services of independent freight brokers.  

A freight broker works as a middleman between the shipper and carrier to ensure that the delivery of the freight is on time and on budget.  For a motivated, self-starter, the freight brokering business can be a rewarding and lucrative career choice. While a background in the trucking industry is helpful to understand the business it can provide a boost from the start with already-made contacts. However, not having that experience is not a deal-breaker.  Even industry outsiders can become successful freight brokers if they’re dedicated to learning the business.

How To Start Your Own Freight Brokerage

Get some training.  There are lots of online or classroom classes available to teach the freight brokering business inner workings.  By doing some training, you can hit the ground running instead of learning as you go.

Register Your Company.  You must register as a business or fill out a DBA (Doing Business As) form.  You can register as a sole proprietor, a partnership, corporation, or a limited liability company.  The differences between them can be found here.

Make a business plan.  Lenders will need to see a business plan before they provide any kind of financing.  A business plan also works as a helpful guide to steer you through your business’ the beginning stages.

Insure yourself.  Obtain the required general liability and cargo insurance.  Most shippers won’t do business with an uninsured freight broker anyway, but you also need it before you get your freight broker license.

Get your freight broker license.  You’ll need to obtain a USDOT or MC number and register with FMSCA.  To do so, fill out an application with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA.  More information can be found here.  

Obtain a surety bond.   This is a type of insurance.  It guarantees that carriers will be paid for their work and that as a broker, you will follow the rules.  Freight brokers are required to have at least $75,000 in a surety bond.

Get a legal process agent.  This is an FMSCA requirement.  There needs to be a legal process agent in every state you do business in case you are sued in that state.

Get money.  You’ll need start-up money to begin operations.  If you don’t have your own money, you’ll have to open a line of credit with a bank.

Equip yourself.  You’ll need a computer, printer, copier, fax machine, phone (landline and cell), office supplies, and an internet connection.  

Make a website.  You need to begin marketing to clients right away so make sure your website looks great, has pertinent information, and is easy to navigate.   

 

Once you’re all set up and legal, you can get to work.  Just like the real estate agent’s motto is “location, location, location”, a freight broker’s motto is “contacts, contacts, contacts”.  A successful freight brokerage relies on its contacts, quantity and quality. If you have a background in the transportation industry, you may already have a wealth of leads to pursue.  Ask people you know where they work. Look for companies in your area that ship products.

Another great way for a freight broker to build their contact list is by using a load board. DirectFreight.com is an easy-to-use load board that allows you to find trucks and carriers. It also has useful tools such as mile calculators, fuel price data, and other useful features.  Call Direct Freight Services today at (888)894-4198 or go to https://www.directfreight.com/home/ to sign up.  With DirectFreight, your freight broker company will have the tools it needs to become a success.

 

Sources:   

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/process-agents

Freight Brokers: How to Increase Profits

freight-brokers-how-to-increase-profits

Freight brokers serve an integral role in the trucking industry today.  They are go-betweens. Consultants. Negotiators. Problem-solvers. They perform all the necessary tasks to move freight from shipper to destination as quickly and efficiently as possible, all while solving any problems that pop up along the way.

So how do they make a profit?  Freight brokers earn their money by moving freight cheaper than the shipper is paying to ship it.  Successful freight brokers don’t simply pick a bottom-of-the-barrel carrier to create the biggest profit margin.  They negotiate the best price they can with carriers who have reliable trucks and reliable truckers. Breakdowns and truckers who don’t show up can be a costly risk, so good freight brokers find carriers who put the money into their equipment as well as their employees.

There are other ways freight brokers can increase margins.

Think globally.  

The world is better-connected and smaller than it’s ever been before.  Sure, setting up operations in another country may be an extremely intimidating prospect, with foreign regulations and the currency exchange.  However, it could be relatively easy to find an untapped market abroad.

Always be on the lookout for leads.

Freight brokers should always be on the lookout for more leads, and ways to generate new leads.  Targeting advertising using social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can significantly increase a freight broker’s reach.  Writing a blog or guest-writing for an established company can develop leads.

Invest in an effective website.

Websites don’t merely tell potential clients who you are.  What good is that information if no one sees the website because it’s lost in a sea of other sites? A professional web designer can create a website that has effective SEO (Search Engine Optimization) so that when potential clients search for freight brokers, your website makes it to the top of the search results.  Adding content such as blogs or videos will help improve SEO on an ongoing basis.

Invest in things that will bring you the highest return on investment.  This could be anything from advertising to nurturing current relationships.

Network, network, network.  

For freight brokers, it’s all about the contacts.  Look for online communities, groups, and forums. Join trucking industry groups like the ATA (American Trucking Associations) or NASTC (National Association of Small Trucking Companies), or think outside the box and join your local chamber of commerce or other local groups businesses that need to ship freight.  

Diversify your client list to include both small and large companies.  

If you only have a few large companies that you work for, you’ll be losing a big chunk of revenue if you lose a client.  

Nurture relationships.

All relationships are vital to a freight broker, and no matter if it’s a carrier, an individual driver, or a shipper, listening is key to keeping them.  Ask questions about shipments, concerns, or even personal getting-to-know-you type questions and listen to the replies. A personal touch helps to build a trusting and long-term relationship.  Honesty goes a long way too.

Use the best freight management software.  

Tools like Direct Freight Services make tracking shipments simple and can easily fill those deadhead miles or fill in gaps in coverage.

 

If you’re a freight broker, Direct Freight Services can help you grow your business.  It has helpful features like a convenient carrier app, email and text alerts, load posting, truck searches and you can even use Direct Freight to manage all your loads, even ones that aren’t posted on our board.   Direct Freight Services is a valuable tool to add to your Freight Broker’s toolbox.  Go to DirectFreight.com and check it out  today.

 

Sources:  

https://www.nastc.com

https://www.trucking.org/About.aspx

To Use a Freight Broker or Not To Use a Freight Broker?

to-use-a-freight-broker-or-not-to-use-a-freight-broker

That may not have been the question that Hamlet had in mind, but for shippers, the question of whether or not to use freight broker services is an important one. It can make a significant difference in their business’s operation and success.  Freight brokers are the trucking industry matchmakers. They act as liaisons between shippers and carriers and are in charge of getting freight from its origin to the destination.

Pros

Managing shipments is a time-consuming job.  Finding reliable carriers, ensuring timely pickups and deliveries, negotiating rates, finding return loads so resources aren’t being wasted on deadhead miles, and sending/receiving payments are the expected tasks that need to be done when shipping freight.  What about the unexpected?  Breakdowns, accidents, missing payments, drivers quitting are just some of the countless things that go wrong on the road.  

Freight brokers manage this and more.  They move freight, put out any fires that pop up along the way, and procure payments.  Companies use freight brokers so they don’t need to do this time-consuming job and can focus instead on other aspects of running their company to make it successful.

Using a freight broker to handle shipments can be a way to expand operations.  Large companies often have an entire shipping department dedicated to shipping tasks. For smaller or mid-sized companies, having all those resources devoted to just shipping isn’t financially feasible.  A freight broker is paid for the freight shipped so using a freight broker is usually cost-effective.

Freight brokers use the latest technologies like real-time dashboards that track shipments all along their routes.  By using a freight broker, freight shipping companies don’t have to invest in these technologies or worry about upgrading and maintaining them.    

Freight brokers know which carriers are reliable and trustworthy.  They’ve built relationships with carriers that are going to make their jobs easier, which saves money because there will be fewer problems on the road.  Good carriers hire reliable people, maintain their vehicles properly, and are fully insured.

Freight brokers are scalable.  If there’s a sudden increase in product orders, a freight broker will be able to quickly adapt by using their contacts to increase shipments.  This is particularly important for companies whose products are seasonal or during fluctuating economic times.

Freight brokers are experts in the shipping industry so their clients don’t have to be.  

Cons

There are few cons to using a freight broker.  For some people, handing shipping duties over to a broker is out of the question.  These are people who need to maintain complete control over all operations. This is why it’s so important to find the right freight broker, one that can be trusted to handle everything thoroughly and efficiently.  

Due to the industry growth and potential to make decent money, there are numerous new and inexperienced brokers jumping in all the time, which could be costly.  New freight brokers may not have the same access to reliable carriers as an experienced broker which could result in slow shipments, breakdowns, etc.

The best freight brokers are licensed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and should have a membership with the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA).  They’ll also have a good rating with the Better Business Bureau and extensive field experience.  

No matter what your answer to the question of whether or not to use a freight broker is, Direct Freight Services is an essential tool for posting loads and finding trucks.  With features like load organization, and weather reports, Direct Freight can make shipping freight run like clockwork. Go to DirectFreight.com to find out more.  

 

Sources:

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov

http://www.tianet.org

https://www.bbb.org/en/us

Tax Tips for Freight Brokers, Shippers and Truckers

tax-tips-for-freight-brokers

As the April deadline approaches, most Americans are buried in receipts and tax forms to avoid overpaying their taxes.  The growing tax code rules and regulations could make even Einstein pull his hair out. Tax code rules reached over 6,550 pages in 2017.

There are numerous standard deductions available for freight brokers, shippers, and truckers. These deductions help reduce taxable income.  A change beginning with 2018 tax filing, the personal standard deduction was raised to $12,200 for individuals.  It has risen to $18,350 for Head of Household and $24,400 for married couples who will file jointly.  It is beneficial to use standard deductions if itemized deductions are a lesser amount. There are no standard deductions for businesses.  Business expenses can continue to be Form C deductions.  Examples of business deductions are insurance, licenses, office supplies, travel expenses, professional fees (such as accounting fees, load board subscriptions, etc.), advertising, phone, loan fees, retirement contributions, and vehicle leases.

Partially deductible items include a home office, car, transportation expenses, and meals while on the road.  A Per Diem is the amount allowed to be deducted per day while on the road.  The per diem for owner-operators with an overnight stay:

$50.40 for January 1-September 30

$52.80 per day for October 1-December 3

Depreciating Property deductions include office equipment like computers, copiers, and printers. It also covers trucks, trailers and other heavy equipment.  A frequently missed deduction is casualty losses. When a truck is involved accidents  during the previous year, the associated expenses are deductible.

Contributions to an IRA, SEP, or 401(k) are tax deductible.  While most companies make it easy to invest in retirement by offering 401(k)s, it’s more work for the self-employed.  Banks, credit unions and financial planners will help set up a retirement plan that will plan for the future but allow for tax savings now.  

For the self-employed, a big portion of taxes goes to self-employment taxes.  People who work for a company have a portion of their Social Security and Medicare paid by their employer.  Self-employed workers are responsible for paying these in full which is 12.4% for Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare.

Keeping meticulous business records is key to lowering taxable profits.  Doing so will free up money to invest back into the business. Hiring a tax preparation professional is a good idea for shippers, drivers, or freight brokers.  Errors or missed deductions may cost more money than a professional tax preparation fee. Due to the tax code changes it’s wise to consult with someone familiar with the new changes and the trucking industry.  

Direct Freight Services provides a cloud-based platform to post and search for loads as well as have access to credit reports, weather reports, alerts, and other functions to help your business grow.  Direct Freight provides an easy way to post and find loads, and the $34.95 monthly subscription fee is a business deduction. Visit DirectFreight.com and get started today!

 

Sources:

https://www.politifact.com/missouri/statements/2017/oct/17/roy-blunt/tax-code-so-long-nobodys-really-sure-its-length/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2018/11/15/irs-announces-2019-tax-rates-standard-deduction-amounts-and-more/#1f366dc42081

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040sc.pdf

https://www.dat.com/blog/post/6-ways-truckers-can-lower-their-2018-tax-bill

https://www.irs.gov/publications/p946

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tips-to-know-for-deducting-losses-from-a-disaster

https://www.directfreight.com/home/