Category: freight broker

Best Nationwide Cellular Data

best-nationwide-cellular-data

Cell phones aren’t just a toy for truck drivers.  Besides being an important lifeline in case of emergencies, a driver’s mobile device is a connection to family and home, and by using Skype, it can almost feel like he or she is still at home.  Downloading podcasts or music to pass the time on the road or movies to watch at night can fight the loneliness and boredom that can creep in during long periods on the road. Truck Drivers need to have a reliable connection for emergencies, looking up information, entertainment, and staying close to family.

The Big Four

Most people look to the top four cell phone companies―Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile for service on the road.  If your runs take you across the country, you should choose a company that has thorough nationwide coverage.

Verizon has the best nationwide coverage even in the middle of nowhere, which is where many truckers often find themselves.  Unlimited plans* start at $70 a month which gives unlimited data, talk, and text on a 4G LTE network and go as high as $90 a month.  By paying more, you get better quality video and you’ll receive a higher throttle threshold which means higher data usage before they slow down your speeds.  For an extra $10 a month, you can upgrade to the 5G network.

In second place for coverage is AT&T.  $70 a month gets you unlimited data, talk, and text but video is only 420p.  For $80, you can get unlimited features plus 1080p video including 1 free premium channel such as HBO, Cinemax, Starz, or music channels like Amazon Music or Pandora.

T-Mobile is next because although it’s faster than AT&T, its coverage in rural areas isn’t great, especially in northern New England and many parts in the north and southwest.  Plans range from $60 a month to $85 for unlimited talk, text, and data.  Like the other carriers, the more you pay the better the quality of the video and the higher the throttle threshold and the two best T-Mobile plans include a Netflix subscription.   

Sprint has spotty rural coverage but does well in cities.  Prices range from $60 for a basic plan to $80 for a premium one.  All plans include Hulu and the highest plan includes Amazon Prime as well.  The top 2 plans can be used with 5G devices.  

Other Choices  

These are the 4 most popular carriers but there are a lot of minor carriers that are cheaper like Cricket, StraightTalk, and Boost Mobile.  These carriers can have great coverage because they buy services from the big carriers and sell them to you cheaper but you will lose download speeds during peak usage times because users of the major carriers get priority.  

Choosing the right plan is going to take some research and it’s important to understand not only what your budget is but also how much all of the fees and extras are going to cost.  When switching to a new plan, start it right before you hit the road so you can thoroughly test it out for coverage, slow speeds, dropped calls, etc. Most carriers allow you two-weeks to try out the phone/plan.

At Direct Freight Services, we make it easy for drivers to find loads or for carriers to find trucks to carry their loads.  The Direct Freight website also has many useful features such as mile calculators, fuel price data, weather conditions, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing and mobile app. Call us today at (888)894-4198 or go to DirectFreight.com to find out more about our services.

*Unlimited plan prices are for a single line and exclude taxes, fees, and phone.

Sources:  

https://www.opensignal.com/reports/2019/01/usa/mobile-network-experience

https://www.verizonwireless.com/plans/unlimited/

https://www.verizonwireless.com/featured/better-matters/#maps

https://www.att.com/maps/wireless-coverage.html

https://www.att.com/plans/wireless.html

https://www.t-mobile.com/cell-phone-plans/essentials

https://www.t-mobile.com/coverage/coverage-map

https://www.sprint.com/en/shop/plans/unlimited-cell-phone-plan.html?INTNAV=TopNav:Shop:UnlimitedPlans

https://coverage.sprint.com/IMPACT.jsp?INTCID=LP:ALL:MAP:LP

https://www.dailywireless.org/mobile/best-cell-phone-coverage/

Rookie Freight Brokers: Find the Right Load Board

rookie-freight-brokers

These days, supply chains are more complex than ever and freight brokers are a vital piece.  They are the link between shippers and carriers and do all the planning, negotiating, and tracking to ensure smooth, on-schedule delivery.  It can be a fun, fast-paced career and lucrative for the right person who is willing to put in the work.

Becoming a freight broker requires a freight broker license, a bond, and more (which can be found here).  One of the most crucial aspects of becoming a successful freight broker is building a well-rounded list of contacts.  In the freight broker business, it’s all about the connections. The more you have, the more work you’re able to facilitate.  

A freight broker is only as good as his or her contact list.  Quality connections are what make a freight broker stand out from the crowd.  Unreliable truckers or slow-to-pay shippers are only going to bring down the business.  

Finding Leads

Finding leads isn’t difficult.  They’re all around. There’s an abundance of businesses around you that need to ship supplies or goods.

  1.  It starts with who you know.  Look at where your friends and family work.  Do they ship goods? Having a friend or relative at a potential lead is a good way to get your foot in the door.
  2. Look around you.  What businesses are there in your area that may ship goods?
  3. Get referrals.  Once you have some established clients, ask them for referrals.
  4. Look at your current loads.  Where are they being shipped?  You may be able to find companies in that city or area who have shipments coming your way.  Since you’re already shipping there, you may be able to win them over with a discounted rate and eliminate some deadhead miles at the same time.  Always be on the lookout for leads.
  5. Add a referral bonus at the end of your emails or correspondences.  What would a new customer be worth to you?  $100? $500? Be sure to include a disclaimer that the referral must lead to a paying customer. 
  6. Use the internet.  Resources like Produce Market Guide, Marketnews.usda.gov, and even the Yellow Pages are good places to look.  

When on the hunt for leads, be persistent.  Some businesses rarely ship freight and others may be hitting a slow period.  Don’t give up! Once you have clients, foster those relationships. Learn details about their business and ask about the family.  If you take the time to get to know and build a relationship with a contact, they’ll be more likely to continue giving you work and refer you to others.  

Being the New Guy (or Gal)

One obstacle of first starting out in the freight broker business is that nobody wants to work with a newbie.  You could have years of experience in the trucking industry under your belt, you’ll still be the rookie freight broker when you first start.  If you’ve only got a carrier or two in your contacts, you’ll be at a disadvantage. A freight broker needs to move fast and potential clients won’t want to wait around until you find someone reliable to ship to an area of the country where you have no drivers.  This is where a good load board comes in.

By using a load board, rookie freight brokers can build their connections quickly.   For shippers with loads to ship and carriers with drivers to drive, a load board can fill out missing coverage areas  fast. Direct Freight Services’ load board is a complete tool allowing freight brokers to build up reliable and ready to go contacts.  Direct Freight has credit reports and scores as well as information on how long it takes a shipper to pay, so you can make the right choice when building your list of reliable contacts.  Direct Freight’s easy-to-use load board allows you to find both trucks and carriers to fill your growing contacts list. Its mile calculators, fuel price data, weather information, alerts, and organizational features make it the perfect assistant for your blossoming  brokerage.  

If you’d like to see what Direct Freight Services can do for you, call (888)894-4198 or go to https://www.directfreight.com/home/ to sign up.  You’ll wonder why you didn’t check us out sooner!

 

Sources:

https://www.producemarketguide.com

https://www.marketnews.usda.gov/mnp/fv-home

https://www.yellowpages.com/

Managing Finances While On The Road

managing-finances-on-the-road

One of the biggest difficulties that drivers face when they’re on the road for extended periods is keeping on top of finances.  Drivers have to watch their spending on the road on meals and other necessities that pop up. While out on the road, bills still pile up at home that need to be paid like rent/mortgage, utilities, phone, and vehicle loan payments.

Banking at Your Fingertips

Before the internet, it was more difficult for drivers to stay on top of finances and they had to rely on finding a branch of their bank wherever the road had taken them or did their banking over the phone.  Fortunately, most banks now offer their own secure mobile apps so you can connect and view your account or do transactions from anywhere. You can do things like pay bills, transfer money, and track your balance and payments directly with your bank.

Other useful apps for drivers include:

Acorns 

Acorns makes it easy to save money for a rainy day.  Acorns can transfer money automatically from your bank account to your Acorns account so you don’t have to remember to do it.  It’s round-up feature automatically rounds up the change from every transaction and deposits it into your Acorns account for painless savings.

Mint

Mint is a popular app that allows you to track your expenses in all of your accounts―checking, savings, credit card, and investment accounts.  Mint also lets you set financial goals and shows you a path to get there through budgeting.

Concur

Concur tracks travel and business expenses and capture receipts on your phone’s camera.

Cutting Expenses

If you’re going to stick to a budget, you’ve got to cut unnecessary spending.  With a little planning ahead, you can rein in your spending and stay on track.

 Food

Food is one of the ways that drivers overspend the most.  Plan your meals ahead of time. If you buy food from a grocery store and keep it in your truck, you can save money and have healthier food options that may be missing at truck stops and fast food restaurants.  A small fridge and microwave or hot plate for the cab of your truck will help you save on food costs. If you’re going to be cooking or storing food in your cab, make sure you have cleaning supplies to keep everything sanitary and don’t forget the storage containers!

Fees

If you set up automatic payments for all your bills with your lenders, phone company, and utility companies, you can avoid accumulating fees for late payments.  However, it’s important to carefully monitor these transactions for accuracy and to also make sure you always have enough money in the account to cover your bills as overdraft fees from banks can be hefty.  

Avoid fees from traffic tickets.  Have all the right permits if you’re hauling hazmat, don’t speed, keep your truck’s weight under the limit, and make sure your elogs are always accurate.

Use free wifi whenever you can.  Unless you have unlimited data, you’re going to use up those data minutes fast and be charged fees for additional data.    

Your Truck

Don’t skip the preventative maintenance.  Tire checks, oil and other fluid changes, and general maintenance will save you from costly breakdowns and repairs. 

Stay in Shape

 Save money by keeping fit.  Obesity is a risk for drivers who spend the majority of their time sedentary behind the wheel.  By eating a healthy diet and getting regular brisk exercise, you can save a lot of money on medical bills.

Owner/Operators

Owner/operators need to track their expenses carefully.  Truck expenses include truck payments, fuel charges, repairs, and maintenance.  Keep your business and personal accounts separate by using two different bank accounts and keep a close eye on what you’re writing checks for and inspect canceled checks so you know they were processed correctly. 

Taxes

Make sure your taxes are done correctly.  Keep all documentation and receipts and go see a tax professional, preferably one that specializes in truck drivers’ taxes.  It’ll be worth it. 

 

By tracking spending, sticking to a budget and lowering expenses, you can maximize your earnings and achieve financial independence.  A career in trucking can be a lucrative one but not if you’re spending all your money on the road.  

Direct Freight Services is a web-based load board that allows users to search for loads or post trucks.  It has many helpful features like full credit reports, load filtering, payment expectations, and broker authority information.  Whether accessed online or now through our easy-to-use Direct Freight app, Direct Freight helps you find the loads that will earn you the most money. Go to DirectFreight.com and start searching today!

 

Sources:

https://www.acorns.com

https://www.mint.com

https://www.concur.com/app-center/listings/550353cc99066b13221bcded

Using Electronic Logs

using-electronic-logs

Federal law now mandates the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs).  Aimed at increasing efficiency and safety in the trucking industry, ELDs have been a divisive topic for truckers and carriers alike.

About ELDs

An ELD is a device that is installed in a truck’s engine to monitor its drive time.  It can be accessed with a smartphone or other mobile device as long as it meets all technical requirements found on FMCSA’s website. A portable logging device can be used but must be mounted in the cab of the vehicle in a place that is visible to the driver when he or she is behind the wheel.  The ELD records date, time, location, engine hours, vehicle miles and driver information.

The Rule        

Up until the ruling, drivers have been forced to fill out paper logs to accurately record their Hours of Service (HoS) to remain in compliance with the HoS rule from the FMCSA.  The HoS rule was implemented as a way to combat drowsy driving which can lead to accidents.  By mandating driving hours and hours between shifts, drivers can get the rest they need to be alert on the road.     

To ensure compliance with the HoS rule, ELDs were made mandatory for any driver who is required to fill out HOS records.  December 18, 2017-December 16, 2019 is the phased-in compliance period. After December 16, 2019, all drivers and carriers who are subject to the ELD rule must be using them and be registered with FMCSA.  Short-haul drivers are not required to use ELDs.

The Controversy

Many carriers and owner/operators see ELDs as an intrusion that will do little to improve safety on the road.  A recent study (Scott, Alex & Balthrop, Andrew & W Miller, Jason. (2019). Did the Electronic Logging Device Mandate Reduce Accidents?) supports this claim.  The study showed that while ELDs improved drivers’ compliance with the HoS rule, there was no evidence to show that the number of accidents decreased since the ELD rule was phased in.  In fact, the study found that smaller companies who struggle to compete with bigger carriers increased incidents of speeding to avoid going over their Hours of Service limits.  

Benefits

“Big Brother” feelings aside, there are benefits to ELD devices that go beyond safety.  ELDs make compliance with HoS a more streamlined process. Nobody enjoys paperwork. The use of ELDs has been estimated to cut time spent completing paperwork by as much as 15 minutes a day.  Not only that, ELDs round up to the nearest minute, not to the nearest 15 minutes like paper logs did so errors are virtually eliminated.  Less time on paperwork means more time on the road earning money.  

A more streamlined process is helpful all around.  ELDs give a warning to drivers when they are approaching their HOS limits and they also mean quicker truck inspections.  No more sifting through paper logs―all pertinent information is easy for the officer to see and get you on your way.  

 

ELDs also improve communication and tracking. Some ELDs have GPS tracking but with only a 10-mile accuracy intended to give drivers some privacy per the FMCSA rule.

ELDs protect drivers.  They’re harder to change than paper logs.  They improve compliance with the HoS ruling which protects drivers from bosses mandating that they work more than the hours per week allowed by law, which is a real problem for many drivers.  

 Agree or disagree, compliance with the ELD rule is the law and drivers who fall under the HoS rule must have an ELD installed and registered by December 16, 2019. 

Sources:

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/electronic-logging-devices

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-service/summary-hours-service-regulations

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330425892_Did_the_Electronic_Logging_Device_Mandate_Reduce_Accidents

https://eldfacts.com/elds-for-truckers/

What is Logistics?

what-is-logistics

Logistics is a word we hear quite often these days, often in relation to global commerce.  It used to be a term reserved for the military, referring to how they moved people and supplies around the country and the globe.  Now, it seems to be almost a catchphrase, used in all areas of business. But what does it really mean?

What It Is

Logistics is the planning involved with getting goods from producer to consumer, moving goods through the supply chain.  It’s a two-pronged approach, one consisting of the transportation of freight storage of freight along its journey and the other dealing with its storage. 

 The objective of logistics is to ensure that the journey is completed in a timely and cost-effective manner.  Large retailers like Target and Walmart own parts of their own logistics, evident by their trucks on the highways while smaller companies use Third Party Logistics firms (3PLs) like FedEx, UPS, and DHL.  You give them your product and they find the most efficient and quick route to get it to its destination. 3PLs work to integrate with your own processes to have seamless delivery of goods.  

Logistics is generally made up of transportation and warehouses.  Think about where a product comes from. A product from Japan would cross an ocean on a boat or plane, and when it lands in the U.S., it may be loaded on another plane, a truck, or a train, maybe more than once along the way before it reaches its destination somewhere else in the U.S.  It may sit in storage in a shipping container at its port of entry before it begins its state-bound journey, and it may have to sit in warehouses for a period of time. It may take one vehicle or be transferred to several modes of transportation along the route. Logistics will sort it all out.  It is not a single service, but rather, a group of activities, links in a chain, that take a product from completion to the hands of the consumer. 

Freight may sit in a warehouse for some time, for example, an Amazon fulfillment center.  Freight comes in from all over the world and is housed until consumers log on and order it.  Warehouses have their own logistics to get the product from shelf to truck, using manned forklifts or driverless forklifts and robots.

Why is it important?

Speedy and efficient delivery has always been important to any company’s bottom line, but Amazon’s famous 2-day delivery promise for Prime members has changed consumers’ expectations.  In order to compete, retailers need to figure out how to provide customers with inexpensive, fast delivery. It’s all about streamlining and creating the most effective processes.

Are Freight Brokers the same as Logistics Providers?

Not really.  Freight brokers are intermediaries for shippers and carriers.  They line up transportation that will take the freight from the shipper to its destination, negotiate rates, track the freight in transit and handle any problems that crop up along the way.  Freight brokers deal with the transportation side of things.

Logistics providers deal with the transportation of freight―in fact, they often hire freight brokers for this―but they also plan and organize warehousing products when needed as part of the supply chain.

Using a freight broker to move their product allows shippers to be able to dedicate more time to other aspects of their businesses.  Using a freight broker can be a cost-effective solution to growing a business.  

Direct Freight is an essential tool for shippers, freight brokers, and carriers.  It allows users to post or find trucks and includes many features that will help move freight smoothly and efficiently.  Go to DirectFreight.com today to find out more.

What Makes a Load “High-Quality”?

what-makes-a-load-high-quality

Not all loads are profitable.  Fuel costs, competition, and freight type can all impact the shipment rate.  If you’re not careful, you could end up in the red, the load costing more than it’s bringing in.  How do you know? How do you pick a high-quality load that’s going to be the most profitable?

The value of a load is what it pays.  However, there’s so much more to take into consideration than how much it’s going to pay.  A “high-quality load” is one that not only pays well but isn’t going to have added costs, added work, or increased risk.  By looking at the whole picture, you can better judge the quality of the load before committing to it.  

Is a Load High-Quality?

To understand the quality of the load, there are several questions that should be asked.

What is the pay? 

 Simple and straightforward.  Look at how much the load pays per mile.

Does the freight lane make sense for me?  

The freight lane is the freight going into and coming out of an area.  If it is balanced, it means there is an equal amount of freight going in and coming out.  Freight brokers will aim for a balanced freight lane because it means they’ll be able to eliminate deadhead miles and truckers should look at this too.

Is it a good rate for that particular lane?  

Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Do some comparison shopping.

What is the competition like in this lane?

Load boards can tell you the number of trucks in the area.  If there is little competition, you’ll be able to negotiate a better rate.

What are fuel costs?

If fuel costs are high, there’s less profit and you’ll need to demand higher pay.

What is the load weight?

Heavier loads eat up more fuel.

Is there extra work involved?

Sometimes loads require a lot more work than anticipated.  “Tarping” is a good example of this and in fact, it’s a deal-breaker for many truckers.  Tarping is when large, heavy tarp must be placed over a load on a flatbed truck. It’s hard work, and it’s dangerous, and most truckers hate doing it.  Shippers generally understand this and will add tarp pay so make sure if you take a job that involves tarping that they pay you for the extra work. (Sometimes shipping have machines that tarp the freight on the truck for you.  Use it. It’ll make the process much quicker and easier.)

Is the load dangerous?

Even under the best circumstances, some loads are downright dangerous such as steel coils.  Steel coils are extremely heavy rolls of steel that are held on a flatbed by chains. Some truckers won’t touch them because of the danger involved with transporting them.  

How to Get Higher-Quality Loads

There are some steps that can improve your chances of obtaining higher-quality loads that will bring in higher pay and improve your business.  

Know your own operating costs.  If you don’t, you could take on a load that will cost you money or one that is worth so little it’s not worth your time.  Knowing the minimum amount that you need to make a profit will give you more negotiating power for rates. Walk away from loads that don’t offer enough.

Look at every aspect of the trip.  Things like wait-times can eat into a trucker’s profits in a big way.  These wait-times usually occur during load pickups and drop-offs. When you’re paid by the mile and you’re not moving, you’re losing money.

Consider government contracts.  Sure, it’s hard work to get them and there’s a lot of competition, but they can pay really well.

Get endorsements.  Getting specialized training and license endorsements can bring in better loads.  Whenever there is special training required, there will be fewer qualified truckers to haul the load. Examples:  

    • Liquid hauling.  Driving reefers, hauling liquids, requires added training and knowledge.  If the chemicals are hazardous such as gas or chemicals, a special hazmat certification is required.  
    • Oversized loads.  These loads also have a special license and training as well.
    • Driving specialty trucks.  Car carriers, dump trucks, mining trucks can all bring in higher pay.

Use a good load board. Load boards can help find quality loads in many ways.  They create a more balanced freight lane by cutting down on deadhead miles, find larger, established shippers who pay on time, show you the freight lanes you want to drive, and help you manage your operation.  Using a good load board can save a lot of time tracking down loads, making the whole process more efficient. After all, time is money and if you’re getting paid by the mile, you aren’t getting paid for looking for loads. 

Direct Freight Services is a web-based load board that allows users to search for loads or post trucks.  It has many helpful features like full credit reports, load filtering, payment expectations, and broker authority information.  Whether accessed online or now through our easy-to-use Direct Freight app, Direct Freight helps you find the right loads. Go to DirectFreight.com and start searching for those high-quality loads today!

Are Load Boards Worth Their Cost?

are-load-boards-worth-their-cost

For trucking companies, it’s not just a matter of booking as many loads as possible, it’s important to book as many high-quality loads as possible.  High-quality loads come from dependable shippers who have above-average margins, and pay in a timely manner.  A good load board is a useful tool to help keep your trucks rolling, but is the monthly subscription fee worth it?

Load boards can help you:

Get Clients

Using a load board can help you gain trusted clients that you can build long-term relationships with.  This allows you to cut out the middleman and not go through a freight broker, which will increase your margins.

Diversify

A wise investor diversifies his investments to be able to weather any negative periods.  The same approach should be applied to your trucking business. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.  If you get all your loads primarily from one source, you’ll be in trouble if that company has a problem.

Find a Trustworthy Broker

As part of their diversification, many companies will work directly with shippers and with freight brokers.  It’s important to find one that is reliable and will earn you money.  To learn more about how to find the right freight broker, go here.

Eliminate Deadhead Miles

If you’re going to be bringing home an empty truck, be sure to include those costs in your rates.  Better yet, line up a load for the return trip. This is where load boards are essential. It’s so easy to search your return route for loads that can be made along the way.  

Shop Around

Load boards allow you to shop around for loads that will be most beneficial to your company.  Think quality, not quantity.

Are Free Load Boards a Good Deal?

As they say, the best things in life are free.  This may be true for many things but for load boards, it is not.  Free load boards will certainly save you a monthly fee that most load boards charge.  However, most top companies prefer to post their loads on the paid sites so you won’t see the quantity or the quality that you would find on subscription load boards.  Also, some of the “free” load boards are only free for a limited time, have duplicate loads and outdated information.

 

Tips for Working with Load Boards

Know the Low

Before you reply to a post to negotiate a rate, always know your lowest possible rate that allows you to break even.  This will make negotiating a rate for a shipment much quicker and easier.

Walk on By

Don’t be afraid to say no.  If a load isn’t going to earn much and may cause more problems than it’s worth, keep walking.  Load boards make it easy to find one that will work for you.

Don’t Overbook

If you’re finding a lot of good quality loads on a load board, be careful.  If you book more than your company can handle, you’ll start missing deadlines.  This could hurt your company’s reputation for being dependable and trustworthy. It’s important for your business’s success that you make timely deliveries.

 

If you’re starting out as a carrier, a good load board is essential.  It’ll help you make contacts with which you can build direct relationships.  Once you have those connections, it’s good to continue to use the load board to fill in gaps and book deadhead miles.  

Direct Freight Services is a full-service subscription load board that can help you maximize your margins with our huge database of quality loads.  With helpful features like the app, load searching, truck posting, credit reports and scores, load filtering, turn-by-turn routing, and text alerts, Direct Freight is the only load board you’ll ever need.  Go to DirectFreight.com and try it out 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