Category: shippers

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/

What is LTL

what-is-ltl

The last few years have brought a boom in the e-commerce sector and with it a huge increase in the need for affordable shipping for small and medium businesses. These businesses have products that need shipping that exceeds the limits of parcel delivery but doesn’t quite warrant an entire 18-wheeler.  This is where LTL comes in.

LTL is a term used in the trucking industry that causes some confusion for people new to shipping their goods.  “Less Than Load”, or LTL shipments, are more than 150 lbs. but won’t fill a tractor-trailer truck which is usually between 26 and 53 feet long.  Parcel carriers such as the US Postal service, UPS, and FedEx ship smaller packages and for larger shipments, LTL is used. (UPS Freight and FedEx Freight are LTL shippers.)  For the largest shipments when the shipment will take up the entire truck, FTL, or Full Truckloads are used.

   

Size of Load

LTLs generally range from 150 lbs to 10,000 lbs but there are some carriers that may accept larger shipments.  They may also be under 150 lbs when the items to be shipped are lighter but irregularly shaped or large and would be difficult to ship via parcel post. Carriers often look at what would be most cost-effective for the customer.  

 

Delivery Time

The fastest way to ship something is using an FTL.  FTLs are direct shipments and the difference between using those versus LTL is like the difference between using an express elevator or an elevator with several people getting off on different floors.  LTLs have more than one customer’s goods on the truck which saves money, but the more stops they have to make, the longer the shipment will probably take.

 

Pricing

LTL carriers have set minimums for the cost of shipping with them.  To determine the cost, the carrier will look at the weight, size, value, distance, needed floor space, and if actions are needed such as residential pickup/delivery, inside delivery, or if there’s limited access for delivery.

 

Handling

With parcel, conveyor belts are typically utilized which means there’s a lot of shipment handling before it reaches the destination.  With LTL, there is less handling involved but there will be other freight on the truck so it may have to be moved around and there’s a chance it will need to be transferred to another truck.  FTL gets the least amount of handling but unless its a large shipment, it may not be cost-effective to use.

 

LTL gives companies the ability to ship products quickly and affordably by sharing the ride and costs with shipments from other businesses and includes the flexibility to ship almost anywhere.  

 

Direct Freight Services is a load board that allows users to use their mobile device or computer to search for loads and post trucks.  With helpful features like full credit reports, load filtering, when to expect payments, and broker authority information, Direct Freight is an essential tool for owner operators looking to move freight. Visit DirectFreight.com to find out more.

 

What to Look for in a Load Board

what-to-look-for-in-a-load-board

For shippers, freight brokers, carriers, and drivers, a good load board is an essential tool for running a thorough and efficient company.  Whether posting all loads or rounding out service areas, the right load board can drive the success of a business.

 

Who Needs a Load Board?

Shippers use load boards to find dependable carriers to work with for short term or long term shipments.  Even for shippers who already have a regular carrier that they work with, a load board can keep things moving if there’s an unexpected increase in shipments or if there are any issues with a current shipper.  

Freight brokers are only as good as their client lists.  This means they need to have many trusted contacts around their service area so they can do their jobs―keep freight moving.  Freight brokers rely on load boards to make the connections they need to get cargo from Point A to Point B as safely and efficiently as possible.  Even with a large pool of clients and carriers, a load board is a great tool for filling in any gaps in coverage.

For carriers large and small, load boards can not only keep trucks rolling but one of their main benefits is filling deadhead miles (return trips) so routes are being operated efficiently without empty trucks driving around.  For example, if a carrier ships a full freight load from Boston to Newark, they can search the load board for a shipper who needs to ship from Newark to Boston or somewhere along the route. This not only brings in more revenue but it also makes more efficient use of gas, equipment, and manpower.  

For truck owner/operators, a good load board is the key to running an operation.  A load board provides vital information on available loads such as origin, destination, trailer type, load size, weight, company name, and pay rate.  Some of the better load boards include credit reports so drivers know who they’re working with and when they can expect to get paid.

 

What Makes a Load Board “Good”

It should be easy to use.    Load boards don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to be effective.  They should have a simple, easy-to-use interface that doesn’t require excessive clicks to locate the load or truck databases.  

Web-based is best.  Web-based load boards are always up-to-date, loads are posted in real time, there’s no costly software to buy and update, and they can be accessed from anywhere, even on smartphones and tablets.  Look for load boards that offer an app to streamline the process so it will always be on your phone.

Avoid “free” load boards.  Free load boards rely on ads for revenue and they don’t always have the same security in place that paid sites have, which can open users up to fraud.  They also aren’t as driven to have the most up-to-date technologies that paid sites do.

It should have useful features.  Things like current fuel prices, location and destination, cost of tolls, weather reports, a mileage calculator, credit reports, and load filtering can streamline services and simplify the process.

Alerts are important.  Being alerted when trucks are available or updates on loads saves time.  Text or email alerts give users an edge over those who need to spend time searching the site looking for updates.

It should have a free trial.  Most good load boards are confident in their product and will let users give it a try before they commit.  Trying out several free trials gives users the ability to find a load board that has all the features they’re interested in.  

 

As the old saying goes, “Time is money” and any time that freight sits on a loading dock waiting for a driver costs money.  A good load board makes all the difference. Decisions can be made quickly and confidently and the time that freight is waiting to be delivered is minimized.

Direct Freight Services is proud to be one of the leading load boards in the country.  They’ve been matching shippers and carriers since 1997 and have developed a load site that makes the process quick, easy, and effective.  Loads or trucks can be posted on the site for free but the subscription price of $34.95 allows the user access to ancillary features such as credit reports, route planning, weather conditions, text and email alerts, and other features that give a custom experience to every user.  Visit DirectFreight.com today for a free 15-day trial subscription and see what Direct Freight Services can do for your business.     

 

Why Trucking Companies Need to Hire Women and How They Can Retain Them

why-trucking-companies-need-to-hire-women-and-how-they-can-retain-them

In the U.S., the demand for licensed truckers has never been higher.  With the shortage of truckers expected to climb to 175,000 by the year 2024, now is the perfect time for anyone in search of a good-paying job to enter the trucking industry, especially women.

 

Ripe for Growth

Traditionally, driving a truck was considered a man’s job and attracted few women. Fortunately, times are changing, albeit at a snail’s pace.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017, 6.2% of truckers on the road were women, up from 4.5% 15 years ago, a small number when you consider that women make up 47% of the total U.S. workforce.  The trucker shortage combined with women looking for good-paying jobs is the perfect recipe for a female explosion in the trucking industry.

And why not?  Women can be a huge asset to any shipper.  Men cause 6.1 million vehicle crashes per year while women only cause 4.4 million.  Men are more willing to take risks than women which means their accidents are typically at higher rates of speed than those of women, who usually get into accidents at lower speeds causing less damage.  Shipping companies that regularly hire women know this, as well as the fact women tend to be better at completing paperwork and better at customer service. Women truckers do so much more than fill an empty truck seat.  They are a valuable and virtually untapped resource for trucking companies looking for reliable, long-term employees.

 

How can trucking companies attract more women to their company?  

As a carrier, attracting more women to your company means valuing and appreciating them and looking at things from their perspective.

  • Your place of business should be professional and welcoming to both men and women.
  • Include women in your recruiting ads.  Women should feel the ads are not merely aimed at men because this may be an indicator that women are not welcome.  When evaluating your ads include any print or radio ads as well as your presence on social media like Facebook and Twitter.  
  • Promote women into leadership roles.  Other women will see that women are valued in your company.
  • Offer good pay, benefits, and bonuses.  
  • Guarantee time at home.  One major reason the trucking industry suffers from a high turnover rate and lack of recruits is the hours away from home, keeping truckers from having a more predictable home life.  Many companies are trying to combat this with shorter routes and flexible schedules so employees can have a more balanced home and work life.
  • Have female trainers.  Having a female driver on the road with her during her training period may be encouraging.
  • Make diversity training mandatory.  Unfortunately, there are still drivers who show little respect for women in the field. Diversity training may help female drivers, but knowing that your company offers this kind of supportive training may attract more female applicants.
  • Understand safety concerns.  Safety is a major concern for women on the road, especially for those doing long hauls.  Things such as parking in well-lit spaces at truck stops that are open 24/7, always locking the doors, and carrying pepper spray are things that male truckers should do also but may not really think about.  Offer seminars and training on how to stay safe out on the road.

 

If the trucking industry is going to be able to keep up with consumers’ hunger for goods, it needs to shatter the stigma of truckers being big, burly men.  Actively recruiting women to enter into trucking careers is the obvious solution to the growing trucker shortage and changing the field so it fits the needs of many will bring in more recruits looking to enter into a good career.

At Direct Freight Services, we help shippers find carriers to bring loads to their destinations.  From short routes to cross-country, Direct Freight gives shippers the tools they need to find reliable truckers to carry the load.  For drivers and carriers, Direct Freight’s database of currently available loads will keep your trucks rolling. Go to Direct Freight today to find out more about how this vital tool can help you.  

 

Sources:

https://www.trucking.org/ATA%20Docs/News%20and%20Information/Reports%20Trends%20and%20Statistics/10%206%2015%20ATAs%20Driver%20Shortage%20Report%202015.pdf

https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.htm

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/13/heres-what-its-like-to-be-a-woman-truck-driver.html

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t01.htm

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2017/10/12/mythbusting-why-are-women-paying-more-than-men-for-car-insurance/#7b4bffd45e00

Truckers: How to be Your Own Boss

 

truckers-how-to-be-your-own-boss

Having your own rig and being your own boss is the ultimate dream for many truck drivers.  When you’re the boss, you can set your own schedule. When you’re the boss, you control hauling prices.  When you’re the boss, you don’t have to put up with disrespect from your employers, employees, or dispatchers.  However, being the boss can also bring with it longer hours, more stress, and all the responsibility if things go wrong.  Is being an owner/operator right for you?

 

Look at Yourself  

Be honest.  Do you have the drive it takes to work the long hours?  Will you do all of the necessary paperwork on time and on a regular basis?  Do you have the discipline to do what it takes to make your business a success?  Do you enjoy interacting with people? Being your own boss in any industry is hard work and when things go wrong, the buck stops with you.  Any company problem is your problem, even if your company is just you and your truck. If there is a breakdown, you’re out of commission and money stops coming in until your truck is back on the road.

 

Look at Your Home Life  

Do you have children?  The job can take you away for days at a time, most likely more than it does when you’re working for someone else.  Do you have a significant other that can help with responsibilities at home? Are you a single parent or have shared child custody?  Having a family without enough support can impact the volume, locations, and types of jobs you’re able to take, which may make it difficult to build up your routes and clientele.  Being your own boss may bring you some flexibility with your hours but it’s more likely that you’ll have to put in more hours, especially when starting out.

 

Look at Your Health  

Are you healthy enough to endure the long hours driving a truck?  Are you required to take medication that will impede your ability to stay alert on the road?  If you’re currently a full-time driver, you should know how you’ll physically handle the job. Life on the road can be unhealthy due to hours of sitting and the abundance of unhealthy food on the road.  Staying in shape takes dedication and persistence and is important for your longevity on the job.

Just because you drive a truck doesn’t mean that you need to own your own rig and work for yourself.  For many, the responsibility of driving a truck for someone else is enough. When things go wrong, someone else deals with it.  Some drivers prefer a regular paycheck and the security that goes along with working for someone else.

   

 

How Do You Get Started?

Plan

Start with details like what area of the country you’d like to cover, what types of loads you’d like to haul (flatbeds, refrigerated trailers, HAZMAT, etc.) and what type of business you’re registering for.  Do you have your own truck? If not, will you be renting or buying? These are added costs to your business that you’ll need to take into consideration. One of the most important aspects of starting your own operation is choosing the right business insurance that not only covers your business but also your truck and the loads you’ll be hauling as well.

Seek Help

Talk to a lawyer and an accountant for legal and tax assistance.  Hiring an accountant to handle your books may cost you money but it will allow you more time out on the road doing what you do best.  Making a mistake on your taxes can cost money. A good CPA will make sure that all your i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, that your taxes are well managed and you don’t have a huge bill when tax time rolls around.  

Now What?

Now that you’ve taken the plunge and have leased a truck, registered your business, and have all the appropriate licenses and insurances lined up, where do you turn next?

You need loads.  You need an easy-to-use, intuitive load board, like Direct Freight Services.  Enter a little information, like your origin location, the type of trailer you carry, and how far you’d like to travel, and Direct Freight will return a list of available loads and relevant information.  The number of deadhead miles is also listed so you can make arrangements for a return load to maximize your earnings. With Direct Freight, you can also input the details of your truck so shippers or freight brokers can find you.

If you’re ready to hop into that driver’s seat and be your own boss, check out Direct Freight at www.directfreight.com or call (888)894-4198 and see how Direct Freight can help!