Category: Shipping Industry

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

Tax Tips for Freight Brokers, Shippers and Truckers

tax-tips-for-freight-brokers

UPDATE:  This article was updated on 1/7/2020 to have most updated information regarding tax information for the current year.

As the April deadline approaches, most Americans are buried in receipts and tax forms to avoid overpaying their taxes. The changing tax code rules and regulations could make even Einstein pull his hair out.

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:

80% of $66 per day

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 up to a $6,000 limit ($7,000 if you’re over age 50). 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.     

 

Shippers: How to Select the Right Freight Brokers

shippers-how-to-select-the-right-freight-broker

Freight brokers are an important link in the consumer goods supply chain. They’re the go-betweens linking supplier with destination, bringing freight that needs to be shipped to its final destination.  They not only connect shipper with carrier, they take care of negotiations, deadlines, payments, and solve any problems that may occur en route.

Using a freight broker is not a necessity in the shipping industry but many shippers prefer to because doing so gives them more time to concentrate on the daily functions of their business and less time on shipping details.  

Those details can be many and the road can be unpredictable (breakdowns, weather, unexpected traffic) so how do you know you’re choosing a freight broker that can handle it?  The answer: Do your homework!

  1. Check credentials.  They should be licensed through the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration).  You can go here to find out if they are.  Through the licensing procedure, they will be required to be bonded and insured.  The insurance is for property damage and the bonding is to protect you from fraud or other illegal activities by the broker.  
  2. Look for a broker with experience shipping the types of freight you have and experience shipping to the areas you need it delivered.  They will better understand the challenges of your sector of the industry.
  3. Make sure they have the right insurance.  Just because they’re insured, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be covered if there’s a problem.  They should have general liability insurance as well as adequate cargo insurance to cover the freight they’ll be shipping for you.
  4. Ask about their procedures for vetting their carriers.  They’ll be entrusting them with your goods so make sure your potential broker does his or her due diligence to make sure that drivers have plenty of experience, are fully insured, have excellent safety records, use well-maintained, reliable equipment, and if they have enough trucks to handle the job.
  5. Look at other certifications and affiliations.  Most good freight brokers will be part of the TIA (Transportation Intermediaries Association) and you should check their standing with the Better Business Bureau as well.
  6. Check the technologies they use.  They should be using a thorough tracking system that uses GPS to track shipments in real time.  They should also use up-to-date billing software. After you’ve signed a contract is not the best time to discover they do their bookkeeping in pencil in a ledger and send out handwritten bills.
  7. Run a credit check.  Avoid brokers with bad credit.  You don’t want someone with liens, bankruptcies, or who are slow to pay to be the one in charge of negotiating your deals and paying for your shipments.
  8. Be completely clear with them on the What, Where, When, and How of your shipping needs so the broker knows if he or she can handle the job.  
  9. Look for experience in the industry.  Freight brokering is a growing field so many freight brokers are new but the longer they’ve been in the business, the more contacts and relationships with carriers they’ll have.  
  10. Check references, preferably ones in your area who ship similar freight to yours.  Be sure to ask pertinent questions about the broker’s ability to make on-time deliveries, how the broker handled any problems, and how satisfied they are with the freight broker.  
  11. Find out if they work internationally.  You may only ship in the States now but what happens if you get some new customers “across the pond”?  If your broker only works nationally, you may have to go through the whole vetting process again for international shipments.  Save yourself some time and go with one that will help your company grow.
  12. Look for good communication skills.  Your freight broker and dispatchers will be negotiating and dealing with customers on behalf of you and your company.  They should be clear, articulate, friendly, and knowledgeable.
  13. Get it all in writing.  Make sure that when you find the right freight broker, you get a detailed written contract.

 

Taking the time to find the right freight broker is well worth the extra effort.  After all, you’re entrusting them to make a fair deal and to get your freight to where it needs to go safely and efficiently.  

Direct Freight Services is a vital tool used by shippers, freight brokers, and carriers alike.  It includes a thorough, easy-to-use and up-to-date load board that keeps freight on the move. Sign up today at Directfreight.com and see you Direct Freight can start working for you!  

 

Sources:

https://li-public.fmcsa.dot.gov/LIVIEW/pkg_carrquery.prc_carrlist

https://www.tianet.org

https://www.bbb.org

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:

www.trucking.org

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!    

Freight Brokers: Getting Things Where They Need to Go

freight-brokers-getting-things-where-they-need-to-go

We live in a world where we can get anything we want in a couple of clicks, whether it’s from a major retailer or someone selling books out of their garage.  This means more freight that needs to get from point A to point B to point C, and more trucks on the road at any given time. Enter the Freight Broker.

What are Freight Brokers?

Freight brokers are go-betweens.  They take care of things. Freight Brokers help move things along quickly and smoothly so we can get what we need when we need it.  Say a shipper has some hats that need to get to Walla Walla, Washington. The shipper calls a freight broker and pays him or her to make sure the hats get to Walla Walla before the big hat festival.  The freight broker finds a carrier who regularly travels to the area and makes a deal with them for the hat delivery. The carrier picks up the hats, drives them to their destination and all the while, the freight broker is tracking the truck to make sure the hats arrive on time.  When they do, people in Walla Walla can buy the hats, and everyone’s happy. Freight brokers facilitate shipments from their starting point to ending points.

How do they make money?

The freight broker hired the carrier to deliver the hats for less money than they received from the shipper.  This is called their “spread”. The freight broker is not merely making a better deal, they’re responsibility is to ensure that the freight is delivered safely and on time.    

Why wouldn’t the shipper go directly to a carrier?

They can, and many do.  However, there are many reasons why using a freight broker can be beneficial to both shippers and carriers.

  • It lightens your workload if you’re a shipper. It saves time searching for a carrier and tracking your shipment, which can be time-consuming.
  • The freight Broker’s main focus is the shipment.  For carriers and drivers, it lessens time searching for loads because the loads find them.
  • They’re experts.  Many brokers got their start working other jobs in the shipping or trucking industry.  They know best practices for both.
  • They track the load using GPS technology, remain in constant contact with drivers and always know the driver’s location.  
  • They’re problem-solvers.  If problems arise along the way, it’s up to the freight broker to resolve them.  What could go wrong? Lots! There could be:
    • Accidents
    • Breakdowns
    • Scheduling issues
    • Hazardous weather conditions
    • Unplanned checkpoints and other stoppages
  • They’re scalable.  Freight Brokers can quickly deal with busy or slow periods.  If a business is seasonal or is experiencing growth or decline, a freight broker can easily adapt to volume changes.
  • They have connections.  They build a large network of contacts through job experience and load boards which allow them to help shippers to take advantage of volume discounts.  They have route coverage all over the country.
  • They want you to succeed.  It doesn’t benefit the freight broker to take the shipper’s money and find the cheapest carrier or driver to create the biggest spread.  Why not? You get what you pay for and if you’re paying a carrier poorly, you’re likely going to get poor service which always costs more in the end.  

How Do I Pick the Right One?

Freight Brokers are a growing part of the industry and as with anyone you choose to do business with, it’s important to vet them properly.  Freight brokers must have a license from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and should have a membership with the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA).  It’s also a good idea to check out their rating with the Better Business Bureau.   Try to stay away from brokers who have recently joined the industry.  The best freight brokers are ones with not only freight brokering experience but have also held jobs as carriers or shippers.  

Direct Freight Services is a go-to resource for freight brokers.  It can help those just starting out build a network or just help round out route coverage and fill gaps.  More than 3,500 companies post freight on our site so it’s the perfect tool for helping freight brokers make new and trustworthy connections.  With all sorts of useful features for shippers, carriers, and freight brokers, you’ll wonder how you ever did business without it! Go to DirectFreight.com or call (888)894-4198 and see what we have to offer.  
Source:  https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov, http://www.tianet.org, https://www.bbb.org/en/us