How to Become a Freight Broker in Florida (9 Steps)
If you enjoy logistics and the freight industry, you might wonder how to start working as a freight broker in Florida. Becoming a freight broker gives you increased control over your work as you serve as a sort of matchmaker between shippers and the trucking companies that deliver their goods.
A new freight broker in Florida, like in any state, must follow a step-by-step process. Here’s how to become a truck broker in Florida.
What does a freight broker do?
A freight broker is responsible for coordinating the entire delivery process, from when goods leave the shipper’s warehouse until they reach their final destination. You’ll also be the main point of contact for communication between your two clients, the shipper and the carrier, and you will take charge of negotiating satisfactory rates for each load. It can be an excellent career choice for those who enjoy puzzles, sales, negotiations, and customer service.
How to become a freight broker in Florida
Becoming a freight broker in Florida is a straightforward process. You will need to meet all federal requirements, but there are no separate state regulations on freight brokers, except that you need a high school diploma or GED. Once you satisfy the federal process, you can open your doors in Florida.
Freight broker salary expectations in Florida
How much you make as a freight broker depends on many factors. If you own your brokerage and operate under your own authority, you can typically expect to make more than if you work for someone else. But with that potential reward comes more risk because you will be responsible for anything that goes wrong. It also requires an upfront investment in your new company. If you’re ready to take that leap, you could make six figures once you become established.
Florida freight broker courses and programs
Florida does not require a degree or formal exam before getting a freight broker license. However, a freight brokerage is more complex than you might imagine, with numerous legal and regulatory considerations. Taking a freight broker training course can give you the best chance for success.
You will learn detailed information about transportation law and shipping contracts and how to perform the daily tasks of a freight broker. Freight broker courses develop your negotiation skills, sales and marketing techniques, and trucker database management. You will also discover how to handle issues that can arise during shipping, such as delays or damaged goods.
You can find freight broker courses and programs at many public community colleges and universities across the state of Florida.
How to become a licensed freight broker in Florida
If you’re ready to to become a freight broker, you are probably wondering how to get your brokerage license and certification in Florida. As long as you have a high school diploma or equivalent, you just need to follow the step-by-step process to obtain your license from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Here are the steps.
Register your company name.
You’ll need to decide what type of business entity you want your brokerage to be, such as a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company (LLC). Each business structure has its pros, cons, and tax implications, so it’s best to work with a business attorney at this stage to decide what’s right for you. Once you choose your business structure, you’ll need to decide on a company name and register it with the state of Florida.
This step is also the best time to write a business plan, a living document that guides your company’s short-term and long-term growth. It changes and evolves with your business while providing guardrails to help you make smart strategic decisions.
Get your USDOT number and broker authority.
Use Form OP-1 to apply for your USDOT number and broker authority in a single transaction. Submitting your application online allows you to get your USDOT number immediately, rather than waiting for it to arrive in the mail. As of 2022, the filing fee is $300 to broker a single type of goods or $600 to broker household and non-household goods.
Submit FMCSA license application.
The FMCSA Unified Registration System (URS) combines all the forms you need to file (except the OP-1) into a single online application. It’s pretty straightforward, as long as you take your time and carefully go through each question.
At a minimum, freight brokers need both general liability and cargo insurance. You may also need other types of coverage, depending on the specifics of your business. It’s best to work with an experienced, trustworthy insurance agent specializing in freight brokerages to ensure you get the coverage you need.
Apply for a surety bond.
The FMCSA requires all freight brokers to put up a $75,000 surety bond, but you don’t need to pay all that money yourself. Instead, you can work with a surety company. You’ll pay a small annual fee (typically $1,500 to $3,000, depending on your credit score) for the surety company putting up the bond.
As long as you don’t break any regulations, you won’t need to worry about it again, other than paying your annual premiums. If you do get into trouble, you could be sued for up to the bond limit. The surety company will pay the claim and then come after you to repay the money.
Tips for new freight brokers in Florida
As a new freight broker, there are a few things you will need to do to set your company up for success.
Choose a process agent.
A process agent is someone who agrees to accept court papers for you if your company is sued. You’ll need one in each state where your brokerage writes contracts. The easiest option is to select a blanket company that covers all 50 states. When you’ve chosen your process agent, file Form BOC-3 with the FMCSA to make your selection official.
Freight brokerages, like all companies, need enough startup capital to pay their expenses until the business starts making money. Depending on personal circumstances and credit score, you might borrow funds from friends and family, get someone to invest in your company, or take out a loan. You can also generate cash faster from your invoices by using factoring. This process includes selling the invoice to a factoring company for a small fee. You then get paid immediately (less the fee), and the factoring company collects on the invoice.
Obtain the right equipment.
You can’t do your job without the right equipment. For freight brokers, there are a few things that you need to get started:
- Computer (preferably a laptop for portability)
- Office supplies, ranging from a desk to a stock of pens and paper
You’ll also need freight brokering software to compete in today’s complex marketplace. At Truckstop, our software for brokers includes a highly active load board and a full suite of tools designed to help you take on new clients, streamline your operations and boost your bottom line.
Market your business.
In addition to your business plan, you should also have a marketing plan. Marketing includes advertising, market research, customer support, media planning, public and community relations, and more. You’ll want to understand your target customer, outline their needs, and figure out how you can meet those needs better than your competitors. Only then are you ready for advertising, highlighting your company’s benefits for your target market.
Find quality carriers and shippers in Florida.
Becoming a freight broker in Florida requires you to follow a step-by-step process. Once you’ve accomplished your goal, though, you will need to find and partner with high-quality carriers and shippers. The Truckstop Load Board gives you access to fully vetted shippers and carriers ready to form a working relationship and the tools you need to improve your negotiations.